Carmelo Anthony Makes History
Things went so well this Sunday evening for New York Knicks star forward Carmelo Anthony; he made history and led his team to victory.
That usually doesn't happen on the same night.
Anthony became the 40th player to join the NBA's 20,000 points club, finishing with a team-high 28 points to lead the Knicks to a thrilling 96-93 win over the re-branded Charlotte Hornets.
Unfortunately, the Hornets were hit with the injury bug.
A member of their young core in forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist suffered a rib contusion mid-way into the first quarter after falling awkwardly in trying to corral a rebound from Knicks guard, Shane Larkin.
I must say that I love the new look Hornets re-branding returning to the NBA because the Bobcats logo and branding was horrible.
Just seeing those Jerseys reminds me of Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, but anyway the Knicks won.
The early ball-movement of the Knicks offense was very encouraging and along with solid team defense, the Knicks were able to build an early 15-5 advantage on an Anthony made three-pointer with 7:42 remaining in the first quarter.
More of the same ball movement trend leaked into the 2nd quarter in which the Knicks took the largest lead of the game, leading 45-30 with 4:37 remaining until halftime.
Iman Shumpert starred in the first half contributing 11 points doing most of his damage from outside.
His defensive tenacity, over-zealous at times, regulated him to the bench as he gained his second foul with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter.
He would contribute the game-changing play later in the game.
With basketball being a game of runs, it was only a matter of time until the Hornets got their feet wet and familiarized themselves with their surroundings.
As the Hornets cut the early lead to single digits, the ball-movement the Knicks exhibited throughout the first half vanished which then resulted in a game of possessions.
The Hornets cut the Knicks early double digit lead and trailed by two points, going into halftime down 50-52.
It was homecoming for the Hornets All-NY back-court, Lance Stephenson and Kemba Walker who did everything in their power to spoil the Knicks second home game of the year.
With the Knicks unable to preserve their early lead and the Hornets evenly matching up with their opponents, the second half of this game produced plenty of gut-wrenching moments for both fans of both teams.
It was a back-and-forth affair. You score, I score.
The biggest lead held by either team in the second half was three points.
That explains it all.
The Knicks can never win comfortable and give their fans an easy night off.
Everything the Knicks do is designed to provide a difficult task for themselves as well as their fan-base.
From that perspective, they definitely delivered.
Al Jefferson plagued the Knicks all night long scoring inside with ease with the only capable defender being Samuel Dalembert, who troubled Jefferson by forcing the low-post scorer to his left.
Due to Dalembert's defense, Jefferson was taken out of the game offensively as he produced a scoreless fourth quarter.
It was all up to the back-court hailing from New York City, who both came up short in the deciding quarter.
Stephenson was less aggressive and played the role of facilitator while Walker was limited to a two-point fourth quarter courtesy of Knicks reserve guard, Pablo Prigioni's defense.
There's a reason why he's still on this roster.
Even with the limited production of the Hornets back-court, the Knicks struggled to put the Hornets away and found themselves in a hole with the game hanging in the balance.
A made jump-shot by Hornets reserve guard Gary Neal and a Walker reverse lay-up granted the Hornets a 93-90 lead with 2:49 remaining.
It was make or break time for the Knicks and they chose wisely, executing timely hoops which proved to supply the damage necessary in order to achieve the victory.
Down by three, Knicks guard Iman Shumpert connected on a three-pointer which tied the game at 93-all with 2:06 remaining till the end of regulation.
All the Knicks needed now was a stop: Check.
How about a basket to put the Knicks ahead by someone who was brought here for these moments worth $122 million? Check.
Anthony has provided clutch baskets throughout his career and did not disappoint the Knicks fans in attendance tonight.
Guarded by Hornets forward Marvin Williams, Anthony sank an elbow jumper from the triple-threat position giving the Knicks a 95-93 lead with 1:24 remaining in the fourth.
Other than Anthony's historic night, Amare Stoudemire displayed flashes of his old-self adding 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Larkin also played well contributing nine points, five assists and two steals.
For the Hornets, Walker finished with 16 points while Stephenson compiled 14 points, 8 assists and 9 rebounds, two assists and one rebound away from a triple-double.
If Stephenson can improve his outside shot, he will be scary.
The Knicks shot 50% from the field and totaled 23 assists.
Last year, this would have been a game that the Knicks would have lost without a doubt.
This year's team is much improved.
My biggest takeaway from this game was the coaching.
Knicks Head Coach Derek Fisher has a presence and is pushing the right buttons early on.
No less than 30 seconds off the clock in the 4th quarter and Fisher elects to call a timeout as Hornets center Cody Zeller rose for an uncontested dunk.
Fisher was disgusted with the defense and showed no tolerance for the defensive effort on that play specifically.
That's what the Knicks need.
They need to be held accountable.
All in all, the Knicks are 2-1 and their next opponent is no walk in the park as the Knicks will host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night.
That means the explosive exploits of guard John Wall and forward Paul Pierce, Knicks public enemy no.1.
The road gets tougher but for now Anthony is the 40th member of the NBA's 20,000 point club.
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