Carmelo Anthony lifts Knicks to 4-0 start

Carmelo Anthony sparked the Knicks offense with a game-high 31 points against the Mavericks. Debby Wong/US Presswire

Crazy as it sounded to some, Mike Woodson wanted Carmelo Anthony to be more than just a scorer this season.

He wanted him to rebound, play defense, share the ball and generally lead this Knicks team with a dose of selfless play.

"I'm trying to get Melo to do everything," the coach said earlier this week.

Some around the NBA had to hear that statement and chuckle.

Anthony, of course, has the reputation of a talented scorer with little regard for other aspects of the game.

But that may be changing, game by game in this young season.

Anthony turned in another well-rounded performance on Friday night, scoring in bunches when the Knicks needed it most and helping the New York clamp down on Dallas in the second half of a 104-94 win.

"He's making guys around him better," Woodson said of Anthony. "You can really see that."

The Knicks are 4-0 to start the season for the first time since 1993-94, when they opened the season 7-0 and made a trip to the NBA Finals.

According to Anthony, New York learned a valuable lesson in its fourth win, which was the first that was in doubt in the final minutes.

What was that lesson, exactly?

"How to lock in and how to win basketball games like this," Anthony said. ".... We’re going to have games like this. There’s going to be ugly games, ugly wins. We’ve got to learn how to win and tonight was a good test."

The Knicks offense stalled at times throughout the game, but Anthony, more often than not, was there to pick it up.

New York trailed by nine with seven minutes to go before the half. They'd gone 2-for-7 with two turnovers in the past five minutes and Dallas seemed to be on the verge of pulling away.

But Anthony responded with a block on Rodrigue Beaubois' layup attempt on one end and reeled off nine of the Knicks next 14 points to get them back into it.

"That's what we need him to do," said Ray Felton, who found Anthony for a pretty alley-oop dunk in the first quarter. "When we have droughts, that's our go-to guy."

They went to Anthony again midway through the fourth after Dallas seized on a stagnant Knicks offense and cut an eight-point lead in half.

The Knicks star drilled a three-pointer to give the Knicks a comfortable seven-point edge with seven minutes to play.

After the big shot, he had a few words for the Dallas bench.

"They want to trash talk to me, to Melo. It is what it is," said Anthony, who finished with seven rebounds. "It’s just one of them moments of the game, some things going back and forth. It’s all fun at the end of the day."

It's all fun, of course, when you win -- something the Knicks are becoming quite familiar with.

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