Melo's magical night in Miami

April, 3, 2013
Carmelo AnthonySteve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsIt didn't matter who defended Carmelo Anthony, as he scored 50 points in Miami on Tuesday night.
MIAMI -- If he needed any validation, the Knicks' 102-90 win over the East-leading Heat on Tuesday night proved just how good Carmelo Anthony is, why owner James Dolan wanted to trade for him and why this team will be a dangerous out come playoff time.

He had a career night scoring 50 points, tying his single-game high, which he reached two previous times in his 10-year career.

He was highly efficient, shooting 18-for-26 from the field, 7-for-10 from 3-point range and 7-for-8 from the foul line.

He didn't even have to score in the paint, collecting most of his points on outside shots.

He was constantly fronted and bumped by Udonis Haslem in the first half, a strategy opposing coach Erik Spoelstra discussed before the game.

He was completely smothered by Shane Battier and still made plenty of quick-release jumpers with hands in his face. In fact, after the game, Anthony said the Heat forward was on him "like white on rice."

And he even hit turnaround jumpers falling away down the baseline with double teams attacking him like vultures.

[+] EnlargeCarmelo Anthony
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesCarmelo Anthony shot 18-for-26 from the field against the short-handed Heat.
Anthony -- six-time All-Star and three-time Olympian -- was the game-ball recipient on Tuesday night looking more like the small forward version of himself, not the low-posting one that's evolved more this season. But it's that special versatility that defines Melo, who fueled the Knicks (47-26) to their NBA-best ninth straight win, further solidifying their second seed in the Eastern Conference.

"It's a feeling that you just have when you're out there on the court," Melo said afterward, reflecting on his big night. "Sometimes you get off to a good start and then you get cold throughout the game, but tonight wasn't one of those cases."

The common word used to describe Anthony's performance was "unbelievable," uttered by Mike Woodson and Tyson Chandler, who returned on Tuesday from a 10-game injury absence.

"He just refused to let us lose tonight," Woodson said. "He made big plays after big plays, big shots ... He wasn't forcing anything. Sometimes great players' days just come easy for them."

Said Chandler, "He had an incredible game. He was hot, carried us on both ends ... Offensively, he was very efficient. He made plays for other people."

Before the game, it was announced that LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers wouldn't play because of minor injuries. But that had no effect on Anthony.

"My mindset was the same, whether they played or not," said Melo, who spoke with James during halftime and said the Heat star told him he was really hurt. "My mindset was to come out here and attack early in the game, get something going, get off to a good start, try to win the basketball game."

As it turns out, Anthony had only scored five points about midway through the fourth quarter. During that time, he was looking for his teammates. But that's when Chandler and Raymond Felton had seen enough. On the last few possessions, they wanted him to get to 50.

"I knew I was close, but they were telling me to come get the ball," Melo said. "I was trying to get the game over with. Ray yelled at me, Tyson yelled at me, so I came up there and got it."

Said Chandler, "You have to reward the guy when he's rolling like that."

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Carmelo Anthony
23.4 3.3 0.8 36.3
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.4
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.1
StealsP. Prigioni 1.3
BlocksS. Dalembert 1.3