- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.
Today's Burning Question: Has Carmelo Anthony showed you that he's more mature this season? If so, do you think that can translate to success for Anthony and the Knicks in the playoffs?
Back in November, Carmelo Anthony told Knicks fans that he'd be bringing a fresh perspective to the court this year.
He said he'd learned the importance of trusting his teammates during the London Olympics last summer.
As a result, he said he'd be more comfortable deferring to others if it translated to more wins for the Knicks.
The implication was that Knicks fans should expect to see a more mature Melo this season, a more we-first than me-first player.
Though we've seen it for extended stretches this year, it hasn't always been the case for Melo. The ten-year veteran has let his emotions get the best of him on a few occasions, to the detriment of the Knicks.
But Anthony certainly deserves credit for deferring to his teammates more often than he had in his first year and half in New York.
To me, what we saw Wednesday night was further evidence of that.
Anthony had 36 points through three quarters against the Hawks, with a prime opportunity to get 50 points for the second straight night.
Instead of forcing the issue, though, Melo deferred to his teammates in the final quarter.
He drew the attention of the Atlanta defense and let Raymond Felton (10 points in the fourth) and J.R. Smith (10 points in the fourth) take over. The Knicks look control with a 15-4 run in which Melo had just two points.
The Hawks cut the Knicks' lead to 10 points with 3:40 to go.
Anthony had an open look on the Knicks' next possession. A make would have given him 43 points with plenty of time to get 50. But Anthony instead passed up the open shot and found Smith, who had an open lane to the rim.
Smith's dunk with 3:30 to play put the Knicks up 12 and seemed to suck the life out of Phillips Arena.
Anthony finished with 40 points but took just five shots in the fourth. Sure, he could have had 50, but the more important stat Wednesday was that the Knicks had won their 10th straight game and moved a half-game ahead of the Indiana Pacers in the race for the No. 2 seed in the East.
Now, the question for Anthony is if he can take his team-first approach into the postseason.
QUESTION: Has Carmelo Anthony showed you that he's more mature this season? If so, do you think that can translate for success in the playoffs?
Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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