"His whole demeanor was different. Normally he's smiling, joking -- stuff like that in warmups. But tonight, he was serious," Smith said. "I saw that look in his eyes."
What Smith saw was the look of one of the best scorers in the NBA at the top of his game.
Anthony set the Knicks and Madison Square Garden single-game scoring record on Friday night by pouring in 62 points against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Anthony's 62 is the highest point total in the NBA this season and the highest since Kobe Bryant had 65 in 2007. It broke Bernard King's Knicks record of 60 points and Bryant's Madison Square Garden record of 61.
"Tonight was one of those special nights for him," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "He got it going and everything he threw up was going in, man."
Things felt different for Anthony the moment he opened his eyes on Friday morning.
"Sometimes you just wake up and you just feel that day is going to be something," he said. "Shootaround, it felt like everything was clicking."
Anthony said his focused sharpened before the game when the team, at the behest of Woodson, watched a video montage of its game footage interspersed with motivational words from Muhammad Ali, one of Anthony's favorite athletes.
"It was a special moment," Anthony said.
It was one of many to come.
Most Pts In Single Game – Knicks History
Anthony started the game by hitting eight of his first 10 shots and pouring in 20 points. He had 37 by halftime, capped off by a runner from half court at the buzzer. Anthony then came out and hit his first five shots in the third quarter. By then, everyone in the building knew they were witnessing something special.
After Anthony broke his career mark of 50 with a layup at the 3:54 mark of the third, the Garden crowd started chanting "Melo, Melo" in unison.
"I haven't heard them like that since last year," Anthony said. "So it was good to get that feeling back here."
The Knicks entered Friday's game with a 7-15 record at the Garden, so the home crowds haven't had much to cheer about.
New York had lost five straight coming into play Friday. The team was dealing with renewed questions about its head coach's job security and whispers about potential fractures in the locker room. And then there was the omnipresent question about Carmelo's pending free agency.
But all of that took a backseat for one night, thanks to Anthony's hot hand.
"We all needed it," he said. "I needed it, we needed it."
Anthony started to tire in the fourth quarter, missing four of his first five shots. He tied King's mark on a layup. The only remaining drama on the night was if he could catch Kobe's 61.
Woodson thought about taking him out earlier in the fourth, but Anthony insisted that he was fine.
He took the ball on the wing and fought through a double-team, spinning away from it and hitting a leaner off glass to get to 62 with 7:22 to play. Anthony finished the night hitting 23 of 35 shots, including 6-of-11 from 3.
"It's surreal for me right now," Anthony said about an hour after hitting the shot. "It hasn't really sunk in yet."
Carmelo's performance puts him in select company. He's the first player in NBA history to have 60 points, 13 rebounds and hit 13 3-pointers, per Elias. He's also the first player to score 62 points and commit zero turnovers since the NBA started tracking individual turnovers in 1977-78.
In addition to those marks, he'll be forever linked to Kobe, his longtime friend and mentor, and King, his boyhood idol.
"I made history tonight," Anthony said. "It's only a small group of people that know what that zone feels like. Tonight, I was one of them."
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