Truth be told, Carmelo Anthony had his eyes on more than 62 points Friday night.
“I was going for 81,” Anthony said with a smile about an hour after his record-setting performance.
Eighty-one is a reference to the astronomical figure his buddy Kobe Bryant reached a few years ago against the Raptors.
And Anthony might’ve gotten there if the game was close. But the Knicks were up 37 midway through the fourth, so Mike Woodson decided to end Anthony's night once he broke the Knicks and MSG single-game scoring mark.
If Woodson kept Anthony on the floor, he might’ve reached 81, the mythical number Bryant put up on Jan. 22, 2006.
“I thought he was going to get 80,” Iman Shumpert said.
Instead, Anthony “settled” for 62 points against Charlotte on 23-for-35 shooting -- the best single-game performance in MSG history.
The previous Garden record was held by Bryant, who put up 61 against the Knicks in 2009.
So now, with Bryant's Lakers in town, the question is: What can Anthony do for an encore?
If recent history is any indication, Melo may have another big game up his sleeve on Sunday.
Anthony’s had a ton of success against Mike D’Antoni since the coach left New York.
Carmelo, who some believe influenced D’Antoni’s decision to resign from the Knicks post in March 2012, scored an eye-popping 46.5 points per 48 minutes against the D'Antoni-led Lakers last season.
If he maintains that rate, Los Angeles could be in for a long afternoon on Sunday.
Another subplot to Knicks-Lakers is Anthony's pending free agency. Melo himself acknowledged that the Lakers are one of a few teams that could be viewed as a logical option for him this summer.
"What other team would they say? I don’t think they would say any other team," Anthony said in October. "If you look at situations, that’s the only team that they probably would say.”
Bryant’s big extension (two years, $48.5 million) may make it difficult for Los Angeles to offer Anthony max money while building a competitive team around him and Kobe.
But don't be surprised if Anthony at least listens to a pitch from Bryant and the Lakers.
In September, Melo said he wanted to be courted by other teams, something he's never experienced as a pro. In November, he said he wanted to retire a Knick. Since then, he’s declined to discuss his future.
When thinking about Anthony's free agency, it's worth noting that the Knicks can offer him a five-year, $129 contract. Other suitors, such as Chicago or Los Angeles, can ink Anthony to a maximum of $96 million over four years.
For those looking for any clues on Anthony’s future, we have this: Carmelo hasn’t asked ex-Laker Metta World Peace for details about what it’s like to play for the Lakers.
“No. No,” World Peace said on Friday. “The only time I’ve ever heard anything about another team was when he asked, when he said he would like to opt-out this year. But other than that, he’s all about the Knicks. Carmelo’s all about the Knicks.
“He’s a really good teammate. I played with a few people like him that’s in his position. He’s very humble and still is able to make big shots but still be humble and not many stars can do that. He’s relatable. It’s kind of rare. I really enjoy playing with him.”
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