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Friday, November 16, 2012
Opening Tip: The New Melo

By Ian Begley




Every weekday throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip" segment.

Today's burning question: After what you saw on Thursday and what you'd seen through the Knicks' first five games, do you believe that Carmelo Anthony is a changed man this season?

On Thursday night, Carmelo Anthony did something he’d done only once before in his nine-year career: he scored fewer than 10 points after playing 40-plus minutes in a game.

In seasons past, a low offensive output like that may have left Anthony frustrated.

Maybe he would have sulked during the game, slapped his hands in anger or given less than maximum effort on the defensive end.

But not this season.

This season, so far, we’re seeing a whole new Melo.

Anthony had just nine points in 41 minutes on Thursday thanks to the defensive efforts of San Antonio's DeJuan Blair and Stephen Jackson.

But Anthony, the NBA’s leading scorer entering play Thursday, found different ways to impact the Knicks' surprising win over the Spurs.

He had 12 rebounds, five of which came on the offensive end. He saved two balls going out of bounds in the first half, which led directly to Knicks buckets.

And he had three assists -- but that number doesn’t tell the story of Anthony’s ability to impact the Knicks' offense on Thursday.

Anthony had several ‘hockey assists’ -- or passes that led to passes that led to Knicks baskets.

Case in point: With the Knicks down one and 1:54 to play, Jason Kidd came up with a steal, pushed the ball and fed Anthony on the wing.

Maybe in past seasons, Anthony would have put his head down and driven to the basket looking for a foul.

But on Thursday, he drove and found Ray Felton open near the basket. Felton felt a Spurs defender close in, so he turned and fired a pass to an open J.R. Smith. Smith drilled a 3-pointer to give the Knicks a 97-95 lead -- their first since midway through the third quarter.

So if you missed the game on Thursday and are just seeing the box score this morning (or this afternoon), don’t judge Anthony based solely on his shooting numbers.

Maybe in seasons past, it would have been a fair measure of his play. But not this season.

So far, this season, we’re seeing a whole new Melo.

Question: Based on what you've seen in the Knicks' first six games, do you think Carmelo Anthony is a changed man? Or do you need more evidence?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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