Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Notebook: Melo maintains hot hand
By Jared Zwerling
Director Spike Lee was on hand at MSG to watch Carmelo Anthony continue his hot streak in April.
From about the midway point of the third quarter to the end of the period against the Washington Wizards, Carmelo Anthony had his stamp on the entire New York Knicks' offense in different ways.
Melo threw Kenyon Martin an alley-oop for a dunk; he drove, hung in the air and finished a difficult layup; he had a putback layup; he spun on his defender in the low post and took off for a two-handed jam; he had a quick release off the dribble; out of a double team, he delivered a crafty, underhanded pass to Chris Copeland for a 3-pointer; he later hit a 3-pointer himself; and then he was able to get off an acrobatic layup as the buzzer sounded.
Anthony, arguably the most versatile scorer in the game, was in a zone because of something big on his mind.
"Coming out of halftime, we huddled and I said, 'Let's try to get the game over with. Let's go get our division title. Let's not play around with it,'" he said after the Knicks' cruised past the Wizards, 120-99.
All in all, he had scored 21 points in the third quarter en route to a game-high 36 points, becoming the first Knicks player since Bernard King in the 1984-85 season to post five consecutive 35-point games. Not only that, the Knicks took home their first Atlantic Division crown since the 1993-94 season, and they extended their winning streak to a league-best 13 games.
"Melo's been on a nice run," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "It's nice to see because I know what he's thinking. He was thinking winning that division tonight and he wasn't going to leave any doubt on anybody's mind that we earned the rights to win the division tonight. And that's how we played in the third quarter.
"He's been beautiful to watch, man, all season because he's trying to do it on both ends of the floor. I've always said, 'Your best player has got to make guys around him better,' and I think everybody's benefited from Melo's play on this team."
Everybody has not only benefited from Melo's play, but they've also been starstruck about what he's doing on the court.
"So many of us on the bench, we look at each other and just go, 'Who is this guy?'" Steve Novak said. "He hits 3s, he's spin moving in the post and dunking on guys, and he's hitting midrange shots. He's shooting at a high, high, high percentage. He's a scoring machine."
Make that an efficient scoring machine. In three out of his first five games in April, he had zero turnovers.
"That's a good thing," Woodson said. "Our team, as a whole, we might lead the league in not turning the ball over, and that's something we started at camp. We put an emphasis on that."
With his performance tonight, Anthony widened the gap in the scoring race with the Thunder's Kevin Durant, who had 21 points in a win over the Jazz. Melo, through 64 games, has a per-game average of 28.562 points. Durant, through 78 games, has a per-game average of 28.256.
Melo has not only widened his separation in the scoring lead from Durant, but on Tuesday he also pushed LeBron James aside from the top of the jersey sales list. The Knicks are also climbing the charts offensively, as they're now averaging a second-best 105.8 points per game during their successful stretch.
"We're making that mark. We're working," Anthony said. "Right now, we're playing extremely well; not just myself, but as a team. Everybody is doing their job, everybody has seemed to accept their role."