By Taylor Armosino, Knicks fan since '03
In a season where the Knicks won 54 regular season games and 6 playoff contests, it's difficult to pick out just one of those games as my favorite game. The season opener against Miami was a good one, but I'm going to go with Melo's 41-point performance against Milwaukee on Friday, April 5th.
A regular season win over the Bucks doesn't always grab headlines, but on this night there was a buzz around the Knicks legends in attendance. It was Legends Night at MSG, celebrating the 4oth anniversary of the 1972-1973 championship team with a special ceremony at halftime.
This game also provided me a flashback to Carmelo Anthony's debut Knicks performance in 2011. That too was a Knicks-Bucks meeting at MSG on a night honoring franchise greats.
I remember that night like it was yesterday; there was so much optimism and excitement around the Carmelo Anthony trade. Allan Houston, John Starks, Earl Monroe were honored. It was a coronation of legends of the past and a debut of a future Knick legend. Melo scored 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, putting the game away with a couple of clutch buckets down the stretch en route to a 114-108 Knick victory.
Fast forward to Friday, April 5th, 2013 -- New York was in the midst of their finest season in recent memory. They were on a 10-game winning streak. Anthony was coming off back-to-back 40-point games; a 50-point performance in Miami followed by a 40-point game in Atlanta.
J.R. Smith had been on an efficiency tear, attacking the rim like never before. With the playoffs right around the corner, the team looked like they were peaking at the right time. It truly was an awesome time to be a Knick fan.
Against Milwaukee, New York came out a bit flat in the first half and went into halftime trailing, 45-36. J.R. Smith and Anthony had led the offense in the first half, scoring a combined 25 points. It looked like they'd need to take this game over for the Knicks to win.
With the '73 championship Knicks watching from their courtside seats, extending the win streak to 11 would be especially sweet. Anthony wasn't about to let the Knicks lose.
The "Melo" nickname was fitting on this night; when he's in rhythm his offensive game is truly beautiful to watch. What sets Melo apart from others as a scorer is his versatility; we saw that in this game. Ray Felton and Smith scored 21 points on 8-for-10 shooting in the third, but it was Anthony who took the game over.
Led by their star scorer, the Knicks scored a whopping 42 points in the third quarter -- half of which by Melo. He was 7-for-9 in the quarter and did so in a variety of ways:
His first basket came as an isolation jumper from 18 feet out. His next basket came in transition, a pull-up 3-pointer off a Pablo Prigioni assist. An and-1 make off a post fadeaway was his third make, followed by an and-1 layup three possessions later. Two more mid-range makes and another three capped off his scoring in a ridiculously efficient quarter.
As we can see from his third quarter shot chart (above), he was scoring from all over the floor. Milwaukee could hardly contain him.
Behind Anthony, the Knicks turned a 9-point halftime deficit to a 12-point 4th quarter lead. Milwaukee crept back into the game, but with New York up six with 3:38 to play, Anthony once again took over. He buried four shots in four possessions to turn the contest into a laugher. The last, contested three out of isolation that put him over the 40-point mark for the third consecutive game.
Final: Knicks 101, Bucks 83.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images