The Heat are most peoples’ obvious pick to win the East, but on Tuesday night Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks reminded everyone that they are still a force to be reckoned with.
Anthony scored 50 points, which tied his career high, as the Knicks defeated the East-leading Heat 102-90. Anthony’s outburst proved that the boys of South Beach will still have some competition come playoff time.
“I felt good tonight,” Anthony said, according to ESPN.com. ”I think just from the start of the game, it’s a feeling that you just have while you’re out there on the court, Sometimes you get off to a good start and then you get cold the rest of the game, but tonight wasn’t one of those cases.”
Anthony drained 18 of his 26 field goal attempts, many of which were against Shane Battier, in New York’s ninth consecutive win. Needless to say, the Heat – who were without LeBron James and Dwyane Wade – didn’t have an answer for the red-hot Anthony.
“It’s an inopportune time to announce my candidacy for defensive player of the year,” Battier joked. “Carmelo had a hell of a game. … That’s a game that drives the analytics guys crazy because he didn’t attempt a shot within 15 feet of the basket. Most nights, we’ll take that every single time. And he made a ton of shots. Made a ton of shots. And that’s to his credit.”
The Heat were ailing from minor injuries – James sat out with a sore hamstring and Wade with a sprained ankle – and head coach Erik Spoelstra noted the importance of getting his guys ready for the postseason while giving other players valuable minutes and experience.
“The No. 1 thing, obviously, is try to get as healthy as we can,” Spoelstra said. “Obviously, that’s a priority. From there, we have time to still try to improve — not just stay in rhythm, but to improve, and also get these guys an opportunity that haven’t been getting minutes to play in these meaningful minutes.”
Meanwhile, the Knicks seem to be aiming to finish to season as strong as they can and seem to be playing with a chip on their shoulder. If Anthony stays hot and the Knicks continue to win, it’s doubtful anyone in New York will complain.
“My thing is to try to be aggressive, make shots,” Anthony said. “When you make shots, it makes the game so much easier.”