Two nights after dropping a career-best 62 points on the Charlotte Bobcats, Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks continued their winning ways with a strong performance against the Kobe Bryant-less LA Lakers in a nationally televised showdown at The Garden.
Anthony continued his hot shooting spree by scoring 35 points in a 110-103 victory over visiting Los Angeles. ‘Melo has now scored a combined 97 points in the last couple of outings while perhaps breathing new life into a team that’s been marred in a season full of disappointments.
New York led for most of the contest behind another solid outing from ‘Melo. The All-Star forward fended off a pesky Lakers’ defense to create scoring opportunities both on the inside and the outside. When he wasn’t scoring, he was creating open looks for his teammates who made the most of their opportunity throughout the first half.
After taking a 51-47 lead into the locker room, the Lakers came out firing on all cylinders and took advantage of some sloppy, careless Knicks’ defense to briefly take a one point lead late in the third quarter.
Not to be outdone, Anthony rallied his troops and got support from rookie guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. and JR Smith. The first-year phenom and reigning “Sixth Man of the Year” combined for 34 points on the evening. The highlight of the third period came from Hardaway, Jr., who smashed in a two-handed alley-oop off a fast break pass from Anthony.
Los Angeles continued to battle in the final 12 minutes, with Jodi Meeks and Paul Gasol knocking down perimeter shots to keep the Lakers within striking distance. But ‘Melo went back to work in the final minutes and ultimately fended off any hopes of a Laker comeback to win their second straight game.
Raymond Felton added 20 points and Tyson Chandler returned to his old form with a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Gasol added a double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds while Meeks chipped in 24 in a losing effort for the Lakers, who were finishing up a seven-game Grammy Awards road trip.
“He's a guy that, he just wants to win,” Felton said about Anthony afterwards. “Sometimes he likes to take it on his shoulders, so we have to take some of that pressure off of him by hitting shots, by making plays offensively.”
New York looks to make it three straight when they welcome the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night as an eight-game MSG home stand continues.