Monday, February 3, 2014

J-Speaks: Knicks All-Star Forward Records a Historic Scoring Record At MSG

Dating back to 1968, only 10 players in the history of Madison Square Garden, "The Mecca" of basketball and home of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) New York Knicks have scored 50 points or more in a regular season game. Nine of those ten times were served up by an opposing player of the other team. On one of those occasion did a player score 60 points and that was done by one of the all-time greatest Bernard King on Christmas Day in 1984. Two Friday nights ago, a childhood idle of King's eclipsed his scoring record not just in Madison Square Garden history, but in the entire history of the Knicks and at the same time got his team out of a serious losing streak.

In the Knicks (19-28) 125-96 win versus the Charlotte Bobcats (21-28), Knicks All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony scored an MSG record and a career-high 62 points. He shot 23 for 35 from the field, including going 6 for 11 from three-point territory, 10 for 10 from the free throw line and he also grabbed 13 rebounds in 39 minutes.

Anthony had 20 points in the first quarter. He followed that up with 17 points in the second; 19 points in the third period and six in the fourth quarter.

The record breaking score came on a bank shot at the 7:24 mark of the fourth and final stanza that brought a incredible standing ovation from the crowd as he left the game moments later to a out of this world greeting by all of his teammates.

"I was just taking it one possession at a time. I came into this game locked in. I didn't know I was going to have this type of performance," Anthony said of his historic performance to MSG's Tina Cervasio after the game.

"It's an unbelieveable feeling just to come in and locked in the way we did."

As mentioned, Anthony is the only other the third player to score 60 points or more in a regular season game in in the history of Madison Square Garden.

Besides King's aforementioned 60-point performance, the only other player to score that many was Los Angeles Lakers all world swingman Kobe Bryant, who scored 61 points versus the Knicks back on Feb. 2, 2009.

Other amazing performance that have occurred at MSG have come courtesy of a player from the opposing team. The famed double-nickel performance turned in by Hall of Famer Michael Jordan in a 113-111 Chicago Bulls victory back on Mar. 28, 1995. He also had a 50-point performance at MSG back on New Year's Day in 1986.

Former Cleveland Cavalier and current Miami Heat forward LeBron James scored 52 points at MSG back just two days after Bryant put up 61 five years ago. He had 50 at MSG back on Mar. 5, 2008.

The late Hall of Famer Will Chamberlin had a 58-point performance at MSG back on Dec. 15, 1964.

Almost one year to the day, Dec. 14, 1965 Hall of Famer Rick Barry had a 57-point performance against the Knicks at "The Mecca."

Former Detroit Pistons' guard Richard "Rip" Hamilton had his career-best scoring performance at MSG when he put up 51 points on Dec. 27, 2006.

Last season, Warriors All-Star guard Stephen Curry scored 54 points at MSG back on Feb. 27, 2013.

To really put this amazing performance into a grander perspective, Anthony became just the sixth player in NBA history to score 60 points and grab 10 boards in a game. He joined current Turner sports analyst Tracy McGrady, who had 62 points and 10 boards back in 2004 versus the Washington Wizards and Shaquille O'Neal, who had a career-high 61 points to go along with 23 rebounds at the Los Angeles Clippers on his birthday back in 2000.

San Antonio Spurs Hall of Famer David Robinson on the final day of the regular season won the 1993-94 scoring title with a 71-point performance to go along with 14 rebounds at the Clippers.

Back in 1990, Jordan had one of his stand out performances at the Cavaliers when he put up 69 points to go along with 18 rebounds.

Hall of Famer of the Utah Jazz Karl Malone scored a career-high 61 points to go along with 18 rebounds in a 144-96 victory versus the Milwaukee Bucks back in 1990.

Anthony also became just the fourth player in NBA history to score the most points in a game without committing a single turnover since the statistic was first recorded back in the 1977-78 season, joining Hall of Famer and current NBA on TNT analyst Reggie Miller, who had 57 points without a miscue in a game back in the 1992-93 season.

Bryant had 56 points without a turnover in a game back in 2001-02. Hall of Famer George Gervin had a 55-point performance without a turnover in a game back in the 1979-80 season.

This was more than just breaking a record. Coming into the contest, the Knicks had lost five consecutive games, after winning five games in succession and starting the New Year with six wins in seven tries. The aforementioned losing streak also included three straight setbacks of an eight-game homestand. Two prior games ago, the Knicks suffered a difficult 110-106 setback to the Philadelphia 76ers (15-33).

Sixers swingman Evan Turner scored a career-high 34 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Rookie lead guard Michael Carter-Williams contributed 19 points, 12 boards and seven assists and forward Thaddeus Young had 19 points, seven boards and four steals.

It's just was not the fact that Anthony had an all-time great performance, but he was from the opening tip till he exited the contest locked in and while he did not record one assist in the game, he gave a major assist of energy and confidence to his teammates.

"It was awesome. It was jaw dropping," Knicks' swingman Iman Shumpert said after the game.

"From the time we stepped on the court, his whole demeanor was different," Knicks' guard J.R. Smith, who had 14 points off the bench said after the game.

"Normally he's smiling, joking and stuff like that during warmups, but today he was serious. You could just tell in his whole demeanor in his face. It's very few times that I seen him have that look and everytime he did, he just went off.

"It's great because this is his team. Even though its an individual performance, its all about team," Knicks center Tyson Chandler said after the game.

It is about the team and it is also about having perspective. This game is one of the very few times that the Knicks put together a strong performance from start to finish on both ends of the court and Anthony lead the way. He was quick with his moves and efficient with his shot selection. In essence, he was in that zone that any great scorer in the NBA can get in where they basket is as big as an ocean.

"It's just a zone you get in sometimes. Only a certain group of people know what that zone feels like and tonight was one of those zones," Anthony said.

Anthony on Friday night played with a focus and confidence where he was going to put an end to his team's five-game skid and the horrific attitude that has followed. What happened above all else on Friday night at MSG, the team was having fun and they played like they cared and Anthony lead the charge. He also with his performance provided memories of the player who he calls his idle played.

"It's a special moment. It didn't really sink in exactly what I did tonight. I know Bernard King is somewhere smiling at me right now," Anthony said of his idle to Cervasio after the game.

The question now is can the Knicks and Anthony take what they did on Friday night and carry it forward.

They won three straight games last week beating the Lakers (16-31) 110-103 two Sundays ago. That was followed by a 114-88 versus the Celtics (16-33) 114-88 two nights later and that was followed by a 117-86 win versus the Cleveland Cavaliers (16-31). In those three victories, Anthoy scored 34, 24 and 29 points respectably.

The Knicks winning streak came to a hault though this past Saturday night as they fell to the Heat 106-91. Anthony had 26 in the defeat.

Currently the Knicks are one game behind the Bobcats for the eigth and final playoff spot. They have no more room for error and if they are going to salvage the rest of this season, they must be consistent on both ends of the court and Anthony has to be the one leading the charge and the rest of the team must follow his lead.
Information, statistics and quotations are courtesy of 1/25/14 6 a.m. edition of NBATV's "Gametime" with Vince Cellini, Steve Smith and Mike Fratello; 1/25/14 Daily News article "Melo Makes Hit Records by Frank Isola.