Cold-Blooded ‘Melo

8 04 2012

He shoots too much. He can’t seem to fit in the system. He doesn’t work with his teammates.

All of these thoughts did not go through anybody’s mind as ‘Melo might have just had the best game of his eight-year career.

The New York Knicks defeated the Chicago Bulls, 100-99, in a potential playoff matchup. The Bulls (43-14) currently sit 2 1/2 games ahead of the Heat for the top seed and the Knicks (29-27) lead the Bucks by one game for the last playoff spot.

Even though basketball did in fact happen for the first 3 1/2 quarters, this was all about the ending and all about Carmelo Anthony.

With 3:45 left to go in the game, the Bulls led 91-81 after a Taj Gibson jump shot. With Derrick Rose finally looked back in normal form after his slow start, the Bulls seemed to be on their way to another victory.

Then, the blitzkrieg happened.

After a J.R. Smith three-pointer, Anthony took command of this game. He strung together seven straight points but didn’t do so in a selfish manner – as he usually gets blamed for doing.

Twice during this 10-0 run for the Knicks, their superstar passed up an open shot to get Smith and Novak opportunities to hit a three-pointer. They both missed. So when the game was on the line with only 11 seconds left and a three-point deficit, Anthony made the right decision and rose to the occasion with a difficult pull-up three-pointer, adding five minutes to the game.

Overtime had a similar flow as the end of the fourth quarter. After Smith put in two midrange jump shots, Melo took the reins over yet again.

Out of a timeout, the Knicks ran a perfect play that allowed Anthony to take it right to the hoop, laying it in over the long-streched arms of Joakim Noah. Down by two with 45 seconds left, ‘Melo yet again passed to J.R. Smith and gave him the chance to be the hero. After his miss and another Tyson Chandler tap-out (10 offensive rebounds), the Bulls had to make one more stop. Anthony had the ball in the exact same position and pulled up for another three-pointer.

Bang.

Once Rose missed a tough floater as time expired, Madison Square Garden began to roar as ‘Melo gave his team a speech in a huddle.

Games like this make the NBA the entertaining market it has been and is currently. The entertainment provided play after play occurred even if a team didn’t score. Just as audiences can’t wait to see the ending of a great movie, sports-viewers couldn’t wait to see the ending to this battle. The emotion from the players on each side (even though Rose seems to remain emotionless no matter the situation) could be seen through their play on the court. What a sight.

What Anthony did Sunday can not be taught. Fundamentals can always be adjusted and improved, but the gut instinct to kick it into another gear can only be found in a couple of players from season to season. Anthony’s 43 points – his highest total as a Knick – provides a good representation of just how good he was. Even though Anthony put up 31 shots, he made 16 of them, and Woodson will take that percentage on any given night.

This game could easily be blown out of proportion, and the Knicks’ bandwagon could become too heavy to ride on. This is only one game in a 82 66-game season.

If these teams end up facing off in three weeks, the Bulls will be favored to win. It can’t be forgotten that the Bulls have 14 more wins than the Knicks and have much more playoff experience. If things go as they statistically should, the Bulls will be playing into mid-May.

But the Knicks now have hope. They have hope that even though they don’t have Jeremy Lin or Amare Stoudemire, they can hitch their wagon to No. 7 and possibly turn a first-round matchup into a competitive series. The red-hot Grizzlies took down the 62-21 Spurs one year ago. If the Knicks are running on all cylinders and Anthony finds a way to provide theatrics similar to Sunday, expect anything to happen in a league where “Big Things Are Coming.”

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