Carmelo Anthony brilliant again as Knicks edge Lakers
Carmelo Anthony had an opportunity to duplicate or surpass Friday night's historic performance, especially the way the Lakers played defense Sunday afternoon.
Anthony scored seven of the Knicks' first 10 points, but he never got as hot as he did during his 62-point outing against the Bobcats, and he also tried to get his teammates involved more. So he had to settle for a 35-point game in a 110-103 win over the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers at the Garden.
"I wasn't looking for 50 tonight," Anthony said.
He finished 14-for-31 from the field with five assists and four rebounds to lead the Knicks (17-27) to their second straight win.
"It's funny," Tyson Chandler said, "when a guy puts up the type of numbers that he put up tonight and you hear the crowd gasp when he misses a shot, like he's just expected to make every single shot."
On Friday, Anthony shot 23-for-35 in breaking not only Bernard King's franchise single-game scoring record but Bryant's record for the current version of Madison Square Garden (61 in 2009).
Bryant, who is sidelined with a fractured left knee, said he called Anthony Friday night to congratulate him and told him, "Today you can cool off."
Anthony and Bryant are close friends, leading to speculation that they could team up in Los Angeles next season. Anthony will be a free agent this summer.
They talked on the court at the end of the second quarter and again before the start of the third, but Anthony wouldn't divulge what they said.
"I can't give y'all everything we talk about," he said. "A lot of the times it's just us [talking] and just having fun and just laughing and joking. It's not always business that we're talking about, or seriousness. It's us just laughing and just catching up."
Asked about Anthony's future, Bryant said, "Everybody wants to play in Los Angeles.''
Then he added, "New York is a beautiful place, don't get me wrong" -- before emphatically decrying the cold.
Anthony apparently doesn't mind New York weather, though. "I love the snow," he said. "I played in Syracuse where you get 25 inches."
Although Anthony seemed to take some heat checks early to see if he still had the touch from Friday, he definitely was more unselfish. He had a chance for an easy basket in transition in the third quarter but instead threw an alley-oop lob to Tim Hardaway Jr. for a dunk.
The Knicks benefited because they had a balanced attack. Raymond Felton shot 8-for-10 and scored 20 points. Hardaway had 18 points, J.R. Smith added 16 and Chandler had 13 points and 14 rebounds.
"I don't think they just wanted to watch me out there playing offensively," Anthony said. "Before the game, we all talked about them being more aggressive and don't try to rely on me scoring 62 points because it's not going to happen. And they did that. They were aggressive from the start. And everybody seemed to get it going."
Jodie Meeks' 24 points led the Lakers (16-29). Pau Gasol had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Manny Harris scored 18 points.
With the Knicks clinging to a 95-94 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Felton hit a floater and then fed Chandler for an alley-oop dunk that made it 99-94 with 5:43 left.
After a three-pointer by the Lakers' Kendall Marshall, Anthony rebounded his own miss and scored. Anthony hit a short jumper on the Knicks' next possession, and after a Lakers turnover, he drove for a layup that put the Knicks up 105-98 with 2:33 left.
Trailing 107-101, the Lakers could have made it a one-possession game, but Marshall missed a three-pointer with 46.9 seconds left that the Knicks rebounded.
"It's nice to see that we're playing a lot better these last two games," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "We've got to continue to build."