Carmelo Anthony didn’t take his first shot on Wednesday night in Minneapolis until nearly 10 minutes were gone in the first quarter. He made it.
Anthony also made his final shot, a sweet 18-foot jumper with 2.3 seconds left to give the Knicks a 106-104 victory over the Timberwolves.
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In between, Anthony was more spectator than shooting star. Overall, he hit 5 of 16 shots — including just one of six three-point attempts — and had just four rebounds and two assists. His 14 points were as many as Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored off the bench.
The Knicks won, though, without a big offensive night from Anthony. Kristaps Porzingis had 29 points as the Knicks overcame a sublime 47-point performance from Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, last year’s Rookie of the Year.
Is this the beginning of the movement away from the Knicks being Anthony’s team? Is he ready to take a back seat to Porzingis or even Derrick Rose, who scored 11 on an off night?
In a word, no. In two words, uh-uh.
“I was just playing within the flow of the game and seeing what happens,” Anthony said. “Other guys got it going and we got off to a good start, good lead, and there wasn’t cause for me to shoot that much. I like to play games sometimes. It was one of those nights where I was wanting to see what was going to happen early in the game and just feel the flow of the game out. We came out and got off to a good start. I felt comfortable with not taking the shot in the first quarter.”
Said coach Jeff Hornacek: “I think he saw that KP was playing pretty well and he was trying to get KP the ball at times.”
But when it mattered, after the Knicks had blown a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, Hornacek drew up a final play to get the ball in Anthony’s hands.
“You saw it,” Hornacek said. “He made the shot at the end . . . Just the confidence of Carmelo being a [nine]-time All-Star. That’s what those guys do. This may happen a lot with Melo making the big shot for us. I was in Utah when John Stockton hit about seven or eight of them in one year. Some years you nail every one of them. Hopefully that’s the case.”
What was Anthony thinking?
“Stay with it,” he said. “Believe in yourself.”
Not only did Anthony hit the game-winner, he knocked away Minnesota’s ensuing inbounds pass to prevent a final shot attempt as the Knicks improved to 9-9 ahead of Friday’s rematch at the Garden with the 5-13 Timberwolves.
The first step on Friday will be finding a way to contain Towns, who blew by his previous career high of 35 points by the third quarter. Towns shot 15-for-22 and added 18 rebounds.
“First of all we have to do a better job on Towns,” Hornacek said. “What did he have, like 103? How many points did he score? Seems like a lot. Forty-seven is a lot. We have to do some things against him.”
Ankle woes. The Knicks may be without two starters on Friday because of sprained ankles. Joakim Noah missed Wednesday’s game with an injury suffered Monday. Courtney Lee sprained his ankle in the first quarter at Minnesota and did not return. Their status was uncertain as the Knicks did not practice on Thursday.