Carmelo Anthony was fighting through a tough shooting night and felt the team and the Garden fans were nodding off after Christmas carols played at halftime. But the silent night ended as Anthony decked the Timberwolves with a fourth-quarter avalanche.
Anthony scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth, including 12 in the final 1:53, to lead the Knicks to a 94-91 victory over Minnesota Sunday night. That sent the Knicks to Los Angeles for their Christmas Day game against the Lakers on a high.
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"It was just a matter of getting it going," Anthony said. "This game is one of those games that we didn't want to lose and we weren't going to lose."
The Knicks were close to falling for the third time in their last four home games even though Minnesota's best player, Kevin Love, was out with an eye injury. They came back from 11 down in the third and won after trailing for more than 45 minutes.
Anthony gave the Knicks the lead with 1:13 left, and they didn't give it up. Alexey Shved air-balled a possible tying three-pointer with 2.2 seconds left, and the Knicks improved to 20-7. "This was a game we had to get," Mike Woodson said.
Anthony missed 10 consecutive shots, but with the game on the line, he decided to take it to the basket and leave little room for error.
With the Knicks down one, Anthony drove on Andrei Kirilenko, scored and was fouled with 1:13 left. Before converting the foul shot that put the Knicks up 88-86, Anthony let out a loud scream, and the Garden roared and chanted "M-V-P!" It was the Knicks' first lead since 90 seconds into the game.
"It was kind of dead a little bit," Anthony said. "I think the music at halftime, they were playing the Christmas carols, kind of put us to sleep a little bit. We bounced back. The crowd got back into it. We made some shots, we got some stops. We fed off the crowd with that one. When they get going at the Garden, it gets rocking."
Anthony finished 10-for-25 overall and 10-for-11 from the free-throw line. In the fourth, he was 5-for-8 from the field and 8-for-9 from the line. His 19 points were one more than Minnesota scored in the quarter.
Anthony also remained aggressive and did a lot of damage after picking up his fifth foul with 3:04 left. "That was kind of an MVP performance at the end," Woodson said. "He stepped up and he made the plays. He got his fifth foul called. It's like a light went on and he just turned it up a notch. We needed it desperately."
J.R. Smith kept the Knicks in the game and had a strong all-around night with 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Tyson Chandler had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Nikola Pekovic had 21 points and 17 rebounds for Minnesota. Shved added 18 points.
After Anthony picked up his fifth foul while trying to block out Pekovic, Woodson was given a technical. When Luke Ridnour hit the foul shot, the Knicks were down 86-82.
It stayed that way until Anthony buried a three-pointer with 1:53 left. After a strong defensive stand that resulted in a steal by Chandler, Anthony put the Knicks on top for good with his three-point play. He then went 6-for-6 from the line in the final 31 seconds.
"He's such an incredible player offensively and we're going to go to him," Chandler said. "We're going to go to him down the stretch. Teams know it. We know it. And yet he still is able to perform."