Knicks put on gold-medal performance in London to beat Pistons
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LONDON -- After Carmelo Anthony continued his unbeaten streak in the United Kingdom, he and Amar'e Stoudemire were put on the spot.
They were sitting together in the news conference room inside The O2 Arena after the Anthony-led Knicks' 102-87 victory over the Pistons, and a European reporter asked whose team it is.
"It's Melo's team," Stoudemire said quickly and with a big smile. He also pointed at his teammate.
Anthony countered with, "It's Jim Dolan's team."
Both are right, but it's significant that Stoudemire recognizes and acknowledges that he's no longer The Man.
It's as obvious as the fact that Anthony's play is the reason the Knicks (25-13) lead the Atlantic Division. But to make a deep playoff run, they are going to need both to play well together. And they did Thursday.
Anthony, who helped the U.S. team win the gold medal in this building during the summer, seemed very comfortable on this court and shooting at the O2 baskets. He got the Knicks off to a fast start, scoring 11 of his 26 points in the first quarter. Anthony even received some MVP chants, although not nearly as loud as the ones he has heard at the Garden or Barclays Center.
"It felt good out there," he said before the NBA announced he had been voted to start for the East All-Star team next month in Houston. "The crowd was fantastic. To see the sellout crowd, the energy that was in the building was great. I definitely had some flashbacks when I'm running out there on the court and just seeing and being in The O2 Arena."
The fact that Anthony's 15-day fast is a thing of the past might have contributed to his quick start. But he and the Knicks played as if they wanted to knock out Detroit early. They scored 16 consecutive points to build a 16-2 lead less than 3:30 into the game.
Iman Shumpert's return also had something to do with that as the second-year guard provided energy and defense in his season debut after knee surgery. He started and had eight points and one assist in 15 minutes.
But Stoudemire also had a return of sorts, and that's critical for the Knicks, too. He had his best performance in his eighth game since returning from his own knee surgery. Stoudemire was aggressive and effective in scoring a season-high 17 points in 20 minutes, going 3-for-5 from the field and 11-for-12 from the foul line. This was by far the best he has looked.
"The timing is definitely coming back," he said. "I feel just as good as I was before I was out with the knee injury as far as my timing, as far as my legs, as far as my explosiveness. I feel healthy."
J.R Smith added 16 points. Tyson Chandler, who also was on the gold medal-winning team, fought through the effects of a virus, grabbing 14 rebounds and scoring 10 points.
Will Bynum led Detroit (14-25) with 22 points.
The Knicks coasted for most of the game, but the Pistons drew within four late in the third while the Knicks went 6:32 without a basket. Steve Novak (13 points) buried a baseline jumper with 1:47 left, starting a quarter-ending 8-0 run that put the Knicks up 75-63.
Bynum scored seven straight points to bring Detroit within 83-75 with 5:48 left. The Knicks answered with 11 straight points to put the game away and keep Anthony -- and Chandler -- undefeated in Great Britain.