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Carmelo Anthony impresses Derek Fisher with his basketball smarts

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks drives to the

Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks drives to the basket past Luc Richard Mbah a Moute of the Philadelphia 76ers during a preseason NBA game at the Carrier Dome on Oct. 14, 2014 in Syracuse. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Rich Barnes

SYRACUSE - Jim Boeheim divulged in his new book that Carmelo Anthony got four 'C's' and one 'D' in his first semester at Syracuse. He also got the biggest 'W' of his or Boeheim's career.

The 2003 national championship has been both men's crowning achievement. Ultimately, Anthony will be graded on whether he wins an NBA title.

To this point, he's gotten high marks from his new bosses. Coach Derek Fisher, who is working closely with Anthony for the first time, said his understanding of the game has impressed him.

"Probably how smart and observant he is about the details of the game," Fisher said before the Knicks' 84-77 preseason win over the 76ers Tuesday night.

"I think oftentimes from a distance you assume prolific scorers just see the game for themselves and they don't see all of these small things that are happening on the court. But he's an observant basketball player, really smart. He understands what's going on on the floor. That's pretty special to have.

"He's not just relying on his talent and his skill. He sees the basketball game in a complete way. We're fortunate to have that type of superstar player."

Anthony, who had 17 points in his return to the Carrier Dome, is trying to do everything Fisher and team president Phil Jackson have asked of him. He's been out of the first round of the playoffs only twice in 11 seasons. Jackson and Fisher have won a total of 18 championships, including five together.

But the triangle offense requires a major adjustment for Anthony and other Knicks who are used to more isolation plays or relying on their individual skills to score. Fitting that description is J.R. Smith, who has estimated it will take "two to three months" for the Knicks to work cohesively in the triangle.

Understandably, they haven't looked comfortable through four preseason games. Anthony doesn't seem concerned -- yet. "I don't have a choice but to make it work," he said. "We don't have a choice but to make it work."

Jackson and Fisher have praised point guard Jose Calderon for picking up the offense quickly. Fisher said Anthony's "learning curve has been excellent."

Boeheim has no doubt about Anthony's basketball acumen.

He and Anthony have talked about the book, and Boeheim defended his reason for putting his grades in "Bleeding Orange." Boeheim told SiriusXM NBA Radio Tuesday that Anthony should have gotten five 'C's' and been eligible for the Wooden Award.

"I wanted to make the point that he was a good student," Boeheim said. "He was engaged. He did work at his schoolwork. He didn't just play basketball."

Anthony said he wasn't bothered by Boeheim's revealing his grades. "I didn't have an issue with it," Anthony said. "That was 13 years ago. It's not really something I'm losing sleep over at this point."

Notes & quotes: Free-agent pickup Jason Smith had a good showing. The versatile big man finished with 14 points off the bench. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 13 points and Iman Shumpert had 12 . . . J.R. Smith left the game in the first half with lower back spasms but returned in the third quarter . . . Andrea Bargnani (strained right hamstring) missed his third straight game. Quincy Acy started all three games in his place. The Knicks don’t play again until Monday, so Fisher hopes Bargnani can practice before then and return against the Bucks.

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