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Carmelo's torrid pace continues

Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks lays up a basket against the New Jersey Nets. (March 30, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Carmelo Anthony's 39 points in the win over the Nets gave him consecutive 39-point performances, 116 points in three games and a third straight game scoring at least 38 points. Only two other times this season has a player scored at least 35 points in three consecutive games: Golden State's Monta Ellis (44 in a loss to the Rockets on Dec. 20, 36 in a win over the Kings on Dec. 21 and 39 in a win over the Trail Blazers on Dec. 25) and Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge (42 in a win over the Bulls on Feb. 7, 37 in a win over the Raptors on Feb. 11 and 36 in a win over the Pistons on Feb. 13).

In fact, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Anthony is the first Knick to score at least 35 points in three consecutive games since Patrick Ewing did it during the 1993-94 season. Ewing had 35 points in a win over the Spurs on Jan. 19, 1994, 36 points in a loss to the Magic on Jan. 21, 1994 and then 36 in a loss to the 76ers on Jan. 23, 1994.

Ewing came close to doing it four straight, as he had 34 points in a win over the Timberwolves on Jan. 17, 1994.

Come to think of it, Amar'e Stoudemire came close to pulling this off twice during his franchise-record nine-straight 30-point performances earlier this season. Stoudemire had 37 points in the Nov. 28 win over the Pistons, 35 in the Nov. 30 win over the Nets and 34 in the Dec. 3 win over the Hornets and then had 34 in the Dec. 6 win over the Timberwolves, 34 in the Dec. 8 win over the Raptors and 36 in the Dec. 10 win over the Wizards.

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* -- Speaking of Stoudemire: one rebound in 30:38? Despite the win, and all of the talk about Stoudemire's dead legs (they didn't look dead when he was shooting 10 for 15 from the field), the question had to be asked of Mike D'Antoni if this kind of effort from the all-star is unacceptable.

"He knows that, I'm sure he'd be the first one to admit that," D'Antoni said. "He's fine. Again, we'll get his legs back and we'll get him going."

With a three-day break until Sunday's game against the Cavaliers, the team will take another day off on Thursday and the coaching staff can only hope the springs in Stoudemire's legs eventually re-set themselves. But it's one thing to have trouble jumping for a rebound. It's another to merely make sure you box out your man when the shot goes up. Shelden Williams came up with a big box out on Brook Lopez that allowed Toney Douglas to rebound a missed jumper by Chauncey Billups with 42.5 seconds to go. That forced the Nets to foul Douglas, who hit both free throws to give the Knicks a 118-114 lead that proved to be the difference in the game.

* -- Deron Williams was sensational and for stretches completely dominated the game and almost appeared able to win it by himself in the fourth quarter until his potential game-tying jumper fell short with 4.9 seconds left. And while it's impossible to not wonder "what if" when it comes to the trade that happened once the Knicks completed their deal for Carmelo, it's also impossible to not think what the reaction would have been when Williams' strained wrist issue that he brought with him from Utah -- and pretty much has him done for the season, despite the Nets' decision to play him tonight for competitive reasons -- was revealed as the Knicks were battling to clinch a playoff berth.

Just imagine the outrage as Williams was forced to play through an injury that clearly is giving him trouble with his shot and has been reaggravated twice, the last time when he fell on it in the March 18 loss to Milwaukee. Couple that with Stoudemire's dead legs and wilting swagger and you might have had some of the professional contrarians grumbling about the failure to get Carmelo because you desperately needed a primary scorer who can carry the team late in games.

Sure, you'd still have your point guard of the future, which obviously would be the most important factor, but you can't deny there would be just as much outrage about that -- and how it may cost the Knicks a playoff berth -- as there is with the current state of the team.

* -- It was a good night for the New York version of the Knuggets. Not only did you get a pair of 30-point performances from Anthony and Chauncey Billups (33), but Shelden Williams scored on three straight possessions, including two dunks, with the assist on each by Anthony Carter. At one point, D'Antoni had a lineup on the floor of four Nuggets (Billups, Carter, Anthony and Williams) and Stoudemire.

* -- Billups declared himself completely back after the deep thigh bruise he suffered in the first game of the month. He still has issues containing speedy guards (hey, who doesn't have trouble keeping Deron in front of them?) but Billups seems to be back to his old (no pun intended) self at this point, pulling his veteran tricks, such as getting that critical three-shot foul with 2:54 left as he stopped short to make contact with the pursuing Jordan Farmar.

* -- I thought MSG Network sideline reporter Tina Cervasio made a funny observation when she wondered on Twitter if it was awkward for Jay-Z, who owns a small stake in the Nets, to hear his song, "Empire State of Mind," blaring from the Garden soundsystem as the Knicks celebrated the win.

Speaking of rappers, it would have been funny to see BizMarkie, who was also in attendance, put on a Knicks cap and belt out an "Oh bay-bee what I neeee-eeeed..." as Deron walked off the court.

* - By the way, Kris Humphries grabbed 15 rebounds and will be a free agent this summer. And not only does he bring rebounding, he brings Kim Kardashian. With Lala (Carmelo's lovely wife), Ciara (romantically linked to Amar'e) and Kim, now you'd have a legit Big Three worth writing about.

* - The Magic Number is three and the Knicks have a chance to clinch a playoff berth as early as Sunday night against the Cavaliers, if only they could solve that indomitable Cleveland juggernaut, which will go for the sweep. If the Bobcats lose Friday to the Magic, it sets up a situation on Sunday where with a Knicks win and a Bobcats loss to the Wizards . . . OK, forget it. Circle Tuesday against the Raptors as your more likely opportunity to scratch that seven-year itch. 

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