Carmelo Anthony who? Kristaps Porzingis who? Mike Francesa who?
The biggest star at the Garden on Saturday night was none of the above. It was Michael Beasley, who started for the injured Porzingis and scored 30 points as the Knicks spoiled Anthony’s return to MSG with a 111-96 victory in front of an energetic crowd that included a broadly smiling Francesa, who closed out his 30-year run at WFAN on Friday.
Anthony got a video tribute and Francesa got a warm welcome, too. Porzingis (sore left knee) got to watch in street clothes as Beasley led a balanced attack for the Knicks, who won their season-best fourth in a row.
“Mike’s been fantastic,” coach Jeff Hornacek said of Beasley, who shot 11-for-18 in tying his season high in points. “He’s a smart basketball player. When you talk to him, you realize that he really understands the game. Some of the stuff he does is just effortless. When he’s driving to the basket, you think, ‘OK, what’s he going to do with it?’ Then he just kind of hangs there a little bit and shoots it. He’s one of the top scorers in this league when he gets big minutes, when KP’s out. We ask him, ‘Hey, just be a scorer.’ But tonight I thought he wasn’t just a scorer. He was a defender, he rebounded, he blocked some shots. He had a fantastic all-around game.”
It wasn’t just Beasley. The Knicks (16-13) had five other players in double figures: Courtney Lee (20), Doug McDermott (13), Jarrett Jack (12), Ron Baker (11) and Enes Kanter (10).
“It was fun,” Beasley said. “Playoff atmosphere. Just shows the resiliency of this team. We’ve got a lot of guys that can step up. We definitely need those guys. Just shows the depth on our team. Shows the fight.”
Anthony, who played 47 minutes in a triple-overtime win in Philadelphia on Friday night, had a night to forget, finishing with 12 points and shooting 5-for-18. He went scoreless in the second half.
“The game was kind of about him,” McDermott said. “I think we did a great job of not letting that distract us.”
Russell Westbook scored 25 points and Paul George had 18 for the Thunder (14-15). Oklahoma City’s Big Three has not yet meshed as anticipated when George and Anthony were added.
Porzingis tested his knee during the pregame shootaround and was ruled out about an hour before game time. He is day-to-day. Tim Hardaway Jr. missed his eighth straight game with a stress injury in his left leg.
Anthony was greeted during pregame introductions with a lengthy video tribute featuring his top Knicks moments. The cheers and applause were thunderous and sustained.
“Thank You, Melo,” the tribute ended.
“The video montage — it caught me by surprise,” Anthony said. “I wasn’t expecting it. I was just waiting for my name to be called . . . I’d like to thank [general manager] Scott Perry and Steve [Mills, the team president] and the organization for doing that, making that gesture. That was big time, and for me, that goes a long way. It was very much appreciated.”
Once the game started, though, Anthony was booed when he touched the ball. On his second touch, he took his first shot: a three-pointer. It was perfect. Anthony hit his second shot, too, but just three more the whole rest of the game.
Oklahoma City led 26-23 after one quarter, but the Knicks soared in the second to take a 50-44 lead into the half. Beasley, who often was matched up with Anthony, scored 14 in the half. Lee had 11 points and Baker contributed eight off the bench, including a pair of three-pointers.
Anthony finished the half with 12 points and hit shot 5-for-13.
Beasley scored 12 points in the third quarter as the Knicks took an 80-73 lead. When McDermott — part of the Knicks’ haul for Anthony along with Kanter and the Bulls’ second-round pick in next year’s draft — hit a three-pointer with 9:40 left in the fourth quarter, it gave the Knicks their biggest lead to that point at 88-77.
McDermott wasn’t done. Another three-pointer with 6:02 left gave the Knicks a new biggest lead at 100-87.
Speaking of not being done . . . Oklahoma City moved back to within 101-95 on George’s three-pointer with 2:58 left before Lee made a steal and fed a wide-open Beasley for an emphatic dunk. Lee followed with a driving layup to push the lead back up to double digits at 105-95.