Carmelo Anthony enjoys playing against his good friend LeBron James. But it was hard for him to enjoy Saturday night’s game.
It was the type of game that could increase Anthony’s desire to play with James someday. But he didn’t want to talk about it after the Knicks fell behind by 25 points and hardly put up a fight in a 107-93 loss to the Cavaliers at Madison Square Garden. One more loss in the Knicks’ final eight games — or one more victory by the Pacers in their final 10 games — and the Knicks will be eliminated from playoff contention.
Anthony, who scored 23 of his 28 points after halftime and added nine rebounds, looked frustrated throughout the game. Afterward, he wouldn’t answer questions about whether he would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to play with James, who had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists.
“I don’t want to talk about that, man,” Anthony said. “I’d rather not talk about a no-trade clause after losing. I don’t want to talk about that no more this season, to be honest with you.”
James played his usual game, making everyone around him better. In addition to his triple-double, he had the fans buzzing with a driving dunk over Lou Amundson and Kristaps Porzingis (19 points). He also demonstrated how strong he is with a couple of other physical drives to the basket that he converted with Knicks draped all over him.
Anthony started 2-for-12, missed some easy ones inside and had his shot blocked a couple of times in the first half before bouncing back after halftime. But the Cavaliers (52-21) made it difficult for him all night.
“I wish I would have won,” he said. “It’s tough losing, period.”
Anthony said any frustration he showed was from the way the officials were “was letting them bang me around a little bit out there.” He pushed Kevin Love in the first half and drew a technical foul in the fourth quarter.
It was a tough night for the Knicks (30-44), who trailed 56-32 at halftime. Even after scoring 40 points in the third quarter, they never got the deficit under 10 in the second half.
Love had 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who rested Kyrie Irving. “I understand the moment that I’m in,” James said. “I understand how important I am to this team and what we’re trying to do, so I’m just stepping up my play a little bit.”
James recently was quoted in a Bleacher Report article as saying he hopes to play with his friends Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul before their careers end. Anthony hadn’t dismissed it. He had said he would “take a pay cut if it happens.” He also had said that if it happens, it won’t be in New York. Said Anthony, “I think by that time, you want to go somewhere warm.”
Cleveland is warm in late spring and the summer. The defending conference champion Cavaliers still could be playing by then for the second consecutive season.
“I feel like we’re ready to make a championship run,” James said. “I’m confident in this team and I know we can make a championship run, and that’s all you can ask for. I believe in what we have. And I know we can win a championship with the group that we have. And I’m confident in my abilities to lead this group, and everything else is smoke and mirrors and doesn’t really matter to me.”