Carmelo Anthony has taken on the leadership of the Knicks,...

Carmelo Anthony has taken on the leadership of the Knicks, especially with Amar'e Stoudemire hurt. Credit: AP

Carmelo Anthony stood in the empty visitors' locker room at Conseco Fieldhouse and wore that same Cheshire cat grin he flashed after burying a game-winning jumper against the Pacers on Sunday night.

"Another Melo moment," he said with a laugh, repeating a phrase that, considering his unmatched success in the clutch during his career, soon should become his trademark.

It was Anthony's 16th go-ahead basket in the final 10 seconds of a game, which is the most of any NBA player since the 2003-04 season.

"I just love the moments, man, that's all," he said. "I make the shot, I'm a hero. I don't, move on to the next day. That's the way I look at it."

The last time the Knicks were in Indiana, he had a Melo moment, too, but this was a different episode. On that night, March 15, Anthony stormed off the Conseco court annoyed at Jared Jeffries for ignoring his demands for the ball with three-tenths of a second left and the Knicks down two.

"That seems like that was so long ago," Anthony said.

Just short of a month later, Anthony has taken ownership of the team. After hitting a jumper with 4.9 seconds left to put the Knicks ahead, he put himself on the Pacers' leading scorer, Danny Granger, and came through with a game-clinching block that prevented Granger from beating the Knicks with a last-second shot, as he did in March. "I wanted to guard him on that shot, too," Anthony said, recalling Granger's winning jumper in that March 15 loss, which came during a six-game losing streak.

Anthony described the final play in Sunday's rematch by revealing the ownership he's taken of this Knicks team, which has won seven straight and clinched the No. 6 seed and a first-round playoff matchup against the Celtics last night.

"I was about to put Landry [Fields] on [Granger] and we were going to switch everything," he began. And as he talked it became clear that he was taking charge on the court. It's almost as if during these last two weeks, the team has become his. But with careful consideration to Amar'e Stoudemire, Anthony won't use those terms.

"I wouldn't say it's my team," he said. "In a situation like this, it might seem like that because I make the shots and I make the big plays. But back then, I was just trying to figure my way out, just trying to get my feet wet. It was a new team, a new situation."

And now?

"We've come a long way since I've gotten here," he said. "Everybody has bought into what's going on, bought into the quote-unquote Mike D'Antoni system, and we've been successful with that. When I got here, I told you it was going to take some time, and it did."

Notes & quotes: Anthony was named NBA Eastern Conference player of the week for the second straight week. The Knicks went 4-0 and he averaged 28.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. He is the first Knick to earn consecutive player of the week honors since the award began in 1984. Anthony and Stoudemire, who was named player of the week Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, own four such honors this season, the most the Knicks have had in one season.