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SportsColumnistsAl Iannazzone

Knicks insider: It's good to be Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony in action against the Orlando Magic.

Carmelo Anthony in action against the Orlando Magic. (Jan. 16, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony looked back on all that has happened with him this season, all the twists and turns that got him to this point where he's smiling more and looking more comfortable than he has all year on and off the court.

Anthony forced his way to New York last year for moments like the ones he's going through with the Knicks right now and he's enjoying them.

He's on a huge stage and carrying his team toward a playoff berth. He's put behind him all of his injuries, being blamed and booed for disrupting Jeremy Lin's magical ride, and being called a coach killer for Mike D'Antoni's departure.

None of that matters to Anthony, the Knicks or the fans now. He's a beloved figure in New York again and playing basketball freely and with the singular purpose of leading the Knicks to the postseason.

"When I went through that little spurt of getting booed, it was hurtful," Anthony said. "But at the same time, what can you do about it? You just go out there and play basketball and try to have fun doing it at the same time. Now the tables are turned.

"I'm having fun playing basketball. We're winning games. It's coming down the stretch. So to get in the playoffs despite everything we've been through, everything that I've been through, it would be a great feeling."

Anthony should have been playing all season the way he is now. He should have gone out of his way to make it work with Lin, to commit defensively, to try to fit better in D'Antoni's system.

But Anthony and D'Antoni both were too stubborn in that regard. They wanted to do things their way because each had been successful. But it takes sacrifice and compromise to succeed.

Since Mike Woodson has taken over, he's made Anthony the focal point of the offense, run more isolations and post-ups for him. Woodson is asking more of Anthony defensively because he's letting him play his game offensively.

He's averaging 28.8 points since Lin and Amar'e Stoudemire got hurt, leading the Knicks to a 7-3 mark without them. Anthony is scripting a different ending to a season that got ugly for him.

"I've been around this game for a long time," Anthony said. "It's not like redemption or anything like that. I try not to thrive off of redemption.

"The system is different. What I'm able to do out there is a lot different than before. I feel comfortable playing the way I'm playing right now, the way Mike wants me to play on both ends of the court. That's the fun part."


Lin talks training changes

Lin is rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee, hoping to return this postseason. But he's also talked to his trainers about getting his body ready for the NBA grind next season.

Lin may have broken down from playing more than he ever has. In his first 38 NBA appearances -- over a season and a third -- Lin played 340 minutes. He exceeded that in his first nine NBA starts (350 minutes).

"We're already creating the plan to get my legs ready and my back, and then we'll work on flexibility, soft tissue," Lin said. "We're going to come up with a regimen in-season and a regimen offseason. Add yoga in there, different things like that -- nutrition, fish oil.

"Hopefully, next year is going to be a lot different in terms of my body being able to maintain energy at a higher level."



After the Knicks' big win in Milwaukee on Wednesday, Tyson Chandler snapped pictures of his teammates in the locker room.

He shot Carmelo Anthony, Steve Novak and J.R. Smith being interviewed. Chandler also took plenty of photos of Anthony standing by himself. Anthony told Chandler he should get some shots of his Muhammad Ali tattoo on his right side and he did.

Chandler is an avid photographer, who walks around Manhattan and takes pictures. He said he hopes to have a gallery within the next 12-18 months.

His one regret is he didn't take pictures last year when he helped the Mavericks win the championship. Chandler wished he would have captured those moments. Now he's making sure he gets as many as he can this year.


Woodson loves Shumpertude

Woodson said Iman Shumpert is different from most rookies he's coached because of how hard he competes and how he accepts the challenge of guarding the opponent's top perimeter player. Woodson also compared Shumpert to his ex-Knicks' teammate Micheal Ray Richardson.

"He was a well-rounded player that played hard, great defensive guy that could score the ball, could get other guys in position to help them score the ball and rebounded the ball well for his position," Woodson said. "I see some of that in this young kid in terms of the way he goes about it.

"You've got to have an attitude to play defense in this league, man, and his attitude is that he feels like he can stop anybody that he's facing. That's a good attitude to have."

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