The New York Knicks beat the hell out of the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night, a fact that pleased me, a Knicks fan living in Brooklyn, to no end. Steve Novak continued to be Mobb Deep's people's champ, rookie Iman Shumpert had his best game as a Knick, and Carmelo Anthony fought through his groin injury to give interim coach Mike Woodson's team exactly the kind of star turn it needed to take the will of the Eastern Conference's No. 3 seed.
A lot of writers noticed the fact that 'Melo had one of his best games of the season despite battling through injury. One of them, ESPN New York's Ian O'Connor, wrote Thursday in praise of Anthony's performance, detailing how gritting out the groin injury not only dovetailed with "the city's no-pain, no-gain ethos," but also could help the beleaguered small forward "win back New York's complete trust."
Amare Stoudemire was out, and so was Jeremy Lin. Tyson Chandler would have to wrestle Dwight Howard with a bum wrist, and Baron Davis would have to run the point with a sore hamstring and other achy, breaky parts.
Anthony couldn't possibly sit this one out. [...] It's almost April, and Anthony knows he'll go down as the face of an unmitigated disaster if he doesn't at least carry this team to May. [...]
"I just want to step up," Anthony said. "That's it. I've got to take on that responsibility to try and win these basketball games."
None of these things are wrong. A Knicks team without two of its best offensive options and whose best player — and if you have any doubt that Tyson Chandler is the Knicks' best player, you haven't been watching at all this season — had to bang with a force of nature all night needed not only all hands on deck, but also the kind of commanding offensive performance that 'Melo can provide.
With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the Knicks need wins and the New York offense needs a focal point; with Stoudemire sidelined for at least two to four weeks with a bulging disk in his lower back, responsibility for both will fall to Anthony. And after looking like a hatchetman on the heels of the intra-Garden war with ousted coach Mike D'Antoni — no matter how many times the star forward says it didn't go down like that, that's the way it has been and will be perceived — the only way for 'Melo to clean the dirt off his rep is to play the conquering hero, whether his groin's barking or not, because history's written by the victors.
Here's the thing, though:Read More »from Liking Carmelo Anthony more because he’s ‘tough’ would be dumb