He and the Knicks haven’t consistently done enough since to reinforce that notion.
Anthony looks to bounce back from his worst offensive performance of the season and help New York avoid losing for the fifth time in six games when it visits the Bucks on Sunday.
The Anthony era in New York got off to an encouraging start, as the four-time All-Star had 27 points and 10 rebounds in a 114-108 win over Milwaukee on Feb. 23. He scored 29 in a comeback victory in Miami four days later, but the Knicks (35-33) appear to still be far removed from joining the East’s elite teams.
The Knicks were talking last week about finishing fifth in the East, but the slump has a sixth- or seventh-place finish looking more likely.
And certainly not for Anthony.
He scored six points and missed 10 of 12 shots - all five in the final quarter - in 37 minutes. It was Anthony’s lowest point total ever in a game in which he played at least 28 minutes.
“He just really didn’t get a lot of opportunities at the basket,” Billups said. “They denied him, they fronted him when he tried to take them down to his sweet spot, they were bringing a guy over playing behind him and he was just getting a lot of attention.”
The defensive-minded Bucks (27-41), winners of four of the last five meetings with New York at the Bradley Center, might try a similar strategy.
Milwaukee is third in the NBA in scoring defense at 92.5 points and has limited seven of its last eight opponents to 95 or fewer. The Knicks, second in the league with 106.6 points a game, are 3-14 when scoring 97 or fewer.
Despite their focus on the defensive end, the Bucks are coming off an impressive offensive showing.
Milwaukee, in the mix for the final East playoff spot, shot 56.8 percent and got at least 13 points from each of its starters in a 110-95 win over New Jersey on Friday. Carlos Delfino(notes) led the way with 26 points and made a career-high eight 3-pointers, while John Salmons(notes) scored 25 and shot 11 of 16 as the Bucks snapped a three-game skid.
“It’s always nice to see us scoring in bunches like this,” said center Andrew Bogut(notes), who finished with 13 rebounds and seven rebounds. “It’s much harder to scout and it’s much more effective when you’re out there and you have three or four weapons that can all score.”
Bogut returned to the lineup after missing one game with a migraine headache, but appeared to injure his right elbow after getting tangled up with Brook Lopez(notes) in the fourth quarter. Bogut was icing his arm afterward, though it doesn’t appear that he’ll be sidelined again.
The Bucks could have forward Ersan Ilyasova(notes) back after he has sat out the last 11 games because of a concussion. Ilyasova, who averages 9.3 points and 6.0 rebounds, was injured in practice following last month’s game against New York.