Carmelo Anthony has had an up-and-down tenure as a member of the New York Knicks, serving as both appointed franchise savior and avatar of front-office overreach. On Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats, however, he forever etched his name in Knicks history.
In a 125-96 blowout of the visitors, Anthony scored 62 points (23-of-35 FG, 6-of-11 3FG, 10-of-10 FT), setting new single-game scoring records for the Knicks franchise, Madison Square Garden, and all NBA players in the 2013-14 season. Melo's record-breaking basket came on a fantastic move to beat two Bobcats with 7:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.
It was a performance that won't soon be forgotten by Knicks fans and neutrals alike. While the result was never really in doubt, Melo's scoring onslaught proved dramatic as he approached various milestones and records. He scored 37 points in the first half, culminating in a half-court buzzer-beater.
Anthony entered the fourth quarter with 56 points and an eye on the aforementioned records. Although, the Knicks led 101-66, head coach Mike Woodson (perhaps with some lobbying from Anthony) elected to leave his star in the game until he reached 62. That total beats out Melo's previous best of 50, which he had reached on three separate occasions.
It was also notable in part because the records that Melo broke have become part of Knicks and NBA lore. Bernard King's previous franchise high of 60 points, set on Christmas Day 1984, is the best-known game of one of the sport's most underrated scorers. Kobe Bryant's record of 61 points in Madison Square Garden on February 2, 2009 remains one of his best-remembered performances, but it has served as an unfortunate stain on the record books for Knicks fans who wished a hometown player would hold that mark. And, while the 2013-14 season high is slightly less important, Anthony's scoring explosion gains extra meaning in the midst of the weeks-long domination of Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.
The interesting tidbits don't stop there. With 13 rebounds, Anthony became the sixth player since 1990 to notch 60 points and 10 boards, joining Tracy McGrady, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Karl Malone, and Michael Jordan. Additionally, his 10 free throws ranked and the second-fewest in the 30 60-point games since 1963-64, with only Rick Barry's five vs. the Portland Trail Blazers on March 26, 1974 beating him out. As the shot chart shows, Anthony scored from virtually every spot on the court.
It was a wonderful, enjoyable, and fascinating game in a season that has given Knicks fans plenty of reason to complain. For one night, at least, Madison Square Garden played host to pure joy.
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