NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks celebrated their 1973 NBA title team at halftime Friday, and it apparently sparked Carmelo Anthony as he went off in the following quarter to spearhead the Knicks' 101-83 comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Knicks' head coach Mike Woodson, who was gushing all night about that title-winning team, certainly thought the halftime festivities sparked his squad.
"I'd like to think it was the ceremony," said Woodson. "It has been a special evening having all of those guys come back. Those guys [1973 team] basically set the foundation of where we stand today as Knicks' coaching staff and Knicks' players. In the third quarter we started to open it up and our defense got really good."
Anthony's performance was really good and just as impressive as his two previous outings, when he scored 50 points against the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, and then 40 points against the Atlanta Hawks the following night.
The 6-foot-7 Anthony, starting at power forward against the much bigger Bucks' frontline, had 41 points (17-of-28 shooting) and 14 rebounds as he shook off a second-quarter shooting slump when he only scored two points.
His scoring helped the Knicks get their 11th straight victory.
Anthony came to life in the third quarter as he notched 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting, including a stretch where he nailed his first seven shots. His third straight game with 40 points or more tied a franchise record.
Woodson was impressed with his star afterward.
"He has been playing phenomenal, that is all I can tell you," said Woodson. "It [Anthony's game] is complete. When he is doubled, he gives up the ball. He is offensively rebounding the ball. ... I can't say enough about. He has been special for us."
J.R. Smith wasn't to be outdone, as he added 12 points in the pivotal third quarter, on 4-of-5 shooting. Smith finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds.
Smith, who had his own torrid stretch just a week ago, when he was scoring 30 points nightly, showed an appreciation for Anthony, the league's top scorer.
"He's trying to do a little bit of everything, [and] that is what the great ones do," Smith said of Anthony. "They figure out ways to beat you. He refused [to lose] in the fourth quarter. ... He is special. That is all I can say."
The Bucks held a nine-point lead at halftime, but the Knicks outscored Milwaukee, 42-21, in the third quarter to take command.
The Bucks (36-39) were led by Brandon Jennings's 25 points, while J.J. Redick added 18 points while making five 3s. The Bucks had the look of a team ready to upset the streaking Knicks, but as is often the case for young teams, they couldn't sustain the energy and execution. "They got the momentum," Jennings lamented about the lopsided third quarter. "Melo was playing out of his mind. It was unreal. It is 100 something [points] in three games."
Anthony has actually totaled 131 (43.7 points per game), the most points by a Knick over a three-game span since Bernard King's 139 points from Dec. 21-26, 1984.
Bucks' coach Jim Boylen acknowledged how well Anthony played, but added it wasn't a one-man show.
"They went to their strength, Carmelo. He got it going, [and] J.R. [Smith] got it going," said Boylen. "Carmelo has been on a tear. They got out in transition and we couldn't slow them down. We lost guys and gave them some easy looks. You can't play a team on the road like that."
Indeed, the night belonged to the Knicks' revitalized shooters, who got countless open shots. They ultimately turned a paltry 1-of-12 performance from behind the arc in the first half, into a respectable 3-point shooting effort (12-of-36) for the game, including a red-hot 8-of-13 in the third quarter. The Garden faithful probably knew it would be the Knicks' night once Jason Kidd ended the third quarter with a three-quarter-court, 3-point heave at the buzzer.
The Knicks (49-26) hope this torrid stretch carries over to Sunday's matchup with the Thunder in Oklahoma City.
NOTES: Woodson started Anthony at power forward and Tyson Chandler at center, as neither power forward Kenyon Martin (knee) nor reserve big man Marcus Camby (plantar fasciitis) dressed. Martin, who made 10 starts at center in Chandler's absence, is suffering from a sore right knee -- perhaps because he was immediately thrown into the fire after sitting out the first four months of the season as a free agent. Woodson on Martin's sore knee: "It could be because he didn't have camp. And when Tyson was out, I was playing him because I was desperate." ... Neither team shot particularly well in the first quarter, as the Knicks shot 36.4 percent, including 12.5 percent from behind the arc. The Bucks shot 33.3 percent in the period. The epitome of the Knicks' slow night came when both Iman Shumpert and Chandler each shot airball layups, as the team missed nine straight shots at one point. ... Anthony tallied 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting in the first quarter as the Knicks and Bucks were deadlocked 19-19 entering the second quarter.