Carmelo Anthony has steadily been making his case for "Eastern Conference Player of the Month," carrying the Knicks on his back in the absence of other key contributors.
It can't be denied that as he leads New York towards the playoffs, that Anthony is living up to his superstar reputation.
Last night, Paul Pierce and the Celtics looked to put an end to Anthony's dominance. Perhaps Boston thought with Anthony carrying the Knicks, should he be stopped, so would the team.
Though the Knicks' offense has looked stagnant in losses to contending teams such as the Bulls and Heat this month, Anthony played floor general last night as well, dishing out 10 assists. Steve Novak just so happened to capitalize on a bevy of Anthony's passes, cashing in for a career-high 25 points off the bench. The NBA's best three-point shooter thus far, the Marquette product knocked down eight long bombs.
Also making it rain from downtown was J.R. Smith, who knocked down seven three-point field goals on his own to pouring in 25 points as well. The Celtics looked to trap Anthony on defense, preventing him from getting into a true rhythm. He responded by finding his teammates in the right spots all night long.
But he didn't stop there. Anthony responded beautifully as the playmaker, but the fact is that the star was able to power through the Celtics' swarming defense nevertheless. The Brooklyn native attacked the basket and got to line effectively, pouring in 35 points to lead the Knicks. By also grabbing 12 rebounds, the star completed his first triple-double as a Knick. It was only the second of his entire career.
Paul Pierce appeared unstoppable for the Celtics, exploding for a game-high 43 points. That said, his team's overall grit and intensity was simply not enough to overcome the Knicks, as New York took control (and never looked back), following a 15-0 run in the second quarter.
Boston did appear to have a somewhat slim chance at a comeback late in the fourth quarter, however. The Celtics had possession of the ball and were only facing an eight-point deficit with about a minute remaining in the game. Instead of looking to claw their way back into the game, Coach Doc Rivers subbed out his stars for weaker backup players, thus submitting to the Knicks.
Winning 118-110, New York was clearly paced by one of the team's strongest offensive performances of the season. In addition to Anthony, Novak, and Smith all making it rain, Tyson Chandler played aggressively under the basket, using his physicality to pound in an efficient 20 points of his own.
All four players who scored twenty plus points deserve to be commended, by someone else who also played surprisingly well was backup point guard Mike Bibby. With Baron Davis plagued by a stomach bug, the veteran Bibby stepped up in a pinch, dishing out six assists while committing 0 turnovers in 26 minutes off the bench. He had a fantastic plus/minus rating of +16 for the game.
After such an exhilarating victory, the Knicks will venture out to New Jersey to play the Nets later tonight. The game marks the last time the Knicks will play in New Jersey before the Nets move to Brooklyn next season.