Carmelo Anthony continued to cement his legacy as the holiday hero, propelling the Knicks to a stunning 100-99 victory over the Bulls on Easter Sunday.
In what was arguably Anthony's greatest performance as a Knick to date, the Brooklyn native's season-high 43 points proved he is ready for the challenge of having to carry the team on his own, without the likes of Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin.
This is why the Knicks reeled Anthony in to the Big Apple. He is paid the big bucks not only because of the bevy of "I Do This" moments he has also produced, but for the many the Knicks expect to continue see out of him in the future.
By beating the Bulls (the NBA's top team) in thrilling fashion, the Knicks moved up to the seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings. Not only does this, ironically enough, move them away from a firs-round playoff matchup with Chicago, but if the season ended today, yesterday's win would net the Knicks a classic playoff series with the Heat to start things off.
The Heat, who are just two games behind the Bulls for the first seed, appear to represent a tougher first round matchup for the Knicks. With some of their better players questionable and/or out for the beginning of the playoffs, it would be difficult for New York to matchup with Miami's "Big Three."
The Knicks looked good early on yesterday, seemingly catching the Bulls by surprise following the 1PM EST tipoff. New York amassed a lead well twenty points in the first quarter alone, and the Bulls looked to be running on tired legs in Derrick Rose's first game back from injury.
Rose still struggled throughout the game, courtesy of the savvy defense of Knicks' rookie Iman Shumpert, but somehow the Bulls were able to claw their way back. Of course, Anthony and his team proved to have more fight in them, putting a stamp on a happy holiday ending for the Knicks and their fans.
But will this be the case on Tuesday night? As the second part of a home/away back to back, the Knicks will take on the Bulls again in Chicago tomorrow. Was Shumpert (who held Rose to 2 for 10 from the field while guarding him) really able to shut the NBA's MVP down all on his own, or did Rose simply have trouble wiping some rust off? Will he be ready to turn in a Melo-like performance while in his own stomping grounds to sink the Knicks this time?
The Knicks have given a more consistently solid defensive effort under Coach Woodson, but you can't always still wonder what Knicks team will take the court on any given night. What kind of effort will they put forth?
The same team that took the court on Sunday needs to be ready tomorrow night, because it's clear they may have just woken up the sleeping dragon. Suffering such a loss in that type of stunning fashion could take the best team in the NBA very angry. They'll surely be coming for revenge, and if the Knicks aren't careful enough, they won't leave any prisoners.