MIAMI – There was no LeBron James to stop Carmelo Anthony in Miami. The King is in New York waiting on the Knicks and avoiding Trump hotels.
There was no Dwyane Wade. No Chris Bosh. Not even Justise Winslow. The old Heat are gone, replaced by struggling youngsters with a starting shooting guard named Rodney McGruder (who?).
So nobody stopped Anthony on Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena. He went off for a season-high 35 points in a 114-103 victory, carrying the Knicks (12-9) to three games over .500 for the first time since the 2012-13 season, which predates Phil Jackson.
“I needed to get myself going,” Anthony said. “I knew that I wanted to get myself going, someway, somehow.”
The Knicks are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference with a four-game winning streak. They’ve also won nine of their last 12, just in time for the defending champions to invade the Garden on Wednesday.
New York figures to have a better showing than the 17-point defeat in the season opener at Cleveland.
Jeff Hornacek has the Knicks three games over .500 and winners of four straight.
“I think we went into that game with just four practices total with all our guys, if that,” Jeff Hornacek said. That was the first time we played together. So hopefully we give them a better battle.”
Tuesday’s victory against the depleted Heat – which had just nine healthy bodies – kicked off a stretch that Hornacek described as potentially season-changing. It’s seven games with six on the road, and the coach set the bar for success.
“If we can come out of here at 5-2, it would be fantastic,” Hornacek said. “If we pulled something like that off, it might catapult us the rest of the year.”
That’s a lofty goal considering two of the opponents include Cleveland and Golden State. It would also buck a trend since the Knicks are 3-6 on the road.
But the recent play has the Knicks confident they turned a corner, or at least rounding it. It helps that the Eastern Conference is again a jumbled mess after Cleveland, leaving New York with at least the appearance of an opportunity to host a Game 1.
Courtney Lee splits two defenders on his way to the basket.
“Anytime you can put together some wins you feel confident, you feel comfortable, you feel like you’re headed in the right direction,” Anthony said. “I really feel like we’re doing that. We’re headed in the right direction. We’re trying to play the right way and we’re winning basketball games in different fashions.”
Added Hornacek: “If we get it together – and we’re playing better now — we can compete with any of these teams.”
On Tuesday, Anthony’s offensive outburst was complemented by Kristaps Porizngis (14 points, 12 boards), Kyle O’Quinn (12 points, seven rebounds) and Lance Thomas (11 points). Courtney Lee scored nine points in 29 minutes after missing two games because of an ankle sprain. Joakim Noah provided energy and a double-double in just 14 minutes. The Knicks lived in the paint with 56 points in that area.
The depleted Heat (7-14) were without Winslow, James Johnson, Luke Babbitt and Josh Richardson due to injury. They jumped on the Knicks early and built a nine-point advantage in the second quarter, but then Anthony went off and Miami had no answer.
The Knicks can’t afford to play from behind against James and the Cavs.
“If you want to beat a team like that, you can’t have letups,” Hornacek said. “You kind of take two minutes and cruise, all of a sudden they’ll throw 10 points up on you.”
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News