On January 15th of 2002, Coach Larry Brown looked at the boxscore of a Lakers and Grizzlies game from the previous night and said: “When I saw what Kobe had done, I knew Allen would answer.” What Kobe did was score 56 points in 3 quarters. What Allen Iverson, who was challenging Kobe for the scoring title, did the next night was score a career-high 58 points against the Rockets.
Let’s flash forward exactly 12 years. Kevin Durant has been on a scoring tear and racked up more 45+ point games in a month (4) than Dominique Wilkins or Michael Jordan and trails only Kobe Bryant (5 – twice) with this accomplishment. So the headlines on every sports show, website and blog is about the greatness of Kevin Durant and following those headlines is usually is a sad story about the Knicks: JR Smith untying shoes Air Bargnani taking flight, Carmelo telling fans to go “fuck themselves” and even Blake Griffin staring down Spike Lee.
Like Iverson and Coach Brown in 2002, I’m sure the league’s second-best scorer, Carmelo Anthony, read those headlines and thought to himself I need to do something to remind people of my greatness. And like Iverson did against Houston, Melo pulled out a career-high game people will probably be writing about 12 years from now.
“I made history tonight, with the performance, but just to be a part of that group of people, like I said, there’s only a small group of people that knows what that zone feels like and tonight I was one of them,” Said Anthony after scoring 62 points.
The group Melo is talking about is a group that includes Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Bernard King. And Melo’s career-high of 62 points beats out the three scoring greats for most points ever scored at MSG; The previous record was 61 set by Kobe Bryant in 2009. The 62 was also a franchise-record that topped Bernard King’s famous Christmas Day game when he delivered 60 points to the Nets.
It felt a lot like Christmas at MSG with Anthony was delivering shots from everywhere. He made 23-of-35 shots including a half-court buzzer beater before the half.
“When I made the shot at the half, I told myself the zone was there,” Anthony said.
With 34 points before the buzzer beater, we didn’t need to see that 3 go down to know Melo was in the zone and a few records were probably going to go down that night, including his career-high of 50 which he reached three times in the past.
With 19 more points in the 3rd quarter, he passed his career-high and tied the 56 in 3 quarters that Kobe had back in 2002.
Satisfied with a new career-high and a huge lead, Melo actually wanted to sit out the 4th quarter but Iman Shumpert wouldn’t go in because he and his teammates wanted to see Melo go for the franchise record.
Woodson: “I was calling for Iman and he wouldn’t even go in. He wanted Melo to get the record.”
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) January 25, 2014
Melo went back in and scored 6 more points to break the franchise record and then exited the game. It’s unlikely he would have reached Kobe’s 81 but he could have easily of scored 65, which is how many points Kobe scored in 2007.
“I’ve seen him score a lot of points, but that was some performance right there,” said J.R. Smith
Other notable facts about Melo’s historic game is Melo didn’t have an assist or turnover. The 62 without a turnover is the most points ever scored without a turnover and the person to score 60+ without an assist was no other than Kobe Byrant. Melo did have 13 in the rebound category and he became the 6th player in the past 25 years with a 60/10 game, joining T-Mac, David Robinson, Shaq, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan.
After weeks of KD praise and negative articles about the Knicks, at least today is going to be one positive day in New York for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks. Let’s just hope there’s a lot more of these for Melo in NY this season and over the next few seasons.