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Tuesday / February 21.

After 34-Point Outing, Melo Not Dismissing MVP Talk

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— When Carmelo Anthony heard chants of “MVP, MVP” last year at Madison Square Garden, he was honored but he didn’t feel deserving of them.

The Knicks slogged through a 36-30 lockout-shortened season that was marred by injuries to Anthony and others as well as a coaching change.

“Last year there was no way that I could be that,” Anthony said of the MVP.

Yet when fans chant “MVP” this season — such as on Sunday when Anthony went for a game-best 34 points in the Knicks’ 106-99 victory over the Phoenix Suns — Anthony doesn’t dismiss them.

“If I say it don’t feel good to hear that, I’d be lying to you,” he said.

Anthony entered the day third in the NBA in scoring at 26.1 points per game. His team is in first place in the Atlantic Division at 12-4 and improved to 7-0 at home.

“They have a guy like Carmelo that they can throw the ball to in isolation situations,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “To be honest with you, I thought P.J. Tucker did a good job on him. The shots that he made him shoot were very difficult shots.

“Talent enters into the equation and obviously Carmelo is a very talented guy and he made some of those shots.”

Anthony is more committed to defense now than at any time in his career and has become more unselfish with his teammates, which he has attributed to winning the gold medal at the London Olympics on a star-studded team.

“I’m healthy,” Anthony said. “Not make any excuses on last year but I  wasn’t 100 percent healthy. I’m healthy this year. As a team we’re healthy and we’re winning basketball games and we’re doing it in a great fashion.”

Still, he’s not getting too ahead of himself with all the MVP chants. It is, after all, just early December.

“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” he said. “I’m going to continue saying that.”

**For my Notebook with Video, Notes and Quotes from the game, click here.

Photo: Getty Images
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.