Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEW YORK — After a record-setting night from deep, Carmelo Anthony beat the Hawks with a driving layup.
Anthony set a personal best by making 9-of-12 3-pointers, but it was his drive past Josh Smith with 12.5 seconds left that helped the Knicks edge the Hawks, 106-104, at Madison Square Garden.
“It was just a matter of not letting Josh Smith set his feet, not letting the Hawks set their feet,” Anthony said after scoring a game-high 42 points while tying the Knicks’ franchise record for 3-pointers in a game. He made 10 for the U.S. Olympic team last summer in a win over Nigeria, but his previous high in an NBA game was seven..
“Just catching it and going. I knew if I can just get one step in front of them by catching them off guard, I had a chance of getting the ball up, getting the shot that I wanted,” he added. “He probably was banking on me holding the ball out for the last shot and something like that, so it was just a matter of me catching and going at that point.”
Even after Anthony converted a three-point play to make it 106-104, Smith had a wide-open look at a potential game-winning 3-pointer after Anthony deflected Jeff Teague’s pass toward Smith on the perimeter, but Smith’s shot caromed off the window.
“That’s the longest shot that I ever looked at,” Anthony said of Smith’s shot that clanged off the rim. “I mean, he had a wide-open shot and he almost banked it at that point in time. So that’s a shot that you’re looking at the whole time and it’s taking forever to just make or miss.”
Said Hawks coach Larry Drew: “Josh Smith had a good look at it, and then the shot didn’t go down.”
Despite scoring 20 points in the loss, Smith was the goat in the final minutes. He committed a backcourt violation and then an offensive foul that gave the Knicks the ball back after Atlanta led 104-103. Smith got beat by Anthony on the layup and then missed the potential game-winner.
Anthony did not attempt a single 3-pointer in the fourth quarter after going 5-of-5 from deep in the third when the Knicks outscored the Hawks, 30-22, to lead 82-74 after three.
“When you feeling it like that, you feel like you can’t miss,” he said. “My shots tonight came within rhythm with the swing-swing passes. I found the open man tonight. We made shots. Everybody played within the rhythm of the game and it felt good.”
Had Anthony made one more trifecta, he would’ve broken a Knick record shared by John Starks, Latrell Sprewell and Toney Douglas. Anthony said he wasn’t even aware of the record until after the game.
“Not until I came here [to the locker room] and somebody told me, why I didn’t try to make my 10th,” he said with a laugh. “I did not know at that point.”
Anthony has now tied a Knicks record by scoring 20+ points in 29 straight games.
“He needed a breakout, he’s been scoring but he just hasn’t been shooting at a high rate,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said of Anthony’s performance: “. Tonight, I couldn’t rest him. I’ve been riding him in the third and fourth quarter and he came up big with big shots. It was nice to see.”
Said Tyson Chandler: “He’s playing at an unbelievably high level and it seemed like every time he put it up it went in and he kind of put the team on his back offensively going down the stretch.”
But Anthony was almost the goat at the end.
With 1:51 remaining and the game tied at 101, he was poked in the face by DeShawn Stevenson. Anthony slammed the ball down and picked up his ninth technical foul of the season. Kyle Korver’s technical free throw put the Hawks up 102-101.
“He got me about three times in one play, he got me somewhere in the face,” Anthony said.
Following that Anthony went 0-for-2 and also committed a turnover on a pass in the lane to Amar’e Stoudemire, who played well, scoring six of 18 point in a row during one key fourth-quarter stretch.
Thanks to Smith’s miscues, the Knicks had an opportunity to win it.
The Knicks rebounded from a blowout loss Saturday night in Philadelphia in which Anthony shot 9-of-28 and 0-of 6 from beyond the arc.
With this turnabout, they opened their five-game homestand with a much-needed win.
“Tonight was one of those must-wins, especially bouncing back off the disaster yesterday in Philly. I’m glad we was able to bounce back and put that game behind us so fast,” Anthony said. “That’s the joy of this league. You have games one night and you get a chance to redeem yourself the next.”
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
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.