Heat Check: The Art of Scoring 62

CELEBRATING ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE, NY – Let me start out by saying I haven’t been to a ton of NBA games in my life. My dad isn’t the biggest basketball fan, and tickets at MSG aren’t exactly what I would consider affordable. So when I was offered tickets to Friday’s game against the Bobcats I jumped at the opportunity.

Not a bad game for my first trip of the season. A record-setting 62 point effort by Carmelo Anthony, and a defiant win to halt a five-game losing streak? Yeah, I think I’m ready to call myself the Knicks good luck charm. Though that might just be my attempt to cope with my awful record attending almost every other sporting event.

When the game started the Knicks looked more of the same: sloppy defense, and stagnant offense. This team can truly be frustrating to watch. I’ve basically just described a lazy team. They have enough talent to make the playoffs, especially in this lousy eastern conference. But when your opponents are constantly left wide-open, and your own players continue to hoist up contested shots it’s no wonder you’re not even in sniffing distance of .500.

To be honest, it wasn’t until the end of the first quarter that I was truly mesmerized by Anthony’s effort. At first it was just frustrating that we could let the Bobcats hang so close when Melo had started the game so hot. Never in my wildest dreams did I think his hot shooting would continue.

But when the first quarter ended Anthony had scored 20 points. My friend who went with me is not a huge basketball fan. I tried explaining the situation as simply as I could: “If he can somehow keep this up he’d score 80 points this game. We can modestly call that a good quarter of basketball.” But even after saying that I admitted I would be happy to see him hit 50. After all, Kevin Durant recently had a similarly impressive performance and didn’t make it to 60.

You know the rest. Anthony went on a tear. I’ve never been in an arena when a player went off like that. Everyone, and I mean everyone, realized what was happening. Every offensive possession people were waiting for Anthony to get the ball. That’s right. Fans that have rightfully grown sick and tired of Meloball were dying for it tonight.

No matter what happened he kept draining it. Every shot became more exciting than the last. Each one more unbelievable. The place just continued to get louder. It wasn’t even like Melo was getting great looks. Even highly contested shots were going in. The box score says he missed twelve shots. It certainly didn’t feel like it.

Near the end of the half Anthony got the ball and released a shot from just past half court. The crazy part is I fully expected it to go in. And even crazier I still managed to lose it when the shot went in. The whole arena did. A half court shot at the buzzer is unreal. But for a guy to hit it in the middle of a heat check? I don’t know if I’ll ever see anything like that again.

In the third it was more of the same. Melo almost went the entire third quarter without missing. Every offensive possession the arena chanted, MMMMMMEEEEEELLLLLLOOOOOO!!!!!! MMMMMEEEEEEELLLLLOOOOOOOO!!!! When he lined up for free throws (he had 11 and hit all 11) the arena switched to the classic, M-V-P! M-V-P!

As the game wore on the Bobcats started to double Melo. They were willing to let anyone beat them but him. So the Knicks moved the ball around and got wide-open looks. Melo was even able to find a few lanes and add to his total. He reached 60 on a pair of free throws. He broke the record with 62 by hitting a 9-footer. Oh and he added 13 rebounds as well. Everyone was snapping photos to make sure they could remember the moment Anthony made history at the Garden.

The Knicks then took a timeout as the announcer let the arena know of Anthony’s accolade. Unfortunately the show was over at that point. There was over seven minutes left for Anthony to go for 70 or more, but instead the team opted to let Anthony rest in a game where they led by more than 30.

The crowd tried to get Anthony back in, calling for him for the next several minutes, but it was to no avail. Still, it’d be hard to complain.

I’m not stupid. The Knicks still have several issues, and their defense got a pass only because the offense made the game so lopsided. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them drop the game against the Lakers on Sunday. Hell, they might not even make the postseason this season. But for one night at least, it was exciting to be a Knicks fan again.

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