Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks weren't having a real historic year before Jan. 24. Anthony and the Knicks had been among the biggest disappointments of the season, which is bad timing considering Anthony will hit free agency this summer. However, he not only gave the Knicks some relief against the Charlotte Bobcats on Jan. 24, he hit the record books with the most prolific scoring night in New York and Madison Square Garden history.
By scoring 62 of the Knicks' 125 points in a 125-96 win, Anthony broke Bernard King's nearly 30-year-old team record of 60 points. It also surpassed Kobe Bryant's 61-point night in 2009 as the best performance in Madison Square Garden history. In fact, Anthony reached his 62'nd point with over seven minutes to square, as it was only by the grace of coach Mike Woodson that he didn't humiliate the Bobcats further.
Anthony was on pace for 74 points, after scoring 37 in the first half alone -- with the last three coming on a half-court buzzer beater before halftime. He finally settled for 62 on 23-of-35 shooting, 6-of-11 made three pointers, as well as a perfect 10-for-10 on free throws.
New York and Anthony needed a night like this, considering the uncertain state of the Knicks and their star. While the Brooklyn Nets are finally showing some signs of life after their own poor start, New York's other basketball team is still languishing on the outside of the playoff picture. This win did help them gain on a 19-26 Bobcats club that actually holds the East's final playoff spot, yet the Knicks are still stuck at 16-27.
With New York aging and perhaps having lost a window of opportunity in the East, at least as it is now, Anthony has to decide whether he wants to help it rebuild after this year. But after his work last night, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski wrote that New York is "the best possible destination for the legacy of a ring-less superstar."
Since New York has no championships in the last 40 years, performances like Anthony's are held in a greater pantheon than they would in Chicago or Los Angeles -- the two favorites for his services next summer. By that default, the Knicks have a good shot to keep him, although last night reminded them anew why they want and need to.