All eyes will be on New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony when he steps onto the hardwood at Madison Square Garden for the first time since his performance for the ages.
He just might be in line for another big game against the defensively challenged Los Angeles Lakers.
Anthony will try to build on the highest individual scoring effort in the long history of the arena Sunday when his New York Knicks take on the road-weary Lakers.
The seven-time All-Star put together an unforgettable show in a 125-96 win over Charlotte on Friday, breaking the franchise and current Madison Square Garden records with 62 points.
Anthony had 56 points after three quarters, bettering Kevin Durant’s previous season high of 54. He needed only a few minutes of the fourth to break Bernard King’s Knicks record of 60 set in 1984 and Kobe Bryant’s arena record of 61 set five years ago.
”I made history, 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, who added 13 rebounds.
With Andrea Bargnani (elbow), Amare Stoudemire (ankle), Metta World Peace (knee) and Kenyon Martin (ankle) sidelined in the frontcourt, Anthony led New York (16-27) to its first win on an eight-game homestand after dropping the first three.
The league’s second-leading scorer shot 23 for 35 from the field, hitting six 3-pointers – including a midcourt shot at the halftime buzzer – and all 10 free-throw attempts.
Remarkably, Anthony did not commit a turnover in 38 minutes – recording the most points without a giveaway since individual turnovers were first recorded in 1977-78.
Now Anthony needs to score 38 to surpass Bryant’s 100 for the most points over a two-game stretch at the Garden since the 1985-86 season. Bryant had 39 points there Dec. 23, 2007, before setting the then-arena record in his next visit Feb. 2, 2009.
Bryant won’t get the chance to take back the Garden record as he remains out with a knee injury. The Lakers (16-28) also continue to play without Steve Blake (knee), Jordan Farmar (hamstring), Xavier Henry (knee) and Steve Nash (back).
Anthony has averaged 29.5 points while shooting 53.7 percent overall and 12 for 28 from 3-point range in his last six games against the Lakers dating to his time in Denver.
That doesn’t bode well for a Los Angeles team that has struggled on the defensive end during this road-heavy month. The Lakers have allowed a league-worst 113.2 points per game while dropping nine of 12.
Following a 114-105 loss at Orlando on Friday, they’re looking to end a three-game skid in the last of a stretch with 10 of 11 away from home.
”The guys wanted to do it, but they didn’t have the legs,” coach Mike D’Antonio said. ”We ran out of gas and when you’re tired, you’re not real smart. That’s what happened.”
Pau Gasol finished with 21 points, 11 boards and six assists against the Magic. Kendall Marshall added 19 points and 14 assists and Jodie Meeks scored 17.
Gasol and Meeks have certainly done their share to help the Lakers. Gasol has averaged 21.9 points and 12.0 rebounds over his last seven games, while Meeks has scored 18.4 per game and hit 25 of 59 from beyond the arc in his last 11.
The Knicks have won the last two meetings at the Garden.