New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony surpassed NBA great Larry Bird for 31st place on the all-time scoring list Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks were forced into overtime for a second straight game against a Utah Jazz team that led for most of the match-up.
Anthony led New York back from an 11-point deficit in the second half and all but had the game won being up four with less than 20 seconds to play, but a costly foul by Porzingis, and clutch free throws by Utah’s Gordon Hayword, allowed the Jazz to take the game to extra time.
But it was all New York in overtime; Melo was able to keep his Knicks ahead for good with an all-around effort, notching 30 points (on 13-20 shooting), nine assists and seven boards in New York’s 118-111 victory.
With the 30 points Melo put up Wednesday night, he is now sitting at a career total of 21,793. He’s 20 points away from passing hall of fame point guard, Gary Payton (21,813), for 30th on the list, and should reach that milestone on Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, seeing that he averages 21.5 points per game.
“I don’t know how I can put that into any kind of words. Just to be on that list and to know that I passed Larry knowing what he did in his career, knowing what he did in this league, I don’t know how to put that into words” Melo stated after Wednesday’s win regarding his passing of Bird.
Prior to this year’s campaign, Melo had been averaging 1,743 points per season, and he is currently on pace for 1,800 this season. Putting his age into consideration (31), Melo could play at a high level for another 4 years before a noticeable decline in his game comes into play. Even if he were to average 1,200 points and decided to only play another 5 years, Melo would still end up in the top ten of all-time NBA scorers.
An interesting fact, but one Melo likely can’t care less about. He has had plenty of statistical success throughout his 13-year NBA career, but he has failed to translate those numbers into the the thing that matters most in the NBA, a ring.
At this point last year, the Knicks were among the worst teams in the National Basketball Association. Along with that lowly fact, Carmelo Anthony was headed for knee surgery and into an off-season of uncertainty.
But in a relatively quiet off-season, the Knicks managed to pick up quality pieces and landed a Latvian gem in the draft that, along with the transformation of Carmelo Anthony into a team-first facilitator, has people around the league asking, “just how good are these New York Knicks, and what’s their ceiling?”.
The win on Wednesday lifted New York to 22-22 and leaves them just half a game out of the eighth playoff spot in the east behind the Boston Celtics. In their last ten games, the Knicks are 7-3 despite playing two of those games without Anthony, who suffered a sprained ankle last week, resulting in the two-game absence.
And despite winning seven games in their past 10, it’s their loss against San Antonio during that stretch that illuminates this team’s potential; Against arguably the second (or first depending on who you’re talking to) best team in the league, the Knicks showed exactly what their future is capable of. Hanging with the Spurs each step of the way, the Knicks ended up being a Jose Calderon jump shot away from handing the league’s best defense its first defeat at home this season.
The emergence of Kristaps Porzingis and presence of Aaron Afflalo and Robin Lopez cannot be overstated; and along with Derrick Williams, Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway, Carmelo Anthony has finally found a group of players he can trust and a sidekick in Porzingis that he can defer to; and that’s where a team is able to thrive.
At the age of 31, people believe it may be too late for Anthony to join the elite and win himself a ring, and Anthony has finally realized that. In his thirteenth year in the league, Anthony is averaging career highs in assists and rebounds. With the continued emergence of Porzingis and the addition of, say, a Mike Conley this off-season, Anthony and the Knicks may have a few more surprises up their sleeves for those who choose to overlook these New York Knickerbockers.
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)