No Amar’e? No problem.
Make it seven wins in a row for the New York Knicks, who once again relied on a combination of clutch late-game shooting from Carmelo Anthony (34 points, 3 blocks) and steady floor-leadership from Chauncey Billups (21 points, 7 assists) in topping the Pacers in Indiana tonight.
Anthony — he of the 19-39 (.487) career shooting percentage on attempts to tie or put his team ahead in the final 10 seconds of regulation or OT — hit the game-winner with just 4.9 seconds on the clock, and then followed it up by emphatically blocking Danny Granger’s go-ahead attempt as time expired.
It was a symbolic play on several fronts — not the least of which was even more proof that ‘Melo is something more than the “scorer” he’s been typecast as.
Fans might also recall that Granger hit a game-winning jumper with 0.3 seconds left in Indiana’s 119-117 victory of New York back on March 15, but this time deja vu was not meant to be.
The Knicks were playing without Amare Stoudemire, who was wisely kept out of the lineup in favor of treatment on his sprained left ankle. Prior to tip-off, Coach Mike D’Antoni said Amar’e could return Tuesday against Chicago.
The Knicks remain in sole possession of the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture (one full game ahead of Philadelphia), but it remains to be seen whether they will face Miami or Boston in Round One.
Earlier today Miami dismantled Boston at home, and this blog maintains that the Knicks may be better off facing the Celtics — a team in disarray — instead of the Heat.
Kudos to Mr. @TommyBeer for the obscure, yet invaluable, stat on ‘Melo’s incredible late-game clutch shooting. If you’re on Twitter, he’s well worth your follow.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or shoot me a tweet @LoHudKnicks.
AP Photo by Darron Cummings