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Carmelo Anthony on Fire for the Knicks Down the Home Stretch

As the playoffs approach, teams want their best player to take control of games and heat up. There’s no hotter basketball player on earth right now than Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks, slated to have the two-seed in the Eastern Conference when the playoffs begin in a few weeks.

The Knicks have now won ten straight games, and Anthony has scored 90 points in the last two alone. On Tuesday, the Knicks beat the Heat 102-90 with several of the Heat’s best players on the bench, including LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. However, it was an utterly unbelievable performance for Anthony, who scored 50 points, finishing with 18 of 26 shooting. “I think just from the start of the game, it’s a feeling that you just have while you’re out there on the court,” Anthony said. “Sometimes you get off to a good start and then you get cold the rest of the game, but tonight wasn’t one of those cases.”

Anthony made seven straight shots to open the game, and had scored 37 points before he notched one single other statistic in his box score. It was an offensive barrage that occurred almost entirely on difficult jump shots 15 feet or more from the hoop (he did not attempt a single shot in the paint), but they were all falling on Tuesday for Anthony. That kind of streaky offense is what has made the Knicks so inconsistent this season, though if Anthony and his team of gunners are firing on all cylinders, they’re virtually impossible to beat.

“It’s an inopportune time to announce my candidacy for defensive player of the year,” the Heat’s Shane Battier said, who was tasked with covering Carmelo for much of the match. “Carmelo had a hell of a game. … That’s a game that drives the analytics guys crazy because he didn’t attempt a shot within 15 feet of the basket. Most nights, we’ll take that every single time. And he made a ton of shots. Made a ton of shots. And that’s to his credit.”

The Heat rested most of their players in the game, but still need five more wins to lock up home court advantage in the playoffs. They have the one seed sewn up in the East, however, so the performance against the Knicks wasn’t a priority. Still, the Heat were somehow two-point favorites in this game despite LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers hitting the bench. That’s a testament to the respect Vegas has for the Heat, as well as the lingering memories of their historic 27-game winning streak.

“The No. 1 thing, obviously, is try to get as healthy as we can,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Obviously, that’s a priority. From there, we have time to still try to improve — not just stay in rhythm, but to improve, and also get these guys an opportunity that haven’t been getting minutes to play in these meaningful minutes. We didn’t script San Antonio or this like this to happen, but that’s what this league is about. It’s unpredictable.”

On Thursday night, Melo dropped another 40 points on the Atlanta Hawks en route to an easy 95-82 Knicks victory. It was the team’s tenth win in a row, and with the playoffs approaching, it would be wise to bet on the Knicks to carry their momentum into a first-round playoff victory against hated rivals/current seven-seed in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics.

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