Re-vamped Knicks off to surprising start
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
NEW YORK – Carmelo Anthony hustled back on defense, blocking Nick Young’s fastbreak layup attempt, and the ball bounced toward the Philadelphia 76ers bench, headed out of bounds.
Instead of watching that happen, Anthony chased down the ball, jumping over the Sixers bench and into the first row trying to save it.
“Just trying to lead the pack in other areas other than scoring,” he said. “I’m just trying to do the little things and make the team better, that’s it. Everybody in the world knows I can score the basketball with the best of them. For me to come out and do things other than score, it makes us a better team.”
Re-energized by new teammates, especially a trio of savvy, veteran guards, Anthony has led the Knicks to a 3-0 record, with strong wins over conference and division opponents. The Knicks got older, not younger, letting Jeremy Lin go in free agency, adding guard Jason Kidd, center Marcus Camby and forward Kurt Thomas. Star forward Amar’e Stoudemire is still not playing after knee surgery.
Yet they have beaten the defending NBA champion Miami Heat and opened with three wins in a row for the first time since 1999-2000. “We know what kind of guys we have on this team. We know what’s at stake and we want to win,” Anthony said.
And doing it convincingly. They are 3-0 by double-digit margins for the first time in franchise history, off strong defense and fluid offense.
- New York is the first team since Knicks coach Mike Woodson’s 2008-09 Atlanta Hawks to give up less than 90 points in each of their first three games.
- The Knicks have made 43 three-pointers, the most for any team in the opening three games.
They are doing this in the wake of the destruction and transportation and power nightmares after superstorm Sandy, making Madison Square Garden a place for New Yorkers to get their minds off their troubles for a few hours.
Anthony is starting at power forward, and it’s possible Stoudemire comes off the bench when he returns, not for at least another five weeks. That would make … [For more on Re-vamped, re-energized Knicks off to surprising start, click here.]