Sun | Feb 18, 2018

Anthony back to face Knicks team rising behind Porzingis

Published:Saturday | December 16, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Oklahoma City Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony (7) shoots against Memphis Grizzlies forward JaMychal Green (0) and guard Tyreke Evans (12) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, in Memphis on December 9.
New York Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis (centre) drives past Charlotte Hornets’ Malik Monk (right) to score during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New York on November 7.
1
2

NEW YORK (AP):

Carmelo Anthony is coming to Kristaps Porzingis' house.

Three months after the Knicks traded Anthony to Oklahoma City, their former All-Star is gone and quickly forgotten. Porzingis is playing nearly as well as Anthony ever did in New York and seems to enjoy unyielding support from both fans and the front office that Anthony never had.

Porzingis has something else Anthony doesn't: a winning record.

The Knicks welcome Anthony back tonight, trying to extend their surprising start though perhaps without the new main man in Madison Square Garden.

Unlike team management, Porzingis didn't want his friend to leave.

But it sure looks like it was the best thing for him and the Knicks.

"Well obviously, I would love to have had him here to continue to learn from him," Porzingis said. "But without him this year I've had more of an opportunity. I am featured more, which is normal."

Porzingis is listed as questionable to play after he left the Knicks' game in Brooklyn on Thursday in the third quarter with a sore left knee. New York held on after he left, improving to 15-13 with their third straight victory.

RAUCOUS OVATION

If Porzingis plays, count on the usual raucous ovation when he's the final starter announced, the spot that previously belonged to Anthony

And what of the reception for Anthony, who led the Knicks

to three straight playoff appearances after arriving in 2011, led the league in scoring when they won 54 games and a division championship in 2013, and always made it clear that he loved New York and didn't want to go?

"I don't think he deserves to be booed, but you never know," Knicks forward Lance Thomas said. "Regardless, he is going to bring his 'A' game and we're going to bring ours as well."

Former team president Phil Jackson longed to unload Anthony last season, but the Knicks weren't sure what to expect when they finally did make a deal on the eve of training camp. He was their leading scorer and team leader, and coach Jeff Hornacek had already said Anthony would be in the starting line-up if he remained on the team.

But new president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry found a trade the next day and it's been a good one for the Knicks. Enes Kanter is giving them 13.4 points and 10.3 rebounds a game as the starting centre while providing positivity that for years rarely existed in the home locker room. Doug McDermott is bringing another 8.5 points a night off the bench.

Anthony is struggling with the Thunder, a top-25 scorer in NBA history potentially on his way to the worst season of his career. He went into last night's game at Philadelphia averaging just 17.7 points on 40 per cent shooting.