Carmelo Anthony Returns to Struggling Knicks Offense Against Pistons

So was Anthony, who was part of the Knicks’ offensive problems before and while he sat out the previous two games with assorted injuries, part of the solution? Or was their victory over the simply a function of the opponent? The Pistons (4-19) have lost 6 straight games, and 11 of 12 over all on the road.

The will probably get a better read when they play their only stretch of three games in three nights this season beginning Thursday against the Chicago Bulls, with games at Boston and against the Nets to follow.

Those should be sterner tests for a team that cannot claim it is cured almost one-third of the way into this 66-game lockout-shortened season.

The Knicks ended a three-game losing streak but have won only twice in 11 games. Still, they derived plenty of confidence from Anthony, who scored 25 points, shot 9 for 14 from the field and had 6 assists in 33 minutes before sitting out the final quarter.

In his draft, , four of them 3-pointers, which were badly needed from someone shooting 22.4 percent beyond the arc entering the game. Fields finished 7 of 10 for 18 points.

Amar’e Stoudemire, who injured his ankle during a halftime mishap, scored 15, 2 fewer than Tyson Chandler. The Knicks over all shot a season-high 60 percent from the field — 10 percentage points better than their previous high.

“We made shots,” Coach said. “That’s the biggest thing. Landry was phenomenal — but a lot of that is Melo. You could see he was well. He looked good.

“We play a lot off him. He draws a lot of attention, makes it easier for everybody else and he kind of puts everybody back in their roles.”

Fields said he did not feel the need to do too much (and D’Antoni agreed), the way he did while the offense struggled. Instead, he found spots for his shots and his teammates found him.

Anthony, in fact, assisted on five of Fields’s six straight baskets.

“He’s a product of the team,” D’Antoni said of Fields. “If you put him in his role and he can have confidence, he can play like he did last year.”

With Anthony on the floor with legs as fresh as they looked Tuesday, and with the same commitment to moving the ball, the Knicks believe their offense can look better than it has while producing the .

“He’s one of the only guys who can break people down,” D’Antoni said of Anthony. “We haven’t been able to sustain it without him.”

Chandler said of Anthony’s presence: “It’s a huge difference. He’s one of the best players in the world. He demands so much respect, you can’t play off of him. He’s such a great passer. When he gets in a rhythm, he’s practically unstoppable.”

That rhythm became obvious from the start, when Anthony drained his first shot, a 3 from the right corner, en route to a 4-for-5 opening quarter.

Fields and practically everyone else fell in behind him, and the Knicks’ five starters finished the night 29 for 49.

“My thing was just to see what I could do,” said Anthony, who did not decide to play until after a pregame workout. “My legs felt great out there tonight. I felt refreshed. Taking these five days off really helped. I could feel I had my explosiveness back.”

With him, the Knicks had their offense back for at least one night. Next up is far tougher competition.

“We know the system works,” Stoudemire said. “We just have to keep playing the way we did tonight and we’ll be fine.”


Amar’e Stoudemire said he twisted his right ankle jogging back to the bench during halftime Tuesday and stepping on a jump rope. He called it “a freak accident” and said, “It didn’t feel great at the time,” but expects no problems with it Thursday and beyond. Stoudemire said he had no desire to sit out games during the lockout-compressed season. “I’m not asking for that at all,” he said. “We’ve got to win.” … Mike D’Antoni said he did not expect the veteran point guard Baron Davis to return to the lineup until next week at the earliest. Davis has not played this season because of a herniated disk in his back.

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