Carmelo Anthony received a hero’s welcome as he returned to Madison Square Garden with the Trail Blazers last night, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Anthony was cheered during pre-game introductions and every time he touched the ball. The cheers grew even louder when he scored, as the fans offered their thanks for his six and a half years of service to the Knicks.
“The love was definitely felt tonight,” Anthony said. “From the fans that were here, just the city as a whole, just being back. I think that feeling is kind of hard to explain. But for me to kind of get that ovation, I think I’ve always had the love from the city like that. But to be back in this building where I spent so many years, that love felt extremely good tonight.”
It was only Anthony’s second trip back to Garden since being traded in 2017, and he celebrated with a season-high 26 points. He admitted to reporters that he’d like to see the Knicks retire his number some day.
“I did glance up at the rafters today during the national anthem,” Anthony said. “You know, they say in life you’ve got to envision, so I was envisioning seeing Anthony hanging up there.”
There’s more from New York this morning:
- The difference in the fan reactions to Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis may have something to do with the return the Knicks got for each player, suggests Marc Berman of The New York Post. While the Porzingis deal brought back Dennis Smith Jr. and a ton of cap room that failed to deliver a star, the package for Anthony included a second-round pick that turned into Mitchell Robinson. The second-year center delivered one of his best performances Wednesday, making all 11 of his shots from the field in a 22-point, eight-rebound night. “I honestly think he’s getting better and better and better,” Anthony said of Robinson. “I don’t really think he understands how good he is or how good he can be and his ceiling. The way he plays is perfect for the way the Knicks play.”
- Reggie Bullock made his Knicks debut last night, giving the team five healthy shooting guards for the first time this season, Berman notes in a separate story. Playing his first game since spinal fusion surgery in July, Bullock scored 11 points in 15 minutes as Wayne Ellington and Allonzo Trier both remained on the bench.
- Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic offers several Knicks predictions for 2020, including no first-round pick in exchange for Marcus Morris, roster moves to get rid of Ellington and Bobby Portis by the end of February, and no Mark Jackson or Masai Ujiri in the team’s future.