Knicks 102, Hornets 80: Carmelo Anthony breaks bad

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Carmelo Anthony is on a sort of “basketball diet.” After years of not maximizing his full potential, Anthony has shown great restraint against the temptations of chucking this season, and as a result, he looks the best he ever has. He’s motivated. He has the desire to defend. He’s taking only what he needs and dispersing what’s leftover elsewhere. It’s a healthy, steady diet, and it’s one that has led the Knicks to the league’s best record to start the season. Anthony trending away from his gluttonous appetite for isolation jumpers has been the most notable change in the Knicks this year, and it’s had a positive effect on the rest of their roster.

This diet is working…but.that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself every now and then.

Carmelo Anthony is human, and he’s been so good that Knicks fans shouldn’t mind that he reverted back to old Melo tonight, the one who fires up heat checks with 18 seconds on the shot clock. So he had a few spoons of ice cream that turned into a bowl that turned into the whole carton. We’ve all been there, and you know what? It’s okay.

It’s okay because Anthony’s scoring binge (12-for-22, 29 points in 28 minutes) was well deserved. Anthony has been so good that you’re almost glad he rewarded himself for his efforts. Against a Hornets team without Anthony Davis (ankle), Eric Gordon, or a prayer, it’s almost like Anthony decided right from the start that this was his game. Put in the work, reap the benefits. Once those first few shots fell, there was no going back and denying Melo from packing on the points. It was the right opponent at the right time, which gives hope that shot “selection” is really a choice that Anthony can now control. The Hornets put up about as much resistance as the lid on the ice cream carton does, so that helped too, but Anthony got his, got some rest, and got his team another win.

In a 102-80 blowout, the rest of the Knicks displayed a familiar formula of 3-point shooting and ball control. The Knicks knocked down 14 3-pointers on the evening and killed the Hornets with skip passes to open shooters in the corner time and time again. Even with the entire fourth quarter consisting of garbage time, the Knicks remained on pace to set the NBA record for the least amount of turnovers per game over the course of a season, which is incredible given their roster composition and their style of play.

Yes, there is a lot of season left ahead of the Knicks. 73 games is an eternity. But for now, it’s hard to deny that the Knicks are shaping up into something great, even when their star occasionally breaks bad.

LeBron James finishes left-handed alley-oop with head behind backboard

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We have reached the point with LeBron James and his legendary career that the incredible almost seems ordinary — he has made our jaws drop so many times it’s hard for him to clear the bar of amazing anymore.

He did Saturday night against Utah.

In transition, LeBron gave up the ball to Jeff Green, who returned the favor with an alley-oop pass. Just not a particularly good one, it was behind James.

So he reaches back with his left hand and throws it down as he ducks his head under the backboard. Then LeBron stops and stares at his left hand, like he can’t believe what he just did.

We can’t either.

Carmelo Anthony standing ovation in return to Madison Square Garden

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Knicks fans may have had their frustrations with Carmelo Anthony, but they know how much he has meant to the franchise over the years. He pushed to be a Knick and chose to stay, he carried the franchise for years.

Saturday night he returned to Madison Square Garden in an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform after a trade this summer, and he was welcomed with a retrospective video followed by a standing ovation from the crowd (you can see all of it above).

Well done Knicks fans. Well done.

Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not travel with team for 25 days due to legal issue

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The Lakers’Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his new team’s first two games this season due to a suspension for a DUI case in Michigan.

But that was not all. Caldwell-Pope’s came with probation, and to get out of it early the Lakers’ forward has to go through an intensive rehab program — one that does not allow him to leave California with the team for 25 days. He did not play against the Cavaliers and that is just the first of multiple games he will miss, a story broken by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Caldwell-Pope was originally cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded guilty in May to the lesser charge of allowing someone to operate his vehicle while under the influence, which carried a 12-month probation.

On Thursday, Caldwell-Pope had to return to California to begin an intensive program over the next 25 days that will result in some travel restrictions and could cause him to miss additional games but will end his probation early.

The Lakers are in a home heavy part of their schedule, and by my calculations KCP would only miss one or two games (for sure against Houston Dec. 20, then maybe against Golden State Dec. 22, but that is in California). The Lakers next road game after that is Dec. 31 in Houston again.

Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Lakers last offseason, and he has gone on to become one of the few reliable three-point shooters on the team, hitting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, taking 6.1 shots from there a game. He’s been solid on defense and a player the Lakers’ need, although his overall efficiency is closer to average.

If the Lakers are successful with their big game hunting during free agency next summer, Caldwell-Pope will not return to the team. In a tight free agent market, he may once again not see offers near what he sees himself worth next summer. That said, his play in Los Angeles has been good. And now he will not have this legal issue hanging over his head during free agency.

LeBron James is good with televising All-Star team selections

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From the moment the NBA announced changes to the All-Star Game team selection format for this season, most NBA fans — as well as most media members I know — have wanted a live team selection show.

As a reminder, this year (as in past years) fans will vote for their favorite All-Stars, and those votes will be combined with media and player votes to name the five starters from each conference. Then the coaches will vote to select the teams.

What’s different is the top vote-getters from each conference — let’s be honest, it will be LeBron James in the East and Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant in the West — will be named captains and they will then pick their teams from the pool of other selected players. No East vs. West. If LeBron gets to choose first and he picks James Harden, then Harden is on that team. Curry can go second and select Giannis Antetokounmpo or whoever he wants from the starters pool, then the captains move into the reserves pool. Old-school playground style team picking.

Who wouldn’t tune it to watch that selection show?

The NBA officially has not decided yet if the selection process will be broadcast, but it probably won’t be. The reason is some player is not going to like being picked last (or next to last) and his agent will like it less. It gets political (would Curry have to choose Durant or Draymond Green first to keep his teammates happy?).

LeBron basically said Saturday why not televise it? From Nick Friedell of ESPN, when LeBron was asked if it would bother him to go against teammates in the All-Star Game:

“I hope not,” James said after Saturday’s shootaround. “We’re all grown men. It doesn’t stop their paycheck from coming. It won’t stop you from playing time once the season starts.”

And is he good with the pick order being made public or done live.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” James said. “It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, if I’m rewarded to be a part of the All-Star Game again, that’s cool for me. It doesn’t matter. All that other stuff is extracurricular.”

That’s the right attitude, and whoever got picked last would say that publicly. But privately… who knows? Depends on the guy.

That selection show would be must-watch television. The NBA needs to broadcast this. But it won’t. Politics will win out.