Carmelo scores 35, gets help in Knicks’ win over Lakers

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NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony’s record-setting 62-point performance in Friday’s win over the Bobcats was a much-needed infusion of offense into a Knicks team that had looked lifeless over its previous few games.

But considering that output has only been achieved 17 times in the last 40 years, it’s not exactly a sustainable way to go about trying to structure a stretch of winning basketball.

Anthony came out firing once again in Sunday’s matinee against the Lakers, but this time, he got some much-needed help from his teammates. Anthony did plenty in finishing with 35 points and five assists, but big games from Raymond Felton and Tim Hardaway Jr. were part of five Knicks scoring in double figures in the 110-103 victory, New York’s second straight.

“Normally when guys score big numbers they’re still sizzling a little but,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said of Anthony’s performance afterward. “I thought he came out early and established himself, and was still shooting the heck out of the ball. And it kind of carried throughout the game. His teammates rallied around him and did their part, and it was a total team effort.”

Anthony scored 10 first quarter points, but was less efficient than he was the other night in needing nine shots to get there. But it was a start, and one he followed up with 10 more in the second, this time on just four shots.

Hardaway provided the energetic spark off the bench in the second half, where he scored 15 of his 18 points over the final two periods. He got open for threes and got loose for dunks, and rightfully received his coach’s praise when it was over.

“I’ve said all along, Tim is ahead of the scale,” Woodson said. “He’s not your typical rookie. He spent some time in college. I think his dad obviously has done a hell of a job in coaching him over the years and working with him on his game. So he’s kind of ahead of the game a little bit in terms of his individual play.

“I think as the years go by and he physically gets a little stronger, he’ll be a much better defensive player,” Woodson continued. “I think he knows all the schemes, but he gets knocked off his path at times because he’s just not as physical. But offensively he’s got all the tools to be a really solid player in this league, I think.”

Felton finished with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting to go along with five assists, J.R. Smith played under control with 16 of his own, and Tyson Chandler anchored the defense inside as usual while chipping in 13 points and 14 rebounds.

It was a far cry from Friday, where Anthony turned in an otherworldly scoring effort that isn’t likely to be duplicated anytime soon. And Sunday’s 35 was a mark Anthony has reached only two other times this season. But if his teammates can give a more consistent level of production while Anthony takes on the bulk of the scoring load, obviously that’s going make a huge difference in the team’s future fortunes.

“Last year we had five guys that averaged in double figures, and I’ve always wanted a team where you just didn’t know where it was going to come from,” Woodson said. “We know Melo’s going to get his. But we need everybody to be a part of the offense, and touch the ball and feel good about themselves when they’re touching it and shooting it. The last couple of games, it’s been that way.”

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.