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.”

James Harden reiterates it was “false talk” he and Chris Paul were at odds

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The Houston Rockets — not in an anonymous way, but in a “we are putting our names on this, quote me” kind of way — have pushed back hard on the narrative that there was tension between Chris Paul and James Harden that led to the Rockets trading CP3 for Russell Westbrook this offseason. Rockets GM Daryl Morey has denied it, team leader P.J. Tucker called it fake news, and Paul himself has pushed back.

Harden has done that again, speaking at his camp on Saturday.

The counter-argument to this: Chris Paul is in Oklahoma City right now.

People will believe what they want to believe, but the Rockets guys have all gone on the record about this. Nothing leaked and anonymous.

From the Rockets’ perspective, they made a trade for Westbrook that is a roster upgrade. Houston has a dynamic duo that can compete with the Los Angeles teams and the other contenders around the league, and whatever questions fans and the media may have about the ultimate fit of Harden and Westbrook the talent level is not in question.

Do the Rockets make that trade if everything is great between Harden and Paul? Probably, if they saw CP3 as in decline and Westbrook as a talent upgrade (which they did). The Rockets can be a cold, business-like organization in terms of their pursuit of a title.

We will see next season if that calculation paid off. Whether or not Harden and CP3 got along.

Report: Kyle Korver reaches one-year deal to join Milwaukee Bucks

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The Bucks can never have enough shooting around a driving Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Enter Kyle Korver. The veteran sharpshooter will be headed to Milwaukee on a one-year contract, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

This is a quality pickup at the minimum (it is a veteran minimum contract). Korver averaged 8.6 points per game last season, taking 72 percent of his shots from beyond the arc and knocking down 39.7 percent of them. The man has gravity and pulls a defender because even at age 38 defenders cannot leave him. Shooting is a skill always in demand.

The Bucks will start Wesley Matthews at the two and have Sterling Brown behind him. They have Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton at the three. Now they have some reliable veteran depth at those spots and a guy who can hit the big shot for them.

James Harden buys piece of MLS Houston Dynamo

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NBA players being minority owners in a soccer team is not new, LeBron James owns a small piece of Champions’ League winner Liverpool, for example.

James Harden is keeping it closer to home — he bought a share of the Dynamo, Houston’s MLS franchise.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to join the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash and proud to be a part of a club with tremendous history and a great future,” Harden said in a statement. “Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time. Soccer in general, and especially MLS, have exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”

Harden reportedly purchased a five percent stake in the team.

The Dynamo — a former MLS cup champion and a franchise that has consistently been strong — is primarily owned by Gabriel Brener, and it has boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya as one of its minority owners.

Harden has earned more than $141 million in NBA salary in his 10 NBA seasons and has four years left on the $228 million contract extension he signed with the team in 2017. In addition, he has a large shoe contract with Adidas and other endorsements.

Report: R.C. Buford moving on from Spurs GM role, Brian Wright taking over

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For 15 years, through championships and an unparalleled run of playoff berths and success, R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich seemed to work as one brain. Popovich was the coach but also team president, Buford the GM, and together they built an NBA powerhouse.

Buford is moving on from that role. Or, more precisely moving up into a new management role, and assistant GM Brian Wright is taking over as GM, reports Jabari Young of The Athletic.

After a little more than 15 years serving as GM, Buford is getting prepared to bequeath the role to assistant GM Brian Wright, league sources have confirmed to The Athletic. Wright will report directly to Buford, who will officially get a new title that some around the NBA believe will be a role helping to oversee Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

When the Spurs initially hired Wright in 2016, he stayed behind the scenes and focused mainly on scouting. But sources have informed The Athletic over the last year Wright has been more involved, even fielding calls and packages for the trade of Kawhi Leonard the previous summer.

Wright came to the Spurs from the Pistons a couple of years ago. That said, don’t expect a big change in how things are done in the Spurs front office. For one thing, Popovich is still there. Also, Wright has an excellent reputation around the league as being smart and a straight shooter. On top of all of that, Buford will remain his ultimate boss, although Buford’s role will change into one of more of a business manager for Spurs Sports & Entertainment.

Young hints there could be more changes coming. Obviously, the biggest would be when Popovich decides to step back in his dual roles as coach and president, but there could be shifts in the assistant GM ranks as well.

Just don’t expect the Spurs to stop being the Spurs.