The Knicks did not seem terribly interested in grabbing an easy win against a wretched, 0-12 Philadelphia 76ers club on Saturday evening. Fortunately, they paid a great deal of money to one Carmelo Anthony this past summer, and Melo is the kind of guy who can carry a struggling team across the finish line.
The Sixers fell behind big quickly -- as is their wont -- yet managed to scrape back into the game on several occasions. But each time the league's worst team threatened to send New York to its most humiliating defeat of the season, Melo stepped up with one huge bucket after another, helping the Knicks escape the Garden with a 91-83 win. He finished with 25 points (on 10-20 shooting) and seven rebounds in more than 38 minutes...far too many minutes for a hobbled vet to be playing against such a woeful squad.
Point guard Jose Calderon made his season debut, finishing with three points, three assists and one turnover in 21 minutes. Shane Larkin, the former starter at the point, saw not a single minute of playing time in this game. Perhaps he should have played over Tim Hardaway Jr., who finished with two points, three turnovers and one technical foul. Get it together, kid.
And so the Knicks defeated a team which is still on pace to finish 0-82. As bad as both clubs looked tonight, I might be willing to trade New York's final three games against Philly to an actual contender for three tougher matchups and second-round pick.
Seth will have a full recap later this evening.