The coronavirus crisis has the NBA on hold, which means there’s plenty of time to stay home and appreciate better days, like seven years ago this week when Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks to a 13-game winning streak, good for third best in franchise history.
The 2012-13 Knicks featured six current or former All-Stars (Melo, Amare Stoudemire, Jason Kidd, Rasheed Wallace, Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin), two Defensive Player of the Year honorees (Chandler and Marcus Camby), that season’s Sixth Man of the Year Award winner (J.R. Smith), and a 35-year old Argentinian rookie sensation (Pablo Prigioni).
The Knicks shot out of the gate with six victories to start the year and won the Atlantic Division with a record of 54-28, before being unceremoniously eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by an old rival in the Indiana Pacers. Despite the hot start and impressive regular season finish, however, New York actually played around .500 for much of the middle of the campaign, and had lost four straight heading into a March 18th matchup in Utah against the Jazz.
Starting then and going through April 9th, the Knicks ripped off 13 straight victories, the longest such streak since Patrick Ewing and the 1993-94 squad captured 15 consecutive conquests. The 13-game stretch is tied for 12th lengthiest winning streak in NBA history, which isn’t the most amazing stat ever stated but is notable enough.
The Streak Begins
Oddly enough, the streak started sans Melo, STAT, ‘Sheed and Tyson, none of whom played in the first victory against the Jazz. It was Melo’s third straight missed game; he was recovering after having fluid drained from the back of his right knee.
Though the team had been brutal in four previous losses, something clicked in Utah, and the Knicks defeated the Jazz, 90-83, thanks to 20 points from J.R. Smith, 19 from Raymond Felton and 14 from Chris Copeland.
Two days later, with Melo back, the Knicks notched their 40th win of the season, beating the Orlando Magic in Madison Square Garden, 106-94, behind a combined 43 points and 15 rebounds from Anthony and Smith. The Knicks have only posted 40 or more wins one other time in the last two decades, but that’s not a very positive thing to think about, so let’s move right along.
On March 22nd, in the first game of a back to back on the road against the Raptors, Melo feasted, refusing to be discombobulated by Toronto’s disconcerting 3-D baseline logo and dropping 37 points en route to a 99-94 victory. It was the start of perhaps his finest stretch as a Knickerbocker.
The Streak Continues
Over the next five games, Melo posted 27 points and nearly 9 rebounds per game, and as the Knicks prepared to face the Heat on April 2nd, the team was riding an eight game winning streak.
Miami, playing without LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, had no answer for Melo. He went scorched earth, putting up 50 on 18-26 from the field (69 percent), including 7-10 from deep, en route to a decisive 102-90 victory.
He followed that up with a 40-point night in Atlanta, shooting 17-27 (63 percent) in a 95-82 beatdown of the Hawks. Two nights later, he poured in 41 on 17-28 from the field (60.7 percent) and added 14 rebounds in an 18-point blowout of the Milwaukee Bucks up MSG.
Two days after that, during a day game at Oklahoma City, Melo amassed 36 points on 15-29 shooting (51.7 percent) and 12 rebounds as the Knicks bested Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook by five, 125-120. It was the 50th win of the season for the Knicks, which is a mark the Knicks hit six times in the 1990s but only once in the last 20 seasons.
In the final game of the winning streak, Anthony accumulated 38 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, shooting 13-21 from the field (61.9 percent) and propelling the Knicks to a 120-99 whooping of the Washington Wizards. It felt like the Knicks might never lose again.
The Streak Ends
The feeling described in the previous sentence was fleeting. On April 11th in Chicago, Melo put together yet another masterpiece, painting the box score with 36 points and 19 rebounds. However, his hot hand had cooled off, as he only shot 13-34 (38.2 percent), and the Bulls outlasted the Knicks in overtime with a final score of 118-111.
Leading the charge for the Bulls was former Knick Nate Robinson, who came off the bench and had 35 points, including eight in overtime.
All in all, Melo averaged 33 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists per game during the 13-game winning streak, and was assisted by J.R. Smith and his per game averages of 23 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal.
Although there was a magical feeling to the 2012-13 season, the cast of wily veterans the Knicks had were too weathered to maintain success for even one more season. Well, that or the Knicks made a horrific trade for Andrea Bargnani, but who’s counting?
There’s no question that Anthony’s tenure in New York had more downs than the city was hoping for when that ‘I’m Coming Home’ commercial first aired, but the Melo era contained a significant collection of ups as well, and this 13-game winning streak was one of them. It helped him finish in 3rd place in the MVP race, for goodness’ sake.
Now, while we wait to hear whether the NBA might try to come back this season and wonder whether next year might actually, inexplicably include a Melo reunion in NYC, let’s please all stay safe. And remember to listen to the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci over anything Donald Trump says. Or, if you prefer hearing from someone who is connected to the game of basketball, take it from the best broadcaster in the business: