NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony scored a career-high and franchise-record 62 points, most at the current Madison Square Garden, and the New York Knicks beat the Charlotte Bobcats 125-96 on Friday night to stop a five-game losing streak.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling,” Anthony said in an interview on MSG Network immediately after the game. “It’s just a zone that you get into sometimes. Only certain people know what that zone feels like.”
Anthony made 23 of 35 shots, one when he leapt from halfcourt to beat the halftime buzzer, and even added 13 rebounds in the NBA’s highest-scoring performance this season.
Anthony had 56 after three quarters, bettering Kevin Durant’s previous season high of 54, and stayed in for the first few minutes of the fourth to break Bernard King’s Knicks record of 60 points and Kobe Bryant’s arena record of 61, set five years ago.
“I came into this game locked in,” Anthony said. “I didn’t know I was going to have that type of performance. … It’s a special moment. I know Bernard King is somewhere smiling at me. … I was just taking it one possession at a time. … My teammates found me. I’ve got to thank them.”
It was easily the highlight of the season for Anthony, on pace to miss the playoffs for the first time in his career and facing frequent questions about his future with the team as he heads into free agency this summer.
That was all on hold for one night, the focus simply on Anthony’s amazing scoring.
He easily passed his previous career best of 50 points and possibly could’ve even passed 70 or more had the game been close. Instead, he checked out for good after breaking the records when he banked in a short jumper with 7:24 to play.
With the Knicks desperately thin in the frontcourt after losing Andrea Bargnani on top of the injuries to Amare Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin, Anthony simply took on more of the scoring load as New York won for the first time on its eight-game homestand.
Al Jefferson had 25 points and nine rebounds for the Bobcats, snapping his streak of four straight 20-10 games. Charlotte had won two in a row, holding division leaders Toronto and the Los Angeles Clippers to an average of 93 points.
But the Knicks, who had lost to the Bobcats 10 days ago to start their current skid, shot 56 percent. J.R. Smith added 14 points.
Fans chanted “Melo! Melo!” when the Knicks had the ball in the second half, as if they were calling a play. That was replaced by “We Want Melo! We want Melo!” after he checked out.
He made 20 of his first 26 shots against what had been a good defensive team, but there was no defense for the zone Anthony was in.
Last season’s scoring champion had eight points in the first 2½ minutes, went 8 of 10 in the first quarter and had 20 points as the Knicks led 30-21. He skipped his usual break and kept playing deep into the second quarter before finally taking a seat with 4:34 left, shortly after missing an open jumper.
He returned with 2½ minutes left to finish the half in style, throwing in a buzzer beater from just inside halfcourt to cap his 15-of-21 half and make it 67-46, Stoudemire laughing hysterically on the bench in his brown suit jacket and the rest of the players leaping in celebration.
Turned out Anthony was just getting started.
He made his first five shots in the second half and the Bobcats would eventually grow frustrated, picking up two technical fouls on one play after Anthony’s 3-pointer late in the third.
He made both free throws, part of his 10-for-10 showing at the line.
Notes: Kemba Walker, who had 25 points in all three previous matchups against the Knicks, sat out his third game in a row with a sprained left ankle. … The Knicks said Bargnani, who tore the ulner collateral ligament in his left elbow, won’t require surgery and will instead just need rest and treatment.