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Stats show Melo's numbers better sans Lin

It would be silly to suggest that any of the Knicks are better off without Jeremy Lin.

New York played at a different level with Lin on the floor.

Since Linsanity began on Feb. 4, the Knicks averaged 100.8 points per 48 minutes with Lin. When Lin was on the bench, the Knicks scored just 95.8 per 48.

But if there's one player who may be better off with Lin out of the lineup, it's Carmelo Anthony.

Anthony thrives in isolation and never appeared comfortable sharing the floor with Lin, whose offense was based on ball movement. The numbers bear it out.

When Anthony shared the court with Lin, he averaged 18.5 points per 36 minutes and compiled a Player Efficiency Rating (rating of a player's per-minute production) of just 16, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

With Lin on the bench, Anthony scored 23.9 points per 36 minutes and had a PER of 23. His field goal percentage remained around 40 percent whether Lin was on the floor or on the bench. But he attempted 2.5 more shots and three more free throws per 36 minutes without Lin.

Anthony himself noted time and time again that he had to make "adjustments" with Lin on the court. The Knicks went just 2-8 when both players were healthy.

“Any time you go from having the ball and me distributing and now just waiting for it to come to me ... that’s part of the adjustment for myself,” he said after a frustrating loss to Dallas in early March.

Anthony won't have to make those adjustments anymore. Lin underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee and is expected to be out for six weeks.

With Lin and Amare Stoudemire (bulging disk) out, Anthony has been posting up more often and getting the ball in the mid-post, where he's most effective.

Mike Woodson made that a priority when he took over on March 14, but since Lin and Stoudemire were sidelined, it's been more of a focal point.

In the last four games, Anthony's averaging 27 points per game on 48 percent shooting. On the year, Anthony's scoring 20.6 points per game on 40.7 percent shooting.

In many circles, Anthony's inability to adjust to Lin was perceived as another example of his selfish approach to offense. Others thought that Lin (and by extension, Mike D'Antoni) should adapt to Anthony -- the Knicks' best scorer.

That argument is now moot. With Lin out, it's clear that the Knicks now need Anthony to lead them offensively.

He seems ready to do that.

"I can’t run from the challenge. It is what it is," Anthony said on Monday.

With Baron Davis running the show, Anthony's numbers have increased.

When sharing the floor with Davis, Anthony's averaging 26 points per 36 minutes and getting to the line 10.4 times. With Davis off the floor, Anthony's scoring 21.9 points per game and getting to the line for 6.8 attempts. He's also shooting four percent higher when playing with Davis.

Most of the increases can be attributed to Anthony's play in the past four games -- and his increased opportunities in the post.

Still, Anthony noted on Monday that he's comfortable sharing the floor with Davis, who will start in place of Lin.

"I know what type of player Baron is. We all know what he can do, know what he can bring when he is healthy," Anthony said. "He’s shown that."

Before news of Lin's surgery broke, Anthony realized that with Stoudemire out, the bulk of the Knicks' offensive load would fall squarely on his shoulders. He accepted the challenge then.

Now, with Lin out until at least the second round of the playoffs, the onus is even more on Anthony.

And he's OK with that as well.

"This is another challenge, a different type of challenge," he said. "It’s a challenge to go out there with key guys hurt, injured, not knowing what’s going to happen. For me to just step up and face that challenge, face to face, is a fun time for me."

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