Carmelo Anthony has always been able to score from anywhere on the court. But through the first 12 games of the season, there's no question that his scoring is enhanced when he plays power forward.
In the Knicks' 121-100 win over the Pistons, Anthony got off to another sizzling start, taking advantage of a speed mismatch with Pistons power forward Jason Maxiell. In the first quarter alone, Melo scored 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting (3-for-3 from downtown). He didn't miss his first shot until there were 37 seconds remaining.
"When you've got a 4 trying to guard him, they can't do nothing with him," Raymond Felton said after the game. "He's really exposing that and really just trying to make them put their 4-man on Ronnie or J-Kidd, and there goes another advantage. That's all we've been doing -- just exploiting that."
It's enabled Anthony to become the NBA's best first-quarter scorer. Entering Sunday, he was averaging 10.5 points in the opening period. Nets center Brook Lopez, who the Knicks face on Monday night in Brooklyn, is second at 8.5. That's around what Melo was averaging before this season.
"I am just trying to get off to a good start," Anthony said afterward. "I feel like if I can get off to a good start that can help everybody else on the basketball team."
Already, Melo's led the team in first-quarter scoring nine out of its first 12 games -- and in six of those he was in double figures. He's been mostly doing it with his 3-point shooting. In addition to his 3-for-3 mark Sunday, he was 4-for-5 against the Rockets on Friday night, en route to an 18-point first quarter.
The Knicks opened the season focusing on pick-and-rolls in the first quarter, but since last week's Hornets game -- when Anthony started off with 19 points (his first-quarter season high) -- Mike Woodson appears to be going to him more on isolations, especially down low.
"His post game is great," Marcus Camby said after the game. "I think he should be getting more calls and sometimes he gets frustrated, and he gets technical fouls. But I just think playing over the course of the summer with the Olympic team has definitely elevated his game."
"He's been playing at a high level and we kind of come to expect it," Woodson said in his postgame news conference. "When he has a slow start it seems like someone else is picking him up and carrying the slack when he's not making shots. But he's been pretty hot as of late."
Thanks to Anthony's red-hot first quarters, the Knicks have been able to build comfortable leads. In fact, they have the league's second-best average first-quarter scoring margin (plus-4.2).
"He's been consistent throughout the year of getting us going early," Tyson Chandler said. "His being physical gets us into the bonus, which really helps us out."
And his teammates are behind him.
"I always tell him just, 'Get out to a good start,'" Camby said. "When he's out there rolling and playing well, the team's going to follow suit. And we seem to feed off his energy. He's making a concerted effort going out there and getting the job done."
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