Carmelo: 'I'll be zoned in'

BOSTON -- It's going to be loud, raucous and hostile Friday night in Boston.

But to Carmelo Anthony, it's not going to matter.

"I'll be zoned in," Anthony said Friday morning. "I'll be zoning [Celtics fans] out, blocking that out, really just focusing in on trying to win the basketball game."

Anthony's focus will be put to the test in Game 3 of the Knicks-Celtics series. Boston is playing its first home game since the terror bombings at the Boston Marathon, so the atmosphere will be emotionally charged.

"We expect that," Anthony said. "We’re going in there, we’ve got to stick together, got to focus on the basketball game. We can’t try to focus on anything else but playing basketball."

Anthony seems to have played with an increased focus all season long. He came into the year declaring that he wouldn't be distracted by any "outside noise" -- such as what critics are saying about his play.

Anthony hasn't always taken that approach during his tenure in New York.

The public discussion of how Anthony and Jeremy Lin would fit together during Lin's rise to prominence seemed to bother him last season.

Anthony often says that he has "tried to forget" about last year. This year, he insists, he's focused on what happens between the lines, not what's said on the airwaves or written on the Internet.

"I don’t read it. I don’t listen to it. I don’t watch the sports broadcasts," Anthony said. "Nothing against you guys, but I try to stay away from that stuff."

From his seat at Madison Square Garden, Bernard King can see a distinct look in Anthony's eyes. It's one of a player free of distraction. "He's focused," the former Knicks great said by phone Thursday. "You can see the fire, you can see the intensity."

King watches Anthony as an analyst and a fan, and will be providing analysis on the MSG Network after Game 3. He is also a personal friend of Anthony's. Anthony cites King as his boyhood idol, and the two have developed a relationship.

Speaking as an analyst, King credits Anthony for increasing his leadership role with the Knicks this season. King believes Anthony has handled the burden of performing in New York better than most superstars who migrate to the Big Apple.

"A lot of guys have come here to New York as superstars and they've wilted under pressure, but he's done it all year long," said King. "He's carried a lot of weight on his shoulders and he's accepted it."

Things haven't been perfect for Anthony this season. He's become unnerved at times during the regular season after a referee's call or opponent's action (the Kevin Garnett incident being the most prominent example).

But, by and large, Anthony has played with a sharp focus on basketball, and little else, this year. He won his first scoring title, led the Knicks to the Atlantic Division crown and has scored 70 points in the first two games of the playoffs to help New York gain a 2-0 advantage against Boston.

Said Mike Woodson, "I think he's been damn committed."

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