New York sports fans are very protectively delusional with players they consider stars or superstars. Just look at Mark Sanchez. Or 2013 Derek Jeter. The same thing seems to be happening with Carmelo Anthony, who New Yorkers remarkably revere as a megastar. In reality, Anthony is only average defensively and, so far this season, inefficient offensively. As we’ve seen throughout this season, Melo is certainly no Paul George.
Just consider this sequence over the last five minutes and nine seconds of Wednesday night’s nationally televised Knicks-Pacers game at Madison Square Garden:
With just over nine seconds left and Indiana trailing 89-86 in a sluggish contest, George had the ball in his hands. He took a few dribbles and thought that Iman Shumpert, who was doing a nice job defensively on George for most of the game, would foul him early on. The Pacers had been shooting just 69 percent from the free throw line at that point, so fouling before a shot could be put up made sense.
“So I was trying to make a quick play before he could do that,” George said. The plan worked and Shumpert was called for a controversial foul with 5.2 seconds to go. George calmly buried the three free throws “even after being iced with a time out,” as Indiana head coach Frank Vogel pointed out.
After the Knicks called time out to draw up their final sequence, everyone knew who was getting the ball for New York. And it was George who drew the defensive assignment, playing great on-the-ball defense against Anthony in the final sequence. Anthony’s missed shot forced overtime at 89 all.
“To carry the offensive load the way he did and guard Carmelo Anthony basically for 48 minutes, I don’t know where he finds the energy but it’s special,” Vogel said after the game.
In overtime, the Knicks’ big time superstar faded away and wilted under the Garden’s bright lights. But George? George took over the game, leaving Anthony in the dust to wallow in the Knicks’ 3-8 start.