NBA players react to Carmelo Anthony’s historical night

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Carmelo AnthonyIt has been a down year of sorts for Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks.

After coming off a year in which they were the second best team in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks have struggled mightily to a 16-27 record – fifth-worst in the conference.

With news that offseason acquisition Andrea Bargnani would be out indefinitely due to a torn elbow ligament, some wondered whether the team’s fortunes would turn for the better. The reason? Anthony would return to the position that made them so successful last season: power forward. 

Schayes: Comparing Today’s Great Scorers with Players from the Past

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Carmelo_AnthonyAs I watched the Knicks-Nets game the other night I marveled at the Knicks. It was the middle of the 4th quarter and they had amassed a whopping 68 points, getting drilled in the process by the juggerNets.

‘Melo is a drop-dead scorer, right? His Madison Square Garden-record 62 last night proves it. He draws so much attention that the other guys are usually open, right? J.R. Smith can light it up, shoot you in and shoot you out, right?

I keep hearing that the players are better, more athletic, and younger than the players of yesteryear.

As I watch the great scorers of today I look at the differences between today’s scorers and yesterday’s scorers. Kevin Durant is lighting it up. Kobe is unstoppable when healthy, and LeBron will flat out wear you down and run over you. ‘Melo? Let’s see if he can get over 40 a bunch more times, because the Knicks are going to need it.

I had the good fortune of playing with some of the great scorers in history. For my first six years in the league I played with at least one (sometimes two) of the top 5 scorers in the league. I usually played on the highest-scoring team in the league during the highest scoring time in league history.

And I even played in a game where we scored 184 points and LOST!

Players around the league react to All-Star voting results

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Curry and IrvingAfter months of anticipation, the All-Star voting results finally came in on Thursday, courtesy of NBA on TNT.

There were plenty of expected names on the roster like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and (gulp) Kobe Bryant.

There were also plenty of first-timers like Stephen Curry – receiver of the fourth most votes in the league – along with Kevin Love, Paul George and Kyrie Irving.

Tweet of the Night: Players Rave About Kevin Durant’s Recent Play

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Kevin DurantOklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant is on an indomitable scoring tear while leading his team to five consecutive wins. Over the course of that stretch, he has averaged 40.4 points per contest—including a 54 point outing against the Golden State Warriors.

Additionally, Durant has scored 30 or more points in nine consecutive games.

Not only is he putting up big numbers, he is being exceptionally efficient at it. He is shooting 52.6 percent from the floor and over 39 percent from three over the past nine games.

His most recent outing against the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs saw him post 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

His string of insanely efficient and overwhelming offensive firepower has players talking about how amazing he truly is.

Sheridan’s MVP Rankings, Jan. 22 Edition: KD Rocks the Hard Rock

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hardrockLAS VEGAS — Quite the scene at the Hard Rock Hotel last night, where it seemed a whole bunch of people had taken the Portland Trail Blazers and 6 1/2 points as they played the second night of a back-to-back at Oklahoma City. (Bernucca warned me against playing it, so I stayed away and didn’t gamble a nickel).

The party never stops at the Hard Rock, but Kevin Durant managed to momentarily stifle it.

And damn, it was something to see.

So I guess you can guess who is sitting in the No. 1 spot in these rankings as we hit the midpoint of the season, but don’t let me spoil all the fun. There are 10 players listed each Wednesday when we publish these rankings, and since the season is only halfway over, there is a whole bunch of time for things to change. Heck, Chris Paul was a mainstay in the early season editions and has dropped off the map. We even have a newcomer who has displaced Dwyane Wade.

The MVP race is starting to turn into a runaway, eh? Not that I am trying to jinx KD or anything, but in a season like this one, with star players dropping like flies, you never quite know what is going to happen. Just remember that when the Toronto Raptors are playing in the NBA Finals (JK).

So back to Bernucca, who published his midseason awards earlier this week and did not mention LaMarcus Aldridge among the top MVP contenders. We had a little discussion about it, and he brought up two points: Look at Aldridge’s points per shot, and don’t underestimate how much the Blazers are Damian Lillard’s team.

So I took his advice and looked up Aldridge’s points per shot, and there he was at 1.15 — tied for 98th in the league along with James Anderson, who you may or may not know plays for the Sixers. It is never good to be 99th at anything, unless you are in a monster poker tournament in which the top 100 get paid.

By the way, Aldridge put up a nice stat line last night of 29 points and 16 rebounds. But down the stretch, when the Hard Rock bettors were prematurely counting their winnings (Blazers were 3-1 on the money line!), Aldridge was 0-for-6 with a turnover in the final 4 1/2 minutes. That ain’t MVP material.

clutchOn to Bernucca’s second point: The Lillard factor. The chart to the right is from NBA.com, and it shows how players perform in the final 5 minutes of close games. Notice which member of the Blazers is listed, and which player is not.

Aldridge, it turns out, is shooting 33.9 percent in clutch situations. That ain’t MVP material, either.

So score one for Bernucca, who is shoveling snow today in Connecticut while I am breathing 70-degree air in Vegas, 10 miles away from the Strip. My idea when I came out here was to bet on a bunch of basketball games and see what kind of skills I have — an idea that lasted a grand total of one day and set me back $100.

Life away from the Strip is different out here. The temptations are too far away to make you do something stupid, and if you are staying with a friend who knows a thing or two about how to find pirated copies of the latest films, you can do stuff like watch The Wolf of Wall Street for free. (Big Scorcese fan here, but I’ll always wonder why they cut out the details of the Lufthansa theft from GoodFellas. That was the best part of the book by Henry Hill upon which that movie was based.) Anyway, whether you pay to see it or not, The Wolf is a great movie.

contentmediaexternalimagesmedia99Other things to do in Vegas if you choose not to gamble: Take a walk around a random hotel/casino and see if you run into anyone famous. I did that, and I stumbled upon baseball’s all-time hits leader sitting behind a table at a memorabilia shop signing autographs. Except for one thing … nobody was lining up to fork over their hard-earned cash to Pete Rose.

Yes, Vegas can be a depressing place.

But it’s also a helluva place to gauge the public’s reaction to guys like Kevin Durant.

Ever hear a chorus of several dozen people screaming “Damn!” in unison? That’s what this guy produced last night. Usually you only get that at the Hard Rock on Rehab Sundays when it’s a bit warmer.

On to the rankings …

(RELATED: PODCAST — CHRIS SHERIDAN’S MIDSEASON AWARDS)

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