NEW YORK (AP) — Carmelo Anthony let it fly from halfcourt, and when it went in, he had proof of what was already obvious.
“When I made the shot at the half, I told myself the zone was there,” Anthony said.
Soon, he had passed Kevin Durant. Next was Bernard King, and finally Kobe Bryant.
Three records, all shot down in one scintillating performance.
Anthony scored a career-high 62 points to break the franchise and current Madison Square Garden marks, and the New York Knicks beat the Charlotte Bobcats 125-96 on Friday night to stop a five-game losing streak.
Anthony made 23-of-35 shots, one when he leapt from center court to beat the halftime buzzer, and even added 13 rebounds in the NBA’s highest-scoring performance this season.
Anthony had 56 after three quarters, bettering Durant’s previous season high of 54, and stayed in for the first few minutes of the fourth to break King’s Knicks record of 60 set in 1984 and Bryant’s arena record of 61 set five years ago.
“I made history tonight, with the performance, but just to be a part of that group of people, like I said, there’s only a small group of people that knows what that zone feels like and tonight I was one of them,” Anthony said.
It was easily the highlight of the season for Anthony, on pace to miss the playoffs for the first time in his career and facing frequent questions about his future with the team as he heads into free agency this summer.
That was all on hold for one night, the focus simply on Anthony’s amazing scoring.
He easily passed his previous career best of 50 points and possibly could’ve even passed 70 or more had the game been close. Instead, he checked out for good after breaking the records when he banked in a short jumper with 7:24 to play.
“I’ve seen him score a lot of points, but that was some performance right there,” said J.R. Smith, who was also a teammate of Anthony’s in Denver.
Smith noticed a different focus from Anthony before the game, a seriousness replacing the usual laughter. Perhaps some of it was added pregame motivation after the team watched a video featuring Muhammad Ali, one of Anthony’s favorite athletes.
With the Knicks desperately thin in the frontcourt after losing Andrea Bargnani on top of the injuries to Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin, Anthony simply took on more of the scoring load as New York won for the first time on its eight-game homestand after dropping the first three.
King, elected to the Hall of Fame last year, said he was proud of Anthony, who he considers one of the best players in the game.
“If anyone was to break my Knicks record that I have held for so long, I’m absolutely delighted that it was Carmelo,” King said through the team’s public relations department.
Read more: USA Today