CARMELO Anthony capped a milestone game with the crucial free throws that preserved the New York Knicks’ thrilling 103-100 win over the Sacramento Kings at the Golden 1 Center on Friday (Saturday, Manila time).
The Knicks erased a nine point lead midway in the second quarter to lead 54-53 at the break behind the hot hands of Anthony. He scored 23 first half points, 15 in the opening period, to surpass the 23,000-point mark, the fifth among active players to do that behind Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, LeBron James and Vince Carter.
New York also started out hot in the third, building a seven point lead, 69-62, but Sacramento rallied back and set up the see-saw battle right down to the buzzer.
At the 2:09 mark of the fourth quarter, the Knicks held a 99-98 lead after Joakim Noah sank his free throws then both teams traded misses until Brandon Jennings broke the drought with two more charities with 19 seconds left, putting New York up 101-98.
DeMarcus Cousins answered with a layup while Anthony drilled a pair of free throws to maintain the Knicks lead and preserve the win as Rudy Gay missed on a game-tying triple with three seconds to go.
Anthony finished with 33 points while Kristaps Porzingis had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who now stand at 13-10. Brandon Jennings started again for the injured Derrick Rose to contribute 13 markers and seven assists.
Cousins led the Kings, now at 8-14, with 28 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Darren Collison added 14 markers while Gay chipped in 13.