NEW ORLEANS – The 3-pointers rained down, one after the other — eight in 13 tries — more makes than anyone in All-Star history as part of scoring 30 points in 30 minutes. Everything was going right for Carmelo Anthony.
And then he woke up.
Sunday was a blast, a 163-155 win for his Eastern Conference team inside Smoothie King Center. And Sunday was record-setting affirmation for a player shooting 41.6 percent behind the arc after shooting in the 20-percent range earlier in his career. But it was a rest stop more than anything, practically with the motor running. One long weekend, one game as a tease of a reminder that basketball actually can be fun, contrary to evidence all around him in recent months. But now, smack, Anthony is a Knick again.
His reality: The future employment of coach Mike Woodson is the stuff of constant speculation, and guesstimates over his next move as a free agent-in-waiting has not yet peaked, and New York is on pace to miss the playoffs.
New Orleans was a standing-eight count.
“It was a great feeling,” he said in response to a question from a Knicks beat writer. “I’ve been telling you that it was going to be hard for me to try and enjoy this weekend, but I did. I found a way. The guys that’s part of the weekend did a great job of just getting me through it and keeping me positive. Just the whole vibe was something I was looking forward to, being around the guys the whole weekend, just kind of decompressing from the regular season. And now it’s back to the grind.”
There is no avoiding it. Anthony was down when he arrived on the heels of a home loss to the Kings, with the Knicks working on two days rest while Sacramento was on the second night of a back-to-back, and tried to create some positive energy. At the media session Friday, he not only said he would like to re-sign rather than leave town, but that he would be willing to take a pay cut to make it happen if it meant management could spend the savings on the roster.
Even if the smart PR move never comes true in the real world of contract negotiations, it was something. And little things can mean a lot at 20-32 and 2 and 1/2 games behind the Bobcats for eighth in the East, a fact no one could have imagined at the start of the season.
Now comes four games in five nights, including a return to New Orleans on Wednesday, and jumping right back into the Woodson rumors and the free-agent speculation. Now comes life as a Knick again.