The New York Knicks were without Carmelo Anthony for the past two games, winning against the Cleveland Cavaliers but losing to the Houston Rockets. Carmelo would return against the Brooklyn Nets, and he would come to do work.
Anthony has done well against the Nets all season long, scoring a combined 80 points in the first two meetings between the two teams and combining for 26-49 from the floor and 8-12 from the three-point line.
He wouldn't deviate from that in their third game of the season.
After spraining his ankle in the Knicks victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, Anthony returned and had a terrific first half:
Carmelo Anthony showing no rust in his return to the lineup with a 17-point 1st half. @nyknicks lead Nets 52-48 at the break.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 20, 2012
Throughout the rest of the game, he wouldn't slow down, dragging this Knicks team to their second straight win over the crosstown rivals.
Just check out all the work he was able to do against the Nets:
When it was all said and done, Anthony had himself another MVP-caliber performance, putting down 31 points on the Nets with some terrific defense along the way.
Carmelo finishes with 31 pts on 4-8 shooting from 3 to give the Knicks the W and NY the series advantage in the #ClashoftheBoroughs.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 20, 2012
Anthony is truly having his strongest season to date. His 47.3 percent shooting from the field is the best he's shot since 2008, while he's shooting a career best (by far) 45.5 percent from the three-point line.
On top of that, he's playing the best defense of his life, regardless of the fact that the recent defensive stats are holding steady with his career numbers.
And, of course, there's the fact that he's the leader of the best team in the Eastern Conference. Everybody seems to be taking notice.
While Carmelo has been playing at an MVP-caliber level, the Knicks are much more than that. Tyson Chandler shooting 70 percent from the floor doesn't hurt either.
With the Knicks rolling along so well, it's going to be interesting to see just how much better they might be at full strength.
Will the addition of other players mess with their chemistry, or will they just get that much better?
It's scary to think, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.