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The Extra Pass: Kobe’s thoughts on Carmelo Anthony to L.A. speculation, plus Sunday’s recaps

Jan 27, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

NBA All-Star Bryant of the Lakers and All-Star Anthony of the Knicks laugh during the NBA All-Star basketball game in Houston Reuters

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by Brett Pollakoff

NEW YORK – When Carmelo Anthony scored a jaw-dropping 62 points in a win over the Bobcats on Friday, he didn’t just set a Knicks franchise record.

He took something that belonged to Kobe Bryant.

The Madison Square Garden arena record, since the building opened its fourth incarnation in 1968, was set by Bryant when he scored 61 points against the Knicks in a sizzling performance back on Feb. 2 of 2009.

Bryant seemed supportive of Anthony’s accomplishment when speaking with the media before Sunday’s game between his Lakers and Carmelo’s Knicks, and tried to explain to us common folk exactly what it feels like to be in that type of zone.

“The pace of the game, everything just slows down for you,” Bryant said. “When I’ve had those games, it’s just such a serene feeling. It just feels like everything else around you doesn’t matter. It’s not important. The most important thing is what’s going on at that moment in time, so it’s just a level of focus that’s astronomical.”

Anthony is one of the game’s elite scorers as far as Bryant is concerned, and someone he’d undoubtedly like to play alongside in Los Angeles while finishing out the final years of his Hall of Fame career. The conjecture surrounding Anthony’s future in New York intensifies with the team mired in so much more losing than was expected, but then again, performances like the one we saw a couple of days ago just wouldn’t feel as special if they happened anywhere else.

While Anthony can opt out of the final year of his contract this summer to become an unrestricted free agent, the smart money remains on him staying in New York, for a variety of continually-discussed reasons. Bryant wouldn’t speculate on Anthony’s future, of course, but could understand if Carmelo chose to play on the West Coast for at least one fairly important reason.

“Everyone wants to play in L.A.,” Bryant said. “I mean, New York’s a beautiful place, don’t get me wrong. But it’s colder than sh– out here.”

All jokes aside, Bryant can understand why Anthony may consider his options when he gets his turn at free agency. Being labeled solely as a scorer can be frustrating, especially when there’s not a lot of winning to accompany those on-court accomplishments.

“It’s tough for players, because a lot of times you’re really subject to the culture around you, in terms of the players and the talent that’s around you,” Bryant said. “You’ve seen it with players from the past, whether it’s Dominique Wilkins or Bernard King. It can contribute to a lot of frustration.

“That’s one of the reasons why I was so frustrated with this organization back in 2006 and 2007, because I didn’t want to be known as a scorer,” Bryant continued. “I wanted to make sure I had a team around me that could contend for a championship. This is a team sport. A lot of times you have to work with what you have around you, and you have to be lucky in the sense of having an organization that can put a great team around you to be successful.”

Is it possible to shake that label?

“I’ve won five championships and there are some of you that still say that,” Bryant said. “So you’ve just got to take it and toll with it. The important thing is winning a championship. That’s the only way to shake it. That’s the only way [Michael Jordan] shook it. That’s the only way any top scorer will be able to shake it.”

If Anthony does choose to leave New York, it’ll be a bit of an embarrassment, at least initially. He very publicly, remember, forced his way out of Denver specifically to play in the nation’s largest market as the leading star of the Knicks franchise. Anthony will be forced to deal with a whole host of commentary pointing out that “he couldn’t win in New York” if in fact he goes, but Bryant doesn’t seem to think that should factor at all into Anthony’s decision.

“I mean, that’s a familiar story with LeBron James, and he seemed to turn out OK,” Bryant said.

Bigger picture, Kobe understands as well as anyone what it’s like to want to win more than anything, but not have the talent around you that’s necessary to get that accomplished.

“From a psychological perspective, as a player, you don’t want to get too frustrated about things that you can’t control,” he said. “So you have to find that balance. At the same time, it’s important for the organization to understand the level of competitiveness that you have — that you won’t tolerate having a team that’s not in contention for an NBA championship, which is what I did.

“It rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but sometimes you’ve got to kick down a few doors and piss some people off, and trust that it’ll pay off in the long run. If you’re willing to do that, more times than not, you’ll be OK.”

Bryant’s blueprint seems to be the most likely course of action for Anthony at this stage of things, and one that he wouldn’t mind seeing his friend follow when his decision in free agency needs to be made.

As for Bryant’s praise of his friend’s 62-point performance that shattered his own Madison Square Garden record, well — let’s just say he was a little less convincing.

“No, I mean it’s great,” Bryant said. “If I was a competitor, I would say that Melo has more opportunities to set a Garden record than I did. But I’m not a competitor, so I won’t say that.”

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Heat 113, Spurs 101: Miami’s been coasting for a couple weeks now, but the Spurs coming to town for Finals rematch snapped them out of it — Chris Bosh had 24 and the Heat looked like contenders again. The Spurs looked shorthanded and not quite the same as last season. We broke it all down in more detail here.

Knicks 110, Lakers 103: Carmelo Anthony was shooting well again but Sunday he got a little help against a weak Lakers’ team that got some good performances (Jodie Meeks for one) but in the end it was a pull-up jumper and a nifty layup by Anthony that helped give the Knicks the win. You can read more about it here.

Pelicans 100, Magic 92: With Nikola Vucevic out Orlando has nobody who can begin to match up with Anthony Davis and he made them pay — 22 points, a career-high 19 rebounds, and seven blocked shots. The Pelicans took control of this game late in the first quarter and it was going to be a runaway but thanks to Arron Afflalo’s 25 and some feisty Magic play it was a game again the fourth quarter. Then Tyreke Evans went of for 13 in the fourth quarter to help keep the Magic at bay.

Suns 99, Cavaliers 90: Cleveland owned the first half of this game — Kyrie Irving was dishing assists, Jarrett Jack came in off the bench and had 8 points, Luol Deng had 10 in the second quarter and it was 61-43 at the half. Cleveland was in control. Then in the third quarter Channing Frye drained a couple threes and suddenly Phoenix was on a 20-4 run and it was a ballgame. Markieff Morris had 10 of his 27 in the fourth quarter (he had 15 assists as well) and the Suns pulled away for a win that is a punch to the gut of the Cavs.

Nets 85, Celtics 79: The Celtics fans were incredibly classy and they got to see some vintage Kevin Garnett — the steal then drive and dunk to seal the game. Mostly though Nets fans should be thanking their bench — that was the group (led by Deron Williams) that made the second quarter run that put Brooklyn on top, then it was Andrei Kirilenko and D-Will who helped close out the game. Along with KG.

Mavericks 116, Pistons 106: This game was fairly close for three quarters, but the Pistons just play terribly in the fourth quarter — Dallas opened the fourth on a 10-0 run and they never looked back. Brandon Jennings put up 26 for Detroit but got torched on the other end by Jose Calderon who shot 7-of-8 against him. Dirk Nowitzki had 28 for Dallas because he is very good at basketball.

Warriors 103, Trail Blazers 88: Portland, with the best offense in the NBA, shot just 33.7 percent in this one. Borderline MVP candidate LaMarcus Aldridge shot 2-of-14 when guarded by David Lee. It wasn’t Portland’s night. For a game that should have been a shootout neither team was knocking it down but the Warriors found their groove behind Stephen Curry, who had 38 points on 23 shots and the Warriors pulled away in the third to get the win. A win they can chalk up to their defense (although Portland missed shots they normally make).

Nuggets 125, Kings 117: Credit the Kings for putting up a good fight in a game where they were without Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins, but in the fourth quarter Denver was just too much. Wilson Chandler had 7 of his 20 in the fourth quarter while Ty Lawson led Denver with 27.

  1. aboogy123456 - Jan 27, 2014 at 8:27 AM

    But Kobe… lots of people on this site will correct you and say that nobody wants to play for a team with great weather, a great market, and a great winning history, who can also afford to pay them, because Dr. Buss is no longer there.

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      The high in New York this week will be 38. I didn’t know that kind of weather even existed.

  2. billtetley53 - Jan 27, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    It has nothing to do with any of that crsp.
    It has to do with the latest cba. By and large, most of these guys aren’t going to leave an extra 25 million on the table.

    Howard did, because he wanted out of a toxic situation.

    You lakers fans are in for a rude awakening.
    1 1st round pick the next 3 years.
    No worthwhile tradeable assets.
    You have cap space, but the big stars aren’t going anywhere.

  3. jcmeyer10 - Jan 27, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    Went to the Celtics/Nets game and man were my eyes misty during those videos. It’d be hard to over thank them for what they did for this organization. Garnett helped bring an attitude back to this team and bring home a championship. Pierce stuck with the club far past what would be expected of him. Also, it was cool when they highlighted the fact that there are two empty boxes among the currently retired numbers for the Celtics.

    To top it all off, they accepted a trade that helps the Celtics start over and usher in a new era.

    At the end of the day this was a classic Rondo, F U game where he gets to that second gear. He was tracking for that triple double, and could have gotten the assists if not for a couple missed bunnies.

    All in all, it was a great game and I am glad I got to be there. Next big game is when they retire Pierce and Garnett’s numbers.

  4. cruzan80 - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    “That’s one of the reasons why I was so frustrated with this organization back in 2006 and 2007, because I didn’t want to be known as a scorer,” Bryant continued. “I wanted to make sure I had a team around me that could contend for a championship. This is a team sport. A lot of times you have to work with what you have around you, and you have to be lucky in the sense of having an organization that can put a great team around you to be successful.”

    Bravo! I’ve made this point so many times when I read comments like “He’s just a scorer who can’t make anyone better.” Lebron is arguably the best facilitator we’ve seen in recent years & he was smart enough to know that even he would need real talent around him if he wanted to contend for a championship. Melo….like all great players…needs at least one other great player alongside him to truly compete for a championship…simple as that.

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 27, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      I think it’s interesting that most fans will criticize a player for being good at scoring and taking a lot of shots, but at the same time will praise a player who is really good at defense but not good at scoring the ball. For example JR smith, who admits he’s not a good defender, but he does help his team on offense a lot. There are many ways to be a team player, and sometimes being a team player means stepping up and taking on a scoring load because guys around you can’t.

      • sportsfan18 - Jan 27, 2014 at 5:33 PM

        I think it’s interesting that even with the attention on being more efficient now that so many fans don’t understand that the little help J.R. (and others like him) provides on offense is more than off set by his inefficiency.

        He’s not a good shooter. Scoring a lot of points because one takes a lot of shots isn’t good.

        Games are ONLY so long. Teams ONLY get so many FG attempts per game (81 or 82 on average, not each and every game).

        So when a player like J.R., who is so inefficient, uses up many of their limited FG attempts and shoots a poor percentage, well it isn’t good.

        Melo is bad enough, but J.R. is even worse when it comes to shooting efficiency.

        Here are many known stars and their shooting effiiciencies:

        Magic #9
        Nash #14
        Durant #18
        Nowitzki #46
        LeBron #53
        Chris Paul #61
        Chris Bosh #63
        Pau Gasol #74
        Michael Jordan #76
        D Wade #80
        Larry Bird #93
        Kobe Bryant #137

        Melo #203

        J.R. Smith has fallen out of the top 250, as he was barely in it when this season began.

        So pairing two chuckers like Melo and J.R. isn’t good. Neither is efficient.

        Examples tend to help illustrate when all else fails.

        Let’s compare Durant and Melo (and remember J.R. is even worse than Melo).

        Stats are for last season as it was a full season.

        Aver shots per game Aver points per game

        Durant 17.7 28.1
        Melo 22.2 28.7

        So it took Melo many more shots to basically score the same amount of points as Durant.

        The season BEFORE last year (11/12 season), Melo averaged 18.6 shots a game which was still more than Durant averaged last year but it’s closer to what Durant did so I wanted to let you all see what he scored while taking 18.6 shots a game.

        Melo “only” averaged 22.6 points a game on 18.6 shots a game.
        Durant averaged over 28 points a game on only 17.7 shots a game.

        BOTH Melo and J.R. score a lot of points because they chuck up a lot of shots.

        There are STATS that show this…

  5. nykfanwakemeupin2015 - Jan 27, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Judging by that picture maybe there is another reason they want to play on the same team. Never seen either smile so hard

  6. socalgal64 - Jan 27, 2014 at 4:09 PM

    And I thought Yahoo! and ESPN comments were bad.

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