NEW YORK -- It wasn't the first 35 points that hurt the most. The final bucket was the dagger.
Carmelo Anthony dominated the ball from start to the very end in the Knicks' down-to-the-wire 110-109 victory over the Sixers on Saturday at Madison Square Garden (see Instant Replay).
He nailed the game-winning shot against Robert Covington with 0.3 seconds left off an assist from Derrick Rose.
"He's so versatile," Covington said. "He has a very, very crazy skillset that he knows how to read defenders. … He's just one of the hardest guys one-on-one to guard."
Anthony was well on his way to a standout performance when he scored 21 points over 19 minutes in the first half alone. He reached the 30-point mark and sat for the first four minutes of the fourth as the Knicks looked to be in cruise control.
The Sixers weren't ready to go home, though, and began erasing the Knicks 13-point lead. Free throw by free throw, basket by basket, they crept back into the game to make it a one-point contest with 1:27 to play and eventually took the lead with nine seconds remaining.
Anthony actually had come up short during that Sixers run. He checked in for the final 7:51 of the game and wasn't as sharp at first. Anthony went 1 for 2 from the line and missed his next two shot attempts, including a dunk.
When it mattered most, though, he delivered. Anthony drained an 18-foot jumper to give the Knicks a 108-105 lead with 1:04 left. After Jahlil Okafor made a go-ahead shot with nine seconds remaining, Anthony put the game away.
"Just some space and a good look at the rim," Anthony (37 points, six rebounds, two assists) recounted. "I think I jabbed him a little bit. He bit for it. Once I had that clear path it was just a matter of me getting the space that I want and the vision I want at the basket. At that point it was a matter of making the shot."
Anthony described the final basket matter-of-factly, like it was just another day on the job. In reality, that's exactly what it was for him. Anthony has come up with big shots throughout his entire 14-year career -- and the Sixers know they always have to be on-guard for one.
"Everybody knows his mid-range game is one of the best in the league," Dario Saric said."You cannot be so close to him because he can get fouls easily because he knows how to play. We try. Sometimes when you have a superstar like that, 10-year All-Star, sometimes you cannot do so much. But we tried, we played good defense on him, but he scored that shot and because of that we lost."
This was not the first time a game between the Sixers and Knicks required last-second heroics. On Jan. 11 the Sixers recorded a comeback victory thanks to a buzzer-beater by T.J. McConnell. The Sixers remembered that game as motivation they could fight back; Anthony remembered it as motivation to not let it happen again.
"It was similar situations as the first time we played them in Philly," Anthony said. "The only thing was the roles were reversed this time. Instead of them making the shot, I made the shot."
37 points. Game-winner. Reversing a previous loss.
"That is Melo," Brett Brown said. "He is a gifted isolation scorer."