SYRACUSE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Carmelo Anthony winced at the thought.
“My streak is over,” he lamented.
Jason Richardson made a three-point play and hit a pair of 3-pointers to start the fourth quarter, and the Philadelphia 76ers held on to beat the Knicks 98-90 on Monday night in an exhibition game in the Carrier Dome, spoiling Anthony’s return to his college roots.
It was an outcome Anthony was unaccustomed to in the Carrier Dome. As a freshman at Syracuse in the 2002-03 season, he led the Orange to a 17-0 record at home in the dome en route to the national championship, then left for the NBA.
“It’s just great to be back in this building once again, knowing how many memories that I have,” Anthony said. “A lot of fans supported me tonight. It was a fun game. At this point, it’s not about the wins and losses. It’s about what we take from the game, just getting better.”
Anthony could start the season at power forward with Amar’e Stoudemire battling a knee injury — a “likely” scenario, according to the New York Daily News.
“It’s kind of a nightmare for a lot of 4s in this league,” said coach Mike Woodson.
“He’s good at that position and will create mismatches,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told the New York Post. “I talked to Mike about it. … He’s going to have some advantages. I think he’s going to have a good year and do everything he needs to do for them to win. This is his peak years. But as I’ve told you before, he’s a scorer. That’s what he is.”
Anthony and Raymond Felton each finished with 23 points for the Knicks (2-3). Anthony also had six rebounds, five assists and four steals in nearly 35 minutes. Felton was 5 of 7 on 3-pointers, and Chris Copeland added 15 points.
Richardson had 23 points and Thaddeus Young 22 for Philadelphia (6-1).
Philadelphia led by as many as 24 on Young’s floater in the lane early in the third period before the Knicks came alive from beyond the arc. Felton hit a pair of 3-pointers, and Anthony and Jason Kidd each chipped in with one to narrow the lead to 74-65.
Anthony’s stepback 3 in the final minute of the period made it 76-72 entering the fourth, and it could have been more. Fouled on the shot by Damien Wilkins, Anthony missed the free throw and an ensuing 3 after Steve Novak corralled the rebound. Novak snared the rebound of Anthony’s miss and also misfired from beyond the arc before the buzzer.
“The third quarter we came out, got ourselves together,” Anthony said. “We played with some energy, ran our offense, played some defense, got up and down the court, played well. When we play like that, you saw how good of a team we can be.”
New York pulled within a basket three times before Richardson gave the Sixers some breathing room.
The Sixers gained a big lead in the first half with a 19-6 spurt that started with Spencer Hawes’ 3-pointer from the left wing in the final minute of the opening period. That broke a 23-all tie and the Knicks then went cold, missing five shots and committing a turnover.
Hawes hit a hook in the lane and Royal Ivey and Nick Young hit consecutive baskets to give Philadelphia a 34-25 lead. Richardson and Ivey completed the run with 3-pointers, giving the Sixers a 42-29 lead with 7:09 left in the second.
Two free throws by Tyson Chandler narrowed the lead to 11, but after Felton’s 3 closed the gap to 48-36, the Sixers ended the half with a 14-8 rush to lead by 18.
Anthony started the game with a turnaround jumper to send the Knicks on a 7-0 surge. The Sixers answered with a 14-0 run keyed by five straight points from Richardson and a 3 from the left corner by Ivey that completed it.
The Knicks open the regular season Nov. 1 against Brooklyn.
It’s difficult to believe it’s been a decade since Anthony arrived as a raw freshman at Syracuse. More difficult to believe that he stayed only nine months, but there’s never been a brighter winter in this town, to be sure.
When the snow melted in early April 2003, Anthony and his Syracuse teammates were jumping up and down on the hardwood of the Superdome in New Orleans, basking in the glow of the university’s first and only national championship in basketball. Despite desperate pleas from the Orange faithful to stay “One more year!”, Anthony bade farewell in a tear-filled news conference to announce he was leaving for the NBA.
“Maybe one more year crossed my mind, but four years? That’s a long time,” Anthony said, a warm smile creasing his face prior to the Knicks shootaround earlier in the day. “It’s just motivating to know what I was able to do here by bringing the championship to the university, to the town. You want to bring that back to my respective town now, New York City. It kind of puts everything in perspective.”
Anthony has given much more since he left. He donated $3 million to jump-start fundraising for a sleek $19 million practice facility with all the bells and whistles that bears his name. Last year, he attended preseason Madness, and when former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine was fired last November amid sex abuse allegations involving two former ball boys of the team, Anthony made a point of showing up for an early December game in the Carrier Dome in support of beleaguered head coach Boeheim.
“I do a lot in this town, this community, just out of the goodness of my heart, just to give back,” said Anthony, who also has two Olympic gold medals. “For me, this is where it all began. It was only right for me to give back.”
Anthony also has given money to Boeheim’s Courts4Kids project, which has helped build or renovate basketball courts in city parks with another opening in November and plans for more in the future.
Since turning pro, Anthony returned to the Carrier Dome as a Denver Nuggets’ rookie in 2003. This was his first appearance in the Carrier Dome since he was traded to New York midway through the 2010-11 season.
Anthony was in town on Sunday and toured the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center, where a tape of the 2003 national championship game plays in a continuous loop all day, every day, right alongside the glass national championship trophy. He said it was a humbling experience.
“It was the first time I actually got a chance to get around and walk through the whole facility,” he said. “It was kind of surreal for me to be walking around and seeing my name plastered around the building on the outside. I don’t know what word to use, but it was shocking to me just to see that. I called my family, sent them pictures of it. It was just one of them moments that I’ll probably never forget.”
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