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Hartnett: Driven Melo Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Melo Lifted Knicks On His Back And Carried Them Over T'Wolves
Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks celebrates during a game played against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 23, 2012 at Madison Square Garden. Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks celebrates during a game played against the Minnesota Timberwolves on December 23, 2012 at Madison Square Garden. Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

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By Sean Hartnett
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Carmelo Anthony took it to another level in the fourth quarter and delivered an early Christmas present to the home crowd at Madison Square Garden. Anthony energized the building as he stole a victory from the Timberwolves’ hands.

Melo flipped the switch in the final minutes and simply would not be denied. Anthony was a man on a mission, rescuing  the Knicks from what appeared to be certain defeat.

The Knicks were below par on the defensive end for most of the night and Melo couldn’t find his shooting touch in the first half, shooting an ugly 3-for-11.  The lackadaisical Knicks went into halftime trailing the T’Wolves 51-46.

It was up to Melo to breathe life into the Garden and re-energize the crowd and his teammates. He responded by catching fire. Melo scored the final 12 points for the Knicks, who rallied from 86-82 down in the final four minutes to outscore the Wolves, 12-5.

Anthony scored 10 consecutive points in a locked-in 19-point fourth quarter performance. The Knicks escaped with a 94-91 victory and they had their main man to thank.  Melo knew the importance of securing a win before the Knicks hit the road for a three-game road swing.

“That was kind of an MVP performance at the end. He stepped up and made the plays. When he got that fifth foul called, it’s like a light went off and he made the plays big-time,” Knicks’ head coach Mike Woodson said following the victory.

Foul trouble didn’t distract Anthony from carrying the Knicks on his back. If anything, it recharged his focus. His MVP credentials continue to grow by the game and Christmas Day will bring another big test for Anthony and the Knicks.

Big Rematch On Christmas Day

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The streaking Los Angeles Lakers host the Knicks at Staples Center on Tuesday. Los Angeles has won four straight games and Mike D’Antoni has his magician back in the lineup. Steve Nash is running the show after missing 24 games due to a fractured leg.

Nash’s presence made a huge difference for the Lakers in their gusty 118-115 overtime victory over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.

Kobe Bryant is playing like Kobe again.  Bryant is averaging a league-best 29.7 points per game and scored 34 points against the Warriors.  Everything is setting up for a Christmas Day epic.

Number one scorer Kobe versus number two scorer Melo — and the Lakers are healthier and showing signs of grasping D’Antoni’s offense.

The Lakers are looking to make a statement against the Knicks on their home court, especially after being outclassed in their last meeting at the Garden 116-107.

Knicks versus Lakers on Christmas will be must-see TV and a game that will live up to the hype. Melo, Kobe, Chandler and Nash under your tree — what more could any basketball fan ask for?

Happy holidays to all my readers and have a safe holiday season!

How impressed are you by Melo’s late game heroics?  Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.