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Silverman: Anthony Can’t Let Instigators Get Under His Skin

Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett (credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett (credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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By Steve Silverman
» More Columns

This has been the kind of season that Knicks fans have been dreaming about for years.

Everything has been going spectacularly well for Mike Woodson’s team this year. A quick look at the standings confirms that the Knicks have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, just a game behind the Miami Heat.

There’s every reason to think that the Knicks and the Heat will ultimately battle for the Eastern Conference title in the spring, especially with Carmelo Anthony leading the way.

Anthony is a legitimate MVP candidate, averaging 29.0 points per game and hitting the key shots that have given his team a chance to win night after night.

Nothing has been going wrong for the Knicks and Anthony.

Until last night when the Boston Celtics came to town.

The Celtics are just a shell of what they have been as Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce seem to have too much age on them to be consistent winners any more. Rajon Rondo’s quickness and flashy play often make you take notice, but he is just as likely to sulk or bump a referee as he is to flash his talent.

Rondo was unable to play last night because of a one-game suspension after he made contact with an official. It was Rondo’s fourth suspension in the last 11 months.

But somehow the Celtics walked into Madison Square Garden and came away with a 102-96 win over the Knicks.

Not only was it Boston’s best win of the season, it was the most troubling of the Knicks’ losses.

The worst aspect of it was Anthony. Throughout the second half, he was bumping and banging with Garnett and the trash talking flowed throughout.

But instead of moving from one play to the next, Anthony got consumed by this personal battle. He wanted a piece of Garnett and he didn’t care if it came after the game in the bowels of Madison Square Garden or if he had to call Garnett off the Celtics’ team bus to do it.

This is not how your potential MVP is supposed to be acting in a midseason game against a team that is not good enough to challenge you anymore.

Anthony may have had an awful night as he made just 6-of-26 shots, but this is not what you want to see from him.

Forget what happened last night. The Celtics are not in the Knicks’ class and they are not good enough to beat them over the long haul of the season or if it comes down to a playoff series.

They are tough, savvy and competitive, but they don’t have the talent to hang with the Knicks over the long haul.

However, if the Knicks’ best player loses sight of the big picture and is more interested in taking on KG so he can pay him back for one of his pointed elbows, that’s a big problem.

Now Woodson has to find a way to get to his superstar and convince him to see the big picture and not get so upset about the personal battle with Garnett.

Both players were called for technical with slightly over nine minutes remaining. For Garnett, it was just business as usual.

“Heat of the battle. When you’re out there on the floor, everything’s high, everything’s top notch,” Garnett told the Boston Globe. “He’s trying to get his team to go, I’m trying to get my team to go, things are colliding, not to mention that it’s the Knicks and the Celtics. Just what it is man. It’s basketball, all right?”

Garnett knows how to get under opponents’ skin; he has been doing it for years.

But when he gets under the Knicks’ potential MVP’s skin, that’s a very bad thing and something that has to be corrected right away.

Your thoughts on Anthony’s postgame antics? Let Steve know in the comments below!