Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks starting forward, led his team to a 108-86 win against the fifth best team in the NBA without his star teammates Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire. The impressive feat has, as expected, led Lin critics to suggest that the forward may play his best without the injured pair.
Anthony, 27, led his team to victory against the eastern conference's No. 3 seed Magic on Wednesday night, with 25 points, six assists and five rebounds.
"Knicks look really good with Melo, no Lin, no Stat," Tweeted Rich Dollaz, star of the reality television show Love and Hip Hop. "Too many options get confusing now just give the ball to Melo and move. He'll find you, unselfish play."
In previous games when Lin and Stoudemire were dominating for the Knicks, critics seemed to doubt Anthony's abilities. However, Anthony's excellent form in the pair's absence has been the perfect bait for the Lin doubters to voice negativity about his place in the team.
Tongues started wagging during the team's 89-80 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday when Lin and Stoudemire were both forced to sit out of the game. In that game Anthony also led his team with 28 points and 12 rebounds, sparking critics to immediately question the chemistry between Lin, Anthony and Stoudemire.
Skip Bayless, Emmy-nominated ESPN sportscaster, said he took a liking to Anthony's game without the Knicks' injured players. "Hate to say it, but I'm liking the Knicks more without Amare-- and Melo is turning back into MELO," Bayless tweeted.
Anthony, nicknamed Melo, has been under scrutiny since the beginning of the team's Linsanity phenomenon in February. The Knicks' small forward, who has been a leading scorer on his previous teams, has admitted that he has had to make adjustments to play with the newly formed Knicks.
When Anthony returned to the Knicks led by Lin at the starting point guard position, the team lost four of six games. During that tough spell some harsh critics blamed Anthony for having issues adjusting to new players around him.
Tyson Chandler, championship-winning starting center for the Knicks, recognized that Anthony received a lot of backlash during the team's poor performances. "He's been getting a lot of flak for what's been going on around here, but I think he's been having a heck of a year myself," Chandler told the press after the Bucks game.
Perhaps revealing the fickle nature of sports critics and some fans, many remember how Anthony was treated when he struggled for form in February as the Linsanity craze kicked off. "Many Knicks fans who booed Carmelo Anthony are now calling him the greatest thing since slice bread," one NBA fan tweeted. "Funny how that happens."
At the moment Anthony deserves all the plaudits he is getting; he has managed to overcome his most recent groin injury to inspire the Knicks to victory for two games without their top playmakers. The starting forward admitted that it hasn't been easy, and despite the divisive talk coming from some critics, insisted that the team may finally be coming together.
"It's been a rocky season for us," Anthony said after the win over the Magic on Wednesday night. "A lot has been going on, a lot happened, but right now with the coaching change, we've been playing extremely well. We've been really locked in."