Outside of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony might be the most maligned superstar in the NBA. But if critics judge him by his recent tear the vitriol might dissipate.

 

The Knicks came up short, 93-85, in yesterday’s matinee against the Heat, but it wasn’t Anthony’s fault. The small forward, who has been playing out of position at power forward with Amar’e Stoudemire recovering from a back injury, powered through double-teams and multiple defenders to post a game-high 42 points. The scoring machine wasn’t one-dimensional, though, as he also added nine rebounds and five assists on 14-of-27 shooting.

 

“Guys like Carmelo Anthony, KD [Kevin Durant] and Kobe, they’re going to make shots [because] they’re flat-out scorers,” Heat forward LeBron James said. “Hopefully down the stretch you try to continue to wear on them and hopefully they start to miss a few. That’s what I was able to do, just trying to be aggressive on Carmelo. … But he was impressive.”

 

It was such a virtuous performance by Anthony that even the opponents kept talking about him hours after the game. Anthony and the Heat’s “Big 3” came into the league together in the same draft, so all are close friends. But even James and Dwyane Wade were impressed with how much of a load Anthony had to carry in Sunday’s game. The duo agreed that Anthony alone could make the Knicks a tough out in playoffs should the teams meet.

 

“Their one great player played great,” Wade said. “Melo’s a heck of a ball player. He can lead a team to win by himself on any night.”

 

Anthony, meanwhile, was harder on himself, saying he needs to do everything he can to get the role players to chip in more.

“When I went through that little spurt of getting booed, it was hurtful,” Anthony said of the Garden crowd. “But now the tables are turned. ... As a team leader I have to do everything I can to help us get in the playoffs — despite everything we’ve been through.”



Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.