While watching the New York Knicks play the Denver Nuggets Sunday Night, it was easy to see that the game could go either way. Every time the Knicks went on a run, the Nuggets came back. The game went back and forth until the fourth quarter, when the one true superstar on the court took over.
After the game, I read a tweet by Tommy Beer that said, "the team with the superstar won this won."
I sat at my computer for a minute and thought about the Knicks and their wins. This is a 15-5 team that has not one but two superstars on their team—Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire—plus a cadre of veterans around to make things happen. One of those superstars isn’t back yet, but so far the Knicks are a team that plays together, works together and then, when they need it, has their superstar take over to win the game.
That happened Sunday night.
Corey Brewer hit two baskets at the start of the fourth quarter to give Denver an 88-80 lead. This was a game that the Knicks could have had an excuse for losing: They got home at 6 AM that morning from Chicago because of weather. They were exhausted. Knicks fans would have forgiven them for losing that game.
But they weren’t out yet.
Steve Novak came back and hit consecutive 3-pointers. Tyson Chandler then dunked to tie the game. And then Ronnie Brewer contributed four points to make it a 12-0 run. After Kenneth Faried—who, by the way, looks amazing—scored 2 points, Carmelo Anthony hit a jumper and quickly followed up with a three-pointer. The Knicks were up by 7.
After that, the ball was Melo’s. Every time Denver attacked, even closing the game to four points, Melo took over. He hit another jumper and then drove to the basket hard, making a near-impossible shot.
''Tonight we let one player get hot, Melo, and once he started hitting he was unstoppable,'' Faried said after the game.
Once the superstar took over there was nothing that could be done to stop him. Every time Denver tried to get closer, Melo took the game away from them. But that’s what superstars do. When their team needs them to really take over, they are there to hit the big shots.
For the Knicks, that was missing Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls in a tough game that went back and forth for both sides. While the Knicks did lose, it’s easy to imagine that they’d have won had Carmelo Anthony been there.
Because he’s a star. More importantly, had Melo been there, Raymond Felton would not have needed to take so many shots, many of which were poorly constructed.
Perhaps the Knicks don’t win the championship. Maybe they only go so far in the playoffs. At the end of the day, though, they have not one, but two people who can take over a game if need be. Anthony and Stoudemire are the superstars, the closers. Teams need a player who has the will and the talent to take a game over. Without it, there’s simply no chance of winning.