Carmelo Anthony returned to Madison Square Garden as a visitor on Wednesday night for the second time since leaving the Knicks following the 2016-17 season.
Starting at power forward, Carmelo was introduced to the New York crowd along with the rest of the Portland Trail Blazers' starters before the opening tip, and the Garden crowd gave him a very warm welcome, cheering for the 10-time All-Star.
Carmelo Anthony gets a big welcome from the MSG crowd 👏 pic.twitter.com/8Y2opt2LNl- Knicks Videos (@sny_knicks) January 2, 2020
Anthony had a vintage night against the Knicks, drawing "oohs" and "ahs" from the crowd as he knocked down shot after shot. In his first 19 games with Portland this season, Anthony's season high was 25 points, but he was in the zone on Wednesday, scoring 26 points through the first three quarters. His scoring ended there, though, as he didn't play much in the fourth quarter with the Knicks pulling away to a huge lead.
Anthony finished with 26 points on a very efficient night, going 11-of-17 from the floor, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.
"The love was definitely felt tonight, form the fans that were here, from just the city as a whole, being back," Anthony said after the game. "I think that feeling is kind of hard to explain. But for me to get that ovation, I think I've always had the love from the city like that, but to be back in this building where I spent so many years, that love felt extremely good tonight."
Anthony spent seven seasons in New York, averaging 24.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. Anthony led the Knicks to their only playoff series win of the past decade in 2012-13, defeating Boston 4-2 in the first round following a 54-win regular season. He is currently seventh on the Knicks' all-time scoring list.
"I did glance up at the rafters a little bit today, (during the) national anthem, so they say in life that you've got to envision, so I was envisioning," Anthony said when asked about the Knicks potentially retiring his jersey number one day. "See that thing hanging up there. I enjoyed (my time as a Knick). I will say that for the most part I've grown. I think being in this city makes you a specific type of person, not a basketball player, a specific type of person, and for me to embrace that and want that and take that challenge on, I think that's why I got the love that I got tonight and I will continue to get that from this city."
Since signing with the Blazers earlier this season, Anthony has averaged 15.7 points while shooting 38.9 percent from beyond the arc in 19 games.