Carmelo Anthony catches fire prior to MSG return vs. New York Knicks
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

One night prior to his grand return to Madison Square Garden, former New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony catches fire against the 76ers.

Only one night remains.

Opening night was filled with anticipation considering the new-look Knickerbockers were treated to a road game in Oklahoma City against their former star, Carmelo Anthony. Melo, who spent six-and-change seasons in New York, was traded for Enes Kanter and Doug McDermott prior to the season.

Sure, that NBA opening night 105-84 finish that saw Melo pour in 22 was interesting, but this is something completely different. Melo’s return to the Mecca deserves its own novel.


And what do you know? Carmelo decided to heat up at just the right time.

In OKC’s thrilling 119-117 triple-overtime win against the up-and-coming Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night, Anthony caught fire. He tallied 24 points on an extremely efficient 11-of-17 from the floor to go along with seven rebounds.

He even showed a little fire with a semi-altercation with Joel Embiid.

While toying under .500 for most of the season, OKC is finally back to .500 with a record of 14-14.

Playing with Russell Westbrook and Paul George, it was all laid out. Everything was settled except the path.

The New York Knicks were supposed to flat-out stick while the Thunder were supposed to challenge the mighty Golden State Warriors … hopefully, for many diehards who’d love to see just an ounce of parity.

It hasn’t gone that way.

The Knicks have played tough even with a bevy of injuries while Melo’s 16.2 points per contest on a meager .400 from the floor is just part of the reason for the struggles.

New York Knicks

Still, the big story on the side of New York is that Kristaps Porzingis may not play.

In New York’s 111-104 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday night, KP left the contest with a knee injury. No structural damage was realized, but his sore knee may keep him out of the most anticipated home game of the season.

Speaking of the young Latvian, he believes no Knick fan should boo Anthony, via Ian Begley of ESPN New York.

“I think he was as professional as he can be in his time here in New York, so I don’t see why they would not receive him with love,” Porzingis said Thursday.

Some will surely boo. Some will think of the outgoing message Melo left with The Players’ Tribune about his “personal hell” while with New York. Some will think about his clashes with Jeremy Lin, Mike D’Antoni and more.

Some will just think about how their team is never any better or worse with or without Melo.

Overall, expect a nice welcome. Despite his shortcomings on the court, he was one of the first players (Amar’e Stoudemire) who said, “Yes, I will take the challenge of playing in New York” while nobody else would.

The Knicks and Madison Square Garden are expected to greet him with a tribute video prior to tip-off. The Knicks will be without Tim Hardaway, will play a severely banged-up Kanter, and may not make a decision on Porzingis until a few hours prior to the game.

It all gets started at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night. The Carmelo Anthony return to the Mecca.

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