NEW YORK -- Blame the Christmas carols.
He made sure no excuses were needed at the end.
Anthony scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, rallying New York to a 94-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
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New York trailed from the opening minutes until Anthony scored eight straight points down the stretch. He had scored just nine points on 3-of-11 shooting in the first half, but had the final 12 for the Knicks to give them a 4-2 finish on their six-game homestand.
"It was just a matter of just getting it going. I think for the first half we were sluggish, seemed that we didn't have no momentum, no energy, it looked like our legs wasn't there in the first half," Anthony said. "Once again, we dug ourselves a hole and we fought out of the hole today. This game was one of them games that we didn't want to lose and we wasn't going to lose."
They almost did, though.
The Knicks fell behind shortly after the rare 5 p.m. tip-off, stayed behind most of the way and couldn't get much energy from the arena, with Anthony saying the halftime Christmas music "kind of put us to sleep a little bit."
"I love Christmas music, but it was just the time of the game. We was down, we didn't have no energy, then they threw the 'Chestnuts are roasting,"' Anthony added.
J.R. Smith added 19 points and Tyson Chandler had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who headed to the airport afterward for a trip to Los Angeles for their Christmas Day game against former coach Mike D'Antoni and the Lakers.
"This was a big game for us. Sunday afternoon game, tough one, Christmas is right around the corner, we're going on the road. These are the kind of games that you lose, that you get lured into," Chandler said. "Minnesota's a tough team, Minnesota's not an easy team, they play well together and I was proud of the guys for really being able to turn it on in the second half, gut it out and get this win before we start this road trip."
Love was poked in the eye late in the Wolves' 99-93 victory over Oklahoma City on Thursday and didn't travel with the team to New York. They nearly pulled it out without him, leading almost the entire night before falling for the third time in four games.
"We battled. We had a great game, it just didn't go our way there in the last couple of minutes," guard J.J. Barea said. "We just couldn't get a break there at the end and I think it hurt us."
Anthony made a 3-pointer with 1:53 left to get New York within one, then fought off the tough defense of Andrei Kirilenko, scoring while being fouled and converting the three-point play with 1:13 to play that made it 88-86, the Knicks' first lead since it was 5-4.
Anthony followed with two free throws for a four-point lead, and after Shved's 3-pointer cut it to one, Anthony sank two free throws with 16.5 seconds remaining. The Wolves got it to one again on Barea's drive, but Anthony again knocked down two free throws with 6.7 seconds left, and Shved was well short on a tying 3-point attempt.
Even with Love out and Ricky Rubio's minutes still restricted following major knee surgery, Minnesota led 29-22 after one and never gave up the lead in the half, even when the Knicks seemed to be putting together some momentum.
Smith threw down a dunk in Greg Stiemsma's face as one of the Knicks' three straight baskets right at the rim, but Minnesota shook off that surge and scored the final seven points of the half, taking a 55-46 lead on Luke Ridnour's 3-pointer.
The Wolves had the lead up to 11 a couple of times in the third quarter and were still ahead 73-71 heading to the fourth.
Ridnour had 14 points, and Barea and Dante Cunningham each scored 12 for the Wolves.
|J.R. Smith scores 19 points off the bench as the Knicks rally from behind to take out the Timberwolves. (US Presswire)|
|New York (20-7) «||22||24||25||23||94|
|MIN:N. Pekovic 21 Pts
MIN:N. Pekovic 17 Reb
MIN:L. Ridnour 5 Ast
|NY:C. Anthony 33 Pts
NY:T. Chandler 9 Reb
NY:J. Smith 7 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|N. Pekovic, C||40||7-16||7-8||17||2||2||21|
|A. Shved, PG||39||7-16||0-0||5||4||2||18|
|L. Ridnour, PG||38||5-13||3-3||1||5||2||14|
|J. Barea, PG||38||4-14||3-3||5||4||2||12|
|A. Kirilenko, SF||20||2-6||0-0||3||2||6||4|
|D. Cunningham, SF||28||6-10||0-0||10||1||3||12|
|R. Rubio, PG||18||2-6||1-2||1||2||4||5|
|D. Williams, PF||12||1-3||2-2||5||0||0||5|
|G. Stiemsma, C||8||0-0||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|B. Roy, SG||Did Not Play|
|L. Amundson, PF||Did Not Play|
|K. Love, PF||Did Not Play|
|M. Lee, SG||Did Not Play|
|C. Budinger, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|C. Anthony, SF||44||10-25||10-11||7||2||5||33|
|R. Felton, PG||39||7-15||1-1||2||2||4||15|
|T. Chandler, C||38||4-7||8-10||9||3||4||16|
|J. Kidd, PG||34||0-3||0-0||6||1||0||0|
|R. Brewer, SG||13||0-0||0-0||3||1||0||0|
|J. Smith, SG||39||7-15||3-4||5||7||3||19|
|S. Novak, SF||19||1-3||2-2||1||0||1||4|
|K. Thomas, PF||10||2-2||0-0||2||0||2||4|
|P. Prigioni, PG||4||1-2||0-0||0||1||1||3|
|M. Camby, C||Did Not Play|
|R. Wallace, PF||Did Not Play|
|A. Stoudemire, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. White, SG||Did Not Play|
|I. Shumpert, PG||Did Not Play|
|C. Copeland, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|