Before coming to New York, Carmelo Anthony marveled at the numbers that his Denver Nuggets teammate Allen Iverson had posted over his career.
On Sunday night, Anthony joined his former teammate, becoming the sixth youngest to join the NBA's 20,000 point club, with a 28-point performance. Anthony also hit the go-ahead basket with 1:23 remaining, leading the New York Knicks to a 96-63 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
"I never thought I would be here actually talking about me reaching that milestone," Anthony said. "I'm definitely humbled by this experience."
Anthony, a seven-time All-Star, who started off the night with 19,997 points, notched his 19,999th point after hitting a basket in the opening seconds of the game. With 7:42 remaining in the opening quarter, point guard Shane Larkin found an open Anthony on the wing for a 3-pointer, becoming the 40th player in league history to score over 20,000 points in their careers.
Al Jefferson had 21 points and Gary Neal added 17 points off the bench for the Hornets (1-2), who lost their second straight.
Charlotte guard Michael Kidd-Gilchrist fell awkwardly late in the first quarter and did not return to the game. According to the team's spokesman, Kidd-Gilchrist was taken to a New York City area hospital for a CT scan that revealed a rib contusion.
Amar'e Stoudemire had 17 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Knicks (2-1), who won their second straight. Shumpert added 15 points.
Stoudemire, who recorded the Knicks first double-double of the season, might have joined the 20,000-point club if not for a rash of knee operations that have limited him from being on the court over the last three seasons.
"That means you put in a lot of work in this league, you stay injury free and you put a lot of work in practice, a lot of repetition that goes into being that efficient within the games," he said.
Rookie head coach Derek Fisher came away impressed with the Knicks defensive effort in the final 2:23 of the game as the New York defense paved the way for the victory by forcing three of Charlotte's 12 turnovers down the stretch.
"Their effort in just trying to do what we're asking them to do is really high," Fisher said. "Even though we are making some mistakes . we are still making it hard for teams to score in a lot of situations."
With 2:49 remaining Charlotte's Kemba Walker scored on a reverse lay-up to extend the Hornets' lead to 93-90. After Lance Stephenson was called for traveling, Knicks backup point guard Pablo Prigioni found an open Iman Shumpert, who hit a 3-pointer with 2:06 left, to even the game 93-all.
Walker then missed a layup with 1:42 to play, setting up Anthony's 15-foot jumper gave the Knicks the lead for good, 95-93. Stephenson then followed that up with another costly turnover that resulted in a steal by Shumpert with 1:00 to go.
After Anthony missed a jumper, the Knicks were called for a shot clock violation. Charlotte called a 20-second timeout but Stephenson was whistled for a 5-second violation as he failed to inbound the ball in time.
The Brooklyn product couldn't agree with the referee's decision.
"I don't think it was five second, more like three," Stephenson said.
Walker, the New York City product who had 14 points, had a chance to tie the game with three seconds left in the game but missed on a contested pull up jumper. Anthony then sealed New York's win with a free throw that extended the lead, 96-93.