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Looking for meaning in the NBA All-Star Game is a bit like looking for it in an Adam Sandler movie.
Entertainment is the point and the dunkfest certainly provided it in the first half before the Eastern Conference rallied in the fourth quarter, making things close before ultimately losing 152-149 in Orlando. Because the game did get close, you can't help but finding a little bit of larger significance to the proceedings and the fact that LeBron James passed with the game on the line is too richly aligned with last year's finals to escape mention.
Amusing as that might have been, it doesn't have any bearing on the team that we care about in this part of the world. The Knicks were represented by Carmelo Anthony and, as with LeBron, the narrative of Melo's season gets itself weaved together with the happenings of a meaningless exhibition game.
It's something of a stretch to make that happen, although that didn't stop Frank Isola of the Daily News from doing a bit of what the kids call trolling during the first half of the game. Things got better for Anthony from there.
Melo played 30 minutes, which is either a sign that he's feeling better physically or that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is a bit of a jerk. Derrick Rose and Luol Deng played just 24 minutes combined while James, Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard each logged 30 or more in what the conspiracy-minded might see as a bit of gamesmanship ahead of the second half.
Anthony scored 19 points in those 30 minutes, including 10 in the fourth quarter to help his side climb back into the game. His shooting wasn't great, but he looked well involved in the offensive flow of things while finding his way to the bucket and the free throw line several times during the stretch run.
There was none of the tentative Anthony that we've seen in his games with the Knicks since returning from injury, none of the unspoken monologues about whether or not he's a "ballstopper" surrounding his every touch on offense even though he was surrounded by a bunch of players who can do a pretty good job with the ball in their hands. Again, it was an exhibition game, but it was still nice to see a productive Anthony on the offensive end.
Here's the part where you offer a reminder that it will be different when the games start up again, but there was something to glean from Anthony's offensive game on Sunday night. Indifferent defense and attention-grabbing teammates notwithstanding, Anthony found his way to the kinds of shots that he should be taking for the Knicks.
He shot just three threes, missing them all, and went 7-of-12 on his other shots in a game that flies in the face of what he's done during the regular season. Anthony is shooting threes more often than he has in the past even though he's hitting them at a lower rate than he has in the past.
That's just one of the points Bomani Jones of SB Nation raised in a thoughtful piece about Anthony last week -- he's also shooting fewer times per game with the highest assist percentage of his career while being lambasted as a selfish player at every turn -- that left you with the distinct impression that Anthony and Mike D'Antoni might just be a bad fit.
As we saw on Sunday night, Anthony is at his most effective attacking defenders off the wing or in the post and that just hasn't happened much in Knicks games this season.
It has been just three games since Anthony returned from injury to play alongside Jeremy Lin and the last of those games showed the best Anthony we've seen in that run (the worst Lin, but you can't have it all) so there's still reason for optimism. Sunday night showed Anthony hasn't lost the game that made him a star.
The rest of the season needs to show that the Knicks know how to make it happen on a nightly basis.