After 50 years NBA basketball finally returned to Syracuse. On Monday night NBA superstar and former SU basketball player, Carmelo Anthony, led the New York Knicks to the Carrier Dome to face off against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Through a hard fought game of ups and downs from both sides, the 76ers would be the victor, holding onto a 98-90 win behind key scoring from Thaddeus Young and Jason Richardson.
The Syracuse Nationals were a pro basketball team during the 1950’s and 1960’s and they won an NBA championship in 1955. 8 years later Philadelphia investors, who were filling a hole from a team that had left them the year before, would buy them out.
The crowd of 8,831 people were not all devoted to root for the team that left them, rather a large majority were rooting heavily for the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony.
The return of Anthony to the Carrier Dome started off with a bang when he hit the first shot of the game.
“Coach Woodson drew the play up. He told me he was getting me the first shot,” said Anthony. “I got open and I hit the shot.”
The game started out well for Anthony as he had eight of his 23 points in the first quarter. The 76ers answered back keeping the game close until they found their sweet stroke in the second quarter.
The 76ers would set the Carrier Dome ablaze in the second quarter with their 73.7 percent shooting from the field, led by guards Royal Ivey and Richardson who combined for 16 points. The 36-point explosion gave the 76ers an 18-point lead going into halftime.
Things changed in the third quarter. The Knicks starters returned to the lineup and with a combination of stifling defense and ball movement, they cut the deficit to four. They created six turnovers, which helped create transition threes and easy baskets.
“My juices were flowing in the third quarter. My competitiveness came out,” said Carmelo Anthony. “I told coach, ‘Please just keep me in’.”
Coach Woodson was rewarded. Anthony scored 11 points in the quarter; the highlight coming from a three point shot that went in after he was fouled. Anthony’s fortunes would not continue.
The Knicks couldn’t get big shots in the fourth quarter as they shot a dismal 16.7 percent from beyond the arc while the 76ers shot 56.3 percent from the field. Richardson was a key reason for the Knicks downfall as he countered any momentum that the Knicks gathered by hitting shot after shot.
Even with his first loss in the Carrier Dome, Anthony didn’t seem to dwell on the negative.
“Tonight was just to give something back to the fans. Me being back here, playing another game; it just brings back so many memories.”
The Philadelphia 76ers (6-1) close out the preseason atop the Eastern conference and will play there first regular season game against the Denver Nuggets on Halloween. The New York Knicks (2-3) have a preseason game on Wednesday before they start their regular season schedule versus the Brooklyn Nets.