Carmelo Anthony is King for a night

His contemporary, James, no longer has to sweat such things. "I came to Miami to win," he said before his 32 points were compromised by his six turnovers in the 102-92 loss.

"Money didn't make me happy," James continued. "Winning made me happy, and it still does. At the end of the day, that's what matters to me. Where can I put myself in position to win and win for a long time, and that's part of the reason why I came here."

Given that James called Anthony "one of my greatest friends that I have," he was asked what advice he would give Melo when the time comes to stay or go.

"Whatever makes him happy," James said. "You've got to do whatever makes him happy at the end of the day. If you're happy, the game of basketball is going to be fun for you. Strive to be great every day, and you can live with whatever else happens."

James didn't specifically recommend that Anthony take less-than-max money the way he did to escape his middling supporting cast in Cleveland and land among the stars in Miami ("The way I live my life don't work for everybody," he said).

He did, however, throw some cold water on the notion that Anthony's ring ceremony is within reach, perhaps only one smart business decision away.

"I know he wants to win it," James said. "I know he can win. ... He's trying to figure out the way to do it. There are so many great teams, so many great players, it can become challenging at times."

Especially when the flawed roster props up the likes of J.R. Smith -- not Dwyane Wade -- as a complementary piece. Smith finally got his from his chief enabler, Woodson, who found out the hard way that coddling an immature player only leads to continued immature conduct. As angry as the coach is at his guard, refusing to even speak about him in pre- and postgame news conferences, Woodson should be mad at himself for letting Smith be Smith for so long.

With J.R. down and out, no more useful to the Knicks than his dispatched brother Chris, Anthony is left to hope that either Iman Shumpert or Tim Hardaway Jr. flowers into a star. Shumpert is the better bet, especially if he keeps making threes, but Hardaway does look more explosive as a pro than he did at Michigan, as evidenced by his one-handed rebound and slam against Miami that left the Garden shaking.

"They played great," James said. The Knicks had lost all 17 of their games they'd trailed at halftime before Thursday night, when they claimed their fourth victory over Miami in five tries since the start of last season and proved they're no longer what Anthony had called them earlier this year:

The laughingstock of the league.

"We're starting to believe in one another again," Anthony said.

Maybe, maybe not. At 13-22, the Knicks aren't ready to call City Hall and map out the parade route just yet.

But for their franchise player, this was a sweet reprieve of sorts, a chance to escape the cruel fact that LeBron James has everything he wants, and everything he'll probably never get. If nothing else, Carmelo Anthony was King James for a night.

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