NEW YORK - Carmelo Anthony's debut on the big stage was a huge hit.
Anthony had 27 points and 10 rebounds, hitting a pair of clutch buckets down the stretch in front of a crowd that cheered his every move as New York beat the Milwaukee Bucks, 114-108, on Wednesday night in his Knicks debut.
Anthony made only 10 of 25 shots but was at his best in the closing minutes, helping New York hold on after fellow superstar Amare Stoudemire fouled out. He matched the third-highest scoring game in a Knicks debut since 1964, just two points shy of Keith Van Horn’s 29 on Oct. 29, 2003.
“I’m just glad I got this game out of my system,” Anthony said, adding the last two days were both “hectic” and a “roller coaster.”
Chauncey Billups, who came with Anthony from Denver in Tuesday’s blockbuster trade, finished with 21 points and eight assists as the Knicks won their third straight. Toney Douglas scored 23 points and Stoudemire had 19.
John Salmons scored 27 points for the Bucks.
With fans chanting for both Anthony and Billups in the final minute, New York matched its win total from last season with its 29th victory – but now the Knicks have much bigger plans than that.
The Knicks have never had a winning season since Anthony entered the NBA and are mired in a franchise-worst stretch of nine straight losing seasons.
Going like hotcakes: Now that Carmelo Anthony is in the Big Apple, replica jerseys for the Knicks’ newest star skyrocketed as soon as it was announced he would wear No. 7 with the Knicks. The supply is another story. Mitchell Modell, CEO of Modell’s Sports Goods, said Wednesday it likely will be 45 days before he has an adequate supply of $44.99 replica No. 7 jerseys. On the Knicks’ online store, Anthony jerseys can be pre-ordered but are not expected to ship until April. The NBA’s online store is not promising shipment until May.