Cole Anthony missed out on the full Garden experience as a rookie.
The Manhattan product finally got it Sunday night and made it a memorable homecoming.
In front of “a bunch” of friends and family — including his mom, Crystal, who was sitting courtside on her birthday — Anthony did it all to lead the Magic to an upset, racking up 29 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and eight assists in a 110-104 win over the Knicks.
“It means a lot,” Anthony said. “Super happy I could come back here. I had a bunch of family and friends at this game. I just kept looking around the arena and seeing more people I know. I was like, ‘Yo, what up? What up? What’s popping?’ So big shoutout to all the fans.”
The second-year point guard had played at a fanless Garden last January, due to the pandemic, then was injured in the Magic’s second trip back in March. But with 16,273 in the stands Sunday, the son of former Knick Greg Anthony put on a show.
Anthony set the tone with 15 points in the first quarter and 21 by halftime as he and Harlem native Mo Bamba (10 points, 13 rebounds) came home to secure the Magic’s first win of the season.
“I personally think I’m better than my dad ever was,” Anthony said with a grin. “Shoutout to Greg. … Mo was happy to be home, I’m happy to be home. Hostile environment, came in and got our W. Good time.”
Anthony — drafted 15th overall in 2020 after the Knicks passed on him to pick Obi Toppin eighth — had the second-highest scoring output of his short career, but it was his rebounding that stood out the most. He is listed at 6-foot-2 — he claimed Sunday night he is 6-foot-3 — but used his motor to be all over the boards.
“Rebounding is all about effort,” he said. “It’s about who wants it. You want a rebound, go get it. … Whoever wants that more at the end of the day is going to go get it. I happened to want it more tonight. Hopefully going forward I’ll keep wanting it more.”
Magic coach Jamahl Mosley was left smiling over Anthony’s performance.
“Cole coming back home and playing with that toughness and that confidence, that resiliency,” Mosley said. “The one thing that stands out most is his ability to rebound the basketball and he made the right plays. He made the simple plays. That’s the one thing he’s getting better and better at is just making the simple plays. He made his teammates better tonight, which was great to see.”
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