Carmelo Anthony answers critic Jackson with monster game

SACRAMENTO , Calif. — Carmelo Anthony went from a star on Instagram to a star in Sacramento. But he needed a late hand from Joakim Noah and his suddenly soft free-throw stroke.

Anthony made two controversial Instagram posts aimed at Knicks president Phil Jackson, then posted 23 of his 33 points in the first half as the Knicks began their five-game road trip with a 103-100 win over the Kings at their new downtown arena, Golden 1 Center. Anthony also became the fourth active player to score more than 23,000 points.

Anthony went cold late, missing all five of his fourth-quarter shots, and also missed two free throws with 3.6 seconds left and the Knicks up by three. After the second miss, DeMarcus Cousins’ midcourt heave hit the rim and bounced away at the buzzer.

Two days after his eight-point dud against the Cavaliers, Anthony was terrific for three quarters, keeping them in the game, after stepping up his feud with Jackson, who had nitpicked in an interview he hung onto the ball too long.

“It was sloppy but that’s how we’ve been winning,’’ Noah said. “It was a scrappy game.’’

The Knicks (13-10) needed the embattled Noah, hitting barely 25 percent from the line, to hit two free throws with 2:06 left to put the Knicks into the lead for good at 99-98 as the Kings played Hack-a-Noah like they did last Sunday when he missed all four free throws.

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Joakim Noah blocks a shot.

“It felt good — I’m not going to lie,’’ said Noah, who played strong late defense on Cousins. “I needed that. It’s tough, man….