It makes sense, on one level.
You play good team ball for 45 minutes. You create open looks, you drive to the rim, you produce opportunities to get you into a tight game. And then, when it comes down to clutch time, you let your star scorer score. That makes a lot of sense and was the approach the Knicks went with in their loss to the Nuggets. For the first half, the Knicks were winning. There were two players with a negative plus/minus. Jared Jeffries, who actually played well, and Carmelo Anthony, who did not. In the second half, the Knicks constantly fell behind and battled back. When the game got close, they went to Caremlo Anthony, ISO. None of the ball movement that got them there. Just trust. And it worked.
Until it didn’t.
And in the end, the Knicks fell to a Denver team featuring several of their former members sent for Anthony, and without Arron Afflalo and Rudy Fernandez, 119-114 in double overtime.
It has to especially sting Knicks fans that the wing they traded as a centerpiece in the trade, Danilo Gallinari, went for 37 points on 19 shots, while Anthony had 25 points on 30 shots.
That pretty much sums it up.
Not surprisingly, when Anthony was out of the game, the Knicks were energized. Bill Walker was hitting from deep, Amar’ Stoudemire was active on defense and the glass, Iman Shumpert was producing, along with Landry Fields for the first time really this season. There was this thing called ball movement, a long lost relic of offense that has fallen to the wayside with Anthony’s emergence in New York.
It’s not Anthony’s fault this is how it ended up. He had 10 rebounds and five assists. It’s that the Knicks don’t have any way with their current roster to work effectively and efficiently with Anthony in. Anthony doesn’t steal the ball from his teammates, he’s given it and they defer. They stop working for movement. They defer. And in that situation, Anthony goes to pull-up jumper after pull-up jumper.
The Knicks needed only look across at their opponents to see the opposite. The Nuggets share the ball, create off the cut, and even on a night when a deep team was short-handed, and when Ty Lawson was off and Al Harrington playing below his level this season… they still pulled out the win. Don’t be mistaken, the Nuggets were a desperation 9-1-1 heave from Andre Miller from losing. But they pulled it out and as the game wore on, they shared the ball and created. The Knicks? Anthony does what he does. He can hit contested shots. He does hit contested shots. But you can’t rely on contested shots consistently. Eventually, you’ll miss, and that’s when a more balanced team wins out. That’s what happened Saturday night.
And the Melo era in New York continues its rocky road.