Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony: “We’re not playing worth a [expletive] right now”

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Saturday night the Atlanta Hawks became the fifth team already this season to come into Madison Square Garden and thump the Knicks, beating them 110-90. No team has more losses at home this season than New York, who is 3-6 overall to start the season.

Once again, without Tyson Chandler the Knicks defense was softer in the middle than a Twinkie. Once again, the offense wasn’t able to compensate for that. It’s early, but right now they don’t look like a playoff team, let alone a contender.

Carmelo Anthony is fed up. He vented after the game, ripping the Knicks effort, as reported by the New York Post.

“I’m disappointed in all our effort,” Anthony said. “We’re not getting it done from an effort standpoint. It’s like we’re not even trying right now.

“We can’t worry about the boos. We got to play harder. We’re not playing worth a [expletive] right now….

“It’s surprising. To come into the season with a mindset of being better than we were last year and to be where we’re at right now. I know it’s 3-6, but we got to turn this around quickly. It’s a nasty feeling within the team.”

The Knicks need a shakeup, and with James Dolan as the owner predicting what they will do next is impossible. That is why the Iman Shumpert trade rumors have to be given some validity.

Another problem has been J.R. Smith — he was 3-of-18 shooting overall, 1-of-9 from three against the Hawks Saturday. In his four games back (following off-season knee surgery and a five-game drug suspension, he is shooting 22.6 percent overall and 26.9 percent from three. He has admitted he is playing like, well, organic fertilizer.

So maybe he shouldn’t start. Coach Mike Woodson says he is re-evaluating Smith as a starter.

All the words from Anthony are nice, but is he really the guy that can lead a defensive renaissance on this team? Until Chandler returns the Knicks need more defensive effort, but they also are going to need a lot more points.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: