Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks

Carmelo Anthony: “I think we’re playing to lose”

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I’m not sure what more can be said about the Knicks play right now after nine straight losses.

Carmelo Anthony was searching for a way to describe New York’s play and was rightfully harsh in his assessment after a loss Sunday at home to a New Orleans team that had to play most of the game without Anthony Davis. Here is his quote, via ESPNNewYork.com.

“I think we’re playing to lose rather than playing to win right now,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ 103-99 loss to New Orleans on Sunday. “When you lose games the way we’ve been losing them at home, on the road, you start thinking a lot. You start playing a little tense, you start playing on your heels.”

The idea the Knicks are thinking too much and not just reacting was echoed by coach Mike Woodson.

“I thought coming down the stretch, we played on our heels. The [eight-game losing streak] we were looking at here was staring at us in the face [and] instead of relaxing and just playing, we just didn’t make one play,” Woodson said.

Anthony looked like a guy who was pressing Sunday. He realizes how much falls on his shoulders — there is no Raymond Felton/Tyson Chandler pick-and-roll to create shots, J.R. Smith remains cold following surgery, and while Andrea Bargnani gets them points he’s not a shot creator nor efficient. All that said, their offense is basically scoring at the same rate it has all season.

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The more serious problem remains the 27th ranked defense over the last 9 games (using points per possession, stats via NBA.com). Without Chandler (who could be out past Christmas) there is no good way to solve this, and there are no real assets worth trading to get a decent replacement. It falls to Kenyon Martin and he can only do so much.

The Knicks are going to start playing better at some point and rack up wins, and as bad as they’ve been they are just 3.5 games out of a playoff spot in a down East. But when they are going to turn it around and if they can dig out of this early season hole remains the questions.

Al Horford shows he still has hops dunking on Solomon Hill (VIDEO)

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That’s just nasty.

Atlanta’s Al Horford gets the ball out high, but within his range, so when he pump fakes Indiana’s Lavoy Allen goes flying by. That opens up the lane and Horford attacks it, Solomon Hill tries to cut him off, but Horford just finishes threw him.

Pacers and Hawks played an entertaining, close game Friday night.

Dwyane Wade shows he still has hops with dunk on Hornets (VIDEO)

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Dwyane Wade still has some springs.

In what may be his best dunk in recent memory, he shoulders Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to create space in transition, then gets up and throws it down before Nicolas Batum can get there for the block.

Not sure even Wade saw that one coming.

Reigning dunk champ LaVine: ‘I’ve got tricks up my sleeve’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine is heading back to All-Star weekend to defend his slam dunk title. And he says he has “a few tricks up my sleeve” after dominating the event last year.

LaVine will compete against Detroit center Andre Drummond, Denver swingman Will Barton and Orlando forward Aaron Gordon in Toronto next weekend.

LaVine was one of the breakout stars of All-Star weekend last year with his electric performance in the dunk contest. He says he debated about coming back and made his decision after strong encouragement from his fans.

If LaVine wins, he will become the fourth player in the 31-year history of the event to repeat as champion. Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson are the others.

Report: Blake Griffin has second procedure on hand, timeline remains unchanged

Blake Griffin
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Blake Griffin will still return to the Clippers some time in March (barring any setbacks).

That said, he had a second procedure this week to repair the boxer’s fracture in his right hand, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Clippers forward Blake Griffin underwent a second procedure this week on his broke right hand, sources told ESPN. The procedure was a part of the original surgery last week, so sources said the 4-6 week timeframe for his return remains unchanged.

This might help explain why Griffin’s hand looked so swollen and scarred this week. But to be clear, this was a planned second procedure, not a setback.

Griffin suffered the fracture punching a Clippers’ equipment manager while everyone was out to dinner in Toronto recently, while Griffin was still sidelined with a quadricep injury. The Clippers have moved on, but it is likely the league will tack on a couple of game suspension for Griffin upon his return to health.

And no, the Clippers are not looking to trade Griffin in spite of this. So stop asking.