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Carmelo Anthony on Knicks: “When teams make adjustments, we’re still playing the same way”

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In today’s episode of “As The Knicks Turn…”

Carmelo Anthony‘s frustration with Knicks management and turn toward the triangle offense is well documented. The offense is a poor fit for Anthony’s skill set, but Anthony’s frustration with the coaching staff goes beyond just the offensive system.

This was what Anthony told the New York Post’s Marc Berman after the team’s 105-102 loss to the Sixers Friday night.

“We play the same way throughout the course of the game,’’ Anthony said. “When teams make adjustments, we’re still playing the same way as teams make adjustments defensively.’’

The Knicks’ stars did not play well. Anthony had 18 points but on 18 shots, Derrick Rose had 20 points but struggled down the stretch with key turnovers. Which is to say, Anthony’s frustration should start with himself.

The Knicks are 4.5 games out of the final playoff spot with 20 games to play. They are mathematically alive, but in practice they are lottery bound. Again. Certainly, a chunk of that blame needs to go to Phil Jackson and the Knicks’ management for the roster they constructed, and the push-and-pull between coach Jeff Hornacek’s preferred up-tempo style and the triangle. It wasn’t well thought through.

But the players deserve their share of the blame, too.

I expect that in the offseason, Jackson and Anthony will come to an agreement and find a deal that sends him to a contender and the two sides part ways.

But for 20 more games, expect the soap opera to continue.

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown went Showtime on Lakers with athletic plays

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Boston started off a five-game, West Coast road swing Friday night by beating up on their long-time rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, 115-95.

The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown put on a show for the Hollywood crowd with a ton of highlights among his 14 points (and 7 rebounds). It includes an off-the-backboard pass and dunk from Isaiah Thomas.

Although I think this was his most athletic play of the night.

Jahlil Okafor tries to explain, defend his “defense” from viral video

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Maybe Jahlil Okafor should call James Harden up for advice on how to handle this.

The Sixers big man became the focus of a viral video showing off his “defense” and poor effort the other night against Miami.

The next day, Okafor tried to defend himself, as told to CSNPhilly.com. You can see the video of his comments above, but his main argument was that he does care about defense, he was just tired.

“I know about the clip that everybody’s been talking about,” Okafor said after shootaround Friday. “The persona of me not caring defensively is false. I took it upon myself to talk to our defensive coach Lloyd Pierce to ask about that individual clip. He said that I did the defensive concepts and that was to retreat, retreat, retreat.

“And I understand visually it looks bad. I was fatigued. I played the entire first quarter and I was tired. I’m not making excuses. … I did do what I was supposed to do and that’s retreat. We had an amazing roller in Hassan Whiteside so my job was to not let [Dragic or Whiteside] behind me. Of course [McGruder] runs in to get the offensive rebound and I’m [accountable] for that, too. That’s my fault, supposedly. That’s what everyone’s trying to make it out to be. The coaches are happy with the way I’ve been improving and every day I continue to work.”

There’s a difference between retreating to protect the rim and passivity. Fatigue very likely played a factor, and this video clip does make him look especially bad, but Okafor is simply not a good defender. That’s one of the reasons the trade market for him has been so limited.

That he cares and is putting in work with the coaches on his defense is a positive sign. There’s just a long way to go.

Watch dramatic plays from down stretch as Spurs beat Pelicans in overtime (VIDEO)

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Kawhi Leonard again had San Antonio teammates marveling at his uncanny ability to spur comebacks with clutch plays on both ends of the court.

Leonard scored 31 points, made one steal in the final minute of regulation and another in overtime, and San Antonio beat New Orleans 101-98 on Friday night.

“This year, his scoring has picked up from previous seasons, but he still makes big-time plays when he plays on our defensive end and that’s what I think defines the best players,” Spurs forward Pau Gasol said. “These are game-winning plays, championship-caliber type of plays.”

LeMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 15 rebounds to help the Spurs win their sixth straight. Patty Mills scored 15 points, highlighted by two clutch 3s in overtime. Gasol added 13 points, including a momentum-changing, left-corner 3 when the Spurs trailed by five in overtime. The shot sparked an 8-0 run that gave the Spurs the lead for good.

Cousins had 19 points and 23 rebounds, but missed a step-back 3-pointer that could have tied it as overtime ended. Anthony Davis had 29 points, and Jrue Holiday 26 for the Pelicans.

“We had some costly turnovers, I know I threw one,” Cousins said. “It was just bad execution down the stretch. They were the better team down the stretch.”

CRUNCH TIME

The first of Leonard’s big steals came as Holiday dribbled across half court with the Pelicans leading by three in the final minute. Leonard then bolted the other way for a dunk that made it a one-point game.

“I was just trying to play the best defense I could,” Leonard said. “We needed a stop and the ball ended up falling in my hands.”

San Antonio tied it with 6.6 seconds left in regulation when Gasol hit one of two free throws.

Holiday missed an off-balance 17-footer for the win as regulation ended, but New Orleans raced to a five-point lead in overtime when Holiday hit a 3 and then made a steal to set up Davis’ fast-break dunk.

The ever-composed Spurs quickly tied it on Gasol’s 3 and Aldridge’s layup. Leonard then snuffed out Cousins’ attempted bounce pass to Holiday and pushed the ball up to Mills for a transition 3 that put San Antonio back in front, 97-94 with 2:17 left in overtime.

“When the game’s on the line, there are players that are able to step up their game to another level, and it’s hard when you play as many minutes and carry as much load as (Leonard) does on the offensive end,” Gasol said. “Without those two critical steals, we wouldn’t have won the game. Obviously, a lot of plays were part of the game, but those plays were exceptional.”

After Mills’ 3 went through, Cousins snatched the ball and disgustedly mashed it against his forehead.

Mills added another 3 from the right corner with 1:14 left in OT to make it 100-96. Falling out of bounds after the shot, Mills triumphantly punched the air with his right fist as he rose to his feet.

 

Watch Russell Westbrook’s monster 48-point, 17 rebound performance against Phoenix

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This was as good a game as Russell Westbrook has played all season — especially in the fourth quarter.

Westbrook tried to lift a listless Thunder team on the second night of a road back-to-back with a monster 20 point, 10 rebound fourth quarter against the Suns. Westbrook destroyed the Suns’ small ball lineup. For the game, Westbrook finished with 48 points, 17 rebounds, and nine assists. That’s four straight 40 point games for Westbrook.

It wasn’t enough because the Thunder couldn’t get stops. The Suns won 118-111. But that doesn’t diminish Westbrook’s effort.