Kurt Helin

Like Melo’s botched dunk, Knicks tried to rise but fell flat


NEW YORK  — Even Carmelo Anthony laughed at his muffed stuff, when he didn’t jump high enough on his dunk attempt, slammed the ball into the rim and tumbled backward to the foul line.

Not so funny for Anthony and the Knicks is how perfectly Tuesday’s blooper summed up their season.

They tried to climb high and instead fell flat on their backs.

Another season has gone from hopeful to hopeless in a New York minute, as the Knicks have dropped out of realistic playoff contention by losing 15 of 18. They looked like one of the NBA’s most improved teams when they were 22-22, and now they just look like one of the worst.

“Everything just shifted all of a sudden,” Anthony said following a 104-85 loss to Portland.

And it happened so quickly, so unexpectedly that Anthony said this season is even tougher than last, when the Knicks finished with a franchise-worst 17-65 record.

Back then, they knew they were building from the bottom. This time, they thought they had escaped it.

“We looked a while back – not even a while back, a couple of weeks ago – and we sat in the locker room, and we were I think a game (behind) or even tied with Boston at one point in time,” Anthony said. “So we had some momentum going, it just went downhill from then. I don’t know why, I don’t know how, it just went downhill from there.”

Boston is now third in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks (25-37) are third from the bottom.

Anthony is frustrated, telling a heckling fan he should ask Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan for his money back, a response for which he apologized on Wednesday.

Everyone might want a refund after the last few weeks.

Team President Phil Jackson won more championships than any coach but missed on his first attempt in hiring one, firing Derek Fisher last month after just 1 1/2 seasons. Jackson did well with the drafting of Kristaps Porzingis and did upgrade the roster but not enough to take the pressure off Anthony.

Even Porzingis’ play has tailed off lately, and that combined with the Knicks’ collapse probably ended any chance the Latvian had of beating Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns for Rookie of the Year.

Porzingis, like Anthony, can’t explain exactly what happened.

“It’s not one thing that went wrong, just can’t really pinpoint something,” Porzingis said. “It’s just maybe a few little things just adding up to each other and we’re not playing the way we should be playing and things are not going our way. But I think going through these tough times, this will make us stronger as we go forward.”

For now, they’re going nowhere. Fans booed loudly in the second half of Tuesday’s loss, save for the cheers for Jimmer Fredette as he played out the end of his 10-day contract.

And since the Knicks are no longer playing good basketball, they can’t hide the bad story lines that inevitably surround the team. Before his exchange with the fan, Anthony and former teammate Amare Stoudemire seemed to take swipes at each other, though neither mentioned the other’s name.

Jackson had to clarify a tweet that he meant as an observation about Stephen Curry but read like a comparison or even criticism, saying the NBA MVP’s game resembled former but far-less-accomplished guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf.

Anthony and Porzingis wouldn’t write off this season, but the damage appears to have been done. The Knicks will need to turn their attention to the summer, when Jackson will try to bolster the roster further without a first-round pick (dealt to Toronto in the failed Andrea Bargnani trade) and perhaps hire another coach if he doesn’t decide to stick with Kurt Rambis.

Perhaps he may try to trade Anthony, who has to approve any deal and has shown no interest in leaving New York. But headed toward a third straight season with no playoff appearance after never missing them previously, Anthony isn’t happy with the way things are going here.

“It gets frustrating,” Anthony said. “The losing gets frustrating.”


Thunder chairman Clay Bennett issues statement on passing of Aubrey McClendon

Associated Press
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Aubrey McClendon, the co-owner of the Oklahoma City Thunder, a man who helped move the team from Seattle to the Midwest, has died in a one-car accident. That tragedy came less than 24 hours after he had been indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to rig bids on oil leases.

Clay Bennett, the chairman and primary owner of the Thunder, released this statement.

Our thoughts are with the McClendon family at the time of this tragedy.

Report: Michael Beasley to sign with Houston Rockets for rest of season


Daryl Morey is about to sign an MVP.

Not that Michael Beasley is what most Rockets fans have in mind to save their season, but he was just named the MVP of the Chinese Basketball Association.

With his team eliminated from the playoffs and his contract is up, Beasley is flying to Houston, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The Rockets are locked in a battle with Utah for the final playoff spot in the West, they are looking for all the roster help then can get. Houston has a lot of depth at the four, but they are not getting much consistent play from the combination of Clint Capela, Josh Smith, Terrence Jones, and Montrezl Harrell. Beasley will slide into that group (as might Donatas Motiejunas, although he could play some backup five behind Dwight Howard). We’ll see how much he helps.

Beasley averaged 31.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game, plus shot better than 40 percent from three leading the Shandong Golden Stars to the playoffs. Beasley was named to the Chinese League All-Star team and for the second straight year won the MVP of that game. The numbers are impressive, but the defense played in the Chinese league is not so those stats are skewed. We’ll see how much he can contribute in the NBA (at both ends of the court).

Manu Ginobili could return from testicular injury this weekend

Associated Press

Manu Ginobili was having a bounce-back season for the Spurs — 10 points a game, shooting 37 percent from three, keeping the offense flowing with the second unit, and looking like a guy who should be discussed for Sixth Man of the year.

At least he was having that kind of year until he took a knee to the groin during and early February game against the Pelicans. He’s been out ever since due to testicular surgery that was required.

But he may be back soon, reports Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News.

“He’s going more quickly then we would have imagined,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He’s not going to play in this back-to-back or anything, but his progress has been much quicker than we thought.”

The Spurs (50-9) play back-to-back games against Detroit and New Orleans on Wednesday and Thursday. Ginobili could be back as soon as Saturday, when the Spurs host the Sacramento Kings.

The Spurs are getting healthy, they got Kawhi Leonard back recently as well. Expect a lot of Spurs to get rest down the stretch — they aren’t going to catch Golden State for the top seed in the West, but if they are rested and healthy the Spurs stand a chance to beat them in the playoffs.

Report: Knicks not re-signing Jimmer Fredette to second 10-day contract

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The Knicks need help at point guard spot — but Jimmer Fredette is not that answer.

The Knicks’ signed their D-League star to a 10-day contract, but he played just five minutes in two games and hit the only shot he took (a three). And that’s the only shot he’s going to get, reports Ian Begley of ESPN.

For the handful of remaining Fredette faithful, they thought he might be getting another chance. For Knicks fans forced to watch terrible point guard play, particularly on defense, the theory was “he can’t be worse.”

Interim coach Kurt Rambis didn’t see it that way. The Knicks are looking at other options.

While Fredette averaged 21.8 points and shot 40.5 percent from 3-point range in the D-League for the Westchester Knicks, but shooting was never the issue. The challenge was always defense (where he was as bad or worse than the guys the Knicks were playing) and he is not a good playmaker at the NBA level. He’s not been able to adapt his game to the role he would have to play in the NBA.

I’d say this was his last shot in the NBA, but I said that last time. We’ll see if another team will take a flier on him.