NEW YORK — And so it goes for these Knicks.
On a night where Carmelo Anthony was fantastic, and did everything he could to singlehandedly drag his team to a much-needed victory, an incredibly tough shot at the buzzer sent New York reeling into the night with a seventh straight loss.
Trey Burke’s buzzer beater — a step-back long two over a heavily-contesting J.R. Smith — negated Anthony’s 46-point performance, and the Jazz came away with the 102-100 victory to send the Knicks to 2-8 on the young season.
It was an entertaining battle between Anthony and the bulked-up Gordon Hayward, who took plenty of physical punishment as Carmelo got his buckets. Hayward did plenty of damage of his own, standing toe-to-toe with Anthony physically while pouring in 33 points of his own.
But Anthony was determined to leave it all on the floor, and made a focused effort to attack the basket in a way we haven’t seen from the Knicks this season, who have struggled with far too many midrange jumpshots as they try to learn the intricacies of the Triangle Offense.
New York found itself down by three with 16 seconds remaining — plenty of time to go for a quick two points and play the foul game if that’s what they had decided. But Anthony dribbled down the clock, and once he got Derrick Favors defending him after a switch, he let a three-pointer fly from the top right side of the arc that banked home to tie the game at 100 apiece.
Ideally, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder would like to take a foul in that situation, to prevent the tying shot from ever being launched. But when I asked him about it afterward, his reasoning for not doing so in this particular instance seemed to indicate he was surprised by the way the play developed.
“Normally we would foul,” Snyder said. “With nine, seven seconds, depending on whether they have timeouts. Last game it was something we hadn’t really talked about, against Cleveland, and LeBron got us off our feet. Frankly, I didn’t anticipate [Anthony] taking the clock down that long, and we didn’t discuss it as much. We talked about it briefly if it got low, but a that point, with Favors on him, it wasn’t something you want to yell from the bench. And obviously, [Anthony] is one of the guys that can rise up over you, which is why we were switching pick and rolls. We thought Favors could contest the shot, which he did, but the clock went down pretty low.”
The following play was a little more chaotic.
With the Knicks surely believing that Hayward would be the one who the Jazz would try to get the ball to, Utah had Burke as one of the play’s last options. Gordon was heavily-defended, so the ball was inbounded to Burke, who turned, took one dribble to his left, stepped back, and nailed the game-winning shot.
“We just thought Gordon’s been tough to guard, and he would draw some attention,” Snyder said. “And Trey was able to slip out after screening for [Derrick Favors]. Gordon was the focal point. Trey’s a guy that’s been known for hitting big shots. I think he’s one of those guys who gets excited when he gets the ball, and I know Gordon’s been like that too, but Gordon was happy that Trey got the look.”
“I caught it, and J.R. Smith was like, all on me,” Burke said. “And my back was turned away from the basket. I had to kind of spin out of it, and then step back to create some separation to get the shot off, because he’s about 6’5”. I had to think quick, but I knew we needed a shot, or at least a good look — and it looked good as soon as it left my hands.”