Carmelo Anthony defends his defense

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Carmelo Anthony is not a good defensive player. That’s not just me talking, after ‘Melo was traded from Denver to New York Nuggets coach George Karl told TNT his team would be much better on defense now that they didn’t have to “handle what Carmelo gives you” on that end.

Anthony took exception to that then. He takes exception to people calling out his defense now.

He did that with Sports Illustrated when the Knicks star sat down with them Wednesday. (Go read the whole Q&A, it’s good stuff.)

“Look, defense is about energy and focus at the end of the day. I can’t see any team or any coach just coming out and saying, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna come out and run every play at Melo.’ I never saw that before. I think [Karl] was being strategic in what he did and what he said. In Denver, we weren’t always known for being a defensive team, but that’s because we were running up and down the court. Like I said, I take it for what it’s worth. I store it in the back of my mind.

SI.com: What about the Knicks? As a team, what do you guys have to do better to improve defensively?

“As a team, we’re on our way. You gotta remember, you talking about a group of guys who never played a day with each other and were used to a system that they had already — and that actually was working a little bit for them. And then you get four or five guys who were key components on that team, and they leave and they only get two guys in return — it’s a totally different situation for the guys who came in and the guys who stayed.”

Convinced? Neither am I.

Mike Woodson has brought in to New York make sure they play defense (and to be there to step in if Mike D’Antoni gets axed, but that’s another matter). The problem is neither Melo nor Amar’e Stoudemire are great defenders and the Knicks have no big man in the paint who can play the role of rim defender. They need someone to be their Tyson Chandler or Andrew Bynum or Kendrick Perkins in the paint (to name the bigs from the last three NBA champs).

Knicks fans will get over the novelty of their two stars fast if the wins don’t start to come. And if defense is the issue, ‘Melo’s going to hear about it. A lot.