Harris DeckerThere is no doubting the prowess of Carmelo Anthony. He is one of the best scorers in the NBA and is clearly the best player on the Knicks.
What Anthony showed last night, though, was his fatal weakness. With his team tightening up down the stretch, he took shot after wild shot and failed to put the game away on a number of occasions.
Anthony operates under the notion that he is the only player capable of scoring in the clutch. While this might have been true early in the season, guys like Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and Amar’e Stoudemire have all come up big of late and Anthony needs to recognize this when he’s not shooting the ball well.
In the fourth quarter, the Knicks were outscored 17-24 and Anthony scored only 2 points on 5 shots. That 1-5 from the field was in line with his 9-24 from the field through the entire game. He shot a dismal 37 percent for the game and scored most of his points in the first half. Only 12 of his 29 points came in the second half and overtime. Whether it was fatigue or bad shot choices, Anthony played a very poor second half.
There was a single instance in which Anthony made the right decision late. During a key possession he drove and then made a pass to Raymond Felton who drained a three. While it was a great look, it was setup by another sloppy play by Anthony, who was all but out of control before dishing to Felton.
Problems almost always have solutions and I firmly believe that Stoudemire and Bargnani are the answer.
They both sat for most of the fourth quarter (Stoudemire played 2:57, Bargnani played 3:57) and only Bargnani saw minutes in overtime. Mike Woodson and Anthony need to lean on the veteran scorers in those key situations.
When the ball movement went away and Anthony went into full isolation mode, it would have been nice to stick Stoudemire in the post and make the defense refocus. In the same light, Bargnani’s ability to play the pick and role (which was effective early) would have opened things up late in the game.
It’s hard to say who’s at fault when Anthony starts to physically take the ball and play isolation ball. Is it on Woodson to call a play to another player? Is it on Felton to not pass him the ball in those situations? Either way, it has to stop.
Anthony’s sloppy, isolation play nearly cost the Knicks a win over the Suns and against a better team, it would have. Anthony is the key to this team but when he’s not hitting his shot, he needs to learn to give up the ball.