The New York Knicks weren’t going to finish the season 81-1, so Wednesday night’s loss in Dallas really is no big deal.
But it was a little bit disturbing how the game ended, most notably on the fingertips of Carmelo Anthony.
The Knicks entered the game 8-1 based on ball movement, with one of the lowest isolation percentages in the NBA. They play unselfish basketball for 47 minutes, make a furious fourth quarter comeback, so why change with the game on the line?
New York had not one but two chances to finish the job in Dallas, but reverted back to ‘”Melo Ball” both times. The first, Anthony recklessly drives to the paint and misses a shot (he was probably fouled on the play) and the second resulted in Anthony holding the ball and settling for a forced, contested jumper that didn’t have a chance.
First of all, this isn’t a knock on Anthony. You want your best player touching the basketball when it matters most, but it’s the design and execution that is bothersome.
With all of the talk of trusting teammates, Anthony didn’t when it mattered most.
The Knicks, especially Anthony, spent almost 10 full games moving the ball unselfishly and finding the open shooter. They came back from 14 down in the fourth quarter that way.
Tyson Chandler was a big part of that comeback and had a mismatch with a smaller defender on him (once he finally got into the paint), but that option didn’t get a first look from ‘Melo, much less a second.
Again I have no problems with the ball in Anthony’s hands, but Raymond Felton has been creating for others for 10 games now. That’s a better option than an Anthony isolation when the entire world knew that he would jack up a jumper.
It’s not even if Anthony was in a good rhythm shooting the ball all night. He did score 23 points, but made only 7-of-16 shots from the floor.
Anthony has preached teamwork and trusting his teammates all season and that was the perfect situation to show he meant it, but with the chips on the table it was back to the norm for him.
It’s nothing to overreact about. It’s only one loss.
But this is a talented Knicks team that can get high percentage looks on the last possession of the game as easily as they can on the first possession of the game.
Again I don’t entirely fault Anthony because the Knicks played for the final shot and he didn’t have much time to do anything other than force up a contested jumper. The problem was that they went away from everything that worked as a team for 10 straight games.
Hopefully this will be a lesson for both Anthony and head coach Mike Woodson going forward.
They’ve won as a team so far this season. That approach shouldn’t change with the clock winding down.
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