New York (31-29) failed to capitalize on numerous opportunities and ultimately relied too heavily upon another stellar effort from Carmelo Anthony (42 points on 14-of-27 shooting, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 steal) in the loss, and with just six games left in the regular season, they sit two games up on the Milwaukee Bucks for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Surely an Atlantic Division title is now but a pipe dream (the Knicks are 4.5 games back of Boston) and any hope of catching either Orlando or Atlanta (4 games ahead in the standings) for the sixth-seed seems far fetched as well, but it’s not all doom-and-gloom for the ‘Bockers, at least from their point of view. Despite dropping all three contests against Miami this season, the Knicks players seemed to come away with a belief that they can compete against their fierce rival in the playoffs should the match-up materialize.
Really, guys? I guess that depends on how we define “compete.”
If competing means getting swept or winning one game in the first round, then yes, the Knicks can compete. Because if yesterday’s team-performance was any indication, ‘Melo — as brilliant as he has been — simply cannot do it alone. Those Knicks not wearing #7 combined to go 17-for-46 (36.9%) from the field, an unacceptable performance, to say the least.
Of course, in a season chock full o’ saviors, Amar’e Stoudemire remains on track to make his return this Wednesday in New Jersey against the Nets. Not only will it be Knicks fans’ last chance to see their team play in Tony Soprano’s back yard, but the affair should provide some sense of whether or not Anthony will be expected to “do this” alone.
Here’s hoping Stoudemire’s back cooperates.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- ‘Melopalloza! Last week I wrote that “if ‘Melo brings it like this every night, there is not a team in the league that the Knicks can’t give a run for their money, Amar’e or no Amar’e.” Well, let me amend my statement with a clarification; unless someone other than Carmelo contributes offensively — and that means someone other than J.R. Smith, specifically, whose shot selection lies somewhere between indiscriminate and reckless — the Knicks will get absolutely smoked by Miami or Chicago in the postseason. Period.
- Umm, err… (thinking)…
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- DOWN GOES CHANDLER, DOWN GOES CHANDLER! The Knicks saw their lives flash before their very eyes yesterday when Tyson Chandler knocked knees with a Miami defender in the 3rd quarter and collapsed in a heap. Thankfully, Tyson said after the game that he merely bruised it, and that he didn’t think an MRI would be necessary.
- Everyone knows that I’ve been on the Shumpert-bandwagon since practically before he was born — and he certainly deserves to be cut some slack coming off Friday night’s mild ankle sprain — but he simply must be more aggresive on the offensive end in these games. Four shot attempts isn’t going to cut it, despite the fact that he played his usual brand of stellar defense. Perhaps even more egregious was the fact that the Heat were in the penalty early on during the 3rd quarter, but none of the Knicks, Shumpert included, seemed remotely interested in getting to the foul line. It’s just one example of how experience matters and another reason to temper expectations in the playoffs. In fairness to Iman, he certainly gave the impression that he knows what he needs to do going forward when we chatted during last night’s Yankee game.
- “Doom Bizzle” is back. Fresh off an 18-point effort against the woeful Wizards Friday, the bad Baron Davis (3 points, 4 assists and 5 mind-numbing turnovers) reappeared against the Heat. Davis is playing hurt, but there is just no reason for him to be this bad. His decision making is poor, he is unable to control the tempo of the game and he has no outside shot to counteract his intermittent ability to get into the lane. In a word, ugh.
- Maybe Landry Fields (4 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists) needs Andy Rautins back. Maybe he’s just depressed. Maybe he’s just not very good. Whatever the reason, Fields is completely lost right now, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been too surprised when I overheard one of Landry’s teammates opine privately on what’s wrong. “Landry just doesn’t have that confidence… out there. He’s a Cali-boy, so maybe his mindset isn’t right for playing here [in New York], he’s too laid back.” EDIT: To be clear, this quote was not intended for public consumption and was not malicious in the way it was delivered. I just happened to have been standing in the vicinity.
- Remember back when Steve Novak was the best outside shooter anyone had ever seen? Those were the good ol’ days, huh? It seems teams have figured out that the best way to neutralize the sharpshooter is to get very physical with him. It’s working, too, as he’s shooting just 28.0% from long-range over his last five games. To the naked eye (mmm, naked), it seems as if the Knicks do not do a very good job setting screens for Novak, and so by the time he receives the ball, he’s already got a defender draped all over him. The Knicks coaching staff would be well advised to watch some videotape of the Celtics to see how they free up Ray Allen and Paul Pierce methinks. It’s not brain surgery or rocket science out there.
- For the first time since taking the reigns back on March 14th, interim coach Mike Woodon lost at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks had been 9-0 at home since D’Antoni’s
- Jay-Z and Beyonce were in attendance yesterday, but unlike a maternity ward, MSG could not be cleared out for their own private game-viewing. Sigh.
- Speaking of Yankee Stadium, I now understand why those Legends Suites seats are always half-empty. It’s the free food! As Ferris Bueller once said, “if you have the means, I highly recommend picking [a ticket] up. It’s so choice.” I am not sure that I will be able to attend another Yankee game if I am forced to again sit with the “commoners” again. It would be like going from first-class on a transatlantic flight to sitting in the last row of a Greyhound to Rochester. Long live the 1-percent!
- Up next for the Knicks: Tuesday, 8:00 p.m. v. BOS, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. @ NJ
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AP Photo/Seth Wenig