When the New York Knicks were up by 15 points at halftime last night against the Cleveland Cavaliers, there was a good possibility they’d hold on to win their ninth straight. The Knicks were in control, and with the Atlanta Hawks losing yesterday, New York could have come within two games of a playoff spot. But like the fans who switched channels at halftime thinking a win was in the bag, the Knicks also tuned out of the game. They allowed the Cavs to climb right back in and defeat them 106-100. It’s a loss and you can’t blame just one player for it; you never should do that. But one thing is for sure: Carmelo Anthony single-handedly gave the a crucial game away.
The Knicks needed that win last night to stay in the playoff race. They’re not out of it yet with 12 games to play, but games like last night are the ones playoff teams win. Those are the games they are expected to win, especially when up by 17 at the beginning of the third quarter. When you look at the box score, you can see Anthony shot a meager 8-for-20 from the field. Carmelo was perfect from the free-throw line, connecting on all 12 attempts to score a total of 32 points. But this doesn’t tell the whole story of his night. When the Knicks needed him most, he was non-existent.
I should rephrase that last statement. Carmelo wasn’t non-existent. He was visible out there on the floor, but the only reason was because he wouldn’t stop chucking the ball at the rim. Anthony was 2-for-10 from field goal range in the second half while turning the ball over four times. Those two shots were made in the third quarter, by the way. When the game mattered most, the fourth quarter, Anthony was 0-for-5 from the field while turning the ball over three times.
I’ve been on Carmelo’s side most of the season because he really doesn’t have much help around him. But with games like this, he is hurting the team. I understand he can’t just stop shooting, but when he can’t connect on a shot and the game is as important as this one was, he can’t keep chucking the ball and praying it goes in the basket. This is just another reason New York needs better players around Anthony. If he returns to New York next season, he won’t be successful without a better supporting cast. The Knicks needed this game and they let it slip right through their hands. Carmelo isn’t helping anyone at this point.