I HATE LOSING TO BOSTON! It was a story of composure and physicality last night at the Garden with the Celtics, being the veterans they are, rattling the Knicks with hard defense to execute down the stretch for their third straight victory. Our leader Carmelo Anthony mentally checked out and got into a personal battle with Kevin Garnett, leading to several ill-advised late contested shots and trying to win the game by himself. It’s a learning experience for sure, but this game also shines light on our recurring problem dealing with physical teams.
MELO VS. KG: Garnett does what he’s done for most of his career — throw sneaky elbows and other fouls to get under his opponent’s skin. Melo was already having a horrid shooting game, but I firmly believe the stuff with KG got him even more out of sorts in the pivotal 4th quarter with the game on the line. After the double-tech was called on both, Melo hit a clutch three and then proceeded to stink it up the rest of the way. He got caught repeatedly on switches where he fouled KG in frustration 10-15 feet from the basket.
As we saw in the games against Chicago and Memphis, Melo doesn’t channel his anger with physical play well. He makes stupid fouls (his second in the first quarter far away from the basket caused him to sit most of the half) and puts his team at a disadvantage. I don’t give Melo any points for trying to confront KG after the game. That does nothing for the team or himself. If he wants to truly get KG and the Celtics back, and I’m sure Coach Woodson told him this at some point last night, you stay poised and kick their ass on the court with ball movement, defense and playing NY basketball.
NY FOLDS UNDER DEFENSE: The Knicks had a horrible third quarter exacerbated by the play of Pablo Prigioni. He had awful time handling the Celtic full court pressure. The Knicks couldn’t get into their offense until late in the shot clock, causing sloppy pick n roll passes that were intercepted for turnovers. Speaking of turnovers, the Knicks had six in the third and only scored 16 points. And keep in mind the Celtics didthis with Pierce on the bench, who had picked up his fourth foul.
ISO VS. BALANCED SCORING: The Celtics shot 53% from the field and got contributions from everyone. Pierce dropped 23, KG 19, and Avery Bradley 13. Their bench, lead by Jeff Green’s 16 points, contributed a total of 39 points. Melo lead the Knicks with 20 points on a putrid 6-26 shooting night. Tyson Chandler had a few rebound lapses late but it’s hard to criticize his 13 point, 17 rebound night. JR Smith chipped in 24 points but on 7-18 shooting and Amar’e Stoudemire added 13 points. The reason our points came on 41% shooting was due to heavy isolation plays and long three-pointers, while the Celtics made the extra passes needed to get many wide open jumpers.
THE WORD IS OUT: Until the Knicks prove otherwise, the scouting report on them will be they can’t handle physical play. This game, along with the losses to Memphis, Chicago (2X) and Houston (2X), prove that in spades. The bitching and moaning has to stop and it starts with our leader Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks will have to turn it around quick because later this week they face two more physical teams in the Pacers and Bulls.
And on one last ironic note, Melo has won NBA Player of the Week.