I didn’t get it done, that’s it. My teammates did a great job of getting us in that position, putting us in that position, giving me the chance of tying the game or going for the win. I didn’t come through. I’ll take that. – CARMELO ANTHONY
DENVER, CO — The Nugget supplied multiple opportunities down the stretch to steal a rare win in Denver, but the Knicks just couldn’t get over the hump as a airball Carmelo Anthony jumper with seconds remaining closed the door on a New York comeback and gave them their eighth straight defeat.
The Knicks kept it close throughout and at times flashed decent defense, which are some of the few positives to take when you’re on a losing streak this long.
30 ONLY ONCE: The Knicks gave up 30 points in the first, a clear sign the defense was supbar. Guys like JJ Hickson got easy putbacks and the weak perimeter defense allowed the Nuggets to sink three from behind the arc. However, the Knicks adjusted well in the second quarter and aside from Nate Robinson (16 points), kept the Nuggets in check with just 21 points in the second, 24 in the third and 22 in the fourth.
MORE TIME FOR THJ?: Tim Hardaway Jr. played 15 minutes and had 8 points (3-5 shooting), 3 rebounds and 2 blocks. The blocks were very impressive as they came early in the fourth quarter in the paint, turning back 7-footer Timothy Mosgoz and 6’9 forward Darnell Arthur. Considering that JR Smith is still trying to find his shooting touch (5-13, 1-7 from downtown), making Hardaway a consistent staple of the rotation at 15-20 minutes a night seems like a no-brainer. It would be nice to have shooting guards who can actually SHOOT. And with THJ shooting 50% over the last 10 games, he’s the best choice.
CALLS FOR MELO: After Coach Woodson was fined for criticizing the referees for not calling fouls on Melo, we’ve seen an improvement in how he’s treated. He had 11 points in free throws this game. Unfortunately, a big focus is going to be on the last play with Randy Foye, who clearly caught Melo on the arm which disrupted his fadeaway shot. A similar foul went in Melo’s favor in the first quarter.
3-POINT FAILINGS: It’s not impossible for this team to win without good three-point shooting, but it’s definitely very difficult. The team shot just 6-22 for 27%, with the biggest culprit being JR’s 1-7 stat line. Again, the addition for Hardaway Jr in regular rotations will be a huge lift in this regard.
MELO’S CRUCIAL MISTAKES: The Knicks were right within striking range down just 2, 85-83, with just under two minutes remaining. A Melo post isolation led to a off-balance circus shot, and then on the next possession Melo shuffled his feet for a travel. The Nuggets extended the lead with free throws and a three by Randy Foye to 94-85, but the Knicks battled back to make it a 96-93 deficit after an open Felton three. A Shumpert layup off a loose ball scramble and Ty LAwson splitting free throws had the Knicks down 97-95 with the ball in Melo’s hands with 19 seconds left, leading to the miss on the fadeaway.
SHUMPERT VS. FARIED: This game will probably quiet some of the talk of those who were disappointed the proposed trade of Iman Shumpert for Kenneth Faried didn’t go through. Shumpert had his best game in weeks, scoring 11 points on 50% shooting, and 7 rebounds. Faried notched 4 points and 6 rebounds before having to leave the game in the third with a leg bruise. The Knicks have loads of problems, one of them being rebounding, but what the Knicks need more than anything is two-way players, not specialists. Faried cannot score on his own except through clean-up plays, and we already have a few bigs in that area (Martin, Chandler). I wouldn’t be mad at all to have a young, high energy guy like him on the team, but I’d rather hold onto Shump as well. Too bad the Nuggets won’t take Stoudemire.
MELO AND BARGS: The two combined for 49 points and so far I’d say this experiment is working out (at least offensively). I’d like to see their minutes reduced as Melo clocked 40 minutes and Bargs 39, but until are “sharpshooters” (JR, Iman etc) actually start consistently hitting shots, this is the only course of action.
The next stop for the Knicks is Sunday back at the Garden against the Pelicans.