Back to back losses on layups…LAYUPS. God hates us.
As commentator Mike Breen said in the seconds following Kemba Walker’s game-winning, easy layup drive, “The pain continues.” Coming from 20 points down mid third-quarter, the Knicks, lead by Carmelo Anthony’s game-high 32 points, staged an impassioned comeback that can down to one defensive stop with 4 seconds left. And as we’ve seen countless times over last two seasons, a speedy guard easily got into the pain the Knicks had their hearts broken.
For most the game, the Knicks appeared disjointed on defense. They couldn’t defend perimeter threes and guys like Lance Stephenson slashed to the basket at will. Melo had 15 first half points, but he still looked deflated from Thursday’s game where he shot a vile 21% from the field.
Then a light switch went off in the third quarter. Melo’s jumper started following along with And 1’s in the paint. Tim Hardaway Jr and JR Smith started going lights off from three. For most of the fourth, the Knicks hovered with an 8-10 point deficit before Melo’s back to back 3s gave the Knicks a 102-101 lead. NY had the chance to get the lead to 3, but Melo missed a short bassline jumper that set up Walker’s heart-breaking layup.
There were a lot of grumblings as to who was at fault on that drive. Should Prigioni have been more aggressive in taking the foul to give to get more time off the clock? Should Melo have jumped out quicker to stifle Kemba’s drive? Should Stoudemire have read Walker’s move quicker to get a better chance at altering the shot?
For me, teams win and lose together. Had the Knicks played with the 4th quarter intensity that had them outscore Charlotte 33-18 for the ENTIRE contest, the game would not have been decided in this manner.