Give the Knicks some credit — you have to be very creative to keep finding ways to lose close games. Tonight, the Knicks failed to score over the last 2 minutes to blow a five-point lead and lose on a… you guessed it, a three-pointer from an open Devin Booker to remain winless at Madison Square Garden in 2017.
This game has sealed it for me. Let the young guys gain experience, see if Melo wants to stick around and bring on the tank for a top lottery pick.
MELO TRIED: Carmelo Anthony will catch some heat for not scoring in the fourth and missing the game-winning three (was halfway down and rimmed out). But outside of his usual bonehead defensive lapses on the perimeter, he played the all-around game we want from him (31 points on 52% FG, 7 boards and 6 assists).
It’ll be ok, Melo 😕 pic.twitter.com/ZX1YYGzzdQ
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 22, 2017
HERNANGOMEZ: Our rook had another strong performance. He made his first appearance in the third and had an immediate impact altering shots and scoring at the rim. He kept Tyson Chandler contained on the glass and finished with 6 points and 8 boards in 14 minutes. I feel his presence was missed in crunch time when he sat the last 3 minutes to put Porzingis back in.
KP’s DISAPPEARING ACT: This is only his second game back so I won’t kill Porzingis. But his recent play remains frustrating. He had a strong third where his jumper got going (10 points in the quarter), but then couldn’t buy a basket from the perimeter in the fourth. Instead of trying to get to the basket, he camped out meekly on the perimeter. 14 points and 1 board in 33 minutes. Outside of a brief verbal skirmish with Chandler, KP was missing the mental toughness we needed tonight.
THE YING AND YANG OF DERRICK ROSE: Our star point guard had another strong offensive outing with 26 points. But herein lies the problem — he was way too ball dominant in the fourth. The Knicks failed to score over the last two minutes AND Rose left Booker open for the game-winning three. As much as I enjoy Rose slashing to the rim for breathtaking layups, his defensive lapses and failure to execute team plays in crunch time has hurt this team. As a point guard, you have to re-evaluate your game when Melo has more assists than you.
BACKCOURT DESTRUCTION: Ironically, it wasn’t a barrage of three-pointers that killed the Knicks. New York won that battle by hitting 11 treys to Phoenix’s 9. The major problem was our guards in general couldn’t defend Booker nor Eric Bledsoe anywhere on the court. They combined for 49 points on way too many open shots.
ORIGINAL LINEUP, SAME ISSUES: With Joakim Noah’s return, the Knicks went to the season’s original starting lineup of Noah-KP-Melo-Lee-Rose. Noah did manage to grab 15 boards but was held scoreless over 20 minutes.
This loss drops New York to 11th in the Eastern Conference. On Monday, we’re back on TNT to face the Pacers.