An MRI on Wednesday (May 22) revealed that Carmelo Anthony played the last two months of the season with a partially torn labrum.
Had the injury been a full tear, Anthony would have been required to undergo surgery and a 3-5 month recovery period. The Knicks medical staff is hopeful Anthony can make a full recovery via 3-4 weeks of rest. He will be reevaluated in late July.
Anthony originally suffered the labrum tear during a collision with Indiana Pacer David West during a regular season game on April 14. Anthony played all 12 Knick playoff games before the team was eliminated last week.
Anthony shot 45% during the regular season but saw his efficiency dip to 40% during the playoffs.
All things considered, Melo had a great year and one of the best of his career. He secured his first scoring title, lead the Knicks to 54 wins (a first in 13 years) and a decent playoff run. Nonetheless, I believe this injury, and the other ones he suffered throughout the season, is a clear indicator a major change needs to happen regarding Anthony’s “role.”
What role am I speaking of? The one that’s required Anthony to play the power forward position for most of this past season. Melo’s a strong small forward who should only play the four in spots. Banging with bruisers inside like David West on the regular is too much over the long haul of a season. We can only hope Amar’e Stoudemire actually stays healthy for once and pulls his weight at his natural position.
Not in our house! Who do you think we are, the Brooklyn Nets? The Knicks dug deep and took advantage of the Pacers missing their point guard George Hill to stay alive with a 85-75 win at Madison Square Garden. The motto is take it one game at a time, and New York made some improvements that we’ll hopefully see in Indiana on Saturday.
DEFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS: It only took us being sent to the brink of elimination for Coach Mike Woodson to realize the constant post double-teaming and defensive switching was a death sentence against Indiana. Chandler didn’t score much (2 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks), but in the first half he played Hibbert straight up and protected the paint. This killed Indy’s ability to find open treys and forced everyone else to become playmakers, resulting in them shooting 27% in the first quarter and 29% for the half.
The Knicks weren’t exactly on fire themselves, but JR Smith was slowly finding his shot (9 points on 3/5 first half shooting) and Melo kept the team in front with 15 first half points. Melo contributed to Roy Hibbert getting in foul trouble which opened up the paint. Unfortunately, he Knicks didn’t close the first and second quarters particularly strong and had to settle for a 40-34 halftimelead.
THE DEFINING PLAY: The 3rd quarter looked shaky early on with the Pacers hitting back to back threes to pull within two (42-40). To make matters worse, Tyson Chandler picked up a bad fourth foul sending him to the bench. But from there, Raymond Felton (12 points) came alive and began working smooth pick n’ rolls with K-Mart (7 points) that lead to layups and a key fourth foul on Hibbert. Chris Copeland’s three-point offense lead to some breathing room (53-44) and set the stage for the biggest sequence of the game.
JR Smith turned the ball over leading to a 2-on-1 Indy fast break. DJ Augstin blew the layup, but Paul George recovered on the perimeter and drove right back to the basket to miss his own contested layup. The Knicks raced back and Felton found Copeland open for a three. He missed, but Felton secured a hard rebound and kicked it to an open JR, who also missed. This time, Copeland snatched the offensive rebound inside and nailed a baby hook to extend the lead to 59-48, the largest of the game for the Knicks to cap a 12-4 run.
From that point on, I felt highly confident the Knicks would keep their poise.
COPELAND ARRIVES: After his bad play against the Celtics, Woodson have lost all faith in Copeland. This was the reason he only looked Cope’s way again out of the desperation of avoiding elimination. We saw last night that was probably Woody’s biggest mistake of the series.
The Pacers had been able to focus on Melo and JR since our lineups were composed of guys who weren’t offensive threats (Jason Kidd glaringly stands out). With Cope out there draining threes (13 points, 3/4 from downtown), the floor opened up and it allowed Melo and even JR to work better without multiple Pacers being so quick to collapse on them.
The biggest Copeland moment for me was seeing him barking at Amar’e Stoudemire about a missed defensive assignment. That let everyone know he wasn’t deferring to anyone not pulling their weight.
STAT’S CONTRIBUTIONS: Speaking of Stat (2 points, 2 rebounds), it seems most people are realizing there isn’t much he’s going to be able to do unless we make it do the conference finals. It took him close to the 10 games to get back to form in January after the first injury. For now, all I hope for is that he’s not a defensive liability in his limited minutes.
JR IMPROVES: Our Sixth Man of the Year isn’t completely himself yet, but he helped way more than he hurt last night. JR went 4/11 for 13 points.We got a few bad shots, but he kept his head in the game. The public Rihanna dis may be just the wake-up call he needed.
MELO THE CLOSER: Melo had 28 points on 12-28 shooting. Not spectacular on paper, but he did what we always want of him, and that’s close the show in the fourth. He went MIA in games three and four, but this time he was an active on both sides of the ball. He took Paul George in the post, drew fouls (a 5th on Hibbert) and hit clutch fadeaways. In addition, he got a jump ball, adding to three consecutive Indy turnovers in crunch time. Over the final 2-3 minutes, the Knicks were able to ice this game behind a 10-4 run.
HOW ABOUT OUR DEFENSE?: We’ve been hearing all series about Indy’s great D. Last night, the Knicks held them to 36% shooting and 19 turnovers. And remember Woody, all these from minimal double teams and switching!
BRING THAT POISE TO INDIANA: In the huddle, Pacers coach Frank Vogel was heard saying once the game got to around 2-4 points, we would start feeling the pressure. Well, the Pacers were never able to secure the lead, showing that when focused and relying on each other, the Knicks are a match for any team in this league.
A bigger test happens on Saturday when we return to Indiana. We haven’t won there all year, but our chances are very good if George Hill sits again with his concussion. If he plays, the challenge is much more daunting. Either way, the Knicks will have to play again with the passion of knowing their playoff lives are on the line.
Before game 2 against the Indiana Pacers, Carmelo Anthony said the disappointing game 1 defeat came down to a lack of effort. The Knicks didn’t have that problem last night, as Melo himself dropped 22 second half points, Iman Shumpert was all hustle, and Pablo Prigioni provided an early fourth quarter spark to give the Knicks a 105-79 blowout and their most impressive win this post-season.
Game 1 left a lot of people wondering if the Knicks were “tough enough” to break down the league’s #1 defense in the Pacers, and NY showed, as they have all season, that they’re a team built on resiliency.
1ST HALF EXECUTION: For the majority of the first half, the Knicks answered the call of hitting shots and providing their own strong defense. They forced the Pacers into multiple turnovers and converted on most of their open shots. With just 3:36 left in the half, the Knicks were up 13 points.
Unfortunately, the Pacer defense combined with some Knick mental lapses left New York scoreless for the rest of the half. The Pacers were able to chip their deficit to only five points (47-42) headed into the third. However, the Knicks had reason to be encouraged, as their lead was predicated on ball movement and balanced contributions as Melo and JR were still struggling from the field.
3RD QUARTER TEST: The Knicks got a legit test over within the first 3-5 minutes of the third. Their shots stopped falling, and the Pacers started to nail three-pointers courtesy of Lance Stephenson and George Hill to take their first lead at 64-62. The crowd was antsy, as there was the fear the Knicks would revert to iso ball and get ran off the court.
Impressively, the Knicks never got rattled, and Melo secured the lead back courtesy of momentum-changing three-point play dunk over Jeff Pendergraph. That play brought new life to the Knicks defense, and on the next Pacer possession a Raymond Felton-Kenyon Martin trap in the backcourt resulted in a turnover and alley-oop dunk. Jason Kidd had another scoreless night, but found other ways to contribute in saving a deflection to find Tyson Chandler for an easy dunk and cap a 10-2 NY run to end the quarter. The Knicks held a 72-66 going into the fourth.
PACERS GET BURIED: The Pacers had been shooting well over 50% for most of the game, but came crashing down to the earth in the last 12 minutes. The Pacers had one of the league’s worst offenses during the season, and it was displayed in all its ugly glory as Indy went 0/11 to start and didn’t score from the field until three minutes were left in the quarter!
While the Pacers struggled, Pablo Prigioni furthered the Knicks run by hitting a pullup three and a short jumper in the lane to extend the lead to 77-66. Chants of “Pablo!” rained down from the Garden crowd, but it would be Melo who finished off the game. Melo had 16 points during an astounding 36-4 run to completely blow the game open to a 92-66 lead.
The last five minutes were garbage time and the starters thankfully got a decent rest. And it’s not like the Pacers got any reprieve when our bench was emptied — Quentin Richardson got in on the run with two treys of his own.
SHUMPERT THE BEAST: I think it’s safe to say Shump is fully back from his ACL tear based on the below play.
There were still some naysayers after Shump’s great play in the last series against Paul Pierce, citing Pierce’s age. This series so far shows Shumpert is coming into his own as a complete player. Once his jumper and finishing at the rim gets more consistent, I have no doubt the Knicks will have a future All-Star. In 28 minutes, Shumpert delivered 15 points (7/11 from the field), 6 rebounds and 1 steal.
ANYTIME NOW, JR: Our Sixth Man of the Year is still in this horrible shooting slump. Last night he went 3/15 from the field (1/7 from downtown). You can tell his confidence is really shaken and even his free throws aren’t a sure thing anymore. Nothing lasts forever, so we just have to patiently wait until he gets out of this. Thankfully, with guys like Felton, Shumpert and Prigioni picking up the slack, and Amar’e Stoudemire returning this weekend, JR doesn’t have overwhelming pressure to get it together. But when he does, the Knicks can potentially blow this series open.
REST!: I normally hate long breaks between games, but this time it’s extremely important to our squad. Melo’s hurt shoulder needs all the rest it can get. The Pacers have made it a point to test it out by hammering Melo in the paint. He was grimacing all throughout the game, but of course hitting his shots made the pain less potent. These three days will also serve to help Tyson Chandler, who you can tell is still battling the lingering effects of the bulging disc in his neck. Remember, the Knicks went right into this series one game removed from eliminating Boston.
Game 3 kicks off this Saturday and should also mark the long-awaited return of Amar’e Stoudemire.
This team, man. What else is there to say? All-Star Break, sufficient rest, and the Knicks still delivered one of their worst all-around performances for the year. Having now lost four of their last five games and just a half-game removed from third place, now is the time to be very concerned about where the Knicks are headed over the second half of the season.
PUTRID OFFENSE AND DEFENSE: The Pacers are known for their phenomenal defense but also for their struggles to score. In fact, they are one of the lower teams in the league when it comes to scoring. Last night you’d have no clue as damn near the entire team lit up the Knicks to the tune of 53% shooting and over 100 points while still in the third quarter.
The Pacers were getting open treys at will since the Knick guards couldn’t fight through picks to close out. It’s become a tradition as of late to have some unheralded guard drop a career or season high against the Knicks, and last night it was Orlando Johnson (8 pts, 2-2 from downtown) and Sam Young (7 pts) — the latter could be seen slamming home windmill dunks in the fourth.
The Knicks offense (33.7% shooting) was pathetic with zero ball movement and hoping for Melo to be hot (he wasn’t). Melo went 7/21 for just 15 points and no one else stepped to fill the void except Tyson Chandler (19 pts, 11 rebounds), who got 11 of his points at the line. Amar’e Stoudemire had 7 points and just one field goal as he struggled to handle Tyler Hansborough and was nearly ejected for yelling at a ref.
Raymond Felton tried (12 pts) to make things happen, but the pick and roll with Chandler was well scouted and there was zero cutting from any of the players around him. The guards of Iman Shumpert, Jason Kidd and JR Smith would go a combined 2-17 for just 9 points.
GAME ENDS IN THE 2ND QUARTER: This game didn’t feel promising from the outset. A four point deficit in the first felt like 10 the way the offense was going. The Pacers bench took full advantage and outscored the Knicks 44-26 in the second quarter to take a 77-44 lead into halftime.
WOODSON REMAINS STUBBORN: Coach Woodson had a terse rebuttal when asked in the post-game if he’d consider changing the starting lineup. He said it was a matter of getting better, not changing lineups. Has Woody gone mad? Going back to when Felton went down with the hand injury, Kidd has been a disaster in the starting lineup. Over his last three games, he’s only made one shot and is getting torched on defense. Last night it was Lance Stephenson (14 pts) abusing him. And it was sad to see Iman Shumpert trying to be play small forward and at times having to body up much bigger guys like David West.
This lineup is not going to cut it. Woody’s love affair with Kidd will have this team looking at the fifth seed if this keeps up. First off, Kidd needs to be benched, Shumpert to shooting guard, Stat to power forward and Melo at the 3. We need as many offensive weapons as possible and as we’ve seen, just dropping it in to Melo will not suffice.
A MENTALITY OVERHAUL: For a team that likes to administer bully ball, they sure do not handle it well when a team gets physical with them. Once again, the Knicks resorted to whining (Stat), and cheap shots when the game got away from them. JR Smith got ejected for his shenanigans with Stephenson, and the team just seemed to literally bend over like we’ve seen far too many times this year.
We’ll see if this was a wake-up call on Friday when the Knicks look for revenge against the Toronto Raptors.