After an impressive victory in Boston on Wednesday, the New York Knicks fell short against John Wall and the Washington Wizards on Thursday, 113-110.
The Knicks rolled into TD Garden on Wednesday night and shocked the Celtics by beating them without the help of Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah. A day later, the Knicks welcomed the Wizards to MSG, in what would be yet another crushing loss for the Knicks.
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This came on a night where Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points in the second quarter, setting a franchise record for most points scored in a single quarter.
More points than any Knicks player has EVER scored in ANY quarter
The Knicks came out in the second half and again struggled in the third quarter, getting outscored 34-19. However, the Knicks battled back in the fourth quarter with their second unit, and put themselves in prime position to steal a game at home.
A game that was 67-66 at halftime, and ended at 113-110, clearly shows a lack of defensive intensity. The Knicks continue to have poor third quarters, which forces them to exert more energy in the fourth quarter trying to mount a comeback.
However, not every game is going to go perfectly in all facets. At the end of the day, the Knicks were in position to win an important game against a playoff caliber team, and it came down to one thing:
The Knicks have lost eight games this season by five points or less. If you ask most Knick fans how much they confidence have in their team down the stretch, the results would be telling.
Last night’s game came down to Anthony.
On the second to last possession for the Knicks, Anthony takes his defender one-on-one and takes a tough fallaway jumper that resulted in a miss. Anthony is an elite scorer, but with the game on the line, opposing teams will take that shot every single time.
Even Kenny Smith is saying it: you have to get to a point where you have to say NO. Rose/KP PnR was working in 4Q. Why stop going to it?
The whole point in putting players around Anthony is so that Anthony does not have to take these hero shots at the end of games. Want to know who takes the final shot for the Golden State Warriors? The open man.
Rose and Porzingis in the pick-and-roll opens up the floor, puts the pressure on the defense, and more likely than not, results in a high percentage shot.
“At some point in your career, you have to sacrifice for others.” – @SHAQ
On the final play, the ball was in Anthony’s hands again. This time, he has a great matchup, and drove past his man and into the paint. However, instead of shooting the ball, he makes a pass to Lee in the corner for a potential game-tying three pointer.
Since Anthony forced the play in the prior possession, he was probably hesitant to take the shot he should have taken. Unfortunately, Lowe distracted Lee, forcing him to pass up the three-pointer and pass the ball to Brandon Jennings, who was unable to get a shot off.
That last possession is exactly why Melo struggles to trust the instinct to pass. Maddening.
The Knicks are now 19-25, 2.5 games back of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. If they want to make a playoff push, they have to execute better down the stretch and win the close games that have alluded them all season.
On a positive note, the Knicks welcomed Porzingis back into the lineup, as MRI results revealed no structural damage to his achilles tendon. Once Porzingis can shake off the rust from his four-game layoff, the Knicks get significantly better on both sides of the ball with him in the lineup.
The Knicks host the 13-29 Phoenix Suns at MSG on Saturday night, a game that the Knicks should dominate from beginning to end.
Except, there is no such thing as a guaranteed victory for the Knicks. In fact, the last time these teams played one another, the Suns beat the Knicks in overtime, 113-111.