The Zen Of Carmelo: Anthony Delivers Both Good and Bad

Published on: 28th January, 2013

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Atlanta Hawks v New York Knicks
The Zen Of Carmelo: Anthony Delivers Both Good and Bad

New York, NY - JANUARY 27: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks grabs a rebound against the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden on January 27, 2013 in New York, New York. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)  | read this item

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New York – Carmelo Anthony turned out to be the hero of tonight’s exciting 106-104 win over the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden but he just as easily could have been the goat if the Knicks had gone down to defeat.

You see, even though Anthony did wonderful things tonight, scoring 42 points and hitting the winning basket on a three-point play with 12.5 seconds remaining in the game, he also did enough bad things in crunch time to almost lose it for the Knicks.

That sort of thing seems to occur with some frequency for the Knicks’ 20 million dollar man.

Call it the good and the bad zen of Carmelo Anthony.

Even after tonight’s win, the Knicks record has fallen from a peak of 19-6 to 27-15. Do the math. That makes the Knicks 8-9 over the past three weeks. Not a good run for a team with championship aspirations.

Much of the reason for their steep decline in performance can be traced to the loss of Raymond Felton to a fractured pinky 14-games ago and to the re-assimilation of Amar’e Stoudemire into the rotation upon his return from knee and back issues. There’s been a precipitous and problematical loss of on-court chemistry on both sides of the floor over these past three weeks, especially in contrast to those first 26 games of the season.

Felton Played Better In His Second Game Back

Anthony, the lead dog on this team, has seemingly shrunk a little from the expectations of carrying a team that simply needs him to be more than he has been.

Instead of being a solution to the Knicks recent troubles, he seems to be more of the reason for them. During these below-.500 days, he’s been shooting the ball terribly, connecting on only 68 of 187 shots over his past seven games, a decidedly non-elite 36.3% shooting percentage. When your ace player is hoisting up 27 shots per game and hitting on just a fraction over nine of those shots, your team is in trouble.

To be so talented, one of the sports’ truly elite scorers yet be unable to apply that dominance when his team needs it most seems be the zen of Carmelo Anthony, both in his Knicks career and during the preceding eight years he spent with the Denver Nuggets. If you close your eyes long enough, you can almost imagine a young Stephon Marbury, and all that wasted talent he had that never congealed into championship caliber basketball.

The Knicks know they will go only as far as Anthony can take them. That was a foregone conclusion when James Dolan hitched this franchise’s wagon, in that big 2011 trade with Denver, to Anthony, who has won exactly two playoff series in his 10-year NBA career.

But, sometimes, Melo’s shooting star can also be a falling star. Anthony’s great and not so great moments were all part of the package the Knicks were receiving when they traded away Danilo Gallinari, Winston Chandler, Timofy Mozgov, and yes, Raymond Felton.

Yes, Anthony most certainly won the game for the Knicks tonight but in the last two minutes of a see-saw battle, his decision-making and production scared Knicks fans.

To wit, let’s see what Anthony did in those final minutes.

With 3:02 left in the game, Anthony broke a 99-99 tie with a 14’ jump shot.

With 2:12 remaining, Josh Smith drove the lane for a slam dunk and he was fouled – by Anthony – in the act. Smith missed the free throw so the score remained tied, 101-101.

Good and the bad Melo zen, all in a matter of seconds.

Just 21-seconds later, Anthony was hit with a technical foul for slamming the ball to the floor after he felt he was hit in the face by DeShawn Stevenson without a foul being called. Losing one’s composure when your team is tied with under two minutes left is not a good thing. It’s even worse when you are the one player your team counts on to maintain your composure. Kyle Korver hit the technical foul shot to put Atlanta up, 102-101.

Anthony, angry and upset and emotional then bricked an 18-foot jumper, hitting nothing but backboard at the 1:43 mark. Luckily, Amar’e Stoudemire retrieved the rebound and was fouled in the act of shooting by Al Horford.

Calmly, Stoudemire hit both free throws to put the Knicks up by one.

On the Hawks next possession, Horford scored on an alley-oop dunk over the interior of the Knicks frontline to put the Hawks up again, 104-103 at the 1:34 mark.

Tensions were building as Knicks fans grew uneasy, sensing the real possibility of the Knicks losing another home game against a conference rival. On their next possession, the Knicks again put the ball in Anthony’s hands and he turned the ball over on a terrible pass he tried to force into the lane to a cutting Tyson Chandler who was never open and had zero chance to do something positive with the ball had he even made a clean catch. Anthony’s poor decision, at the 56-second mark, was the Knicks 14th turnover of the game and could not have come at a worse time.

Fortunately, the Hawks have a similar player to Anthony, one also with wondrous talents but who doesn’t always make the right play at the right time. Josh Smith, a freak of an athlete chose that moment, right after Anthony’s turnover, to commit an offensive foul with his team winning by one point and 22-seconds left in the game.

Finally, this contest came down to it’s final moments with the ball in Anthony’s hands, of course. This time, guarded by the unpredictable Smith, he drove hard to the hoop, hit a layup and, Smith being Smith, fouled him in the act. Anthony hit the free throw to put the Knicks up, 106-104 with 12.5 seconds remaining in the game.

The Knicks held on to win the game, despite Smith getting one last open look from three-point land that would have won it for the improving Hawks. But, Smith being Smith, bricked it, saving the Knicks from another difficult defeat at home and saving Anthony’s bacon for the series of mistakes he made in the preceding two minutes of crunch time.

Sometimes, it just happens like that for ‘Melo. Other times, it doesn’t. You take the good with the bad. It’s the zen of Carmelo.

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