Melo stood tough, but the Knicks fell.
The New York Knicks came just short of a fourth-quarter comeback as they fell, 88-85, to the crosstown-rival Brooklyn Nets. The Nets emerged victorious despite 19 turnovers to the Knicks' five, but the Knicks had trouble containing Joe Johnson and were out-rebounded badly.
Let's take a look at the postgame grades for the Knicks' players.
Jason Kidd opened up the game by hitting his first two shots, both threes. That was the last we heard from Kidd from behind the arc, though he did hit two more two-point field goals.
Kidd's biggest downfall was missing a free throw late in the game that prevented the Knicks from pulling within one point.
With six steals, Kidd helped force a lot of Nets turnovers. He had two of those on a 10-0 Knicks run late in the third quarter. Kidd finished with just one assist back at his natural position of point guard, which is very atypical for him, but he played a good game overall.
Iman Shumpert was only able to play in five-minute stretches as part of his rehab orders, so he played 20 minutes in the contest despite starting.
Shumpert missed five of his six field goals and didn't score until the first minute of the second half on a jumper from the right wing. It was his only field goal of the game.
Shumpert did play some decent defense on Joe Johnson, but had a lot of difficulty on pick-and-rolls and allowed Johnson to get off to a very hot start, as he scored 11 points in the first eight minutes of the game.
Johnson finished with 25, but a lot of that blame can fall on the Knicks' bigs who didn't hedge the pick-and-rolls, either. The Knicks struggled in general with the pick-and-roll, and Shumpert was a part of that problem.
Chris Copeland started again at the 3 spot, but with the emergence of Amar'e Stoudemire, he saw just 15 minutes in the game. Copeland was largely a non-factor, hitting 2-of-6 from the floor and just 1-of-4 from three-point range.
Because the Knicks got so much from Amar'e off the bench, Copeland was irrelevant.
Carmelo Anthony got off to a hot start and looked like he was in for a monster night, as he hit his first two field goals, both of which were mid-range jumpers off dribble penetration.
However, after hitting his first two shots, he hit just one of his next five, leaving him with eight points when he went to the bench early in the second quarter. He got hot again when he checked back in and hit his last three shots before the half to finish with 18 first-half points.
In the second half, the Nets looked to keep the ball out of 'Melo's hands. And they did. But Anthony still managed to create for teammates through the double-teams, getting Amar'e Stoudemire very involved on the inside.
Anthony finished with a season-high seven assists and found a way to make an impact when the Nets were insistent on preventing him from shooting anymore. That diversification in his game is part of the reason he's a legitimate MVP candidate this season.
Tyson Chandler played his usual lunchpail game, but had a nice dunk in the first quarter which prompted him to taunt Reggie Evans and pick up a technical. Chandler attempted only four field goals, but he hit three of them.
It was his work on the boards that helped the Knicks remain competitive, since so few other Knicks were cleaning the glass.
The Knicks were out-rebounded, 52-37, but it's hard to blame Chandler since he grabbed 11. He did allow Brook Lopez to snatch five offensive boards, though.
J.R. Smith missed his first three shots of the game before hitting a corner three in transition. The early struggles set the tone for Smith, who finished just 7-of-19 from the floor.
Smith was met with further frustration as he tried to hit the game-tying three at the buzzer but clanked it off the backboard.
Defensively speaking, Smith got in on the steal party, accounting for three of the Knicks' 11 swipes.
Amar'e Stoudemire still doesn't look like himself, and his game wasn't as good as the stat line indicates. He gave up seven points and seven rebounds to Kris Humphries in the first half, while picking up three fouls in those nine minutes.
STAT looked better offensively, but still can't finish strong around the hoop and throw down the dunks he would have in the past. Instead, it's resulted in him gathering himself and going up for layups, with mixed results.
No other Knick outside of sixth-man J.R. Smith and Amar'e even scored, as the rest of the bench (Steve Novak, Pablo Prigioni and Ronnie Brewer) shot a combined 0-of-5 from the floor.