Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks suffered a truly embarrassing beating at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night, thanks to abysmal shooting, zero effort on defense and a sloppy overall approach to the game.
The Sixers dominated the Knicks, 97-80.
New York fell behind early in Raymond Felton's first action since a broken right pinkie sidelined him on Christmas, and the point guard's return didn't get much better from there.
New York shot just 34.6 percent from the floor and was even worse from long distance, finishing with just four made threes in 27 attempts (14.8 percent). The biggest concern, though, was the Knicks' total lack of effort on defense and in transition.
Jrue Holiday scored a season-high 35 points, and his ability to get into the lane at will was the strongest indicator that the Knicks were either unwilling or unable to shut down the paint. The Sixers, who came into the game as the league's fifth-worst team in offensive efficiency, shot better than 50 percent from the floor and scored 36 points in the paint.
Carmelo Anthony tried his best to shoot his team out of trouble, but he missed all six of his three-point attempts, and his failure to keep the ball moving was a real problem for the Knicks offense. He finished with 25 points on 28 shots.
The Knicks laid a real egg against a Philadelphia club that had lost eight of its last 10 games. In other words, this loss was an abject failure for New York.
Rest assured, that won't be the last time we discuss failing as it pertains to the Knicks.
Raymond Felton: C-
Raymond Felton saw his first game action since Christmas Day, and the rust was apparent from the opening tip.
The Knicks point guard got the start against Philadelphia, and if the wrap on his right pinkie wasn't enough to indicate that he'd missed a few weeks, Jrue Holiday's total dominance of the matchup certainly was.
The Sixers All-Star relentlessly attacked a noticeably slow-footed Felton early and often, starting the game by making his first four shots with surprising ease. Felton couldn't keep Holiday out of the lane or bother his pull-up jumper.
There's no doubt that the Knicks desperately missed their point guard's ability to penetrate and create shots for his teammates; they shot 39 percent from three when Felton was healthy and 35 percent in his absence.
He finished with eight points and three assists on 2-of-8 shooting in 29 minutes. If he can get his legs back under him, his ability to facilitate (and, hopefully, avoid further defensive embarrassment) should be a major help for the recently struggling Knicks.
But Felton looks like he's going to need a few games to get into the swing of things.
Jason Kidd: F
Jason Kidd got the start at shooting guard after aggravating a back injury earlier in the week, but he was clearly playing at less than 100 percent. At least, we hope that's the reason he looked so bad against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The veteran guard totaled zero points, zero assists and two rebounds in 15 minutes. He missed all three of his shots, each of which was a three-point attempt.
Normally, Kidd would have gotten a break against the trigger-happy Nick Young on defense.
But instead of his normal display of poor shot selection, Young was able to get hot in the second half, pouring in a quick five points in the first couple of minutes in the third quarter. That barrage prompted Mike Woodson to pull Kidd, who was essentially killing the Knicks on both ends.
Injuries are an inevitable part of the equation when it comes to 39-year-old players, and Kidd is clearly having a hard time at the moment. And he did play more than a quarter of the game, so we can't let him off the hook with an "incomplete." That leaves us with no choice but to fail him.
Iman Shumpert: D
Well, we'll say this for Iman Shumpert: He did a pretty good impression of Ronnie Brewer, the man who has started the majority of the games at small forward for New York this year.
Unfortunately for Shumpert, that means he was active on defense and the boards, but couldn't throw the ball in the ocean on offense.
Shumpert finished with one point, seven rebounds and two assists on 0-of-6 shooting.
Going forward, the Knicks' second-year player figures to play a vital role as a defensive disruptor and energy player on the wing. He certainly didn't have anything close to his A-game versus Philly, but he does get something of a pass for playing in just his fourth game since tearing his ACL during the postseason last year.
He'll probably never be much of a shooter, and his performance in this one could serve as a primary exhibit in that argument. But he'll eventually be far better than he was Saturday night.
Carmelo Anthony: D-
There's a fine line between working hard for your offense and forcing shots, and Carmelo Anthony was on the wrong side of that delineation against the 76ers.
Melo barreled into the lane repeatedly, stubbornly throwing his body into the teeth of the Philly defense.
Little came of his efforts in the early going, as Anthony started the game just 3-of-11 from the field. Worse still, he took out some of his frustration by barking at the referees, which prevented him from getting back on defense on more than one occasion.
He wasn't the sole culprit, but he was very much to blame for the Sixers' dominance in transition.
Mike Woodson left Anthony on the floor long after the Sixers had the game well in hand, which allowed Melo to pile up the counting stats. But don't be fooled—the Knicks star forward played a terrible game.
His 25 points on 9-of-28 shooting were the result of volume, not efficiency.
Thinking broadly, Anthony is an interesting microcosm of what has happened with the Knicks this year. After starting out with a commitment to defense, ball movement and high-efficiency shots, both Melo and his team have reverted back to their true natures.
That doesn't bode well for the Knicks' future.
Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, Melo was going to get a D-plus for his efforts. But after he left the game in the fourth quarter, he was smiling and laughing on the bench. We don't take kindly to that kind of thing around here.
Tyson Chandler: C-
Tyson Chandler's value to the New York Knicks was on full display against the Sixers...when he was on the bench.
Thanks to a curious decision by Mike Woodson to match the Sixers' small lineup for long stretches, the Knicks totally failed to defend the paint, especially when Chandler was riding the pine.
Amar'e Stoudemire's complete indifference on D certainly made Chandler's contributions stand out by contrast. But as a unit, the Knicks simply couldn't keep players out of the lane when Chandler wasn't there to deter them.
Even when he was on the court, the first-time All-Star didn't display his typical defensive dominance, as the Sixers continued to get looks at the rim.
On the other end, New York's big man showed his offensive limitations when he turned the ball over in a failed attempt to post up the much smaller Thaddeus Young.
Perhaps the only silver lining for Chandler came when he laid in a lob from Raymond Felton in the first half. For a player with as many offensive limitations as Chandler, Felton's setups are just about the only way he can get on the scoreboard.
On the night, No. 6 finished with six points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes.
As much as we love the intangibles Chandler brings as a leader and rim protector, he didn't bring enough of either of those qualities in this embarrassing loss.
J.R. Smith: F
After shooting just 3-of-16 against the Boston Celtics Thursday night, J.R. Smith actually played even worse against the Sixers. The New York Knicks sixth man has been on a wicked slide of late, shooting under 37 percent from the field in his last 10 games.
His 0-of-8 effort in this one certainly kept that trend alive.
Once a huge part of New York's improbably terrific shooting to start the season, Smith is now right in the middle of its predictable regression. His field-goal percentage has dipped just a hair under 40 percent after his latest abysmal performance, and based on his career history, what we're probably seeing now is the real J.R. Smith.
That's bad news for the Knicks.
Bench Grade: C-
On every touch, Amar'e Stoudemire thinks of one thing: scoring. Interestingly, the man appropriately known as "STAT" showed the positive and negative aspects of that philosophy Saturday night.
On the one hand, New York desperately needed scoring from somebody. Stoudemire's season-high 20 points on 8-of-13 shooting easily represented the Knicks' most efficient scoring option.
But on the other hand, his failure to also focus on defense (shocking, I know) basically cancelled out all of the buckets he contributed.
Playing center with the second unit, Stoudemire stood by and watched Jrue Holiday back down Pablo Prigioni for what felt like an hour without taking even a step toward the proper help position. It was an awful display of clueless and/or selfish basketball. Just awful.
That was just one play, but it was a pretty perfect indicator of the kind of effort Stoudemire has come to be known for.
Maybe this is a controversial position, but guys as talented as Stoudemire shouldn't get a pass when they only play one end of the floor.
No other Knicks reserve did much that bears mentioning, so the bulk of our grade here is attributable solely to Amar'e.