On the day that Jeremy Lin returned to Madison Square Garden, one would think that the New York Knicks would show him up.
But they are the Knicks.
Worse yet, they are a Knicks team on a losing streak. So even though Carmelo Anthony dropped 45 points, the NBA's highest-scoring game this season, it didn't matter. By the end of the night, the Knicks were handed their fifth loss of the season.
The Knicks must get Anthony some help.
Even if that means increasing the playing time of some of the other players. Anthony is getting older, and he can't keep carrying the team (to the playoffs just to collapse before the finals). Besides, whether or not the Knicks have noticed, the competition in the eastern conference has stiffened.
With Tyson Chandler out for the next six weeks, there isn't really a defensive player for the team to fall back on. The lack of defense means that teams are going to walk all over New York. If the Knicks want to win a title this season, they need to find defensive help for Anthony.
As everyone knows, Anthony can easily bow out from the team in July. Sure, there are things that he may like about the Knicks. For example, he likes being located in New York City. Oh, and that $129 million extension over five years. But won't he be tired of the heartbreaking losses and having to shoulder the team game in and game out?
As of right now, he's patient.
Or at least he's trying to keep his cool so the team doesn't go into a complete free fall, as Anthony told Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN New York:
I have to remain very confident, very positive for this locker room and hopefully my teammates feed off of that. I have to bring it every day, that mentality, that attitude, because if not, they follow my lead. If I'm in here being negative then they're going to be in here being negative, moping around, and then the morale is down. We can't have [that], not right now. It's easy to go into that place, but we're not going to allow that.
When Anthony was traded to the Knicks back in 2011, he was a young player ready to become the next big superstar for New York. And what he had was Chandler from the start. Chandler even went on to win the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2012.
But now Anthony is 29 years old, and he is on a reasonably old team. And Chandler is gone until mid-December.
Since Chandler's injury in a Knicks' loss against the Charlotte Bobcats on November 5th, the team has been struggling to replace him. Andrea Bargnani has filled his spot at center for the moment. Bargnani has helped Anthony with scoring per USA Today, but his help isn't sufficient enough. Bargnani isn't even a true center.
And you can't say that Anthony has not felt the pressure to make up for the fact that Chandler is missing. In their win against the Hawks, Anthony grabbed 10 rebounds, the most he had all season since Chandler left, and the number fit in with Chandler's usual rebound work.
But Anthony cannot continue to score 45 points and grab 10 rebounds every game. What happens when the Knicks play teams like the undefeated, defensive-minded Indiana Pacers?
The Knicks need to compete.
The competition in the eastern conference, especially within the Atlantic Division, has surged recently. Teams like the Boston Celtics, who got off to a 0-4 start, are now finding their rhythm. How will New York defend Boston if there isn't just one star player to block, but three to four decent ones to keep looking out for?
And what about Metta World Peace?
World Peace has been averaging 10.5 points, 1.5 steals and 3.7 rebounds per game. Maybe with an increased amount of playing time, he can come through more effectively on defense and offense.
And he seems to believe that he has the tools to help the team. World Peace was asked if he could help turn things around for the Knicks' leader.
"I can tell you that we have the pieces," World Peace told Youngmisuk. "That is one thing I know for a fact—100 percent sure that we have them. It is not translating to victories right now so we got to translate pieces into victories."
World Peace may or may not get more playing time. And the Knicks may or may not still go after Kevin Love as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports is reporting.
But in the meantime, the Knicks need to provide more defensive (and offensive) help for Anthony.
The more frustrated he becomes with a losing team who can't compete with their rivals, the more he may actually want to leave.