NBA: Why Carmelo Anthony Must Play the Fourth Quarter for the New York Knicks

Keith SchlosserAnalyst IApril 1, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 30:  Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks celebrates during the game against the New Jersey Nets at Madison Square Garden on March 30, 2011 in New York City. 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. Then Knicks defeated the Nets 120-116  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The New York Knicks' desire to acquire Carmelo Anthony (or any other second major marquee star behind Amar'e Stoudemire, for that matter) stemmed from the team's need for another serious option on offense.

With more star power, the Knicks are able to pack even more of a punch on offense with Anthony and Stoudemire both easily capable of scoring 25 (or more) points on any given night.

There's no question the duo could overpower just about any opponent's defense; they are currently the second-highest scoring combination in the NBA. The only question is: How does coach Mike D'Antoni keep them on the court together long enough to continue to do so?

It's clear that with the burden of the Knicks' pending continued success on his shoulders, Stoudemire has gotten exhausted. He, as well as Anthony, both need appropriate rest.

On one hand, having not one, but two potent scorers give the Knicks a chance to maintain a balanced attack that guarantees one of those options will be in at all times.

That being said, a simply "balanced" attack may not be enough to beat teams like the Bulls, Celtics or Heat. The Knicks need to overwhelm these teams and come at them with vigor, especially late in the game, in order to come away with the victories.

It's understandable that players need rest, and however D'Antoni chooses to balance his rotation through three quarters to keep his guys fresh, is fair game.

The fourth quarter is the time to turn up the heat, though.

Since Anthony arrived, much of the fourth quarter has been his time to rest during games. With Stoudemire on the court, the Knicks' more "balanced" attack comes into play, allowing Anthony to sit until midway through the quarter, even later at times.

The problem with that is the Knicks are still trying to develop a sense of consistency as a team. They have been known to often falter late in games and give up massive leads, giving way to heartbreaking losses.

Through the first three quarters of any given game, perhaps D'Antoni should rely upon his other readily-available options on offense to get the Knicks going.

Chauncey Billups is an NBA champion and five-time NBA All-Star (and for those fans who may say Chauncey is beginning to slow down, his most recent All-Star appearance came last season, so he's in no way finished). Toney Douglas has been known to provide tremendous sparks, catching fire as he makes it rain to pour in 20 or more points on multiple occasions.

The wild card to the Knicks' flow on offense is Landry Fields, who before the Carmelo Anthony trade could also be seen scoring in bunches when necessary. Though his number hasn't been called on offense much since, perhaps it's time to give him the opportunity to shine once again.

Featuring these three players on offense, in addition to some of the Knicks' better role-players, early on in the game would allow Anthony and Stoudemire to take a backseat at times and prepare for when the team needs them most: the final quarter.

For quite a few years now, the Knicks have lacked that final push to get them through the game. An NBA game is a full 48 minutes—not 36. A big component to the Knicks finding consistent success again is the ability to keep up the same intensity throughout the entire game.

There are certain players more so than others who can come up big in late-game situations filled with pressure. Anthony and Stoudemire are absolutely two of those players, so it's important they be given the opportunity to propel their team to victory.

Sitting either one for prolonged periods during the fourth quarter (no matter who else is on the floor) should at no time be an option because it's been proven that a contest can slip away from the Knicks rather quickly.

D'Antoni has been seen mixing up his rotations quite a bit during his tenure with the Knicks, and that's perfectly fine. Sometimes it's about finding the right fits, and other times, a change is simply needed here and there to keep things fresh.

Nevertheless, with the Knicks' chances of winning in his best interest, D'Antoni needs to have Anthony and Stoudemire together on the court late in games at all costs.


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