As the New York Knicks headed to the locker room while the Boston Celtics celebrated the efforts of Ray Allen and his game-winning three-pointer, Carmelo Anthony quickly hurried off the court with his sights on his shoe tops after turning in an underwhelming performance in his Knick playoff debut.
Carmelo had 15 points on 5-for-18 shooting (2-for-8 from long range) and short-armed a jumper that clanked off the front of the rim, ending the game and giving Boston a 1-0 lead in the series.
Granted, his miss wasn't the sole reason New York was defeated Sunday. The Knicks were out-rebounded 44-34 and were only 8-of-23 from long range, although Melo only mustered three points on a whopping 11 shots after intermission.
Because Anthony is the Knicks' best player and the guy they lusted over for nearly a year, let's focus on him. Besides, Amar'e Stoudemire, New York's free-agent golden boy, delivered with 28 points and 11 rebounds. The Knicks inexplicably ignored him in the final three minutes of the game, I might add.
So back to Carmelo Anthony.
Heading into the postseason, the Knicks were 9-7 when Anthony attempted 18 shots or more, but five of those losses were against playoff teams Orlando, Chicago, Indiana twice and Boston.
Which brings us to Sunday's game, in which he misfired on 13 of his 18 attempts from the field.
In his last five postseason games in which he's missed 10 field goals or more, Carmelo's teams are 0-5 and 10-26 overall since his rookie season in 2003-04.
In head coach Mike D'Antoni's system, Melo is given near offensive immunity with a license to shoot, freedom on the elbows and copious amounts of room out on the perimeter. Anthony is a high-volume shooter whose game is concentrated on iso-motion, contact, free-throws, spacing and angles. New York knew that when it agreed to take Anthony off Denver's hands.
The Knicks also realized he was a flammable shooter capable of invoking glory and praise from his teammates or drawing disgust and ire from comrades because of his curious shot selection.
More often than not, Anthony is simply phenomenal. But along the way, Anthony will have a few off-games, which comes with the territory of being great. The question isn't necessarily should Anthony stop shooting, but whether he will become more efficient and how will he adapt to having a second star teammate fighting the same battles, like in Denver with Allen Iverson.
At times he can appear to be one of the greatest scoring forces of all time, breaking defenders down without even taking a dribble and lofting jumper after jumper. Other nights, he can completely alienate a team's rhythm and become just a body out on the floor, thus unwilling to contribute in other ways for the greater good of his team. These are the pros and the cons of Anthony's game.
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