By his own admission it just wasn’t working. Deciding to shoulder more of the on-court responsibilities in Tyson Chandler’s absence meant that Carmelo Anthony was trying to do too much – the results weren’t pretty. Anthony was averaging 22 shots per game, while shooting a career-low 42.9% from the field in the month of December alone. The Knicks were horrible in that stretch, losers of nine straight, including seven-in-a-row at home. Something had to give, so ‘Melo decided to try something new. Take less shots.
In the Knicks’ last two games he’s taken 12 shots against the Nets on Thursday, and put up 12 attempts on Friday when Orlando came to town. Both games equaled heavy wins for the Knicks.
“Me scoring 30 wasn’t working,” Anthony said post-game on Friday. “For me, I wanted to do something a little different to see if it worked.”
So far it is.
More impressive about Anthony’s stretch is his willingness to get his teammates involved. The Knicks have resembled last year’s team with their passing of the ball, a trait that has been missing for pretty much the whole season thus far. We hadn’t seen the Knicks turn the ball over by over-passing since perhaps the second half of last season.
As both Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith struggled offensively for the first 16-games of the season it was on Anthony to do more, often resulting in bad shots and/or turnovers. For the moment though, the Knicks are firing on cylinders, so much so that coach Mike Woodson has had the luxury of sitting Anthony for two consecutive fourth quarters now. Anthony knows that at some point he will have to shoulder the offensive load again, but for now he’s happy to be getting some much-needed wins again.
“There’ll be a time again where I need to step up and score those points again but the last couple games, the guys stepped up big time and it just allowed me to make them better and they made me better,” said Anthony, who finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists against Orlando.
Anthony has faced criticism that he’s not the type of player who can ‘lead’ his team; he doesn’t make his teammates better, is not willing to get them involved. For two games now, he’s shown that he has, and he does. Shumpert said the team has always had faith in Anthony.
“He’s always trying to, but anytime we’re struggling to score the ball, he takes it upon his own shoulders and that’s what a superstar does,” Shumpert said. “We know what he’s doing and we trust his judgment.”
The Knicks have a favorable stretch coming up in the next week, the team is playing cohesively and the lead in the Atlantic Division is in sight. ‘Melo plans on continuing this momentum.
“Everybody is on their job, what they have to do and we’ve been winning,” says Anthony.
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