What in the world has gone wrong with Carmelo Anthony’s offensive game? After six games the Knicks have a 2-4 record, which includes a solid come-from-behind victory against the Cavaliers in Cleveland, but one that has also run up a losing streak of three games, and counting. The Knicks have dropped games against Washington, Detroit, and now Brooklyn while their star player has struggled to find his shot in that span as well.
For all the hoopla surrounding the arrival of Phil Jackson and the triangle offense that he would implement with Derek Fisher, the results so far have been underwhelming. In fact, for the better part of four-and-a-half games the Knicks have reverted back to their old offensive ways when things don’t go according to the geometric specifics of the vaunted triangle.
We saw it again in Friday night’s 110-99 loss to the Nets.
“We’re still learning the offense, but in the process of doing that, we’ve got to make sure we have the effort defensively. We’re letting the offense affect us defensively and we’ve got to stop that,” Knicks forward Amar’e Stoudemire told reporters post-game.
Yes, Amar’e is correct. New York’s defense, which allowed the Nets to shoot 51.4 percent from the floor and connected on 14-of-24 (58.3 percent) of their three-point attempts, needs work, but of more concern is the inexplicable shooting woes that have struck the team’s $124 million man, Carmelo Anthony. Over the past three games Melo has missed 46 shots, going 18-for-64 (28 percent).
“I’m still trying to find that comfort zone,” Anthony said. “I’m still trying to find a way to get it going.
“It’s [triangle] definitely not second nature right now. It can be you’re thinking too much. System or no system, you still have to go out there and play hard.”
In his previous three games Anthony was 26-for-52 from the field.
Coach Fisher, utilizing his fourth different starting lineup in six games this season, downplayed Anthony’s struggles on the offensive end.
“Offensively we’re still searching on how to attack based on how team’s are defending. Offensively it’s still a struggle for us, and that’s why you’re not seeing him [Anthony] shoot the ball as well as he’s capable of doing.
“But also, he’s trying to do his best to stay within the team concept and we appreciate the effort he’s making in that regard.”
“I’m still trying to figure it out,” Anthony said. “I don’t think these teams are doing anything differently. … For me it’s just not going in. Whether it’s rhythm, whatever it may be. There just not going in. Those are shots that I’ve been making and I will make, continue to make, throughout my career.”
Anthony is going to have to figure it out sooner, rather than later. Headed into Friday night’s game the Knicks anemic offense was averaging 89.8 points per game, second-worst in the league – unacceptable for a team which includes one of the top-two scorers in the league. Their shooting percentage of .437 is middle-of-the-road, at best.
New York face a stretch of games over the next week that could very well leave them behind the eight-ball already in an improved Eastern Conference. A home-and-home series against Atlanta beginning Saturday night, followed by games against Orlando and a feisty Utah team next Friday.
“He’s just trying to figure things out,” point guard Shane Larkin said. “I think he’s thinking a lot out there. He’s, in my opinion, the best scorer in the NBA. … I think he’s out there thinking like, ‘All right, I just did this. Now what do I need to do to stay within the system?’
The Knicks’ are hoping their leading man figures it out before there’s a panic on Broadway.
Feature image credit: Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News