Carmelo Anthony’s epic performance on Tuesday night was overshadowed by his last-second decision to give the ball up to Jared Jeffries with the Knicks down by one point and only six seconds left to play in the game. Jeffries had the ball in the paint with a step on Kevin Garnett and instead of taking the ball to the rim, he opted to give it up to a wide-open Bill Walker, only to have Garnett force the turnover. Game over.
We’re now left wondering, should Anthony have given the ball up in that spot or should he have taken the contested jumper? The answer is simple; there is no right answer. Had Anthony taken the jumper, with two defenders riding him, and missed it, we would have criticized him by slowing the tape down and highlighting both Jeffries and Walker wide-open in the paint. Now that he gave the ball up, many are criticizing him for not taking the contested jumper. This of course after he took a contested 3-pointer in Game One with the Knicks down by two points in the final seconds instead of swinging the ball over to a wide-open Toney Douglas. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Anthony was doomed either way. With the Knicks losing both games in the final seconds, we continue to look for someone to blame. Anthony became the easy scapegoat in Game One, while he and Jeffries are sharing the blame for the Game Two loss. The problem is, most people are missing the true source of the Game Two loss. No, it’s not Anthony. And no, we need not point the finger at Jeffries. The real fall guy for the two losses in Boston is none other than talent.
With Chauncey Billups sidelined with a knee injury and Amar’e Stoudemire out for the second half of Game Two with a stiff back, Anthony was on the court with four players who should not be playing in crunch time for a serious title contender. Still, ‘Melo took the game over and put the Knicks in position to win.
Are you looking for someone to blame? How about Mike D’Antoni who was grossly out-coached by Doc Rivers? How about Landry Fields who looked like a scared high school kid stepping onto an NBA court for the first time? How about Bill Walker for taking some suspect shots? How about Toney Douglas and his awful defensive execution against Rajon Rondo? How about Ronny Turiaf for not being four inches taller? See, I can’t bring it upon myself to blame ‘Melo or put this one on Jared Jeffries.
There’s no question that Jeffries should have gone up with the ball instead of try and hit Walker in the paint. But there’s also no doubt in my mind that if it weren’t for Jeffries and his 10 points (he entered the game averaging 1.8 points on 2.1 field-goal attempts), the Knicks would have been simply going through the motions in the final minutes. This one is not on Jeffries.
If you want to find fault in Anthony’s game, blame him for brain fart in the final defensive possession for not getting to Delonte West in the backcourt and fouling him before the time drained down to 0.3 seconds. That was a bad basketball play, but not the reason why the Knicks lost.
This series is far from over, and while the Knicks had a realistic chance to leave Boston with a 2-0 lead, they can still find a way to knock out the defending Eastern Conference champs. They’ll need Amar’e Stoudemire to play and need a better effort from Landry Fields. They’ll also need to Carmelo Anthony to continue to play his game, because without him the Knicks look like a pedestrian basketball team.