Maybe the most trusted player to have with the ball when the game is on the line, Carmelo Anthony had a chance to stop the New York Knicks from adding another loss to their embarrassing streak. Instead of sending the game into overtime, the former Denver Nuggets star was blocked by Randy Foye, keeping it at 97-95, and keeping the ball rolling on one of the most hard to stomach losing streaks in the NBA.
The New York Knicks have now lost eight in a row, and quite a few of them coming in close games. The Knicks came back from a nine point deficit in the final two minutes thanks to some big shooting from Raymond Felton and the aggression of Iman Shumpert, but they dug themselves too deep a hole with a bit of their non-defense and more horrendous shooting (41% from the field, 27.3% from beyond the arc) to give the Nuggets a fifth consecutive win.
Denver were led by Ty Lawson, finishing with 22 points and 8 assists. J.J. Hickson had a strong performance with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Randy Foye continues to surprise many with his contribution, scoring 17 points, hitting 3-of-8 from beyond the arc, not to mention getting the most important defensive play of the game to his name, blocking Carmelo Anthony on that final shot. Nate Robinson, seeing yet another team that didn’t want him to stay, was quite hot off the bench with 16 points.
As much as it’s nice seeing the Nuggets playing some good basketball and looking slightly like the team George Karl left with some minor alterations in style and personnel, it’s hard to ignore the awful story that the Knicks are telling in the early goings of the 2013-2014 season. Carmelo Anthony is the only player to lead his team in all their games this season, but that is just another symptom of a basketball team in deep trouble, with no reall working offensive system, not to mention missing their vital defensive anchor in Tyson Chandler.
The Knicks haven’t lost eight in a row since the 2009-2010 season. That was before Anthony arrived, before Stoudemire (4 points on 2-of-7 from the field) signed a massive contract, before Linsanity. But the Knicks, after all their moves in recent years, gearing towards battling for an NBA title, are a team with one superstar and a bunch of other players, some more talented than others, that don’t like putting an effort on defense and stand around waiting for something on offense. Not exactly the right formula to challenge the Miami Heat.
As for the Nuggets, Brian Shaw has managed to survive the harsh 0-3 start, bouncing back with winning 9 of the next 12 games. Giving Ty Lawson more freedom to push this team forward instead of struggling in that half-court offense look that just doesn’t fit this group of players, from his two power forwards to his most important piece of the puzzle, Lawson himself. The Nuggets don’t look as strong as they did last year, but that only ended with a first round exit. Maybe this year, with a bit less of expectation going on and more room to learn and grow, the results will be different than in the Karl era.