Arron Afflalo is tired of losing and not doing enough to help the Knicks win.
The veteran shooting guard has hit some big fourth-quarter baskets to bring the Knicks back or keep them in games. But in three of the games in which Carmelo Anthony has been sidelined, Afflalo had a shot to tie the score or win it in the closing seconds four times and missed all four.
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One of those moments came Friday night against Memphis. Afflalo hit a three-pointer to bring the Knicks within two and had a chance to tie it with 8.9 seconds left, but his pull-up jumper went in and out as the Knicks fell to 0-7 without Anthony.
“You get tired of the moral stuff,” Afflalo said. “You want to get the job done. That’s my focus: How can I get the job done? Maybe that’s too much pressure. I want to get the job done, and that means not doing all the things that put us in the position but actually doing what it takes to get us over the hump.”
Afflalo could get another chance with Denver visiting the Garden in a Super Bowl Sunday matinee. Anthony, who sat out Friday night’s game with soreness in his surgically repaired left knee, is questionable for a game the Knicks (23-30) need. They have dropped eight of nine and have been plagued by bad starts or bad finishes.
Despite falling behind 9-0 and 10-0 in their last two games against Detroit and Memphis, they had chances to pull out the victory each time. But they couldn’t get their late shots to fall or the stops they needed.
“Maybe at the end, we need a guy like Melo who you can get him the ball and he will score, he will get to the line, he will make plays for others,” Kristaps Porzingis said. “I think that’s what we’re missing.”
Anthony changes things, but the Knicks haven’t won much with him lately, either. The frustration is mounting, especially for Afflalo, who signed a two- year, $16-million deal last summer and can opt out in June.
When Anthony sat out the Thunder game Jan. 26, Afflalo missed a potential tying shot with 26 seconds left in the fourth quarter and a potential game-winning shot at the regulation buzzer, and the Knicks lost in overtime. Afterward, he said the Knicks “are a playoff team,” but they are 1-4 since then.
“I want to win, man,” he said. “I’m always searching for that position where I can be at my best and win. I feel it here. I feel it here. We’re so close. We just need to do a little bit more. We need to do a little more of everything. Better defense, close out games, just a little bit more.”
Derek Fisher could try involving Porzingis more down the stretch, but Fisher said the Knicks “don’t run plays.”
Disciples of the triangle offense say it’s a free-flowing system that allows the ball and players to move. But Porzingis could benefit from the Knicks running some high pick-and- rolls for him or just diversifying the offense. It seems to run through Afflalo more when Anthony is out.
Afflalo is averaging 13.6 points and 11.4 attempts and has shot 45.3 percent when Anthony plays. Without him, he is averaging 18.1 points and 16.5 shots and has made 40.5 percent from the field. “The team just gravitates that way, so to speak, because of guys’ experience and confidence in certain situations,” Afflalo said. “I’m very comfortable. It’d be nice to gain more confidence by coming through.”
The Knicks’ playoff hopes are fading. They were .500 on Jan. 21, a half-game out of the Eastern Conference’s final spot. They entered Saturday tied for 11th place, 4½ games out of eighth and 2½ games ahead of 13th.
There still are 29 games left. But with Anthony’s health a growing concern, the Knicks can’t afford to merely come close.
“It’s important that we’re staying in games. We’re not getting blown out or not competing,” Afflalo said. “Now it’s about translating those to wins, and the long-term result will happen.”