Carmelo Anthony could use a little scoring help from Knicks' other starters
Carmelo Anthony's voice carries weight within the Knicks' organization, but even if he doesn't think they should be in trade talks, that doesn't mean they won't make a deal.
The Knicks' last three games showed they might not have enough to beat the Heat or other top teams in the postseason. They didn't have enough to beat the Clippers on Sunday when Anthony basically was on an island. He scored 42 points, but only four in the fourth quarter, and the Knicks had nowhere to go.
"We can't rely on him to score 40 points every night and try and get us a win," point guard Raymond Felton said. "That's going to tire him out. That's going to tire him out for the playoffs. We definitely got to find a way to make things easier for him at times."
Felton had 20 points Sunday and was the only other Knick in double figures. He and his fellow guards also continued to struggle defensively. It's another area that needs to be addressed by the Knicks, who were torched Wednesday by Wizards guard John Wall.
Offensively, the Knicks have to find reliable second and third options to Anthony. He's bailed them out numerous times, and especially lately, but that doesn't mean he can do it alone.
Anthony, the NBA's leading scorer at 29.0 points per game, carried the Knicks to the win in Minnesota on Friday with 36 points. He kept them in Sunday's game, but Anthony needed help after Grant Hill and the Clippers limited his touches in the fourth quarter.
"There's four other guys out there on the basketball court," Anthony said. "We've just got to make plays. We've been doing that all season long."
But when the Knicks play their 50th game Wednesday night against Toronto, coach Mike Woodson still will be looking for his best and most productive five. It hasn't been the starting unit. Anthony has outscored the other four Knicks starters 257-251 in the last nine games.
Jason Kidd and Iman Shumpert are not scorers, but the shooting guard and small forward spots are scoring positions. Kidd has gone scoreless three times and Shumpert once in the last nine games, and they aren't playing to their usual defensive capabilities.
Even All-Star center Tyson Chandler, who's averaging 11.4 points, has scored fewer than 10 points nine times in the past 11 games.
The Knicks' bench has covered for some slow starts or lack of scoring from the first team a lot this season. But J.R. Smith shot 1-for-9 Sunday and had six points, the third time in nine games he has been held under 10.
Amar'e Stoudemire has played well lately but had a quiet nine points, and Steve Novak was 0-for-1 and scoreless for the second time in three games.
"We've had our struggles here and there," Woodson said. "A lot of it is we haven't had a whole lot of practice time and those guys, they're in and out so much, we just don't have any closeness yet and I don't think we're trusting one another right now, especially the second unit defensively."
Woodson did not hold a practice Monday. He's been conscious of the Knicks' age and how many minutes some of his regulars are playing because of injuries, so practices have been limited.
But the Knicks continue to have defensive breakdowns and aren't as balanced offensively as they were earlier in the season.
"It's just one game," Felton said. "We're not perfect. I wish we could play the same way every night. It's not going to happen that way."