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Carmelo's having a tough time with offense

Carmelo Anthony #7 and J.R. Smith #8 of

Carmelo Anthony #7 and J.R. Smith #8 of the New York Knicks battle for a loose ball against the Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. (May 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Carmelo Anthony didn't need great hearing to decipher the chatter among a few Heat players, not since he was essentially already in tune with their rock-'em, sock-'em game plan.

Still, Anthony knew he was in for it when some guys on Miami's bench basically paraphrased Loverance's new single featuring 50 Cent's "I Beat It Up" and kept imploring the Heat to pound on him all game long.

"I heard the bench yelling, 'Keep beating him up, keep beating him up,' '' Anthony said after the Knicks' 87-70 loss to Miami in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series last night at the Garden. "They throw everything at you. Shane Battier, LeBron.

"When you drive, they make it harder for you. But when you can't score the basketball, that makes the game extremely hard regardless of how much defense we go down there and play."

If this keeps up, Anthony may start taking a beating from Knicks fans, too.

The offensive struggles of Anthony, who's 0-7 in the playoffs as a Knick and 13-36 overall in his career in the postseason, continued in a game the Knicks badly needed to win to have any legit shot in this series. He shot 7-for-23 and canned just one of his four attempts from beyond the arc, never getting into any sustainable rhythm.

Sure, Anthony finished with a team-high 22 points and added eight rebounds. But he had to really work for his shots in yet another frustrating outing, one in which he turned the ball over five times and collected five fouls, including one of the offensive variety.

"I wouldn't say they shut me down," Anthony said. "I'm missing shots I normally make. I'm not worried about that. Do they make it tough for me and make it harder? Yeah. That's what they do. That's what their defensive schemes are all about: to get the ball out of my hands, stop me.

"Send two guys, three guys every time I get it. Just make it hard on me out there."

Anthony simply hasn't gotten it going this series, shooting just 22-for-64. He's shooting 34.3 percent from the field and averaging only 21 points per game -- numbers that aren't going to cut it with Amar'e Stoudemire likely out for the remainder of the series because of a lacerated hand.

There's just no way the Heat, which can play lights-out defense when everyone is on their game, is going to let Anthony get hot.

"Melo is a great player, man," James said. "We are all going to pay attention to him . . . He's played some great basketball his whole life. We understand that he's a very big focal point of their team. So we just tried to make it tough on him.

"He's going to score because he's a scorer. That's what great players do. They find a way to still get their points and get their touches. We just tried to make it tough on him."

The trick for the Knicks is to figure out how to get their superstar back on track -- now.

"It looks tougher for Melo right now," J.R. Smith said. "He was trying to fight through the double-teams a little more than he was the last two games. It's tough, trying to fight through things and things still aren't going your way. He normally gets 12, 13 free throws a game and he's not getting that either.

"So we've got to find other ways to get it going."

New York Sports