AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — On the surface, Carmelo Anthony is trying to be the perfect soldier.
If president Phil Jackson wants the team to run the triangle offense, he’s going to play the triangle offense. Even if that means taking only nine shots like he did Saturday night in an ugly 112-92 loss to the Detroit Pistons.
For the first time in his 14-year career, Anthony took fewer than 10 shots while playing at least 35 minutes. He finished the game with just 13 points, marking the fifth consecutive game in which he has scored less than 20 points.
“It was a matter of just playing offensively within our system and trying to take what they were giving me and playing the right way in this system,” Anthony said, adding that the Pistons really hadn’t double-teamed him very much.
The loss dropped the Knicks to a season-worst 14-games under .500 at 26-40. It also may have caused a drop in team morale as it underscored the fact that this is a team that has no business even dreaming about the playoffs.
“We still have more games. We’re trying to stay together,” said point guard Derrick Rose who scored just 11 points with two assists. “It’s tough. But we’re trying to stay together and give ourselves a chance. Coming out and playing like we did in the first half is a little bit of a letdown.”
Detroit (33-33) controlled the game from the onset, scoring 66 points in the first half. Tobias Harris, the former Half Hollow Hills West star, scored a season-high 28 points. Andre Drummond added 24.
The Knicks were led by Kristaps Porzingis’ 18 points. Porzingis sort of bristled after the game at the notion that he was the focal point of the offense.
“Some parts of the game yes. It’s really hard for him to make someone a focal point running the triangle,” Porzingis said. “Anyone can get a shot running the triangle. There are some plays drawn for me but 90 percent is the triangle. It’s free basketball. We don’t know who’s going to get the shot. It’s kind of random.”
What we do know is Anthony seems to be getting a lot less shots. This was the fourth straight game in which Anthony has attempted less than 19 shots. The Knicks are 1-3 in that stretch.
Against Detroit, Anthony attempted fewer shots than Willy Hernangomez, Porzingis, Derrick Rose and Chasson Randle.
Coach Jeff Hornacek called Anthony “our best scorer” after the game, but said he was doing what he’s supposed to do in the system. Anthony, for one, made it pretty clear he would rather be playing basketball, than talking about a system for playing it.
Said Anthony: “It’s just hard for me to be talking about that in March, middle of March, and we’re still talking about the system we’re running instead of playing basketball.”