Abandoning Hope

Here are two separate takes on what I consider to be the most important (non) play of last night’s game:

Courtesy of Howard Beck:

Boston’s Delonte West took the inbounds pass in the backcourt with 4.1 seconds left, forcing the Knicks to chase him and waste time. Anthony, who seemed gassed, did not foul him until 0.6 remained on the clock. West made both free throws for the final margin.

The Celtics, who had all of their stars present and in working order, barely escaped.

Courtesy of Bob Ryan:

More Knicks confusion: After the ball was inbounded, Delonte West was allowed to dribble unimpeded until he finally was fouled by Carmelo Anthony at the 0.6-second mark. Not exactly the urgency you need.

Okay. Now there’s 4.1 seconds left in the game, you’re down a single point, and the opponent has a side inbounds. There’s no reason to think a win is out of reach or that this ball game should be chalked up as an inevitable loss. It’s still anybody’s to win. In this situation, in the NBA, one full second, maybe 1.5, should trickle off the clock before a foul is had. It’s a simple man to man assignment where each Knicks player should be matched up to shadow a Celtic, and the moment he catches the ball he’s fouled. Instead, New York allowed Delonte West to escape into the backcourt and dribble out all possible hope of a game winning or tying shot.

Yes it’s unlikely. The odds of it happening are stacked so incredibly high that attempting to win would be daunting if not downright heroic. But it also would be necessary, smart, and instinctive. At least it should be. What we all saw Carmelo Anthony do in that second half was incredible, and who’s to say it couldn’t happen again.

I’ve been a D’Antoni supporter since his arrival, but the effort and wherewithal on this play was both embarrassing and nonexistent; that’s on the coach. The play wasn’t included in the game’s highlights, and more people today will be talking about Carmelo’s decision to pass to Jeffries, and then Jeffries’ decision to pass to Garnett, but this should be included in the team’s mental crumbling as much as anything. There’s just no way a professional team can breakdown like this in a playoff game and expect to win a series. I don’t care who was injured or who was on the court. You or I could chase Delonte West 20 feet and then hit him, anybody could. It made the Knicks look like a team resigned to go back home for Friday’s Game 3 and give it their best shot in the Garden. The problem is, this ideology is a million miles away from what a true champion believes.

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Tags: Carmelo Anthony Jared Jeffries Mike D'Antoni

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