New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony had the chance to not only make it a triumphant returrn to Denver, but put an end to the Knicks seven-game losing streak in the process.
However after Anthony missed a contested, 14-foot jumper at the buzzer that number is now at eight as the Denver Nuggets hung on for a 97-95 victory.
The Knicks trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half but trailed just 51-45 at the break. They ended up hanging around for the entire game but never managed to grab the lead.
They cut the Nuggets lead to one with 19 seconds remaining, but as usual could not execute late in the game.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how each Knicks player graded out in what turned out to be another frustrating loss.
Raymond Felton (8 points, 3-of-9 shooting, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 turnovers)
Felton drained a late three-pointer and played pretty solid in the fourth quarter to save what was a less than spectacular night for the Knicks point guard. He did dish out seven assists, but made only 3-of-9 shots and was once again torched at the defensive end as the combination of Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson combined to score 38 points. With Beno Udrih and Pablo Prigioni barely getting off the bench, Felton has to improve defensively. Grade: C-
Iman Shumpert (11 points, 4-of-8 shooting, 7 rebounds, 1 steal)
After going just 4-of-18 over his last four games, it was a better effort for Shumpert. In addition to scoring 11 points he got the assignment of the Nuggets point guards down the stretch and did a much better job than Felton. It was a nice rebound performance for Shump as he was a major reason why the game was close down the stretch. Grade: B
Carmelo Anthony (27 points, 8-of-22 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks)
Anthony finished with a game-high 27 points but it was a rough night for Melo. He continues to struggle with his shot as it took him 22 attempts from the floor and 13 from the charity stripe to total those 27 points. In addition he was brutal in the fourth quarter as he went just 1-of-15 in the final quarter. He also was late closing out on a Wilson Chandler three-point attempt that ended up being a big play in the game, especially after Anthony turned the ball over on the next possession.
On the final possession Anthony waved everyone off and the Nuggets didn’t double. Randy Foye just shut him down, like he did all fourth quarter. Keep this stat in mind next time Melo goes iso with the game on the line. Of Melo’s 15 game-tying or game-winning attempts over the past year, he has missed 14 of them. All 14 were jumpers. The one make was a layup to beat Atlanta last year. He also failed to dish out an assist in 40 minutes of playing time. He has dished out only one assist in the Knicks last two games and in his last five games, a span in which Melo has played a total of 207 minutes, he has dished out a total of nine assists. That’s simply not acceptable. Grade: C
Kenyon Martin (4 points, 2-of-5 shooting. 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal)
Martin looked a little tired. After two consecutive good performances, K-Mart played only 14 minutes against the Nuggets and never really got into a rhythm. Grade: C-
Andrea Bargnani (22 points, 7-of-11 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal)
Bargnani was more serviceable at the defensive end than he usually is as the Knicks kept the rebounding margin and the points in the paint fairly close. In addition he had a very efficient night at the offensive end of the floor. This was one of Bargnani’s best individual performances in a long while. Grade: B+
J.R. Smith (11 points, 5-of-13 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals)
Smith looked bad again as the Knicks offense won’t have success while he is on the floor. Especially when it takes him 13 attempts from the floor to score 11 points. He was awful from behind the arc, bricking 6-of-7 attempts. He also threw an idiotic pass on the potential game-tying possession with under 30 seconds to play. Lucky for the Knicks they got a bounce and it turned into a layup by Shumpert, but it doesn’t excuse the play. Smith found a way to contribute with six boards and three dimes, something he hasn’t been doing as of late, but it was another lackluster night for the Knicks sixth man. Grade: D+
Amar’e Stoudemire (4 points, 2-of-7 shooting, 4 rebounds, 1 steal)
The Nuggets have a very athletic frontcourt. That immediately made it a mismatch for Stoudemire. He did grab four rebounds but the inconsistencies at both ends of the floor continue to show up. Grade: C
Tim Hardaway Jr. (8 points, 3-of-5 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks)
The rookie made a couple of big plays defensively and knocked down a pair of big three’s in the fourth quarter. Hardaway brings athleticism to a Knicks lineup that is void of it. He only played 15 minutes, but was efficient at the offensive end and made some plays defensively. You can’t ask for much more than that in limited minutes. Grade: B
Beno Udrih, Pablo Prigioni and Metta World Peace combined to play a grand total of 14 minutes so they all receive grades of incomplete.