By John Schmeelk
New York (CBSNewYork.com) – What started as such a promising and exciting night at Madison Square Garden turned into a disaster. The Knicks played so poorly the same crowd that went ballistic when the team walked out on to the floor for warm-ups, booed them walking off the floor after the third quarter. Unfortunately, considering the health of Chauncey Billups, Amar’e Stoudemire and the play of Carmelo Anthony, the end was all too predictable.
That’s why I was so disappointed when I heard people in the 400 level chanting “Fire D’Antoni” during the 4th quarter. The coach and the team didn’t have a chance once it was obvious that Chauncey Billups was out and Amar’e Stoudemire was a shell of his former self. Unless Carmelo Anthony put together another 40 point superman effort, which was unlikely, the Knicks were going to be outgunned and outclassed. It’s exactly what happened.
It was somewhat disappointing that the team didn’t show the defensive effort and fight that they had in Boston, but down games do happen, even in the playoffs. The Knicks defense fell apart in the second half in Game 3, after it was surprisingly good the first 10 quarters of the series. After outworking the Celtics on the boards in Game 2, they allowed too many second half points, and it was clear Boston had more energy. You can blame the coach for that if you want, but it would be missing the big picture.
I’m going to rank the players that were on the floor last night: (based on the quality of their talent, not the way they played)
Carmelo Anthony (who played terribly)
Landry Fields (who played terribly)
You get the point. With Stoudemire obviously unable to run, jump or pretty much do anything athletic, the Celtics had six of the seven best players in the game. You can parse those ranking a little, but you get the point. Unless Carmelo Anthony played like an immortal, the Knicks needed a miracle. Combine the Knicks lack of talent with the fact the Celtics played their A game, shooting over 60% from three, and you get a 20 point loss.
The bench actually kept the Knicks in the game in the 1st half, but that would only last so long. To a certain extent, Mike D’Antoni should get credit for how well the bench played. It should be noted that guys like Bill Walker, Shawne Williams, Jared Jeffries, Anthony Carter and Roger Mason wouldn’t even play for the Celtics. Some wouldn’t even be on the team.
Jared Jeffries was cut by a non-playoff team in February. Shawne Williams was signed off the scrap heap. Bill Walker couldn’t play for Boston when they had him. Anthony Carter was glued to the bench for Denver. No one wanted Roger Mason in the offseason. They are fringe NBA basketball players, but after the Knicks had to trade half their roster for Carmelo Anthony, that’s all Mike D’Antoni had to work with.
It doesn’t mean it was a bad trade, but it is reality. The same people that want to fire Mike D’Antoni are the same people that wanted to give up whatever it took to get Carmelo Anthony. Well, when you make a trade like that and a couple of your stars go down, you’re stuck with a terrible team like you saw in Game 3.
I understand the New York fans and their want to always find someone to blame. Blame D’Antoni. Blame Carmelo Anthony. Sure the coach has flaws and Carmelo has played two bad games in this series, but it isn’t their fault. Sometimes your players just aren’t good enough. That was never the case more than last night.
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