The New York Knicks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, 106-104, behind another Carmelo Anthony game-winner.
It was a familiar sight for New York Knicks‘ fans. A Carmelo Anthony jab step from the elbow to give himself some space leading to a game-winner. The Minnesota Timberwolves go down, 106-104.
Melo = the most clutch
He's hit the most go-ahead shots (15) in the final 5 sec of anyone since entering the league https://t.co/gKY4czKifv
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 1, 2016
However, the rest of the game was far from vintage Melo.
Wednesday night was Anthony’s 356th game with the Knicks, and he’s never had one that was stranger. He played the entire first quarter but didn’t attempt a shot until the 2:07 mark.
Anthony wouldn’t give a reason for his warped first quarter, but it certainly didn’t benefit his individual performance. He was 4-15 entering the Knicks’ final possession. In Melo’s head, he was 0-0 with that last shot pending. He didn’t show any signs of trepidation when he buried the jumper in Andrew Wiggins’ face.
The level of composure that showed after the previous possessions was incredible.
The 11-time All-Star had just airballed his first shot attempt of the fourth quarter with 1:40 remaining and missed again on the next possession. Then he bobbled a key defensive rebound that led to Minnesota’s game-tying 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining, capping off their 20-3 run.
Anthony then bobbled a key defensive rebound that led to Minnesota’s game-tying 3-pointer with 50 seconds remaining, capping off the Timberwolves’ 20-3 run.
It was Anthony’s second game-winner in four games.
Despite his late-game heroics, don’t expect anything like Wednesday night’s first quarter to happen again.
Melo told the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy that the waiting game he played with his shot was part of a strategy.
“I like to play games sometimes. It was one of those nights where I wanted to see what was going to happen early in the game and just feel the flow out,” said Anthony, who has shot just 16-for-60 in his last three games (26 percent). “We came out and got out to a good start. I felt comfortable not taking a shot in the first quarter.”
Melo wouldn’t give a reason for his strategy, but he was probably trying anything he could to get out of that dreadful shooting slump. Hopefully, a game-winner can snap him out of it.
Once again, coach Jeff Hornacek pushed the right buttons down the stretch. Instead of going with the hot hand, Kristaps Porzingis (29 points), he went with Anthony. One of the most reliable clutch players of all-time.
“You saw (why I called the play for Anthony). He made the shot at the end,” said Hornacek, whose team (9-9) snapped a four-game road losing streak. “Just the confidence in Carmelo being a 10-time All-Star. That’s what those guys do.”
Hornacek even compared his star player to a certain Hall of Famer he played with during his time in Utah.
“This may happen with Melo making a big shot for us. I think I was in Utah (as a player) and John Stockton hit about seven or eight for us in one year. Some years, the nail every one of them. So hopefully that’s the case.”
But handing the ball to Melo wasn’t the only call Horny made.
Backup point guard Brandon Jennings played the entire fourth quarter, while Derrick Rose sat down the stretch. It was the right move. Rose wasn’t awful, but the Knicks looked better with Jennings out there.
They were +9 with their backup Wednesday night, and -8 with their starter.
And you have to mention the significant minutes off the bench from Mindaugas Kuzminskas (14 points in 19 minutes) and Marshall Plumlee (4 points, 5 rebounds in 20 minutes). Without those guys, the Knicks don’t win. Did you ever think anyone would write that?
The Twolves star Karl-Anthony Towns was unbelievable. He shot 8-8 in the first quarter with 22 points and finished with 47.
Unfortunately for Towns, Andrew Wiggins was his only teammates who scored in double-figures with 19.