New York Knicks: Carmelo Anthony admits team 'lacked effort' against Nuggets
Dec 17, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets guard Will Barton (5) guards New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) in the third quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 127-114. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

New York Knicks‘ Carmelo Anthony wasn’t impressed by the effort his team put up Saturday against the Nuggets. A game Melo called a must-win.

The New York Knicks started off their five-game West Coast road trip with two wins against mediocre teams (Sacramento, L.A. Lakers), but when faced with real adversity they faltered.

After a terrible loss in Phoenix (without Derrick Rose for the final three quarters) they hoped their point guard would return Thursday for a matchup with the Warriors.

It wasn’t so. Not only would Rose sit be out, but Carmelo Anthony would join him on the bench. The Warriors toyed with the Knicks and blew them off the court.

The Knicks were hoping for some good fortune on Saturday. The tide did turn. Melo was returning to action on his old stomping grounds. He wanted a chance to finally win in Denver as a member of the Knicks.

According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, Anthony said the Nuggets game was a “must-win” for his team. They entered the Nuggets game at .500 on the trip (2-2).

“It’s a big game for us. It’s a big game. Must-win. I know it’s early, but this is kind of a must-win mentality for us,” Anthony said. “Started off the road trip pretty good, had an opportunity to win in Phoenix. That was one we let slip away. (On Thursday against Golden State), it is what it is. But (Saturday) we have an opportunity to turn this into a good trip for us.”

And Melo played like it too. He had 29 points on 10 of 14 shooting and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line. Unfortunately, his teammates decided not to show up.

The defense was pathetic in a 127-114 loss.

Anthony summed up their pathetic defensive performance to the Daily News.

“I guess we have to put this game behind us,” he said. “Get ready for the next one.”

The team’s highest paid player admitted his team’s, “lack of effort. I just think we didn’t put the effort out there.”

For his teammates, it will be tough to hear those words coming from the typically calm and complementary Melo. But he has a point.

The Nuggets shot 55.6 percent from the field and scored 68 points in the paint. They had more fastbreak points than the Knicks (21-14) and second-chance points (25-11).

Denver led the entire game.

Up next for Melo and the Knicks is a long-overdue return home to face the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 7:30 p.m. ET.

I'm ESNY's Executive Editor for I cover the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. Email: Chip Murphy covers the NBA for Elite Sports NY. You can find him on Twitter @ChipperMurphy.