DENVER – If this was really a ‘must-win’ game as Carmelo Anthony stated, the Knicks might as well just pack up the season.
Without Derrick Rose – who sat because of his back injury — the Knicks were roasted wire-to-wire in the high altitude of Denver on Saturday, 127-114, clinching their season-long road trip as a disappointment.
Anthony, to his credit, was the lone bright spot while scoring 29 points on 10 of 14 shooting. But Kristaps Porzingis struggled for a second straight game while missing 12 of his 19 attempts, and Joakim Noah was so overmatched by the Nuggets’ pace he managed only 11 minutes and five points.
New York’s defense, as a whole, was atrocious and offered the resistance of a wet paper bag.
Anthony still hasn’t won in Denver as an opponent, falling to 0-4 following Saturday’s debacle. The Knicks (14-13) have now lost three straight for the first time this season, and two of the losses were against lottery-projectiles Phoenix (8-19) and Denver (11-16). They also finished their road trip 2-3.
Anthony is prone to hyperbole, so his ‘must-win’ statement was a bit of an exaggeration — “It’s a big game for us. It’s a big game. Must-win,” he said. ” I know it’s early, but this is kind of a must-win mentality for us.”
Still, it got the attention of Denver coach Mike Malone.
“For them, they said it, they think this is a must-win for them, to go home 3-2 on this road trip,” Malone said. “And we’re approaching it that we have to protect our home court and continue to move in the right direction.”
Kristaps Porzingis struggled for a second straight game while missing 12 of his 19 attempts.
Anthony took off Thursday’s loss against the Warriors to rest up his body and sore shoulder for Saturday. It seemed a good strategy as the 32-year-old hit eight of his first 10 shots. But the other Knicks couldn’t keep up, especially defensively.
They trailed by as many as 17 in the first half. They cut the deficit to 5 early in the third quarter before the Nuggets went on their game-breaking 30-15 run. New York never recovered.
The Knicks clearly miss Rose, who was questionable before the game but decided not to risk aggravating the back problem. The team is 0-4 in games he doesn’t play or logs fewer than 10 minutes.
His replacement on Saturday, Brandon Jennings, struggled while scoring 14 points in 37 minutes. Noah continued his Knicks career to forget. Kyle O’Quinn went scoreless in seven minutes. Willy Hernangomez played well while scoring 17 points.
New York’s defense under the direction of coordinator Kurt Rambis allowed the Nuggets to shoot 56 percent and record 68 points in the paint, with seven of their players scoring in double-digits. Emmanuel Mudiay, who the Knicks passed over in the 2015 draft by taking Porzingis, dropped 20 points with seven rebounds and five assists. Kenneth Faried added 25 points in just 28 minutes.
Even heading into the game, the Knicks were 23rd in the league in points allowed at 107.2. Porzingis scored 10 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, when the game was mostly out of hand. He has The Knicks return home for a week with three straight winnable games at the Garden against the Pacers, Magic and Celtics. But at some point, if the Knicks keep playing terribly, the real ‘must-win’ games will start hitting the schedule.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News