Defense continues to be invisible as Knicks lose to Raptors

Carmelo Anthony came out inspired before disappearing in another ugly fourth quarter for the Knicks. And per usual with Phil Jackson’s latest creation, the defense was atrocious.

The Knicks allowed open shot after open shot down the stretch to the Raptors, falling in a close contest Saturday at Air Canada Centre, 118-107, with superstar-in-the-making DeMar DeRozan dropping 33 points.

Nobody was more frustrated afterwards than Derrick Rose, who was in a solemn mood in front of his locker.

“Losing hurts period,” Rose said. “I’ve never been a loser in my life.”

Of course, Rose has never been a member of the Knicks (3-6) until this season, which enters its third week with more discouraging developments than positive signs. The calls have been going against the Knicks, with the Raptors taking 38 free throws Saturday compared to New York’s 16. There was one play, in particular, that was a curious no-call when Rose was slammed to the ground.

But this loss wasn’t on the referees. Anthony and La La can’t blame Tony Brothers this time.

Once again, the defense failed New York. The changes made under new defensive coordinator Kurt Rambis – which included a strategy not to switch on pick and rolls — didn’t pay dividends in back-to-back defeats with the opponents averaging 116.5 points.

“We are (adjusting to the changes under Rambis),” Porzingis said. “But not that many things changed. Just a few calls changed and it’s on us to really figure this thing out. It’s not the best thing to change already in the season so it’s kind of hard. But I think with every game it’s going to get better. That has to be our mindset.”

A day after he was ejected for arguing a call, Anthony came out aggressive – a result of being rested and riled up by Brothers. He dropped 29 points through the first three quarters, and then failed to score in the fourth quarter until meaningless free throws with 24 seconds remaining. Anthony, who finished with a team-high 31 points, said his lack of output in the fourth was a product of a defensive switch from the Raptors (7-2).

“They put a bigger guy on me, and they put a smaller guy on (Kristaps Porzingis),” Anthony said. “So we were just trying to find that mismatch and work that mismatch.”


Derrick Rose (right) missed all three of his 3-point attempts.

(Nathan Denette/AP)

Still, the Knicks had a chance with a 4-point deficit in the final 1:20. But Anthony and Rose were rejected by Lucas Nogueira on consecutive possessions, and DeRozan sealed Toronto’s victory with an and-1 lay-up with 26.8 seconds remaining.

Porzingis, whose highlights included a ferocious putback jam and a wrap-around dunk, finished with 21 points. Rose also had 21 points but was bothered by a “stinger” on his left shoulder and frustrated with the officiating.

“I’m finding ways to basket, getting there, I more concerned about me not getting calls,” Rose said. “I’m getting to the lane the same way everybody else is, and I’m still not getting calls.”

Anthony, who played just 12 minutes in Friday’s blowout loss to the Celtics before the ejection, suggested Saturday what his wife declared flat-out on Twitter – that Brothers, a veteran referee, holds a grudge against the Knicks forward.

““I always feel like it’s something,” Anthony, who was T’d up successively while walking down the court next to Brothers to voice his displeasure, told said. “I didn’t think (Saturday) night would cause a tech or an ejection at that point in time. I really don’t know what to say about the situation.”

Anthony’s aggression was paying off early Saturday in Toronto, with the All-Star scoring 20 points in the first half on 7-of-13 shooting. He started the game by burying a jumper, and ended the half by knocking down a fadeaway at the buzzer.

But then he didn’t hit a field goal for the final 16 minutes, the Knicks were outscored in the fourth quarter, 31-22, and the Jeff Hornacek’s team lost again.

“We have to get better defensively,” the coach said, sounding like a broken record. 

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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News

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