Article is by Howard Beck.
INDIANAPOLIS — Some Knicks were ill, some Knicks were aching and some Knicks were bickering, or at least giving the appearance of it, all on the eve of a game labeled a “must win” by the franchise star, who is shooting too much or not shooting enough.
Other than that, the Knicks seemed just fine Monday when they made final preparations for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, a game that might very well define their season.
A victory over the Pacers on Tuesday would tie the series and make it a best-of-three affair, with two of those games at Madison Square Garden. A loss would leave the Knicks in a 3-1 hole, with long odds of recovering.
“Tomorrow will tell us a lot about our team,” said Carmelo Anthony, who called Tuesday’s game both a “must win” and a “gut check,” each an apt cliché.
The Pacers have yet to lose a home playoff game. The Knicks are 0-3 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season and have seemingly forgotten how to score. Only eight N.B.A. teams have won a series after falling behind by 3-1.
Team health remains a serious concern. J. R. Smith and Kenyon Martin were left at the team hotel Monday because of illness, with Martin showing some of the same feverish symptoms that sapped Smith of his strength in Game 3.
Iman Shumpert was also held out of practice because of soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.
Shumpert said it was “probably just a bruise” unrelated to the ligament tear he had last spring. He vowed to play, and Coach Mike Woodson indicated that was likely. The status of Smith and Martin might not be clear until game time.
By then, the Knicks will presumably have sorted out their differences over what constitutes a smart shot and what constitutes selfish play, and whether Anthony is guilty of choking the offense.
Tyson Chandler raised those concerns, albeit in cloaked terms, a day earlier, when he called for more passing and sacrifice and cited unnamed teammates for trying “to take over the game.” Those remarks seemed aimed at Anthony or Smith — the only two Knicks who are capable of creating their own shots and taking over a game.
Anthony seemed a bit perturbed by the discussion.
“I really don’t want to go back and forth about that, because I really don’t know exactly what he’s talking about,” Anthony said, referring to Chandler. “But if he feels that way, we’re about to get together right now. We’ll discuss that amongst ourselves and figure that out, just get his take, get his perspective on that comment. We’ll handle that internally and figure it out amongst ourselves.”
Anthony attempted just 16 field goals — his lowest total of the postseason — in Saturday’s 82-71 loss, in part because the game was played at a glacial pace (the Knicks had just 71 attempts). He also earned 11 free throws. Smith took 12 shots — modest by his standards but perhaps a bit high for a guy with a 102-degree fever.
Chandler’s dissertation on teamwork, however, seemingly had more to do with the quality of the shots the Knicks were taking and a general failure to keep the ball moving or to hit the open man.
The Knicks’ offense has been stagnant ever since the playoffs began.
“Offensively, we’ve been stinking lately,” said Woodson, who echoed and welcomed Chandler’s critique.
“Sometimes, bickering amongst each other is pretty healthy,” Woodson said. “I don’t call it bickering, maybe that’s not the word to use. I just think he’s being a good teammate. I say it. Sometimes, it’s good that it comes from within the guys that are on the floor working. So I don’t see anything wrong with it.”
Woodson agreed with Chandler’s concerns about poor ball movement, saying, “You’ve got to sacrifice the ball for the sake of the team, and good things happen offensively when you do that.”
Anthony’s 6-for-16 performance from the field Saturday — including an 0-for-3 mark in the fourth quarter — had some commentators suggesting he should shoot more, not less. Woodson waved off the entire discussion.
“It’s just not Melo,” he said. “I don’t want this to be a one-man show.”
Rather, Woodson said he wants to see a return to the style that had five Knicks averaging double-digit scoring in the regular season.
With Smith ailing and the Knicks desperate for 3-point shooting, Woodson said he might turn to Chris Copeland and Steve Novak on Tuesday.
Or perhaps all the Knicks need is for Anthony — who is shooting .414 in the series — to simply take, and make, better shots.
“The shot that I took, I feel I can make,” Anthony said. “And I’ll continue to take those shots. I’ll come out a little bit more aggressive come tomorrow.”
As I've said many times. Melo doesn't need to take too many difficult, contested shots. He needs to let the game come to him. When he does look to score he should make quick decisions. If he's helped on he should pass the ball.
I like that Woody backed up Tyson. Melo understands how to work the media. He said the right thing, but it seems he didn't like the comments from our 1st team defender.