The Knicks were up three at the end of a see-saw first quarter on Tuesday in Chicago.
At the start of the second, Mike Woodson went with Steve Novak, Landry Fields, J.R. Smith, Toney Douglas and Jared Jeffries.
Not exactly a "Who's Who" of guys who can create their own shot. And it showed.
That lineup combined to miss five of its first six shots in the quarter as the Knicks missed 10 of their first 11. New York ended up being outscored by Chicago, 25-10, in the quarter in what turned out to be a pivotal stretch in the Knicks' costly loss.
New York went 4-for-21 in the quarter. Carmelo Anthony took just three shots. Novak was 0-for-4, Smith was 2-for-5 and Douglas went 0-for-3.
"We lost the game in the second quarter," Tyson Chandler said. "We just let the game get away from us."
The rough stretch in the second quarter illustrated a deeper issue right now with the Knicks -- they sorely lack a secondary scoring option to complement Carmelo Anthony.
"Guys got to step up at the end of the day," Anthony said late Tuesday night after the 98-86 loss in Chicago. "The guys that we need to be aggressive on the offensive end and take those shots, we need them to do that. We were passing up open shots out there that guys should have taken. We can't pass that up."
With Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire out due to injuries, the Knicks have relied heavily on Anthony. They've gotten him the ball in isolation sets and in the post with greater frequency since Stoudemire and Lin went down.
Anthony has responded well -- he's averaging just under 30 points on close to 50 percent shooting over the past eight games.
But the Knicks need someone other than Anthony to emerge as a consistent scoring threat.
It doesn't seem prudent to count on Baron Davis to provide that offensive punch. He's explosiveness has been compromised due to various injuries. Novak can't create his own shot. So it's up to Iman Shumpert and Smith to provide a consistent scoring punch.
Problem is, neither player has shown that they can provide points with much consistency this year.
Just look at Smith's last four games: In Indy, he went 3-for-11 for 11 points (dismal). Against Orlando, he was 6-for-12 for 15 points (solid, efficient). But against Chicago on Sunday, he went 6-for-22 (nightmarish). On Tuesday, he was efficient, but took a few bad shots, going 6-for-13 for 14 points.
And it may be too early in Shumpert's career to expect him to produce points with any consistency.
He's played at least 34 minutes in each of his last four games but has been up-and-down offensively, with a low of 5 points and a high of 15 in that stretch.
So who knows where the points are going to come from? Bottom line, the Knicks need them from someone -- and soon. Wednesday night would be a great time to start.
Anthony's crew faces Milwaukee in one of the biggest games of the season. A loss would drop them out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
"I think we will respond the way we’re supposed to (Wednesday) night," Anthony said. "We don’t have no choice but to be ready."
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