Melo: Heat throw 'everything at you'

May, 4, 2012
5/04/12
12:57
AM ET
Again and again this series, LeBron James has referred to Carmelo Anthony a "great player."

But on the court, James has made him look like anything but.

Led by James' efforts on defense, the Heat held Anthony to 22 points on 7-for-23 shooting in its blowout Game 3 win.

Anthony went 1-for-4 from beyond the arc and had five turnovers on the evening as New York fell behind, 3-0, in the series.

"We tried to make is as tough on him as possible," Dwyane Wade said. "We tried to wear on him for 48 minutes."

Mission accomplished.

Miami forced Anthony into some poor shots, seemingly contesting everything. He went 4-for-12 in the first half and through three quarters, he was 5-for-19.

"They just tried to make it hard for me, make my catches hard out there," Anthony said. "(They) beat me up as much as they can. I heard the bench yelling, 'Keep beating him up, keep bearing him up.' They throw everything at you."

And they've been doing it all series.

Anthony's shooting 34 percent from the floor in the three games against Miami, scoring 21 points per game, a far cry from the production he gave the Knicks in April. That version of 'Melo won Eastern Conference Player of the Month by scoring 29.8 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting.

"He's played some great basketball his whole life," James said. "We understand that he's a very big focal point of their team and we have to be in tune with him throughout the game for 48 minutes.... We just try to make it tough on him."

They've made it much more than tough in this series.

Using a combination of double-teams, hard fouls and strong contests, the Heat forced Anthony into a 3-for-15 Game 1 and 12-for-26 Game 2.

Anthony hoped things would be different on Thursday night.

Hours before tip off, he claimed that he'd have to carry the offensive load, and carry it well, for New York to compete against mighty Miami. And he was comfortable with that challenge.

"For us to win, or have a chance to win, I've got to go out and be great tonight," Anthony said after the team's shoot around.

Funny thing is, everything seemed to be lined up for Anthony to have a big night.

He was starting at power forward in place of the injured Amare Stoudemire, the position he'd enjoyed so much success in during his run in April. And, maybe more importantly, he was taking the court without Stoudemire, the player with whom he's had so many chemistry issues during his tenure in New York.

But it didn't happen.

Anthony couldn't get his shot to fall early on. He missed four of his first five and had two turnovers in the first nine minutes on Thursday. And it seemed to snowball from there.

"That's what they're defensive schemes are all about," Anthony said, "To get the ball out of my hands and stop me, basically make it hard on me out there."

With Thursday's loss, Anthony fell to 0-7 as a Knick in the playoffs. He's been on the floor for more than half of the franchise's NBA record 13 straight postseason losses.

In his career, Anthony is just 16-36 in the playoffs. That's the lowest wining percentage among players who've averaged at least 20 points per game and have played in at least 10 playoff games.

Of course, it's unfair to put all of the blame for the Knicks' struggles on Anthony's doorstep. From untimely injuries, to poor bench play, there's plenty of reasons why the Knicks are where they are in this series.

And Anthony's the only reason the Knicks had a puncher's chance coming into the playoffs.

"Melo's a great player, man," James said late Thursday night, repeating the Heat's party line.

No one's arguing that.

But Anthony had to be great on Thursday for the Knicks to have a chance.

And, once again, the Heat forced him to look anything but.

Ian Begley

ESPN New York Writer

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
24.1 3.1 0.9 35.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsA. Stoude... 7.0
AssistsJ. Calderon 4.6
StealsS. Larkin 1.3
BlocksL. Amundson 1.9