<
>

Carmelo critical of his Game 4 shooting

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- In the Knicks' Game 4 loss to the Celtics, Carmelo Anthony tied his career-high for most attempts in a game (35), and he only made 10 of them.

That didn't sit well with Melo.

"I haven't missed 25 shots in a long time. I don't think I'll have another day like that," he said on Tuesday. "35 shots is a lot of shots for me, kind of out of character for myself."

While Anthony liked that he got to the foul line on Sunday (16-for-20), he felt that his offensive rhythm was off and he forced too many shots.

"I felt like I was just one step slow, but I was speeding a little bit at the same time," he said. "So [in Game 5], I just want to relax and let the game come, continue to do what I've been doing the first three games, being aggressive."

The Knicks will need to be careful of falling into a Anthony-will-save-the-day mentality in Game 5. That was the case in Game 4, and while J.R. Smith will return on Wednesday, the Knicks still haven't avoided heavy one-on-one play through Melo in the series. In fact, he's been in isolation on 43 percent of the Knicks' plays that ended with the ball in his hands. And he's shot just 31 percent from the floor in that setup.

The Celtics have had some success guarding Anthony in isolation because of their size and physical nature, effective strategy packing the strong side where Melo operates, and then rotating quickly to cut off the Knicks' 3-point shooting (33.7 percent in the series).

In Game 5, the Knicks will continue to work the ball through Anthony in isolation and the low post, because as Melo mentioned, he's drawing fouls in the series. That will be a big key in Game 5. He's been able to beat the Celtics' bigs with his quicker footwork and fool them with his head fakes.

But there needs to be more of an offensive balance in Game 5, and that starts with Melo because of the attention he demands.

"For me, it's just working everybody back into the play, getting guys shots where they need to be at," he said.

How about Anthony running more pick-and-rolls to facilitate plays? That's where the bigger-sized Celtics have been most exposed defensively. While Smith and Raymond Felton have been pretty much unguardable running off of screens, that's especially been true for Anthony, who's averaging a playoff-best 2.1 points per play in the few pick-and-rolls he's run.

In fact, during the regular season, Anthony was the NBA's best scorer in pick-and-rolls -- better than even LeBron James and Chris Paul. Melo was the only player, with a minimum of 100 plays, higher than one point per play (1.1). That's a credit to his offensive threat, strength to ward off defenders and efficient, quick-release shooting ability.

Anthony ran increased pick-and-rolls with Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin in the second half of Game 4, and he got it going, helping his team overcome a 20-point deficit. He'll need to bring more of that two-man game to the first half on Wednesday.

It also won't hurt that Smith will be returning to the lineup for extra offense.

"It’s very important to have him back," Mike Woodson said.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.