BOSTON -- Carmelo Anthony surveyed a nearly empty locker room Friday night and kept it simple.
"We didn't get it done. No excuses. We didn't get it done."
The New York Knicks have failed to get it done on the defensive end most nights during their dismal 6-16 start to the season.
In the fourth quarter of Friday night's loss to the Boston Celtics, it was the Knicks' offense that became the problem.
After fighting back from a 17-point second half deficit and building an 11-point lead in early moments of the fourth quarter, the Knicks' offense fell apart at the TD Garden. The visitors mustered just 13 points in the fourth, including a mere seven points over the game's final 10:32. New York shot just 3-of-17 over that span, and the Celtics closed out the game with a 22-7 run to escape with the 90-86 win.
With the Knicks dropping their second game to the Celtics in the last six days, the entire locker room was looking for answers regarding the offensive woes.
"We are trying to figure it out," Anthony explained, "I think everybody is trying to figure it out at the same time. Whether it's helping us, hurting us, who's to say, but everyone is trying to figure everything out in a small period of time."
These offensive woes started when Kenyon Martin was sidelined with a strained abdominal muscle in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. The Knicks led 79-72 when he left the game at 8:56 mark. Martin did not return, and the visitors squandered their lead, but Mike Woodson didn't use Martin's absence as an excuse.
"Well I think it's been proven when Kenyon is on the floor they are a lot better basketball team, but even with that being said, we had shots down." Woodson continued, "They made shots at the end; we missed some good shots I'd call them. [Andrea] Bargnani passed up on about three shots, and we missed the mark for a big, a big opportunity to go high-low with him [late in the game] when he was wide open and that's just the difference. We got to execute better, we got to feel good about being open shooting the shot and making it."
With Bargnani turning down shots late, Anthony had to take a heavier load of the offense and his production suffered because of it. Boston's defense limited him to just three points in the final quarter on just 1-of-8 shooting, including several contest shots late in the shot clock.
Woodson acknowledged that with a number of key contributors sidelined, he's still trying to figure out a way to take some of the offensive onus off of Anthony.
"Melo logged a lot of minutes and I'm still trying to work through my rotations with my guys coming off the bench and our bench guys got to feel good about coming into the game and playing and producing. Our bench is just as important as the guys who start the game and they got to understand that and be ready when they come in," Woodson said.
Outside of Amar'e Stoudemire, who scored a season-high 18 points off the bench in 30 minutes, Woodson got just four points from his bench Friday night. That includes a two-point night from J.R. Smith, who took only one shot throughout his 26 minutes of action.
It's a pattern that Anthony does not want to see continue.
"I don't think it was his fault [we lost]," Melo said of Smith. "But we want him to shoot the basketball. That's one of his strongest points. I don't want to look up to see he took one shot."
Anthony continued: "We got to get better in those situations, especially coming down the stretch. We all have to be better. We all have to step up to those challenges and be ready. It's not every night I'm going to bail us out. We should know that. As a team, we got to get better. I got to get better, and we got to do it as a whole."
Martin echoed the belief that the Knicks have to keep fighting: "We just have to keep grinding. No one in this league is going to feel sorry for us. We all know that. We have to keep grinding and stay as positive as we can. We have another one tomorrow and that's the great thing about the NBA, you got a chance to win tomorrow and that's where our focus has to be."