SAN ANTONIO -- Few players in the league score as well as Carmelo Anthony, despite being what many consider a low-efficiency offensive weapon. He finds his points with an individual array of spins, jab steps and up fakes, but little involvement from his teammates.
Entering Thursday night's game against the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson made it known that if his team was going to have success against the double-teams San Antonio was likely to send at Anthony, Melo would have to share the ball.
Melo managed to do just that against the Spurs as the Knicks hit 9-of-17 3-pointers, many of them wide-open looks after Anthony kick-started New York’s ball movement.
“He made the sacrifice that he needed to make when they tilt, what we call tilt,” Woodson said. “Sometimes they come over and double and I thought he made good outlet passes to get the ball out of there that led to something good.”
San Antonio relied on Kawhi Leonard for one-on-one defense against Anthony, but when Melo was matched up on smaller players, the Spurs often sent multiple bodies his way. The four assists in the box score don’t shine brightly, but Anthony’s unselfishness was contagious as the Knicks worked the ball around the perimeter to find an open shot.
More often than not, that was Iman Shumpert in the corner.
“They doubled Melo, so a lot of times I was just wide open,” Shumpert said after hitting 6-of-8 shots from beyond the arc.
It was the type of offensive performance rarely seen from the Knicks this season, but one that started at the top with Melo’s play and trickled down to the rest of the team. Even with the increase in passing, Anthony still scored 27 points and took 20 shot attempts.
“He’s pretty much unguardable, so [the Spurs] had to tilt more and then he started finding the open guys,” J.R. Smith said.
Keeping up with the Smiths: The Knicks recently called-up Jeremy Tyler from the D-League’s Erie BayHawks on Dec. 31, but to complete the move they had to waive Chris Smith, brother of J.R. Smith, to make room on the roster.
In his first action since his brother was waived, J.R. Smith scored four points on 2-of-5 shooting against the Spurs. “I mean, it was tough to see that happening, but the business of basketball is you can’t really worry about it too much,” Smith said after the win over San Antonio. “I’ve been with teams where a lot of guys were getting cut and waived and getting traded and stuff like that, it’s just the nature of the game. Unfortunately it was him, but it is what it is.”