Melo, Knicks drop the ball against Heat

NEW YORK -- Mike Woodson rarely says anything critical in public about Carmelo Anthony.

Remember, Anthony's on the verge of free agency. And Woodson's a smart guy.

He knows to choose his words wisely when talking about the face of the franchise.

So when Woodson said on Saturday night that Carmelo didn't get the ball to the right spots against the Heat, it told you all you need to know about Anthony's performance.

"Melo had one of those nights," Woodson said after Carmelo tied a season high with seven turnovers against Miami. "I thought he played OK, but he had one of those nights where he just couldn’t make the play based off a bounce [pass]. When they were doubling him, he just didn’t get the ball in the right spots."

Anthony spurred the Knicks to four straight wins this week with brilliant play on offense. But he wasn't nearly as sharp against Miami on Saturday.

With Shane Battier draped on him early in the game, Carmelo committed three first-quarter turnovers and finished with just four points in the stanza. The Knicks were lucky to be down only seven.

They fell behind by as many as 14 in the second quarter as Anthony continued to struggle with his shot. He went 1-for-3 in the period and missed three consecutive free throws after getting fouled on an attempt beyond the arc.

"They just showed me a lot of different defenses, a lot of different people. They fronted, they tilted the floor, tried to make it tough every catch," Anthony said. "I think they did a great job of playing the passing lanes."

The Knicks finished the night with 18 turnovers, leading to 17 Heat points. New York (19-28) entered play Saturday tied with Charlotte for the fewest turnovers per game (12.2).

“We were just loose with the ball,” Carmelo said. “That was out of character for us.”

It was also out of character for Anthony. He’s averaging 2.4 turnovers per game on the season but more than doubled that number on Saturday. Five of his seven turnovers came with Battier guarding him, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Only one of Anthony’s turnovers led directly to a Miami basket, but the loss of possessions really hurt New York on a night when the club shot nearly 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from beyond the arc.

“Some of them were just unforced turnovers,” Woodson said. “We just didn’t see the defense and we threw it away.”

They also threw away an opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the NBA. New York had won four straight at home entering play Saturday, but its opponents were a combined 53 games under .500.

So the Miami game was a chance for the Knicks to validate their recent success.

Instead, they dropped the ball.

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