Saturday, May 4, 2013
'Bockers building balance on O
By Jared Zwerling
Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton combined for 25 points and 10 assists on Friday night.
BOSTON -- Carmelo Anthony shouldn't have had to take seven extra shots in the final six minutes of the New York Knicks' first-round series clincher on Friday night.
The Knicks were up 69-47 at the start of the fourth quarter with Anthony playing one of his most trusting-my-teammates games as a Knick. After two losses of taking the heavy burden in isolation, Melo spent three quarters facilitating more pick-and-rolls, setting screens for the Knicks' guards and lending his hand defensively.
With Anthony helping his guys, the Knicks showed they can be one of the most dangerous offensively balanced teams in the playoffs. In the end, after escaping a 26-4 run by the Boston Celtics, the Knicks had nearly six players in double-figure scoring. Tyson Chandler had nine points.
"I told my teammates from the beginning of the game, 'I'm pretty sure that the Celtics really thought I was going to come out guns blazing,'" Anthony said, "so I kind of let Ray [Felton] and Pablo [Prigioni] and [Iman] Shumpert and those guys kind of get going, me helping them get going, and then try to see where I fit in throughout the course of the game. It was a great way to approach the game, and my teammates picked me up."
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Melo's mindset represented the adjustments made during the past two practices. The focus was better team basketball.
"We can't play 'just give the ball to Melo and play iso' all the time, and everybody is just watching," Prigioni said after Game 6. "We talked about moving the ball, to cut, to occupy good space, and I think we did much better in this game."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers noticed it, too, saying afterward, "They talked about ball movement; I thought they came out and did that."
Entering Friday night, Anthony had six assists in the entire series. In the first quarter alone, he had two (five for the game), dishing to Felton for a jump shot and Prigioni for a 3-pointer. The Argentine, in fact, had three 3-pointers in the opening period.
The point guard also set the tone with his pick-and-roll playmaking, which he's done since being inserted into the starting lineup. At the start of the third quarter, he connected with Chandler off a screen set. It was a play they had discussed during a first-quarter timeout.
Chandler was also the recipient of an alley-oop pass from Felton, who continued to knock down shots off of screens and get deep into the paint for layups. He scored in double figures (11 points) for the sixth straight game.
"Ray had a great series," Jason Kidd said. "He's the engine that goes, and when he gets us going, it puts us in a position to win."
As a result of Felton's penetration and the team's focus on making the extra pass, they had their best 3-point shooting night in the series (42.9 percent). Shumpert (17 points) was 3-for-3 from downtown, and even Anthony, who had missed 19 long balls in a row, finally nailed a big one with 1:43 remaining to put the Knicks up 84-75. J.R. Smith (13 points) also got going in the fourth quarter.
"We did have a nice balance offensively," Mike Woodson said. "I'm proud of the New York Knick players and what they've done today."