Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith have been missing badly.
"They've got to try and take better shots sometimes," the coach said after Monday's practice. "Sometimes, some of those difficult shots that you’re accustomed to making that you’re not making, you got to figure out a way to get better shots."
The sooner, the better for the Knicks.
Both Anthony and Smith were off target against Indiana in Game 1 on Sunday, and it cost New York dearly. Anthony went an unsightly 10-for-28 from the floor. Smith was 4-for-15. With their top two offensive threats struggling, the Knicks didn't have enough scoring to overcome a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit in their 102-95 loss.
Smith said after the game that he relied too heavily on his jump shot. Anthony chalked it up to missing quality shots.
"I’m not going to over-analyze that and start putting that under a microscope because the shots that I’m taking I know I can make," Anthony said Monday. "They’re just not going in at this point for whatever reason ... I’m not thinking twice about the shots that I’m missing."
Problem is, both Anthony and Smith are in the midst of extended shooting slumps. Smith is 12-for-42 in the past three games. His shot hasn't been the same since his one-game suspension in Game 4 for elbowing Boston's Jason Terry in the face.
Anthony is 35-for-110 in his past four games. His struggles have been sandwiched around a left shoulder injury he suffered in Game 5. Anthony says he's not thinking about the injury, but he is 17-for-51 in two games since he first tweaked it.
Raymond Felton suggested Sunday that the Pacers targeted Anthony's shoulder in Game 1. Anthony downplayed that idea on Monday.
"I’m fine. I’m bruised up, beat up, all year long," he said. "As far as them guys targeting the shoulder, I can’t worry about that."
So where do the Knicks go from here?
Woodson's idea of both players taking better shots is an interesting one. Smith has struggled mightily from midrange (between the paint and the 3-point arc) in the past three games. He is 1-for-11 in that territory since coming back from his suspension. In the regular season, he hit 42 percent of his midrange shots. So maybe Smith needs to abandon the midrange jumper.
Anthony has struggled with his 3-point shot. He is 2-for-22 from 3-point range in his past four games after hitting 38 percent of his 3s in the regular season.
"I feel like those shots I can make, and I’ve been making," Anthony said. "I’m going to keep shooting."
Woodson doesn't have a problem with that. He'd just like to see both Anthony and Smith take better shots.
"I think they’re capable of doing that," the coach said. "But only time will tell."