AUBURN HILLS – This was the game the triangle finally won.
Not in the final score, of course (the Knicks were blown out Saturday by the Pistons, 112-92), but in the commitment to Phil Jackson’s beloved system.
Carmelo Anthony’s begrudging participation felt more like a protest in the way he went completely all-in on the triangle Saturday, taking only nine shots over 36 minutes and declining all opportunities to go Iso-Melo.
It was the third time in his 14-year NBA career that Anthony took fewer than 10 shots while playing at least 35 minutes. For the sake of the triangle, Anthony stopped trying to score.
“We were just playing within the offense and just taking what they were giving me,” Anthony said. “Just play the right way in this system.”
Anthony still can’t bring himself to use the word ‘Triangle,’ and he was smiling as he recounted his changed role in a system that has brought losing to a new level in New York. It doesn’t take 11 championship rings to recognize Anthony is wasted standing in a corner or floating beyond the 3-point line as he often did Saturday, but the Knicks are now running the triangle “90 percent” of the time, according to Kristaps Porzingis.
“It’s just hard for me to be talking about that in March, in the middle of March, to still be talking about our system and what we’re running instead of just playing basketball,” Anthony said.
Anthony’s shot attempts have declined all month, but Saturday went to the extreme. One of Jackson’s biggest critiques of Anthony is that he holds the ball too long, stalling the offense. Against Detroit, Anthony rarely dribbled and deferred unless wide open, negating his No. 1 skill of creating shots. He took just two attempts in the fourth quarter as the Knicks (26-40) were outscored, 23-11. They’ve fallen to 2-6 since re-embracing the triangle.
Jeff Hornacek called Anthony “our best scorer,” but acknowledged the triangle dictated the disappearing act because Porzinigs was more often on the pinch post when the guards entered the ball.
“Carmelo’s playing the right way. We were playing the right way. We were running splits. He got other guys some looks. He was playing it right,” the coach said. “When he’s open and we have opportunities, we got to make sure he gets it.”
Anthony came into the game needing just 18 points to become the seventh player to score 10,000 exclusively with the Knicks. He fell five short. Porzingis, meanwhile, has become more of a focal point of the offense. But the Latvian acknowledged it’s difficult for Hornacek to feature a specific player in the triangle.
“Yeah, some parts of the game (I’m featured). But it’s hard for him to make somebody the focal point if we’re running the triangle,” said Porzingis, who scored 18 points on 16 shots. “Anybody can get a shot in the triangle. But obviously there are some plays drawn for me. But 90 percent is the triangle. It’s free basketball. We don’t know who is going to get the shot. It’s kind of random.”
Published at Sun, 12 Mar 2017 00:22:57 +0000