Wow, that was ugly.
The New York Knicks returned home following an inspiring win over Sacramento and fell flat on their faces in a dismal 90-85 setback to the Toronto Raptors last night at Madison Square Garden. The setback dropped the Knicks' record to 2-3 and spotlighted a major concern with Mike D'Antoni's squad.
Carmelo Anthony can't carry the team by himself.
"Melo" poured in 35 points and added 11 rebounds and four assists but received little help from his teammates, although Toney Douglas had one of his better efforts of the young season with 22 points and four assists.
The problem was Anthony had to hoist up 31 shots and looked spent at times as he logged over 42 minutes in playing time. New York shot only 36 percent from the field, including just 10-of-35 from beyond the three-point arc.
Amar'e Stoudemire missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle and starting shooting guard Landry Fields suffered through another poor performance, hitting just 1-of-7 shots from the field and scoring five points with two turnovers.
The Knicks could not wipe out a 17-point halftime deficit but actually pulled within 84-83 with 17 seconds to go before Raptors forward/center Andrea Bargnani (21 points) sank a pair of free throws, and New York would not draw any closer.
D'Antoni is hoping to have Stoudemire back by Wednesday's home contest with Charlotte, and Anthony really needs his help. The Knicks need another legitimate offensive threat in their lineup now. Fields continues to disappoint, and rookie Josh Harrellson (who is starting in Stoudemire's place) came back down to earth after his stellar game against Sacramento with a putrid two-point showing on 0-of-4 shooting.
The Knicks can run all the isolation plays for Anthony that they'd like, and Melo is one of the best one-on-one players in the league. However, unless Stoudemire comes back quickly and totally healthy or the Fields/Harrellson tandem steps up, the pressure on Anthony to carry the team on his back will be too much.
He can't do it alone. Even Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen.
Melo has to have Amar'e. Healthy and productive.
If not, the Knicks aren't going to advance past the first round of the playoffs this season.
You can bank on that.