But the Anthony-Stoudemire partnership is malfunctioning, at both the micro and macro level, and the best intentions still turn out badly. Anthony’s pass skipped low and between Stoudemire’s legs, squirting out of bounds, the final devastating miscue in a on Wednesday night.
The Knicks cannot score consistently, or sustain any structure in their offense or even carry over their success over a 24-hour period. They looked nothing like the team that scored 111 points in a blowout victory in Charlotte a night earlier.
“We kind of went back, took a step backwards today,” said Tyson Chandler, his head drooping and his speech a low murmur. “We had an incredible game last game, and today, we went back.”
The loss was the Knicks’ seventh in eight games, denying them any sense of confidence or momentum as they head to Miami for a nationally televised game against the Heat on Friday. They have never looked more disjointed, or sounded more befuddled.
The crisp, free-flowing attack that carried the Knicks to victory over the Bobcats was gone, replaced by a mistake-prone offense that committed 23 turnovers (for 24 Cavaliers points) and made just 42 percent of its shots.
Eventually, Anthony and Stoudemire will presumably become the overpowering force they were expected to be. Until then, the Knicks (7-11) will continue to bob listlessly through the schedule.
Stoudemire scored 19 points, but he made it to the foul line only once, went 9 for 19 from the field and committed a team-high six turnovers. Anthony — who is coping with thumb, wrist and ankle injuries — scored 15 points, bouncing back somewhat from his career-low 1-point performance in Charlotte. But he was 5 for 14 from the field and scored just 2 points in the fourth quarter, when the Cavaliers (7-10) pulled away. Anthony is now 40 for 126 (.317) over the last six games.
The Knicks went 14 for 37 in the second half and scored just 17 points in the fourth quarter. Stoudemire had 8 points in the final period, but the Knicks were otherwise punchless. Toney Douglas went 1 for 5 in the quarter.
“I know it’s the same story I keep coming out here, but we got to find a way to score,” Coach said. “They were hustling, they’re playing hard defense, you held them to 91, you just can’t stay in the 70s and think you’re going to get a win.”
Before tip-off, Cavaliers Coach Byron Scott paid the Knicks the ultimate compliment.
“They’re a lot like Miami,” he said. “They got a dynamic guy in Carmelo. Amar’e Stoudemire is a lot like Chris Bosh.”
Except that Anthony is not the passer or defender that LeBron James is, and Stoudemire is not even really Stoudemire right now. And the Cavaliers, who competed well against the Heat on Tuesday, seemed wholly unintimidated by the Knicks.
The Cavaliers wiped out a 9-point deficit in the first half and built a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, with a balanced attack that featured big moments from every starter. Kyrie Irving, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, had a quiet but effective night, with 7 points and 7 assists. Antawn Jamison led the Cavaliers with 15 points.
The Knicks built a 9-point lead in the second quarter and might have blown the game open if not for a flurry of unforced errors, including nine team turnovers and a pair of missed free throws by Anthony. Cleveland tied the game at 45-45 by halftime.
Stoudemire again harped on the Knicks’ failure to keep the ball moving, using words like “movement” and “spacing” repeatedly after the game.
“We got to stay together, first of all,” he said. “We got to understand what works, as far as spacing the court and moving the ball. Once we figure that out, we’ll become a great team. Until then, we are who we are.”
The Knicks do not seem to be in a rush to get Baron Davis in the lineup, nor does Davis sound ready to make the move as he completes his recovery from a herniated disk. “Right now I can go in spurts,” Davis said. “I’m just not comfortable mentally or physically out there.” It seems unlikely that Davis will play in Miami on Friday. … The Knicks picked up the fourth-year option on Toney Douglas, extending him through the 2012-13 season, at about $2 million. Teams had until Wednesday to exercise options on rookie-scale contracts. Had the Knicks declined the option, Douglas would have become an unrestricted free agent this summer. … Danilo Gallinari, the centerpiece of the Carmelo Anthony trade, signed a four-year, $42 million extension with the Denver Nuggets, according to reports. Gallinari was the Knicks’ lottery pick in 2008, and a favorite of Mike D’Antoni, who was once teammates with Gallinari’s father in Italy. “I’m really happy for him and his family,” D’Antoni said.