Anthony could not find the basket Friday night, nor could he save the from another humiliating loss to another lottery-bound team. A driving layup fell short. A 3-point try bounced away. And the Knicks departed with a 99-95 loss to the . It was the Knicks’ fourth loss in five games.
Anthony converted only 2 of his 12 shots, never scored after the first quarter and missed two critical attempts in the final 38 seconds.
He was asked to meet with reporters in a hallway outside the locker room. For the second time this week, Anthony declined and instead headed for the bus, never looking back.
The Knicks (35-33) are just 7-7 since Anthony arrived in a celebrated February trade, and they have never looked more frayed. The loss to Detroit was their third against a losing team this week, following consecutive defeats by Indiana.
“To lose tonight is definitely not a proud moment for us,” said Amar’e Stoudemire, who led the Knicks with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Stoudemire said that not everyone was fully committed to Coach ’s offense. He kept the comments unspecific, but it could only have been a reference to Anthony, who has struggled to mesh his considerable talents with his new team.
“We just got to buy into Mike D’Antoni’s system,” Stoudemire said. “It works. I’ve been part of it for a long time now. And it’s been very successful. And so we just have to buy into it and get it done.”
Asked if the Knicks needed to return to the up-tempo style that defined them before the trade, Stoudemire said: “Absolutely. That’s the way we’re going to win. We’ve proven that it works with the team that we had before the trade, and it can work with the guys we have now. It’s just a matter of us buying into it and really trying to accomplish that alternative goal and make the playoffs and see what we can do.”
The Knicks’ problems Friday went way beyond Anthony’s poor shooting or his sullen demeanor. They turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 28 points for the Pistons (25-44). They scored just 17 points in the fourth quarter. And they allowed two huge offensive rebounds in the final minute that allowed Detroit to seal the game.
“I thought our defense was solid,” D’Antoni said. “We just turned the ball over in crucial moments and let them back in.”
Chauncey Billups, who had his best seasons here as a Piston, was warmly received by the fans but marred his homecoming with an uncharacteristic eight turnovers. Toney Douglas had 20 points and a career-best 11 assists, just one night after his record nine 3-pointers. Tayshaun Prince had 16 points to lead the Pistons, who wiped out an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Charlie Villanueva (14 points) sparked the comeback with three 3-pointers in the period.
Anthony’s 6 points were a season low — not counting a game he left early because of an injury while playing for Denver. If he had only reached 8, it might have been enough.
With the Knicks trailing by 97-95, Anthony drove the baseline for a layup that fell short. He immediately scowled at the officials, but no foul was called. Replays showed Chris Wilcox slapping Anthony’s forearm on the shot. It was the fourth time Anthony has had the chance to save or win a game for the Knicks. He has fallen short three times.
Wilcox put the Pistons ahead to stay on a powerful putback dunk with 51.9 seconds left. An offensive rebound by Prince led to a pair of Will Bynum free throws to make it 99-95 with 11 seconds left. Anthony misfired on a long 2-pointer to finish his miserable night.
Anthony was missing his usual joyful swagger. He looked disengaged for long stretches and lost at other times. He committed an offensive foul in the fourth quarter, then barked at Toney Douglas after a blown play.
During a Pistons inbounds play, a fan taunted, “Carmelo, you’re a baby!” Anthony made eye contact with the fan and shouted back. Seconds later, Villanueva hit another 3-pointer to tie the game at 86-86.
D’Antoni waved off any concern about Anthony, saying, “I just didn’t think it was a good game.”
Billups said that he and Anthony were still adjusting to their new surroundings and again preached patience.
“It takes a while, man,” he said. “So I’m not being impatient, I’m not overreacting to some of our struggles.”
Billups, referring to Anthony, his teammate of three seasons, said the Pistons simply denied him great scoring chances with multiple defenders.
“You’re not going to play awesome every single night,” Billups said. “Nobody is. You expect him to, because he’s a great player, but it just doesn’t happen like that. He’s going to be fine. I’m not worried about Melo at all.”