Carmelo Anthony of Knicks Has Failed Repeatedly in Playoffs

Alone on a podium late Thursday night, wrapped himself in comfortable catchphrases and verbal deflections. The Miami Heat had not shut him down. He was simply “missing shots that I normally make.”

The , down three games to none in the playoffs, were not defeated. “Our confidence is high.”

Anthony’s tone was unwavering, his faith absolute. This is how elite talent speaks, with a self-belief that borders on the absurd and occasionally veers into self-delusion.

The Knicks, who have been outscored by 60 points in the series, are not going to be the first N.B.A. team (out of 100) to overcome a 3-0 deficit. Anthony, who is shooting .344 and has twice as many turnovers (12) as assists (6), is not going to lead them back.

The Knicks will soon exit the postseason, their 12th straight year without winning a series. Their 13-game losing streak is the longest in playoff history.

“I wasn’t here for them losses,” Anthony bristled this week, though he has now been here for seven.

His dismissiveness misses the larger point: the Knicks traded a bounty for Anthony — four starters and three draft picks — to end their decade-long drought, to make May and June matter again at Madison Square Garden. Anthony demanded a trade on the premise that he, along with Amar’e Stoudemire, would turn the Knicks into a reasonable facsimile of the LeBron James-Dwyane Wade Heat.

So far, the Anthony-Stoudemire Knicks have accomplished no more than the Stephon Marbury-Tim Thomas Knicks (swept in 2004).

They have had their misfortune — injuries to Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups in 2011, injuries to Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert in 2012 — but great teams find a way to win. And when they fail, the great players absorb, reflect and rededicate themselves.

Anthony is not the reflective type. He has rarely taken responsibility for his team’s failures, preferring to shift blame toward injuries, coaches or the playbook. But the N.B.A. is a star-driven league, and Anthony — a star by reputation, if not achievement — must eventually confront his own résumé.

In nine postseasons, Anthony is 16-36 — the worst record among active players with at least 50 playoff games. He has won a first-round series only once, in 2009. Since then, he has lost 11 of 13 playoff games. If the Knicks lose Sunday, it will be Anthony’s third time getting swept in five years.

Anthony shot .375 against the Boston Celtics in last year’s sweep. He is shooting miserably against Miami, but he is still taking 30 percent of his team’s field-goal attempts while the offense stagnates and the Heat loads up its defense.

Playing Meloball — in which Anthony dominates the offense, usually in ball-pounding isolation sets — got the Knicks through a critical late-season period, without Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, with a 9-4 record. Anthony was brilliant in that stretch, shooting high percentages and collecting 30-point games while the defense did the rest.

But we are now seeing the limitations of Meloball. It can win 45 to 50 games (as it did in Denver), but it cannot beat a team as talented and disciplined as the Heat.

Stoudemire hardly saw the ball in the first two games of this series. The Knicks’ 3-point shooters are not getting open looks, because the ball is not moving.

Anthony is a great scorer. He is not yet a great player, because he does not consistently elevate his teammates. He averaged a modest 3.6 assists per game this season, and has a career average of 3.1.

By contrast, consider his close friends from the 2003 draft class: Wade has averaged 6.2 assists per game for his career, and James 6.9. Both Miami stars can control a game through their playmaking alone. The same goes for Kobe Bryant (4.7 career average), when the mood strikes.

In Cleveland, James led his teams deep into the playoffs (including the 2007 finals) despite a lackluster lineup, proving that a selfless star is infinitely more valuable than a single-minded gunner.

Kurt Rambis — a former teammate of Magic Johnson and a former coach of Bryant — put it best in an ESPN podcast, saying of Anthony: “One of the things he has to learn is how to involve his teammates more. There’s a lot more to winning ballgames than just scoring points.”

George Karl and Mike D’Antoni tried in vain to sell Anthony on this virtue, costing Karl years of aggravation and D’Antoni his job.

Initially, D’Antoni asked Anthony to play point forward, giving him the ball control he desired, but with equal responsibility for scoring and playmaking. Anthony accepted the role grudgingly and played it poorly.

Once Lin emerged, the Knicks’ playmaking needs were resolved. But Anthony was uncomfortable in a point guard-dominated offense and admitted as much a week before D’Antoni resigned.

So far, the only offense that seems to please Anthony is one where everyone else passes and he shoots.

“Melo is going to have to raise his game,” Coach Mike Woodson said Friday, suggesting that Anthony needs some growth to escape his personal playoff rut. “He’s got to change that.”

Woodson, an interim coach with no leverage, has necessarily catered to Anthony’s desires. With a little job security, he might not be so forgiving. Phil Jackson, if he were enticed by the Garden’s riches, would certainly demand a more team-oriented game.

Anthony will be 28 this month — old enough to be considered a veteran, young enough to learn. The Knicks will never be an elite team until he matures. And he will never truly be a star until he evolves.

For Knicks, Eight Games and Lots of Questions Remaining

The had clawed their way to a 111-107 victory over the Bucks, tightening their hold on a postseason berth. Anthony had been dominant, with 32 points and 10 rebounds, despite injuries and foul trouble. A key supporting player, J. R. Smith, had come through with the game’s winning shot.

Over a strenuous seven days, the Knicks had pummeled the Orlando Magic, split a two-game set with the Chicago Bulls (their likely first-round opponent) and put down the Bucks (their greatest threat to a playoff appearance). Anthony grinned a little.

“I love this moment,” he said. “This is where it gets fun, fighting for a playoff spot, playoffs right around the corner, games that you have to win, going out there and being a part of that and actually winning those games. That’s the fun part.”

The Knicks (30-28) hold a two-game lead for the final playoff spot in the East, with eight games left to play. They have won six of nine games since losing Amar’e Stoudemire and 19 days ago, muting doubts about their depth and fortitude. Yet, as in a great episode of “Lost,” every question the Knicks answer simply triggers three more.

Most pertinent now: Can Anthony keep up his torrid scoring pace over the final eight games? Can Smith be the second option the Knicks so desperately need? Can they keep winning without a reliable point guard? Can their banged-up frontcourt hold up until Stoudemire returns from a back injury?

And, indeed, the greatest mystery: What happens when Stoudemire returns?

Anthony has thrived as an undersized power forward in Stoudemire’s absence, averaging 30 points in nine games — 10 points per game better than his average before Stoudemire went down.

Coach Mike Woodson has already declared that Stoudemire, once he is healthy, will reclaim his starting job at power forward. That means Anthony will return to small forward, where the defenders are generally quicker and better suited to guarding him. It also means that Stoudemire and Anthony will again be competing for scoring chances on the left side of the lane, where both prefer to operate.

Anthony and Stoudemire have been an awkward tandem since the moment that Anthony arrived last year. One could make a case that the Knicks would be stronger with Stoudemire playing off the bench. But that option does not appear to be on the table.

The Anthony-Stoudemire dynamic would not be as great a concern if the Knicks had Lin or another established, healthy playmaker to keep the offense balanced and humming. They do not.

Baron Davis is playing with neck, back and hamstring injuries and is limited on most nights to 25 minutes or less. His play often erodes as the game wears on, and he has trouble keeping up with younger, quicker guards.

Davis was benched for the fourth quarter in Milwaukee, and he played just 2 minutes 31 seconds in the final period a night earlier, in Chicago. He sat out most of the fourth quarter and overtime against the Bulls on Sunday. With no other alternatives, Woodson is now using the rookie Iman Shumpert, a combination guard, as his de facto point guard during crunch time.

The backup point guard situation is a mess. Toney Douglas seemed to get untracked last week in Orlando, but Woodson used him sparingly in the two games against the Bulls and did not play him at all against the Bucks. Instead, Shumpert played 42 minutes.

With Stoudemire out and Jared Jeffries limited by a knee injury, Woodson has few options in the frontcourt as well. He played Anthony for 41 minutes against the Bucks and Tyson Chandler for 39 minutes. In Chicago, Anthony logged 39 minutes and Chandler 37.

Jeffries had been an invaluable reserve, but he is now being held to 15 minutes per game, at the order of the team’s medical staff. (Woodson does not seem to have much confidence in Josh Harrellson, or at least not as much as Mike D’Antoni did.)

So the Knicks still have much to sort out over the final two weeks as they try to hold on to their playoff berth and, perhaps, improve their standing. The remaining schedule is equally divided between home and road games, and between playoff teams and lottery teams. The Knicks have very winnable games against Washington, the Nets, Cleveland and Charlotte. Their fate rests on how they play Miami, Boston, Atlanta and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Assuming the Knicks hold their ground, the same nagging questions will follow them right into the postseason, and into a first-round series in which they will be heavy underdogs against the Bulls or the Heat.

“We feel good about ourselves,” Anthony said Wednesday night before adding, “But it’s not over yet.”

For the Knicks, a Busy Day Off

In an event at The Times Center in Midtown, , Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak entertained several hundred people Tuesday with anecdotes about their lives on and off the court.

Meanwhile, , in an interview with Michael Kay on ESPN Radio, said he would play against the visiting Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.

Amar’e Stoudemire used Twitter to express his support of the event at The Times Center — it partly benefited his foundation, and he was originally supposed to be there. But he was in Miami getting a second opinion on the bulging disk in his back that will keep him out indefinitely. The Knicks have 16 games remaining.

“One of our soldiers is down, and we just want him to get healthy,” Anthony said in the radio appearance.

Lin and Anthony are listed as questionable for the game against Orlando, although it seems unlikely that Lin, who has a knee injury, will play. Their status will be updated at the morning shootaround.

Stoudemire is out indefinitely, although the time frame might become more specific once a treatment path is chosen. The doctor Stoudemire saw Tuesday afternoon had treated his back last summer and fall.

The previous back injury — sustained in the playoffs last April — was classified as a pulled muscle, which had no relationship to the current bulging disk problem, according to the team. The disks in Stoudemire’s back were determined to be healthy when he was examined last April.

Anthony strained his right groin Monday for the second time in the last two months, although the injury is less severe this time. Anthony was first injured Feb. 6 against Utah. He left the court and missed the next seven games. On Monday, Anthony was able to stay in the game, albeit in obvious pain.

The Knicks were already missing Jared Jeffries, who will be out at least another week because of a sore right knee.

Starting Wednesday, the Knicks play six of their next seven games against likely playoff teams, including two games each (home and road) against Orlando and Chicago, along with trips to Atlanta and Indiana. Ten of the Knicks’ final 16 games are against likely playoff teams.

On the positive side, the Knicks play just two games next week — their lightest seven-day stretch in more than a month.

The event at The Times Center was sponsored by Steiner Sports Memorabilia and The New York Times Store, a unit of the Times Company that sells memorabilia and other items. In an auditorium and backstage in a green room, Shumpert, Novak and Lin delivered the same crowd-pleasing innocence that made Linsanity such a sensation, flashing an ego-free chemistry that has made each a crowd favorite at Madison Square Garden.

“The season’s been kind of up and down, but when it came together for us, it was a beautiful thing,” Novak said. “The way it exploded for Jeremy and kind of followed for several of us; just to follow in his wake has been very cool.”

Lin called Novak “probably the most underrated funny person on the team,” citing Novak’s unpredictability. Novak said only Lin thought he was funny. Then, as Shumpert picked at a fruit and cheese plate in the green room, Novak, who is from Wisconsin, chided him for cheese discrimination.

On stage, Lin humorously went through Novak’s confusion on one of the team’s offensive sets, as Novak once mixed up a play called “orange” and a play that other N.B.A. teams run called “horns.” Novak got even by telling a tale of Lin and Landry Fields making incessant noise on the team plane while playing Monopoly on an . Lin’s defense was that he kept landing on Park Place.

Lin provided consistent laughs with the event’s moderator, Brandon Steiner, before his teammates joined him on stage. Shumpert lived up to the billing Lin gave him when he said, “You’ll know Shump when you meet Shump; his personality shows.”

Shumpert spoke openly of wanting to shut down opposing players simply because he did not like them, or did not think they deserved to score.

“I can vouch for that,” Novak said. “I’ve heard him several times on the bench, say, ‘I just don’t like you.’ ”

Shumpert clarified that certain scorers had a swagger to them when they scored that he disliked.

When he was asked to rap at the end of the interview, Shumpert said he felt as if he were in the film “8 Mile,” before acquiescing to the request.

“Be efficient as a hybrid,” Shumpert rapped. “Be willing to give up your Friday nights for the gym so you can shine like I did. Blood sweat and tears for mine; I be working overtime. I’m trying to get ahead like an overbite.”

When he finished, the crowd gave Shumpert and his teammates an ovation.

Howard Beck contributed reporting.