Don't get used to Carmelo Anthony playing 50 minutes per game, which he did on Monday night. Don't even get used to him playing more than 36, which has been his season average.
That was one of Mike Woodson's main messages the day after the Knicks lost to the Nets.
"He played 50 minutes last night based on the circumstances of last night's game," Woodson said Tuesday, during his weekly appearance on ESPN New York 98.7 FM's "Stephen A. Smith and Ryan Ruocco" show. "He's been averaging around 34, 35 minutes a game going into that, and that's where he needs to play. All the high-profile players, like LeBron and Wade and Kobe, and those guys, they're averaging right at that number. And that's where he needs to be.
"Last night was just different because of the overtime and the fact that we were a little short-handed, based on how they were playing their personnel. They played their starting unit a lot of minutes as well, so I can't sit Melo down in that situation based on the magnitude of the game and where we were during the course of that ballgame."
Jason Kidd's absence affected the Knicks' ball movement on Monday night, which put more of a load on Anthony to get open and score. Raymond Felton only had five assists and shot 3-for-19 from the field, and his inability to get going off of the pick-and-roll conversely put more strain on Melo.
That was especially evident with the Nets throwing multiple bodies at Anthony early to try to wear him down. The Nets started off doubling him in the first quarter, and Melo only finished with four points. He entered the game as the league's best starter with a nearly 11 points average in first periods. He then went on to shoot 2-for-8 in the fourth quarter and overtime, as the Knicks lost by seven.
Here are two other key nuggets from Woodson:
On Felton's poor performance: "Just a bad night. When you go back and review the tape, those 19 shots, 12, 13 of those shots were really good shots that he's been making all season. So you have nights like that as a player. If he was on his game, maybe we win the game. But the bottom line was: We missed Jason, too, because he's Raymond's backup. We can slide him to the point guard as well, but we didn't have him last night and Raymond had to load a lot of minutes last night."
On any differences in their recent 1-3 stretch: "Not really because it's not easy winning out on the road. The Dallas and last night's game were winnable games. I've got to do better at helping them get over the hump, but we've got to make plays coming down the stretch, especially when we've got games that we are in and we've got a chance to win. ... The bottom line is: At the end of the day, we're still sitting at the top of our division, and that's where we want to stay."
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