Melo comes up small in fourth quarter

INDIANAPOLIS -- After his third season in New York ended far short of expectations, Carmelo Anthony sat at his stall alone in a cramped visitors locker room in Indiana, thinking about what just transpired.

The Knicks star wore a look of surprise, disappointment and disgust -- all rolled into one.

"It's tough," Anthony said after the Knicks' Game 6 loss. "We all wanted, everybody wants to go to the championship, win the championship. That's the ultimate goal. Unfortunately, our run had to stop here."

It was unfortunate especially for Anthony because he played a significant role in the Knicks' downfall.

He missed five of his seven shots in the fourth quarter and had three costly turnovers in the Knicks' loss.

"We got what we wanted in that fourth quarter. It just didn’t go in for us," Anthony said.

For three quarters, Anthony was brilliant. He had 35 points and seven boards and helped the Knicks bounce back from a 12-point deficit to tie the game going into the fourth quarter.

Anyone watching the game had to think Anthony was on his way to the kind of statement-making performance that stars seem to deliver in the biggest of moments.

But then the fourth quarter started. And Anthony fell apart.

"I really don't know," Anthony said when asked to describe what happened in the final 12 minutes. "I'll have to sit back and think about that. I know I turned the ball over … [and] we missed some shots."

Yes, the Knicks missed 12 of their 18 shots in the fourth. But Anthony's misses -- as they always do -- seemed to loom larger than the others.

Anthony's first miss was monumental. He challenged Roy Hibbert with a dunk attempt, and the Pacers' 7-foot-2 big man turned Anthony away at the rim.

"It was a hell of a block," Anthony said. "Big play by Hibbert, kind of shifted the momentum at that point."

The Pacers outscored the Knicks 16-7 after Hibbert's block. And, unfortunately for Anthony, his fingerprints were all over the run.

The block led to a Lance Stephenson layup that tied the score at 92.

On the Knicks' next possession, Anthony was called for an offensive foul.

His poor pass on the Knicks' next trip down the floor was picked off by Stephenson, who finished with a layup on the other end.

Stephenson was fouled by J.R. Smith on the play and converted the free throw to give Indy a three-point lead that it wouldn't relinquish.

"That was a key run for them," Anthony said.

The fourth quarter had to hurt even more for Anthony because he was fantastic in the first three. He had 20 in the first half on 8-for-16 shooting, single-handedly keeping New York in the game. He then came out at halftime to score 11 of the Knicks' first 13 points as they rallied to tie score.

But the lasting memory will be Anthony's fourth quarter. It was the final act in a season that fell well short of expectations.

After the game, Anthony chose to talk about the Knicks' accomplishments rather than their shortcomings.

"We had a hell of a season, hell of a year. I think we took some steps forward as a team, as an organization," he said. "To win the games that we won, the 50-plus games, win our division. To get to this point right now where we had a chance to get to the conference finals, we’ll take that. … We'll be back better and stronger next year, for sure."

That might be true.

But Anthony and the Knicks talked all season long about getting a chance to play the Heat in the playoffs and advance to the NBA Finals.

Now, the only Knicks in Miami next week will be the ones on vacation.

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