While in Denver, Anthony earned his living by making crunch-time shots in the final seconds. A basket in this situation would have forced overtime against his former Nuggets squad and helped his besieged current squad wipe out a nine-point deficit in the final 1:43. But his fadeaway 14-footer from the right side never made it to the rim.
It was blocked by the 6-foot-4 Randy Foye -- replays indicated Foye tipped the ball and perhaps a piece of Anthony’s hand as well. But the bottom line is, the Knicks fell for the eighth straight time in a 97-95 decision at the Pepsi Center, a dubious streak that hadn’t been matched since February 2010, a year before Anthony joined the team in a trade.
“I didn’t get it done, that’s it,” Anthony said, when asked whether Foye fouled him or tipped the shot. “My teammates did a great job of putting us in that position for me to tie the game or even go for the win, but I didn’t pull through tonight. I’m going to take that one.”
Coach Mike Woodson said the plan was for Anthony to have the ball and take the last shot, but it was supposed to work out a little differently -- despite the fact that New York had no timeouts left.
“We got the shot and we got it up, but I thought we should have went a lot sooner based on the time on the clock,” Woodson said. “Because if you do that, it means we have the opportunity to get an offensive rebound and put it back.”
Asked if he considered taking the shot earlier, Anthony indicated he “was trying to work the clock down” before reiterating that he didn’t get it done and was going to own this one.
“Whether or not Coach wanted me to take it early, I didn’t make it happen,” said Anthony, who scored 27 points but shot 8-for-22 from the field.
So the Knicks limp home with eight straight losses and a disappointing record of 3-12. Despite the rough times, the players sounded fairly upbeat.
“We’re doing the best we can, staying together as much as possible and communicating between the team and coaches,” said guard J.R. Smith, another former Nuggets player. “Surprisingly, we’re just a few plays away in each game. But there’s no moral victories.”
Smith and Iman Shumpert had recently been called out by Woodson for their poor shooting, but the coach said they were better Friday. Smith shot 5-for-13 (1-for-7 from 3-point range), and Shumpert was 4-for-8. They each scored 11 points in 32 minutes.
Smith appeared irritated as he headed to the bench one time in the second half but said it was because he allowed Denver’s Andre Miller to beat him for a layup, not because he was angry about being removed from the game.
“He’s a great coach and he knows when to pull guys,” Smith said of Woodson. “He just gave me a minute to get my head back in the game.”
Point guard Raymond Felton drilled a big 3-pointer during the Knicks' late comeback, but he scored only eight points on 3-for-9 shooting.
“We looked better, played much harder,” Felton said. “I feel like we can turn this thing around.”
For the Knicks, to turn things around and match their win total of last season, they’d have to finish on a 51-16 burst.
“It’s an uphill battle man,” Anthony said. “It’s a tough hole to get out of.”