Carmelo takes in Phil's critique on approach

NEW YORK -- Phil Jackson pulled Carmelo Anthony aside sometime before Monday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks to talk about his approach on offense.

“He wants to step up and help the ballclub with what he’s known for and what his genius is, which is scoring, and sometimes it’s frustrating not to be able to get there and do that,” Jackson said.

Anthony, who has been struggling with his shot over the past five games, appreciated the chat.

“It kind of gave me some insight into how to approach this new system and what to expect and what mindset to have out there on the basketball court,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ 91-85 loss to the Hawks.

It’s early, but Jackson is optimistic about what he’s seen from Anthony so far this year.

Last month, Jackson said Anthony was “just scratching the surface of his greatness.”

On Monday, the Zen Master expanded on that point, getting specific about what he’d like to see Anthony improve on.

Here is Anthony’s to-do list, in Jackson’s words:

More energy on defense: “There’s a certain amount of energy that players can give on the court, activity level, that I think is really required to lead a team. ... The word 'defense' sometimes means non-aggressive, but [good defenders are] really aggressive. This is really what changes up the game, the teams that are willing to expend a lot of energy on defense. So I’m encouraging Carmelo in that aspect.”

Attack the offensive glass: “I’m encouraging him in the aspect of offensive rebounding. There’s a pattern that [is in] every sequence of actions that we operate in in this offense, where there’s a rebounding responsibility, and so when I see in situations where players are not rebounding and their role is to rebound, I’m very diligent about the fact that they have to go through with their roles.”

Be cognizant of ball movement: “What’s the timing about it, how do you time up this offense. This offense is run on a 4:4 beat ... you have a two-count to be a continual threat, and after a two-count, if you’re still holding the ball, you’re holding up the offense. So the ball’s got to move and you have to move it. ... It’s breaking a habit, and sometimes that’s not so easy. I think that’s what Melo’s going to improve [in] his game as he gets that rhythm and that knowledge of, yeah, I’m starting to be aggressive and take a shot or activate this offense in another way.”

Staying within the system: “There were times in the course of the night [while Phil was coaching] when either Michael or Kobe, our primary scorers, would be operating with [the mindset] of, 'I'm going to score every time I touch the ball.' You can't do that in an offense -- then the defense can cue up on what you're doing. ... This is a fine balance, and I've talked to Carmelo a little bit about that. The team looks to you to score, and there are times where you're going to have to pick it up and do that, but for the most part the opportunities are there and you have to be inside that system and play within it.”

Question: What do you think about how Phil wants Carmelo to improve his game? Are there other areas where Carmelo can improve that Phil didn’t mention?

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