New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony has long been one of the league's most prolific fourth quarter scorers. After struggling late in games to start the season, Anthony told reporters after Monday's practice that he thought he was thinking too much instead of being instinctive and aggressive in crunch time, via ESPN New York:
"For myself, maybe I'm second-guessing myself as well," Anthony said Monday after the Knicks' practice. "Maybe I'm a little bit passive out there, trying to do things that's out of the norm and trying to make people better at the wrong times.
"That's where I'm second-guessing myself. And I'm second-guessing my shot, and should I take this or should I pass this. I got to get out of that mentality quick."
Anthony has averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds over the Knicks' first three games, but has shot 23-of-61 (37 percent) from the field. He's 7-of-22 for 15 points in fourth quarters and has not yet attempted a free throw in the final frame.
Anthony was roundly criticized after New York's 82-81 loss to the Chicago Bulls last Thursday, in which he missed five shots in the closing three and a half minutes. That included a highly contested would-be-game-winner with two seconds left on the clock.
We're only a week into the season, so it's not time to panic about Anthony or the Knicks. Yes, they need to execute better late in games. No, it's not all Anthony's fault, as head coach Mike Woodson said, via Newsday:
"I am not putting it all on Melo," Woodson said. "I think at times, he might be trying to make sure everybody is involved and being a part of it and that is OK, too. That is not getting us beat, guys."
Late in games, New York's offense has looked ugly thus far. It's also looked ugly early in games. The Knicks have a lot to figure out, including how to get Anthony good looks in the rhythm of the offense. While New York fans might scoff at Anthony saying he needs to be more aggressive rather than just looking for the open man, it's largely true that these Knicks have looked like they are thinking, like they're adjusting to different lineups. Anthony and his team should look better down the stretch when they find some sort of offensive flow.