Is there a place for Carmelo Anthony in New York? Unfortunately for Knicks fans, the first signs are not auspicious.
On Monday night, the Knicks (16-17) lost for only the second time since Jeremy Lin ’10 entered the starting lineup, falling to the New Jersey Nets (10-24), 100- 92. The Nets avenged their loss from Feb. 4, the night that Jeremy Lin introduced himself to the NBA. Anthony returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a pulled groin during the Knicks’ 99-88 victory over the Utah Jazz on Feb. 6.
All of New York—well, all of the eyes that weren’t fixed courtside on Jay –Z and Beyoncé—was watching to see how Anthony fit in with the “New York Lins.” In recent days, Anthony has answered questions as to whether he can coexist with the Knicks’ new point guard. Monday’s game did not yield a conclusive answer. Anthony finished with 11 points, six assists, and five rebounds and appeared rusty on the court, tallying a game-high six turnovers.
Meanwhile, Lin continued to fill up the stat sheet for the Knicks. The Harvard grad and Spike Lee favorite recorded 21 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, and four steals in 36 minutes of play. Perhaps more importantly, Lin addressed the growing concern about his high turnover numbers, only coughing the ball up three times, well below his average of 6.6. The overnight sensation achieved yet another career first when he fouled out with 44.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
In his post-game interview, Lin blamed the loss on a lack of defensive intensity.
"I think me in particular didn't come with the defensive energy we needed,” Lin said after the game. “Obviously, Deron Williams going for 30-whatever he had is not going to get it done. So I needed to come out with more energy, the team needed to come out with more energy and I think at the end of the day, I think that's why the team lost."
Williams put on a clinic from behind the three-point line, going 8 of 14 from beyond the arc. When it was all said and done, Williams had poured in 38 points, getting revenge against Lin who had dropped 25 points and seven assists off the bench in the previous Knicks-Nets matchup.
Though disappointed by the loss, Knicks’ coach Mike D’Antoni appeared happy with his point guard’s performance.
“That's one of the best guards in the league,” D’Antoni said after the game. “Jeremy still got 21 and nine. He had a great game, good game. Deron had a great game and that'll be that way sometimes. Again, I'm not big on the matchups just because it's a team thing, and as a team we just didn't perform very well."
There is still plenty of time for ‘Melo to prove that he can play with his new co-star. Anthony’s next opportunity is on Wednesday, when the Knicks host the Atlanta Hawks.