Thursday, March 10, 2011

He Do This

Fine. I'll admit. Deep in the hidden recesses of my hoops heart, it has been a minor struggle for me to learn to love watching Carmelo Anthony stop the ball as the Knicks run an increasing number of isolation plays. Despite his ability to play that style better than most of his peers, the seeming stagnation flashes me back to Al Harrington, Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph.

Now, don't get me wrong. I wanted the Knick to trade for Carmelo Anthony, even writing some time long before the Summer of LeBron that I'd rather root for Melo and the upstarts trying to usurp the King then for a team built around an increasingly dickish James.

In spite of my affection for Melo, I have still cringed when he's gone through his brief cold stretches because few plays look as wasteful as the missed iso jumper early in the shot clock. Of course, I understand that coach Mike D'Antoni has to tailor his offense to the skills of his top players. And, I understand that allowing Melo to face up on a defender on most places on the floor isn't exactly a bad play. Or, at least, it's not as bad a play as letting Harrington do it.

Last night, though, Anthony had a message for me. A message that I received by way of the Memphis Grizzlies' bench. When Melo released the above game-winner, the Grizz reserves were hollering in his ear that his effort was astray. Once the ball dropped through the net, Anthony turned to them and simply said, "I do this."

There was a rakish grin on Anthony's face as he backpedaled down the court after that make. With arctic confidence, he just kept repeating those three words. Because he does this. Which means that anytime I feel like the team has abandoned the pick and roll and the breakneck pace for half-court clear-outs, I need to remind myself that it's a make-or-miss league and we've got a guy who makes when it matters:

Even if that winning shot had clanged off the iron, and the Knicks had gone on to lose in overtime, I still would have liked the way that last play looked. It wasn't Jamal Crawford dribbling down the clock at the top of the key before one crossover dribble and an off-balance jumper. Unlike the final possession in the recent loss to Cleveland, D'Antoni had his team run the offense. Toney Douglas initiated the action, passing it Anthony on the left wing that he loves. Amar'e came over looking to run the pick and roll, but Zach Randolph was staying home on him. With the Grizz overplaying Amar'e, it was up to Anthony. Who jab stepped Tony Allen and pulled back and rose for the winner. Because, all together now, He Do That.