If the Knicks were a nation, Carmelo Anthony would be its most precious resource - a boundlessly talented player who can light up the scoreboard on any night.
But even natural resources have their limits, as the Knicks found out when Anthony dropped 42 points on the Clippers and they still lost, 102-88, at the Garden.
It was an opportunity for the Knicks to see how they matched up against one of the premier teams in the NBA, a potential Western Conference champion. It also highlighted a problem that could plague them down the stretch. What happens when there is no scoring help for Anthony, and where will they get more defense when they need a stop?
They couldn't get any of that on Sunday afternoon as the Knicks bench was outscored by the Clippers bench 48-15. Jamal Crawford scored 27 points for L.A., winning the sixth man battle against J.R. Smith, who scored just six points on 1-for-9 shooting (1-for-5 from 3-point range).
The Knicks (32-17) have laid waste to the middling teams on their schedule, but they have struggled against the better ones. It is a troubling trend that will plague them down the line. But Anthony said he's not worried.
"We've beaten teams like that," he said. "Today we just couldn't get over that hump. In the fourth quarter we didn't score the ball and didn't make plays. Giving up 31 points in the fourth quarter, that's usually not us. It's usually the other way around."
There are very few nights when you can say a 42-point scoring effort was wasted. But you can certainly say that about Anthony's afternoon.
He erupted for 18 points in the third quarter, his 3-pointer at 4:58 giving the Knicks a 61-60 lead. But Mike Woodson decided to rest Anthony at the start of the fourth quarter with the Knicks trailing 71-70. Big mistake.
Anthony cooled off and the Clippers made an adjustment, sending double and triple-team coverage at him, including the 40-year-old Grant Hill, all in an effort to deny him the ball. It worked as the rest of the Knicks couldn't mount any offense.


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