Carmelo Anthony experienced the softest hard fall of his career on Wednesday when he collided with Nene, lost his balance and was about to crash headfirst onto the hardwood.
It was at that moment when Nene, the Washington Wizards forward and Anthony’s former teammate in Denver, rescued the Knicks’ meal ticket by extending his arms and bracing Anthony’s fall.
“He caught me. . . . He tried to catch me,” Anthony said. “Nene tried to catch me. It was definitely a good thing because if he didn’t I would have been back there getting some treatment or talking to the doctors or something like that. I appreciate Nene for that.”
Nene’s show of sportsmanship and compassion in the fourth quarter represented the only good thing to come out of Wednesday’s loss. The Knicks play three more games before heading into the All-Star break, starting Friday night against the struggling Timberwolves. Regardless of what happens over the next six days, the Knicks will reach the unofficial midway point of the season with a winning record and are on pace to win 50 games for the first time in 13 years.
Mike Woodson’s team has established itself as a legitimate contender, but a recurring theme for the Knicks, other than injuries, is their struggles on the defense. A depleted Washington team scored 36 fourth-quarter points in the 106-96 win and shot 53%.
John Wall became the latest quick point guard to give the Knicks fits, finding seams in the defense and facing little to no resistance at the rim.
“He was getting to the paint whenever he wanted and that’s a problem,” J.R. Smith said. “We need help from not only the guy on the ball but the guys on the wings and the big man to keep him out the paint.”
Tyson Chandler, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, has increased his rebounding totals over the past week but has also been a step slow to rotate defensively. And when Woodson goes with the lineup featuring Chandler, Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, that group usually allows as many points as it scores.
“It’s never about the opponent that we’re playing; it has to be about us every single game,” Chandler said. “It has to be sticking to our principles, executing offensively, sharing the ball, having responsibility defensively, rebounding the ball. It’s not about the Wizards, it’s about the Knicks and it’s not going to be about Minnesota. It should be about us and we have to think that way when we’re heading into games.”


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