---- — BOSTON — New York Knicks fans who are vilifying Carmelo Anthony for taking 35 shots yesterday should back off.
The ones criticizing him for taking an ungodly 42 shots (seven times he was fouled while shooting) can continue to emasculate him.
The Knicks gunner made just 10 of those official 35 attempts, enabling the Celtics to salvage some dignity. Boston won its first game of the series 97-90 in overtime yesterday afternoon at the TD Garden. New York can finish the best-of-7 first-round series with a win in Game 5 Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.
With NBA 6th Man of the Year J.R. Smith suspended for the game for elbowing Jason Terry in the face in Game 3, you knew Melo was going to be jacking them up at a record pace.
But this was ridiculous. If he were playing for the Washington Nationals, they would have shut him down for the year to save his shooting elbow.
Postgame group press conferences tend to be a cliche fest. And the Celtics Jeff Green is particularly bland. But he let this gem slip out about Melo.
“He’s going to take wild shots,” said the former Georgetown All-American (2007) about the former Syracuse All-American (2003).
The Knicks will probably win Game 5 and Anthony will probably score 35 points, but once they face the iron, Melo and Co. aren’t going anywhere.
The NBA scoring king is too selfish and too one-dimensional. How else do you explain somebody who in one game of a series hoists 42 shots in 45 minutes and in the previous game had one rebound (that’s not easy to do at 6-8, 230) and zero assists in 37 minutes.
Give him credit, it’s not easy to win a scoring title (28.7 points a game this season) and to carry a team to a 54-28 season. But the postseason is when greatness is established. Anthony, who will turn 29 a month from today, always has fallen flat. His Denver and New York teams have won just 2 of 11 playoff series.
Meanwhile, the true stars like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Boston’s Paul Pierce have elevated their games and their teams and regularly play in the conference and NBA finals.
They are great winners. He’s a great scorer. While being harassed by Brandon Bass most of the day, he finished with an ugly 36 points: 10 of 35 shooting, 0 of 7 3s, 16 of 20 from the line to go with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 7 turnovers.
“Brandon, he was the star of the game as far as I’m concerned,” said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. “He just defended and did it over and over and over again.”
And Melo just shot and missed over and over and over again.
Like he’s done in the playoffs throughout his 10-year NBA career. He’s shooting just .422 in the playoffs and his teams have gone just 20-38.
To his credit, Anthony didn’t blame Smith’s absence for his shooting woes.
“We miss him. I miss him. But him not being here doesn’t change the way I shoot,” he said.
He said jokingly, “Momma said there would be days like this.”
If you are a Knicks fan, you just hope there is just one a postseason.
Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.
Celtics 97, Knicks 90 (OT)