Few players in the NBA can score like Carmelo Anthony. Second in the league with 27.5 points per game, Melo regularly beats defenders with his midrange jumper, improved 3-point shooting, elusive quickness and surprising strength.
The only question is -- why can't he do it for the Knicks in the fourth quarter?
When he first came to New York in February 2011, Anthony had a reputation for being a closer. He was supposed to be a reliable scorer and go-to source of points down the stretch of games. That hasn't been the case this season, however.
Although he is third in the league with 8.1 first quarter points, he ranks 11th with just 5.7 in the fourth. His minus-2.4 differential between first and fourth quarter scoring ranks third largest among the NBA's top 10 scorers, trailing only the Timberwolves' Kevin Love and the Clippers' Blake Griffin.
It gets worse. Anthony comes out of the gate strong, shooting .476 in the first quarter. Unfortunately, he seems to tire down the stretch and shoots a woeful .381 in the fourth, tying the Raptors' DeMar Derozan for the worst fourth quarter field goal percentage among top 10 scorers. His minus-9.5% differential between the first and fourth quarters ranks second-worst in that group behind Love.
Fans often become furious with the Knicks' lack of ball movement down the stretch, when isolation basketball often results in empty possessions. Simply put, dumping the ball to Anthony and standing around waiting for him to do something miraculous isn't working. He is 3-for-22 this season in the last minute of games when the Knicks, who are off until tomorrow when they visit Toronto, are tied or behind and 1-for-18 during the final 30 seconds.
While fatigue may be an issue -- Anthony leads the NBA with 38.9 minutes per game -- better ball movement in the final minutes of games could result in fewer double teams and better shot opportunities. If the Knicks don't catch the Hawks for the No. 8 seed, perhaps late-game execution will be the reason why.