After New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony's 62-point explosion on Friday, setting a franchise record for most points scored in one contest, that propelled the New York Knicks to a 125-96 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, the biggest question surrounding the Knicks' Sunday contest against the Los Angeles Lakers was what Anthony, and the rest of the Knicks would do for an encore. The question was indeed answered during the Knicks' 110-103 victory over the Lakers, but the answer proved to be an unsatisfying one, at least for those hoping Anthony would be able to replicate his offensive magic; the answer was also unsatisfying for those hoping the Knicks would display some defensive intensity.
The answer to what Anthony would do for an encore was to once again lead the Knicks in scoring en route to leading the team to their second straight victory. However, the way in which Anthony went about acquiring his team-high 35 points was a lot less impressive than what he had did in the previous contest. Gone was his extraordinary level of efficiency and taking its place was his usual method of scoring points in huge bunches (i.e., attempting a lot of shots).
In the contest, Anthony required 31 field goal attempts and six free throw attempts to amass his 35 points, which while still translating to an above-average rate of offensive efficiency, meant that he was unable to come within sniffing distance of Friday night's output.
Additionally, Anthony could not even be said to be leading the team's collective offensive efficiency since the 117 points per 100 possessions he produced and the 52.0 true shooting percentage he posted fell below the team's 123.4 points per 100 possessions and 56.2 true shooting percentage. Anthony did have enough superlative offensive game, especially when one factors in how ball-dominant he was on offense as evidenced by his 39.1 usage percentage, but more than in Friday's game when the Knicks looked more like a one-man wrecking crew than a team, the win on Sunday was all about the team playing well on offense as a whole.
The team aspect of the win was most readily observable in how well the Knicks handled the scoring burden as Anthony was just one of five Knicks players who topped double digits. The other four, Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, J.R. Smith, and Tim Hardaway, Jr. also managed to show elevated levels of efficiency as each of the four produced at least 125 points per 100 possessions.
Where the Knicks did not get positive contributions as a team is when they were trying to keep the Lakers from scoring since the team contrived yet another way to let yet another opponent with a below-average offense score at an above-average rate. For the season, the Lakers have scored just 103.6 points per 100 possessions, but the Knicks continued their one-team mission to improve every opponents' offense by allowing the Lakers to put the ball in the basket to the rate of 115.6 points per 100 possessions.
Every sports victory achieved involves outscoring an opponent in some way, but the Knicks seem not to realize that it is a lot easier to outscore an opponent when one plays even a semblance of defense. When the Knicks offense is clicking on all cylinders, the team can outscore almost every opponent in a shootout as it has did on Sunday, yet the shootouts would be completely avoidable if the Knicks cared more about bringing that same intensity they display on offense to their defensive play.
At some point, the Knicks will have to come to the realization that winning shootouts, while making for entertaining games, is not a recipe for sustained success or barring any sort of epiphany, they will find themselves in the NBA Draft lottery with the rest of the non-playoff teams.