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Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony Says Team “Doesn’t Believe” During Crunch-Time

Losses aren’t created equal. Just ask the New York Knicks. After failing to win yet another close game yesterday against the Phoenix Suns, Carmelo Anthony questioned his team’s confidence in crunch-time.

Via Al Iannazzone of Newsday:

“It’s the same thing that’s happening game in and game out,” Anthony said. “I don’t know if we believe in ourselves at that moment that we can win the basketball game or have a chance to win the basketball game. I think it’s more mental than it is physical out there.

“I can just see it out there on the court that we don’t believe in ourselves to be able to go down the stretch and win basketball games. I think it’s going to take us to win the game down the stretch to get that confidence back and have us believing that we can win games at that time.”

The Knicks held a one-point lead over the Suns on Saturday before eventually falling 99-90. They trailed just 82-80 with 4:45 remaining, but allowed Eric Bledsoe and company a 17-10 run to end the game.

These struggles are hardly new to New York. The loss dropped Derek Fisher’s team to 3-16 in games that were within five points during their last five minutes, good for a league-worst winning percentage of 15.8. The Knicks’ 87.1 crunch-time offensive rating is ranked 24th in basketball, and their performance on the other end lags further behind – a porous 119.6 defensive rating that is one spot removed from the league’s cellar.

Anthony basically expanded on a recent sentiment from team president Phil Jackson that New York has “a loser’s mentality.” But is mindset really what most contributes to the Knicks’ clutch struggles? Does a lack of disbelief lead to sloppy individual defense, missed rotations, and rampant fouling?

If effort is the problem, absolutely. But the all-consuming doubt that Carmelo mentions is most likely to be fleshed out on the other end. Defense is what’s most ailing the Knicks down the stretch, not discomfort in the triangle or even a reliance on isolations.

Realizing the main cause of their dispiriting reality is the first step to New York overcoming it. Unfortunately, the Knicks seem no closer to doing so after their latest collapse in the clutch.

What do you think?

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