Carmelo Anthony had a monster game, finishing with 45 points but his off-balance shot with five seconds left didn’t count.
Instead, Anthony went to the line, hit his first free-throw and his second even though he was trying to intentionally miss it, hoping to recover the rock. Anthony also missed the potential game-tying 3-pointer with 30 seconds left.
James Harden led the way for the Rockets with 36 points. It was Harden’s ability to initiate contact, he was 16-18 from the free-throw line, that helped sealnthe deal. Jeremy Lin also played big minutes off the bench, scoring 21 points. Lin, though, shot horribly from 3-point range, hitting only 1 of 6 from downtown. The Rockets as a whole shot 32 percent from three.
With the absence of their defensive anchor, the Knicks struggled to stop Houston in transition or the penetration of Lin and Harden. Surprisingly, the lone bright spot defensively for the Knicks was Andrea Bargnani, who finished with 24 points, and frustrated Dwight Howard, a non-factor.
The Knicks offense seemed out of whack in the second quarter after they were able to get into the paint consistently in the first. In the third quarter, though, the offense started to flow and the ball started moving.
The only way the Knicks can pull out wins without Chandler suiting up is with the three-ball as we saw last season. If J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Bargnani can’t start stretching defenses, it’s going to be hard for the Knicks to win with their inconsistent defense.