During the third quarter, the Knicks were leading by as many as 14 points. They were controlling the game, hitting shots from all over the court and playing some excellent defense. During this run, the question was raised. Why was Carmelo Anthony in this game? Couldn't he use some rest, especially on the first night of a back-to-back.
The answer, of course, is obvious. Anthony needs the rest. He continues to lead the league in minutes played, averaging 38.9 per game. In Friday night's game, which ended up going into double overtime, Anthony played 50:19, the second most of his season (first was 55:27 against the Bucks on December 18).
Those minutes took their toll on Anthony during the two overtime periods, where he looked absolutely exhausted. He was huffing and puffing as he muscled through 10 of the teams 15 points in overtime. Anthony was still spectacular, keeping the game close with two clutch threes late, but the effect of playing 40+ minutes, night after night, finally showed. He was unable to give a full effort on defense and took several wild shots.
I'm putting this squarely on the shoulders of Mike Woodson. Woodson, who has had a loose grip on rotations for the entire season, played Anthony through a stretch of the game that seemed well at hand. It seemed like a lineup of Pablo Prigioni, J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Tyler or Cole Aldrich could have put in some quality third quarter minutes instead of Anthony staying on the court.
This was another chapter in the Woodson saga that I'm now convinced will end at the seasons end. Woodson has done a horrible job managing minutes and last night I believe it cost the Knicks a win. That is inexcusable.