The game lasted 3 hours 39 minutes, and the Knicks made 128 field-goal attempts, 51 of them 3-pointers. Four Knicks players fouled out, including Carmelo Anthony, who scored a season-high 45 points in 46 minutes. The Hawks’ Paul Millsap played 60 minutes. His side took 119 shots. The Knicks’ reserves played minutes that were fit for starters: Justin Holiday, 36; Mindaugas Kuzminskas, 36; Kyle O’Quinn, 25.
The Knicks, playing without Anthony after he fouled out with 12.9 seconds left in the second overtime, very nearly forced a fifth overtime. Guard Courtney Lee missed a dead-on 3-point attempt from the right wing with 2.9 seconds to play.
“I felt good, I had another five in me,” Knicks guard Brandon Jennings said, adding that he thought it was a great team effort, given how many players fouled out. “This one definitely hurts.”
Jennings had 18 points. Holiday had 15 off the bench.
Anthony had 28 points in the first half as the Knicks found a groove and led, 65-61, at the break.
The Knicks are desperately trying to turn a corner and make the playoffs, but there has been considerable tumult around Anthony amid reports that the team is trying to trade him.
Anthony said after the game on Sunday that he just tried to focus on basketball. The trade talk may have made his focus even sharper: This was his fifth game in the last eight with at least 30 points.
“I’m feeling good about myself, about my body,” Anthony said, “feeling healthy, being able to focus on basketball, and playing basketball, and not worrying about everything else that’s going on out there.”
|The Hawks’ Dennis Schroder, left, driving past the Knicks’ Carmelo Anthony, who scored a season-high 45 points. Credit Todd Kirkland/Associated Press|
As for the trade rumors, he said: “Once I’m on the court, I don’t hear that. It’s when you’re off the court you have to start dealing with all that.”
Jennings agreed that the only thing that matters is basketball.
“I don’t think anything negative is going to stop him from doing what he does,” Jennings said of Anthony. “He just had 45 tonight.”
The game never should have gone into the first overtime, much less the fourth, Anthony said. He drove at the rim and made a layup with 2.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. Millsap made hard contact with Anthony at the rim.
“The game should have been over at that point,” Anthony said, assuming he would go to the line and nail the free throw.
Anthony made a baseline jumper at the end of the first overtime to force a second overtime. After he fouled out, Lee engineered the heroics by drilling a 26-footer with 1.5 seconds left to tie it at 123-123 and force a third overtime.
The Knicks would not fold even as the starters Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah and the reserve O’Quinn fouled out. The Knicks led by 130-128 in the third overtime, but Dennis Schroder’s driving layup tied the game for Atlanta with three seconds left.
The Knicks had a hot start in the fourth overtime, the first for the team since 1951, but then went five straight possessions without a point.
“To not be out there that last overtime, a little difficult to watch, especially knowing the flow of the game,” Anthony said.
No matter how long the game or how hard the fight, the Knicks seem to draw the same ending: They lose. It was their 15th loss in 20 games. They played without guard Derrick Rose, who injured his ankle on Friday night.
Their gallant effort was not necessarily wasted.
“Take this game and build off,” Anthony said. “Guys stepped up. You can’t question the effort. We can only keep looking forward. I don’t think we’re that far away. We just have to keep fighting.”
Anthony has a no-trade clause, but the Knicks and the team’s president, Phil Jackson, seem determined to move him and get a lottery pick. Asked if a game like this might build a bond with his teammates so strong that he would reject any trade, Anthony just waved it off.
“It’s hard for me to think about that at this moment,” he said.