By ADAM ZAGORIA, DAN KELLY & MATT FALKENBURYRonnie Brewer has been a virtual non-factor offensively for the Knicks, but Carmelo Anthony still has faith in him.
“(Melo) has been great,” Brewer said Saturday ahead of today’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at MSG.
“The game looks so easy for him, the big scoring nights that he has, and it’s been a positive note for me that he is still in my corner, still backing me and just telling me to play with a lot of confidence.
“Everybody knows what I can do on defense, to be solid on defense, but he wants me to be a threat on offense, shoot the ball and shoot it with confidence.”
Brewer was brought in as a defensive stalwart but he is an offensive liability at this point.
The team’s starting small forward went scoreless in Friday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls. He hasn’t scored more than four points in his last four outings, and hasn’t scored more than six in his last seven games.
Brewer dislocated a finger on his left hand during the Nov. 26 game at Brooklyn, and during the preseason underwent surgery for a torn meniscus.
Still, he says he’s OK and just has to press on. He continues to work with assistants Darryl Walker and Dave Hopla on his stroke.
“I feel fine,” Brewer said. “I’m not shooting the ball like I wanted to right. It’s been a tough stretch, but it’s something you just got to fight through, you got to stay positive. You know I got to keep my confidence and I just got to get back to playing the way that I did at the beginning of the season.”
Brewer pleasantly surprised New York fans by coming out and shooting 41 percent from three point range in his first month as a Knick. The career 26-percent 3-point shooter seemed to have finally found his shooting rhythm. And then, just as quickly, he lost it.
In the month of December Brewer has shot 4-22 (18 percent) from three point range. He bottomed out on Friday night against the Bulls going 0-4 from the floor and 0-2 from beyond the arc. Opposing defenses have begun to sag off Brewer so much that he can’t make any more of his sneaky back door cuts and the lauded Knicks offensive spacing is suffering the consequences.
“I have to help Ronnie,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said after the Bulls game. “When guys lose confidence, and it happens throughout the course of the year, as a coach, and our coaching staff, we have to show Ronnie some more love. He has been a big part of what we have done, and has been a big part of us being 19-7, and I’m not going to kick him to the curb.”
Brewer could well be displaced from the starting lineup when Amar’e Stoudemire — who is being listed as day-to-day — returns from knee surgery. Stoudemire would presumably resume his role as the starting power forward, with Anthony at the three.
Until then, Brewer and the Knicks must soldier on.
“(Coach Woodson) just told me to continue to work on it,” Brewer said.
“When I get in the game just shoot it in rhythm and confidence,” he said. “You are going to get on a cold slump and you tend to hesitate a little bit and you got to let it go and move to the next shot and just try to continue to play well on both ends of the court.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.