The bragging rights on the historic first “Battle for NY” goes to the Brooklyn Nets, who showed poise and efficiency down the stretch to overcome big efforts from Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler to take a 96-89 overtime victory in a highly entertaining game last night from the Barclays Center. The game had me on the edge of my seat and pacing all night. Of course, not seeing a Knicks victory was highly disappointing, but everyone will agree this is the start to what will be an amazing rivalry over the next few years. Here’s what stood out to me last night.
Melo and Tyson Beast…Everyone Else Falls Short: Melo dropped 35 points and Tyson contributed a career high 28 points. Outside of that, the state line is abysmal with the next highest scorer being Raymond Felton with 8 points on 3-19 shooting. I was especially impressed with Tyson meeting the challenge of guarding Brook Lopez and drawing a key offensive foul in the last-minute that unfortunately couldn’t pull out the win. Our bench was invisible and got outscored solely by Jerry Stackhouse (15 points) of all people. No way we win with just two guys showing up on offense.
Kidd Missed…Felton is Horrid: You never want to place blame on one guy for a loss; we win and lose as a team. But damn it, Raymond Felton contributed heavily to this defeat. I sincerely believe he got too caught up in the atmosphere and trying to “win” his matchup with Deron Williams. Felton had 5 turnovers and even more disastrous kept bricking jumpers and airballing floaters during the crucial fourth quarter. The value of Jason Kidd cannot be overstated. Not having his outside shooting to the space the floor and court generalship really hurt us. There’s no way with Kidd on the floor that Melo gets frozen out of getting solid looks over the last 6-7 minutes of the game.
Melo’s Free Throw Irony: The cruel irony last night is that Melo, who’s been rightly complaining about not getting fouls, finally got them last night in shooting 16 free throws. And of course, Melo only goes 10-16 from the line. Make about three more and it’s likely this game doesn’t see overtime. But in his defense, Melo played a total of 50 minutes and had no rest in the second half. Fatigue likely played a huge part.
The Knicks have to jump right back on the saddle tomorrow when we head to Milwaukee to face the Bucks, whose backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are sure to give us fits. All of our losses have been on the road this year, so getting this one would bode well for our confidence with a winnable stretch of games following against Washington, Phoenix and Charlotte.