You had this coming, Brooklyn. After a summer spent boasting about being the best team in New York and much trash-talking after beating the Knicks in overtime last month, NY gave their BK little brothers a big dose of reality last night with a 100-86 beating at Madison Square Garden. I will give Brooklyn credit — they played a good first half anchored by excellent outside shooting from Joe Johnson and Keith Bogans. However, there’s also a second half to the game, and that’s where this contest was won (and dominated) by the Knicks.
We Missed You Melo!: With Steve Novak sitting due to the mysterious “flu-like symptoms” and Rasheed Wallace still out, it wasn’t looking promising earlier in the day when it was believed Carmelo Anthony might sit for a third straight game. Instead, Melo came out and did what he’s done all season and that’s torch the Nets. You can tell the ankle was still bothering him in his spots as he relied on more jumpers instead of driving completely to the basket, but that didn’t help Brooklyn any. Melo shot 12-22 and was 4-8 from downtown. And the best thing is he didn’t have to work too hard as the bench allowed him to rest most of the fourth.
This is the JR Smith We Love: JR has had some very bad shooting games, but seeing him on like he was last night was beautiful to watch. JR was not just shooting well (7-11 for 19 points), but flat-out out-hustled the Nets by nabbing five rebounds and playing smart defense. He was a +24 on the court and was one of the key offensive sparks that took an eight-point lead entering the fourth and pushing it at one point to 18.
Chris Copeland Again Contributes: Cope is gonna mess around and earn a regular rotation spot if he hasn’t already. He contributed a solid 8 points off the bench. Although he had some defensive lapses in the first half that lead to some open threes, he tightened up that D in the second half. Great effort.
A Tyson Possessed: Raymond Felton had a bad shooting night, but we should thank him for making sure he did one thing right — feed the beast that was Tyson Chandler. Those alley oops Tyson caught were sick and was key to us taking control in the third. Chandler had an awesome and balanced stat line of 16 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks.
The Lead Grows: The Knicks now hold a six-game lead in the Atlantic Division. Our closet rival is the Nets, who have lost their third straight (8 of the last 10) and currently sit at 13-12. And against eastern conference teams, the Knicks are 13-2. With Amar’e coming back soon, there is reason for high optimism that we put the lead completely out of reach over the next month.
Next up is Chicago on Friday. I’ll be at MSG for that one. Can’t wait!