“If we played like this for entire games, we’d be #1 in the league.” – JR SMITH
J.R. Smith is a wise man. While New York had a underwhelming first half in terms of offensive and defensive cohesion, there were a few things the team did good that served them well in a second half that culminated in a fantastic fourth quarter that saw the Bucks held to just 13 points. This was a game the Knicks couldn’t afford to drop and NY has now put themselves in position tonight to overtake Miami as the #1 team in the East.
BUCKS HOT 3 POINT SHOOTING: The Knicks did an excellent job in keeping the explosive backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis under wraps in the first half. Problem was they couldn’t completely control the three-point shooting (6-13) helmed by Mike Dunleavy and Ersan Ilyasova. At one point their team was shooting over 60% from downtown, but the Knicks would go on a 10-0 late in the second to get it close and only be down 53-47 at halftime.
THE STAT N’ TYSON SHOW: Melo had 25 points but it was a very rough night shooting (7-22) and when it came to decision-making (season high 7 turnovers). However, our Big Three frontcourt showed its versatility with Tyson Chandler being an absolute terror on the boards (20 rebounds) and Stoudemire continuing to put that Hakeem Olajuwon camp money to good use by living in the post and contributing 17 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block in 24 minutes.
3RD QUARTER WAKE-UP: After the Bucks reeled off six-straight points in the third to go up by 12, the Knicks finally woke up for good. JR Smith would drill back to back three-pointers as part of a 10-0 New York run to pull within two. The Bucks would go on a 7-0 run to get some breathing room at 66-59, but the Knicks would outscore them 27-20 in the quarter to take a slim 74-73 lead into the fourth.
4TH QUARTER FINISH: The Bucks couldn’t buy a bucket in the final 12 minutes as their shooting dipped to 39%. Prigioni drew a crafty offensive foul on Dunleavy early on and Stoudemire continued to feast in the post. Iman Shumpert, who got burned backdoor on a few plays, got aggressive in causing two deflections and finishing two tough layups inside. The Bucks kept fighting, but two threes courtesy of Raymond Felton and Shumpert closed the book on this giving the Knicks a 92-81 lead with just a few minutes left.
After that heart-breaking game-winner the Kings pulled on the Knicks in December, New York should have revenge on their minds later tonight.