A win! It’s been a long time, 2 weeks actually, since the Knicks had notched a victory. While the ship wasn’t completely righted with this W, the Knicks showed signs of life in the areas of ball movement and getting timely defensive stops.
MELO FEASTS AT THE LINE: One of the indicators that the offense is stagnant is when you see Melo shooting 20-plus shots. Tonight, he took 18 shots but was masterful in drawing fouls and getting easy points at the line. He had a season high in free throws (16) and for the first time this year had more points there than from the field (13).
STAT UNSTOPPABLE: After a passive first quarter where he wasn’t looking for his shot, Stat came alive at the start of the second with back to back tip-ins. From there the man couldn’t miss, banking long-range jumpers and punishing Philly in the post. In the end it was fouls (5 by mid-fourth quarter) that muzzled him. Nonetheless, the damage had already be done to the tune of 22 points on 9-10 shooting and 4-6 at the line coupled with 5 rebounds.
THE TURNER AND HOLIDAY SHOW: On Philly’s end, the offense was anchored by Jrue Holiday (30 points) and Evan Turner (21 points). They did the majority of their damage in the second half and had to play from the behind. On the bright side, these two at least are highly talented as opposed to the unheralded players that had been lighting the Knicks up in recent weeks.
KENYON MARTIN ALREADY RUBBING OFF ON THE KNICKS?: Looks like that old Denver “Thuggets” mentality is creeping into the Knicks. In the third quarter, Melo took exception to a Spencer Hawes box out and promptly slapped the bigger man in the back of the head. Hawes immediately got in Melo’s face only to be shoved hard by Tyson Chandler, earning our All-Star center a technical and a very appreciative chant from the Madison Square Garden faithful. Melo got a flagrant 1 out of it, but it was great to see our team not only playing well, but showing a legit “take no shit” attitude instead of the bitchiness and ref whining we’ve seen over the losing streak.
Speaking of Martin, he didn’t get any playing time tonight (Woodson didn’t want to play him off one practice). From the problems the Knicks had with pushing back guard penetration in the paint with Holiday and Turner with Chandler off the floor, you can’t help but be hopeful that Martin will be able to quell some that defensive bleeding.
FELTON PICKS UP THE BACKCOURT SLACK: Jason Kidd was abysmal again, scoring just three points on 1-7 shooting (0-6 from downtown). It wasn’t a killer as it’s been in recent games since Raymond Felton was aggressive in attacking the rim and scored 14 points.
A FOURTH QUARTER THAT WOULD NEVER END: The Sixers just refused to go away. The lead hovered around 12-13 points before the Sixers chipped it down to eight. Luckily, JR Smith’s three-point silder was high and he drained several treys to keep the Sixers at arm’s length. In addition, Smith forced a turnover late on Turner. The Sixers got as close as 98-93 with a little over a minute remaining before Jason Kidd’s free throws sealed it.
With this win, the Knicks take the season series over the Sixers 3-1.
New York makes another national TV appearance on ESPN this coming Wednesday (February 27) against the Warriors.[youtube http://youtu.be/UsBrZ0YMY7A]