He had that shoot-first mentality. He had some of the same looks but he wasn’t hesitating, which I like. He was very aggressive on the offensive end tonight. I guess he was tired of hearing [he wasn’t]. – Carmelo Anthony on Bargnani
I’m still trying to learn him as a coach. I told our coaches, hell, he needs to speak up and talk more and act like he’s a part of this. He was pretty good tonight. He can’t be a tease because I’m going to expect that from him every time. – Mike Woodson on Bargnani
The Knicks finally got what we’ve been waiting to see since day one of Andrea Bargnani’s contract signing with the Knicks — frontcourt chemistry with team captain Carmelo Anthony. The two combined for a massive 53 points, 16 rebounds, 9 assists and 6 blocks as the Knicks cruised to a 101-91 win in Charlotte over the Bobcats.
The Knicks had a strong first half powered by ball movement and drives to the rim. Bargnani was not hesitant with his shot and hit several treys and even executed a crossover at the top of the key. He took 16 shots in the first half and scored 15 points. Equally important was Raymond Felton, who chipped in 10 points, 4 assists, and made sure the ball was either swinging around the perimeter to the open man, or attacking the interior defense. Melo crashed the boards with 4 offensive rebounds in the first half in addition to 16 points on 6-13 shooting.
THIRD QUARTER ATTACK: After missing his first three shots in the third, Bargnani caught fire starting with a block and hitting a three-pointer to make it 61-49. He hit a mid-range jumper off a pick n’roll with Felton, and Shumpert added a corner three off an assist from Melo to make it 66-49. The Bobcats sped up the tempo and got some easy looks to get within 10 (74-64), but a trio of threes from Metta World Peace, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Pablo Prigioni pushed the lead to 88-69. The Knicks would finish with seven threes in the quarter.
4TH QUARTER EXECUTION: The Knicks were a little absent-minded early in the fourth. Behind NY nemesis Kemba Walker, the Bobcats were able to get the deficit down to 11. However, Bargnani again sparked the Knicks on both sides of the ball, getting a block and hitting a three-pointer to make it 97-81. Melo’s jumper was working, allowing him and Bargnani to space the floor with both being inside and outside threats. The danger of a Bargnani three late in the quarter made the defense collapse and allowed for a sweet pass inside for Melo and an easy layup.
CAN BARGNANI DO THIS EVERY NIGHT?: No, we can’t expect Bargnani to start dropping stat lines of 25 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks at will. Let’s keep in mind this was the Bobcats. However, we should expect the effort and focus he showed tonight. Knicks fans got on him in his Garden debut because he was passive and unfocused, not because he was missing shots. If he brings this effort every night, the Knicks will be exactly where they hope to be on offense and defense.
MELO COMES ALIVE: So far this season, Melo has been good in every area except his shooting. That changed tonight with his 28 points on 54% shooting. He was great on the boards (8 rebounds, 5 offensive) and looked to get teammates involved at every turn (6 assists). This is a glimpse of how effective the offense can be when it isn’t predictable with the entire load falling on Melo’s shoulders.
TEAM MEETING WORKED: After a weak effort against the Bobcats earlier this week, the Knicks held a private players meeting to hash out their problems. The result was a team who put together their first solid 48 minutes of basketball the entire season.
OFFENSE LIFE COME SUNDAY: The Knicks will have their hands full when they meet the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. The offensive will get another lift with JR Smith making his season debut.