It’s not the 3-0 Texas sweep it should have been, but we’ll take it. The Knicks came out with the same fire they showed earlier this week against the Rockets, but made better decisions down the stretch to pull out a 92-80 victory over the Mavericks, making it a 2-1 trip to the Lone Star state with an additional win over San Antonio.
MELO STARTS IT, SHUMP ENDS IT: Carmelo Anthony came out on fire in the first quarter, scoring 15 of his 19 points. The Mavs looked lethargic and the Knicks took full advantage on offense and defense, outscoring Dallas 29-17 and holding their shooting under 40%.
In the final minutes of the fourth with the Mavs down just six points, Iman Shumpert scored seven points in the remaining two minutes to ice the game, including a fearless layup drive around Dirk Nowitzki. His stat sheet will only show 9 points, but they were the most impactful of the game (along with his three steals, one coming late in the third to stifle a Mavs run). Defense wins games, and with Shumpert refocused in that area, there is absolutely no reason to not have him on the court during crunch time.
K-MART GETS NY THROUGH SCORING DROUGHT: Down 52-35 at halftime, the Mavs made a strong push in the third while the Knicks went ice-cold on offense. Vince Carter, Jose Calderon, and Monta Ellis all nailed treys to help get the lead in single digits. However, Kenyon Martin had one of his better games of the season, scoring the majority of his 14 points in the third quarter to allow the Knicks to maintain a 10-point lead (67-57) going into the fourth.
STOP THE JR SMITH LOVE AFFAIR, WOODY: I’m on record as giving JR until the All-Star break to get it together. Nonetheless, that doens’t mean play him when it’s a detriment to the team. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 10 points, including a crucial three-point play in the third. He provided good minutes early in the fourth before getting pulled for JR, who immediately had issues not turning the ball over and leaving Mavs guards open on the perimeter. If it wasn’t for Shumpert, the Mavs might have stolen this one.
JR did at least provide one hilarious moment during the game.
NOW DO IT AT HOME: The Knicks have been a decent road team and horrible at home. For the rest of the month, 10 of the 13 games NY plays will be at home. This will likely be the period that makes or breaks our playoff hopes considering the majority of the opponents have sub-.500 records.