I love nights like this. Four guys with 20-plus points. Sharing the ball. Making plays. Having fun out there. Taking the load off me. I love nights like that. – CARMELO ANTHONY
As bad as the Knicks have been this season, it could be worse. Dont’ believe me? Just take one look at the Sixers, who are not only out of playoff contention, but currently on a 17-game losing streak. The Knicks added to Philly’s misery last night, overcoming a 12-point deficit (29-17) in the first quarter to score a much-needed home win to remain in play (3.5 games back) to catch the Atlanta Hawks for the 8th and final playoff spot.
SLEEPWALKING: The Knicks came out very lazy and allowed the Sixer guards like Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten to get in the paint at will. With Tyson Chandler out due to personal reasons, the Knicks missed his defensive presence and rebounding. In addition, Melo wasn’t his usual self, looking lethargic coming off a cold last game. He didn’t have good lift on his inside game nor on his jumper. Thankfully, the Knicks only had to settle for a 31-26 hole after hitting a few timely threes to close out the first stanza.
DEFENSE PICKS UP: By the second quarter, the Knicks realized their were playing the Sixers and started playing defense. They took a small five-point lead following two Raymond Felton threes, but hurt themselves by going in the penalty six minutes in, allowing Philly to stay close at the line and keep it tied at halftime, 61 all.
THE BEST PLAYER ON THE FLOOR: Amar’e Stoudemire has been beasting and his output was sorely needed yesterday to keep the pressure off Melo. Playing at the 5, Stat was too fast and quick for guys like Thaddeus Young, dropping 23 points (9/10 shooting). Stat’s defense was adequate as well, including a nice block at the rim that lead to a JR Smith three on the other end. A 9-0 run late in the third, after a few minutes of back and forth buckets early on, allowed the Knicks to take the lead for good.
FOUR OVER 20: The Knicks had four different plays score over 20 points: Melo (22), Stat (23), JR (22) and Hardaway Jr. (28). Tim’s output was the most scorching, including 13 points in the fourth that allowed Melo to rest the entire period.
The Knicks head to Boston Wednesday night to take on the Celtics. I wonder if Melo and Rondo will have any “side” conversations.