The was an overall somber mode last night at MSG with the Knicks playing their first game since being bounced from playoff contention. It was also the first time in Melo’s career that he hasn’t led his team to the playoffs. So how did the team respond? It’s not a big consolation prize, but New York put together one of their better defensive efforts of the season, holding the Bulls to 39% shooting and getting several emphatic stops in the 4th quarter to seal a 100-89 victory.
Melo, still nursing a bum right shoulder, managed to be very productive in his limited 28 minutes, notching 17 points and 3 assists. He had a lot of help tonight with three additional starters hitting double figure scoring, Iman Shumpert (10 points, 7 rebounds) providing strong perimter defense, and Tim Hardaway Jr. (20 points) serving as a 4th quarter closer by hitting four key free throws and a three-pointer to hold off a late Bulls run.
To contend with Chicago’s frontline, Coach Woodson wisely gave Cole Aldrich 18 minutes. The big man didn’t disappoint with 6 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. It makes you wonder how much of a difference he could have been if Woody has played him more after Kenyon Martin went down.
The Knicks are off to the Barclays Center to face the Nets on Tuesday night.