Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
In years past, a poor shooting performance from Carmelo Anthony was guaranteed to end with a Knicks defeat. In the present, that won’t happen if Derrick Rose (18 points, 5 assists) and Kristaps Porzingis (31 points, 9 rebounds) have anything to say about it. The pair combined for 49 points, including a timely Rose jumper with 6.8 seconds left to seal the Knicks’ fifth straight win at Madison Square Garden.
FENDING OFF A HUNGRY TEAM: The Blazers destroyed the Nets a few nights ago and picked up right where they left off. They went 4/5 from three-point land in the first quarter and had the Knicks scrambling to keep up on pick n’ rolls. New York managed to keep it close and found themselves down by only five (33-28) headed into the second.
JENNINGS THE X-FACTOR: Brandon Jennings might be the best $5 million the Knicks have spent in a long time. With the first unit offense lethargic, he came in pushing the ball and attacking Portland’s star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He opened up the floor with 4 first half assists that lead to the bench pouring in 17 points by halftime to give the Knicks a 60-58 edge.
Cramps would keep Jennings from playing in the fourth, but he still managed 11 assists in 22 minutes.
KUZMISKAS STEPS UP: With Jennings out, Kuzmiskas picked up the slack with 10 points. He hit a crucial three-pointer late in the fourth and had a great drive for a layup. He kept the floor spaced just by being a scoring threat.
UNSUNG HEROES: Courtney Lee, Willy Hernangomez and Justin Holiday don’t have numbers that’ll jump out at you, but all three worked hard defensively. There was one great sequence where Lee completely shut down the driving lanes on McCollum and forced him into a well-contested jumper that elicited cheers from the Garden faithful.
MELO’S SCORELESS 4TH OVERSHADOWS OTHER GREAT PLAY: With KP hitting half his shots in the fourth, the crowd was in a frenzy to get the ball to him on every play. Unfortunately, the frenetic play had him winded and Melo tried to pick up the slack on a few iso plays that went nowhere. The crowd jeered their disapproval.
It’s unfortunate that we’re going to read a few articles tomorrow about how Melo needs to play “in the flow” of the offense and now about how his fourth quarter defense and rebounding was a key factor in this win.
It’s unfortunate that we’re going to read a few articles tomorrow about how Melo needs to play “in the flow” of the offense and not about how his fourth quarter defense and rebounding was a key factor in this win. He tipped out two offensive rebounds for extra possessions in the final two minutes and also helped force a turnover on Evan Turner. In addition, his late screen for Rose helped the speedy point guard score a layup to put New York in front for good 102-101. Melo’s 7-22 shooting was ugly, but he locked in where it was needed to grind out this win.
We’re at .500! The Knicks will look to improve on that record this Friday when they face the Charlotte Hornets.