Speedy Wizards Overwhelm Short-Handed Knicks 117-101

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Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

What happens when you’re coming off a four-overtime game and missing two of your star offensive players in Kristaps Porzingis and Derrick Rose? You get a Knicks team that couldn’t compete with the firepower of the Wizards, who had all their starters in double figures to easily defeat the Knicks 117-101

The Wizards came into tonight on a 15-game home winning streak and showed a poise and efficiency that the Knicks have been lacking for weeks.

2ND HALF COLLAPSE: The game had our usual pattern. Carmelo Anthony started fast with a 13-point first quarter on 5/7 shooting. But the warning signs (erratic foul shooting, suspect defense, stagnant offense) became more pronouned as the game wore on. The Knicks were only down 54-59 at the half, but were shooting 41%.

Any thought of this game being one the Knicks could steal was erased early in the third. The Wizards went on a 12-2 run to go up 71-56 and never looked back. With Melo being the only one that could create his own shot, the lead at several points ballooned as high as 20. By the 4:42 mark in the fourth, Coach Hornacek waved the white flag and emptied the bench.

Bradley Beal damaged us the most with 28 points. Wall finished with 15 points and 13 assists, and Markieff Morris added 24 points.

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BRIGHT SPOTS: Melo was our only consistent weapon, finishing with 26 points (10/17 FG) and 5 boards. Our best two-player was Willy Hernangomez, who started for KP and contributed 15 points, 14 boards and 4 assists. The fact our rook lead the team in assists gives you an idea how bad the ball movement was. Outside of Melo, the Knicks were 24/76 from the field for 32%.

Starting for Rose, Brandon Jennings had 21 points, 5 boards and 4 steals. Despite the high scoring, I can’t say he had a good game. As the starting PG, he only managed 2 assists, had 4 turnovers and shot 5/16 from the field.

The Knicks won’t have long to lick their wounds as we have the Nets tomorrow in Brooklyn.

 

 

Knicks Bench Closes Out Magic 106-95

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Photo Credit: USA Today Images

It was a sloppy game filled with haphazard play, but the Knicks made key passes and shots when it mattered to take a comfortable 106-95 win over the Magic.

This isn’t a game you’ll see many highlight packages on. Carmelo Anthony only had 15 points on 5/17 shooting. Porzingis was 5/11 for just 11 points.

The bench was where this game was won. Brandon Jennings’ play proved contagious and had the Knicks bursting with energy. He dished for 12 assists in 22 minutes with Willy Hernangomez as the main target. The rookie hit five straight field goals during the fourth quarter and finished with 15 points and 5 rebounds. Kyle O’Quinn had another monster night with 14 points, 16 rebounds and 5 blocks. The bearded Queens native was a one man army that outrebounded the combined efforts of Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic.

Derrick Rose had a weird night. Biyombo blocked no less than four of his shots in the first half. He wasn’t particularly aggressive in pushing the issue in the second half. And yet, when you look checked the scoreboard, he was finished with 19 points in 26 minutes.

A scary moment came early in the the fourth when Porzingis fell awkwardly off a missed layup. He limped off the court, but luckily suffered just a right knee contusion and was eligible to return.

Tonight’s win continues the Knicks’ dominance at home, where they’ve won 10 of their last 12. However, it shouldn’t be lost on us that the Knicks face a reality check against the Celtics on Christmas Day. Boston is #1 in our division and New York has not won a nationally televised game this season.

 

 

Unnecessary Drama: Knicks Blow 20-Point Lead, Hold Off Kings 106-98

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Photo Credit: USA Today Images

Tell me if you’ve heard this story before. The Knicks play well. The Knicks get a big lead. The Knicks then decide to stop playing defense. Said Knicks play a life and death fourth quarter to either win close or lose a heart-breaker. Thankfully tonight was the former, as the Knicks blew a 20-point third quarter lead but held on for a 106-98 win at Madison Square Garden.

A loss to the Sacramento Kings is unacceptable under any circumstances. And despite a bad shooting night from Kristaps Porzingis, the scoring and play-making slack was picked up by Derrick Rose, Carmelo Anthony and a season-high 19 points from Brandon Jennings.

SLOW BUILD: Early in the first quarter, the Knicks were going through the motions. KP was 0/4, and lackadaisical defense had the Knicks in the penalty with 7:49 remaining. Then Derrick Rose took over with 10 points and 4 assists in the quarter to push New York to a 26-21 lead. The advantage ballooned to as much as 21 in the second quarter before the Knicks settled on a 55-41 halftime lead.

CONSEQUENCES FOR LAZY PLAY: It looked like the Knicks might finally get an easy night when they went up 70-50 early in the third. But right on cue, the Knicks stopped playing defense, particularly from the three-point line where DeMarcus Cousins burned them repeatedly. At one point, the Kings were on a 16-0 run in just over three minutes. The Knicks spent this stretch complaining about foul calls and turning the ball over.

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JENNINGS SAVES THE DAY: Tonight we needed his offense and BJ was up to the challenge. He hit a jumper at the end of the third to stop the Kings momentum and goaded Willie Cauly-Stein into a foul on a three-pointer. Jennings attacked the basket for a few timely layups and remained a fourth quarter threat from long-range. His offense powered a bench that scored 44 points.

Ironically, Jennings’ best shot of the evening didn’t count. Check out this 70-foot heave.

PORZINGIS IMPACTS ON THE DEFENSIVE END: KP never seemed to get going. Cousins was physical with him early and that set the tone for a long night on the offensive end (6/18). However, Porzingis worked hard on the defensive end with 14 rebounds, and closed down the paint with 4 blocks. One of them was a crucial rejection in the fourth that lead to a Jennings layup and a 92-85 lead.

ROSE and MELO: D-Rose had a few too many reckless plays (4 turnovers), but as usual his attacking style paid off with free throws in the fourth. He simmered down from a hot 10-point first quarter, but remained a versatile contributor with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Melo took 20 shots, but the iso plays were limited. Not a single boo was heard and he even ended the Kings comeback chances with a circus shot layup over Cousins to make it 103-96 with less than a minute remaining.

BENCH WORK: Lance Thomas hit two open threes off kick-out passes. With this team, it’s looking like his role should be a “3 and D” guy. Willy Hernangomez had a nifty fake-out spin in the post that makes me think he’s been watching Hakeem Olajuwon tapes. Kyle O’Quinn continued his good play as of late — 4 points, 9 rebounds in 14 minutes.

NOAH: In 25 minutes, Joakim Noah managed 2 points and 5 rebounds. It was his first game back so I’ll cut him some slack, but we need him to get it together. If not, it’ll hard to justify his starting spot not matter the contract.

 

 

 

[Video] Crappy Effort: Wizards Torch Lethargic Knicks from Three-Point Arc

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Photo Credit: USA Today

What a crap performance. There isn’t a better way to describe our last outing in D.C. against the Wizards. After coming off Kristaps Porzingis scoring a career high 35 points, everyone was optimistic that the team may have turned the corner. Instead we got a lethargic team in the second night of a back to back that allowed one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league to torch them for 45 points from downtown (15/25, 60%) and shoot 54% from the field.

The Knicks staged a faux pas comeback in the fourth after falling behind nearly 30 points, but New York would get no closer that seven points down the stretch. If you’re looking for bright spots, you can hope Derrick Rose (27 points, 3/5 from three) and Brandon Jennings (17 points, 7/10, +19)  continue the improved shooting.

It bears repeating — this team will only go as far as their ability on defense, particularly when it comes to guarding the three-point line.

Things will get no easier to close November as New York has Atlanta, Portland, Charlotte (2X), Oklahoma City and Minnesota over the next two weeks.

[Video] Taken Out By the Refs: Knicks 87, Celtics 115

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BOSTON — Nobody told the Knicks tonight’s game was 8 on 5. A second quarter ejection, 6 tehcnical fouls and uneven officiating throughout the game helped demoralize the Knicks as they dropped a disappointing game to the Celtics.

WEATHERING THE STORM: The Celtics came in determined to snap their three-game losing streak. Led by Isaiah Thomas (29 points, 23 in the first half), the Celtics were hot from long-range and held a 31-27 lead after the first. Carmelo Anthony kept New York in it with his offense, scoring 12 points in 12 minutes. And during his early second quarter rest, Hernangomez (8 points, 12 rebounds) played well as the first big off the bench. Particularly effective was the Knicks nabbing 14 offensive rebounds in the first half.

Then, disaster struck…

THE EJECTION: The game was heating up in the second when Melo was call for dubious loose ball foul. Melo complained vehemently and earned his first tech. He walked away but made sure referee Tony Brothers was within earshot to hear his displeasure. Whatever Melo said was enough to earn his second technical.

The ejection couldn’t have come at a worst time since the Knicks had slashed the deficit to six. Boston promptly went on a 9-0 run and later extended the run to 17-3.

The Knicks were lucky to only be down 61-51 at halftime.

NO MELO, NO CHANCE: Knick fans remember that last year’s team couldn’t muster a win without Melo. Tonight was no different. Porzingis (5-15, 14 points) was frustrated by the physical play of Marcus Smart and never truly got in rhythm. Derrick Rose (3-10, 11 points, 7 turnovers) had a few decent drives in the first half, but ultimately his turnovers and erratic shooting eliminated any comeback hopes.

Compounding the problems was the lopsided foul calling and bad shooting. The Celtics got 43 free throws to Knicks’s 17. New York only managed 39% from the field and 25 turnovers. With those numbers, you can forget winning on the road.

MISSED OPPORTUNITY: The Celtics were without Jae Crowder and Al Horford. With the red-hot Raptors on the schedule tomorrow, the Knicks are in danger of being three games under .500 by Sunday.

WHY DO THE REFS HATE US?: Do we have a bad reputation around the league? The sheer amount of foul calls (and techs) on us is now becoming very alarming. The Knicks aren’t allowed the same physicality as other teams. I’m speculating, but I think we have a reputation as complainers among the officials (hence no calls).

Nonetheless, the Knicks have to learn to channel their anger. Good teams don’t let the officials decide their fate.

JENNINGS JOINS MELO: Brandon Jennings had another poor game (1-7, 6 points) and did his best to get tossed in the fourth. The refs obliged him.

The only silver lining is no one lodged big minutes. The squad should be fresh for tomorrow’s important game in Toronto.

[Video] Shimmy Shimmy Ya: Brandon Jennings Has a Little Fun in Brooklyn

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Knicks point guard Brandon Jennings has brought some well-needed energy to the Knicks this year. Tonight as New York wrapped its preseason with a win over the Nets, Jennings had a little fun at Brooklyn’s expense as seen with the below post-jumper celebration.

Considering Jennings’ recent shooting woes (27% from the field going into tonight’s game), I’d do a little dance after EVERY basket.

Boos, Cheers and Late Hustle: Pistons 97, Knicks 81

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Make that 10 straight losses. The Knicks suited up just nine players tonight against the Pistons and spent most of the game in an offensive and defensive fog, going down by as many as 30 points before settling on a 97-81 defeat. Game like this don’t yield many positives. However, the game’s last few minutes allowed for a few moments of cheering.

 

EARLY PROVIDES A SPARK: Rookie Cleathony Early suited up for the first time since mid-November after going down with a knee injury. Nothing about his numbers tonight will jump out at you — 5 points, 1 rebounds and a steal in 14 minutes of play. But the rook showed strong effort. His most notable moment was a coast-to-coast drive that resulted in a three-point play opportunity. His ethusiasm picked up the energy of the rest of the team and got JR nailing a few threes to bring the lead back under 20.

With only a two minutes left, the fans knew the Knicks wouldn’t be overcoming a 16-18 point deficit. But the fact the team actually gave a damn resulted in loud cheers that would make you believe we were watching a tight playoff game.

Early hasn’t been tainted yet by the constant losing. Fisher should keep him in rotation and maybe his youthful enthusiasm will get contagious.

 

ANGRY BOOS: Before the late run, most of the night was filled with irate boos from the Garden faithful. The Pistons started pulling away in the second via an 11-0 run that put them up 40-27. With their best players out (Melo, Hardaway Jr, Stoudemire etc.), that Knicks were relegated to contested jumpshots and were shooting well under 40% They were outscored 33-18 in the second and down 58-37 at halftime.

The hammering continued in the third with Brandon Jennings sinking repeated threes. The fans were booing at every intermission and each time it seemed to sap the team’s focus and confidence. The lowest point came with Jennings hitting a three at the end of the third that put the deficit at 82-52.

 

RANDOM NOTES: JR Smith lead the team with 22 points, going 8/20 from the field (mostly due to chucking threes in the final minutes). Cole Aldrich had a solid outing against Andre Drummond with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks. Drummond had a low scoring night (7 points), but was a beast on the boards with 20 rebounds.

Andrea Bragnani was playing just his second game this season when he re-aggravated his right calf and left after a minute. No word on how much time he’s expected to miss.

The Knicks’ challenges mount as the team will play tough teams over the next week in the Grizzlies, Rockets, and Wizards.

 

 

Brandon Jennings, Kindly STFU – Knicks Ride 3rd Quarter Blitz & Melo’s 41, Down Bucks 101-83

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40 years ago, the New York Knicks were the NBA champions. The names of those players still ring out heavy among Knick fans: Walt “Clyde” Frazier, Dick Barnett, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Phil Jackson, Willis Reed, Hawthrone Wingo, Bill Bradley and the late Dave DeBusschere. Tonight, most of that team made it out to the Garden to be honored by a very appreciative Madison Square Garden crowd. The only thing needed to cap a beautiful evening was the Knicks extending their winning streak to 11. There were some bumps in the road, or better yet, bumps over the entire first half, but the current Knicks delivered on their end and then some…

UGLY FIRST HALF: The Knicks played their worst basketball of this winning streak in the first 24 minutes against the Bucks. The Knicks could literally not hit anything, including wide open shots. Most of their three point attempts were uncontested and they still went an atrocious 1-12. Meanwhile, the Bucks went 7-14, anchored by a hot second quarter from J.J. Redick, who sunk four in the quarter to help propel him to 13 points.

With the shots not going down, the offense degraded to predictable post isolations for Melo. Unfortunately, Melo had problems holding onto the ball (5 turnovers) and finishing over Bucks’s big frontcourt, lead by the league’s top shot-blocker in Larry Sanders.

Having shot 34% from the field and down 36-45 at halftime, the only bright spot for the Knicks was that there was no way they could play that horribly over the next 24 minutes.

BRANDON JENNINGS GETS HIS DUE KARMA: The Knicks came out strong in the third and quickly got the deficit to two before making some blunders on Brandon Jennings, who made a four-point swing by turning a missed free throw into a foul and three-point play. Jennings would hit a three later to push the Bucks lead to nine. As usual for him, Jennings was feeling himself way before the game was decided, and shot a smug glare at the Garden faithful.

Wrong move, especially on this night.

The Knicks promptly broke the game open on an absurd 25-2 run, which saw them at one point score 16 straight points. Remember those three-pointers that wouldn’t go down in the first half? JR Smith hit three of them in quarter. Felton added one for three of his nine points in the quarter. Melo had two three-points plays, treys and assorted jumpers for a blistering 18 points in 12 minutes.

What was the icing on the cake to this 42-21 third quarter? On a late Jennings drive, he was smacked right in the face by Tyson Chandler and laid out to no call. While he languished on the floor holding his face, his defensive assignment in Raymond Felton drained a three-pointer. When Jennings tried to hold for the final shot, Felton was all over him and made sure he was denied the ball (causing Brandon to have a short tantrum much to the delight of the crowd).

And for the final cap to the Knicks’s highest scoring quarter of the season, Jason Kidd heaved a three from the opposite three-point line behind halfcourt. The result was a banked-in shot and a 78-66 lead going into the fourth.

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MELO EQUALS HIS IDOL: Although the Bucks hung around for most of the fourth and got as close at six, you never got the feeling the Knicks were in trouble with Melo on the floor. The Bucks got three-point happy, and Melo coolly closed the game out on them with back to back long jumpers to put the Knicks up 91-81. From there, Melo was sitting on 38 points and the crowd gave him a standing ovation and “MVP!” chants, hoping he could hit 40 again.

He did it easily on a pull-up three-pointer to push the lead at 96-81.

With his 41 points tonight, Melo equals his idol Bernard King as the only Knick to score 40 points in three straight games. Not only is this Melo eighth 40-plus game this season (the most in the NBA), he’s the first player in 28 years to have 3 straight 40 point games while shooting over 60% from the field.

And finally, let’s not forget another great stat for Melo — 14 rebounds.

CHANDLER SLOWLY COMING BACK: Tyson is far from his usual self yet, but he did well on the rebounding front (10) and like the rest of the team woke up on offense in the second half. With Kenyon Martin resting, it was important Chandler do well on the boards and he stepped up to the challenge.

JR SWISH: This man was key in that 3rd quarter barrage as he couldn’t miss from three. He turned into the old chucking JR for a bit in the fourth, but I couldn’t blame him with how he had been shooting. And more importantly, he kept his head on defense. Off the bench JR gave us 30 points (11/22 shooting) and 10 rebounds.

THE LEGENDS GET A PROPER HOMECOMING:  With the 1973 championship team in the house, the Garden wanted a fun win and that’s exactly what they got. I’m sure they imparted some team wisdom to the current Knicks that they’ll hopefully take with them into the playoffs.

Now at 11 straight wins, the streak faces its biggest danger on Sunday when the Knicks meet the Thunder.

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[Video] The Buck Stops Here: New York Knicks Defense Stifles Milwaukee 96-86

 

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“If we played like this for entire games, we’d be #1 in the league.” – JR SMITH

 

J.R. Smith is a wise man. While New York had a underwhelming first half in terms of offensive and defensive cohesion, there were a few things the team did good that served them well in a second half that culminated in a fantastic fourth quarter that saw the Bucks held to just 13 points. This was a game the Knicks couldn’t afford to drop and NY has now put themselves in position tonight to overtake Miami as the #1 team in the East.

 

BUCKS HOT 3 POINT SHOOTING: The Knicks did an excellent job in keeping the explosive backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis under wraps in the first half. Problem was they couldn’t completely control the three-point shooting (6-13) helmed by Mike Dunleavy and Ersan Ilyasova. At one point their team was shooting over 60% from downtown, but the Knicks would go on a 10-0 late in the second to get it close and only be down 53-47 at halftime.

 

THE STAT N’ TYSON SHOW: Melo had 25 points but it was a very rough night shooting (7-22) and when it came to decision-making (season high 7 turnovers).  However, our Big Three frontcourt showed its versatility with Tyson Chandler being an absolute terror on the boards (20 rebounds) and Stoudemire continuing to put that Hakeem Olajuwon camp money to good use by living in the post and contributing 17 points, 7 rebounds and 1 block in 24 minutes.

 

3RD QUARTER WAKE-UP: After the Bucks reeled off six-straight points in the third to go up by 12, the Knicks finally woke up for good. JR Smith would drill back to back three-pointers as part of a 10-0 New York run to pull within two. The Bucks would go on a 7-0 run to get some breathing room at 66-59, but the Knicks would outscore them 27-20 in the quarter to take a slim 74-73 lead into the fourth.

 

4TH QUARTER FINISH: The Bucks couldn’t buy a bucket in the final 12 minutes as their shooting dipped to 39%. Prigioni drew a crafty offensive foul on Dunleavy early on and Stoudemire continued to feast in the post. Iman Shumpert, who got burned backdoor on a few plays, got aggressive in causing two deflections and finishing two tough layups inside. The Bucks kept fighting, but two threes courtesy of Raymond Felton and Shumpert closed the book on this giving the Knicks a 92-81 lead with just a few minutes left.

After that heart-breaking game-winner the Kings pulled on the Knicks in December, New York should have revenge on their minds later tonight.

 

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Frontcourt Shutdown: Knicks Ice Bucks 102-88

After the bitter defeat last game to the Brooklyn Nets, I was not in the mood to see another tough game with Milwaukee’s explosive backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis going off. Apparently the Knicks weren’t either, as they administered clamp down defense and merciless frontcourt offense to whoop the Bucks 102-88.

Recently, the Bucks have given the Knicks loads of trouble in the form of Brandon Jennings, who seems to relish getting at the Knicks and last season drew a “suck my dick” retort from Melo at the free throw line. Jennings and Ellis started hot, hitting their outside jumpers and blowing past Knick guards to the basket for fouls and layups. Melo had one of his trademark fast starts to keep us in it early, hitting two 3s and drawing fouls inside for 11 points. Jennings and Ellis also contributed 11 points a piece to help give the Bucks a 26-23 lead after one.

Coach Woodson mixed up the lineups to start the second, giving Chris Copeland some burn with the bench unit. The secondary team was anchored by Pablo Prigioni, who contributed two 3-pointers off screens and got a nice steal that lead to a layup. Steve Novak continued his improved shooting as well, draining two 3s to keep the game tight until Melo made it back on the floor. Anthony promptly delivered back to back baskets on a three-pointer and driving layup. The two point guard backcourt of Raymond Felton and Prigioni was able to hold up with help defense (including a nice Novak block on an Ellis cut) as the Buck got sloppy (1o turnovers). The Knicks ran over the Milwaukee in the closing 2-3 minutes to jump out to a 58-48 lead at halfime.

The Knicks remained focused for the start of the third and promptly put the game away. Tyson Chandler, who had eight points at the half, remained aggressive and continue drawing fouls on cuts to the basket in addition to scoring with easy dunks and layups off pick and rolls. In just a few minutes, a Felton steal and layup followed by a Melo jumper had pushed the lead to 68-48. A quick run fueled by a Jennings three and an Ellis drive trimmed the lead to 68-55, but a Melo drive for an “and 1”  layup put a halt to it. The Knicks defense tightened up and the Bucks relied on jump-shooting (which was ice-cold) and fell behind at the end of the third 88-70, being outscored 30-22.

The Bucks bench couldn’t do much better in the fourth; Milwaukee would get no closer than 14 points. The highlight of the quarter was a steal by Steve Novak that lead to a one-man fast break layup, which prompted teases from the bench to Steve for not dunking it. Novak finished with a nice game of 19 points ( 5-7 from downtown). Other big contributors were Prigioni (11 points, 7 assists), Chandler (17 points, 8 rebounds) Felton (12 points, 7 assists) and of course Melo, who dropped 29 points and nabbed 8 rebounds.

And the best stat of all for last night? The Knicks outrebounded the Bucks 38-36 and held their starting frontcourt to 2 points!

New York moves on Friday to face the Wizards.