[Video] Porzingis Drops Career-High 35 Points in Close Win Over Pistons

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We are privileged to watch the growth of a future superstar. Kristaps Porzingis delivered a career-high 35 points to lead the Knicks to a close 105-102 win over the Pistons at Madison Square Garden. Despite a focused game, the scrappy Pistons made sure the Knicks worked for this win until the final buzzer.

FEED THE BEAST: Melo said before the season that he’s never played with a weapon like Derrick Rose. That applies even more so to Porzingis, who feasted to a 25 point first half and truly showed how versatile (and scary) his game is. He worked unblockable fadeaways in the post, ran the floor for contested layups on fast breaks, and burned Detroit for three three-pointers. He shot 13/22 from the field and managed to get to the line seven times.

I said earlier in the week that Porzingis can take the reins at the #1 option in 2-3 years. But if he keeps up this pace, we might have a changing of the guard by next year.

MELO’S NOT TOO SHABBY: All the attention on KP should not negate another efficient game from Carmelo Anthony: 22 points (13/22), 5 rebounds and 3 assists. For this team to work, both guys need to continue being the one-two punch on scoring.

IMPROVED DEFENSE: We’re still a work in progress, but the last two games have shown some marked improvements. The Knicks are playing defense with their legs and stayed in front of their assignments. The Pistons were held to 12 free throw attempts compared to 19 for the Knicks. Joakim Noah’s (7 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks) defense, particularly in the first half on Andre Drummond, proved very effective. Drummond was contained to 15 points and 9 rebounds.

The glaring problem remains the three-point defense, which allowed Detroit to claw their way back in the fourth and nearly force overtime on the final play. Once that area gets under control, we’ll see a lot more easier wins.

SOLID BENCH PERFORMANCES: Justin Holiday (9 points, 5 rebounds) continued his solid play on both ends of the floor. Brandon Jennings was hot-dogging out there too much (got called for a carry), but his 7 assists keep the offense flowing in his 17 minutes. Kyle O’Quinn got the nod over Hernangomez and made the most of his 15 minutes. He tallied 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks (including one on Drummond) and 2 assists. Outside of KP, O’Quinn just might be our best post defender.

The Knicks complete their back to back tomorrow night in D.C. against the Wizards.

[Video] Porzingis’ Career High 29 Leads Knicks Over Hornets

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AP/Julie Jacobson

“POR-ZING-IS!” “POR-ZING-IS!” “POR-ZING-IS!”

I think it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing that chant at Madison Square Garden for years to come. With no foul trouble holding him back, Kristaps Porzingis put it all together tonight with the best game of his young career (29 points, 11 rebounds) as the Knicks beat the Hornets 102-94. Although this was yet another game with fourth quarter woes, our team showed resilience in tightening up and getting the job done.

DREAM SHAKES AND LETHAL LONG-BALL: Porzingis was all over the court tonight. His teammates kept him involved on the perimeter and fed him down low. His showed how killer he can be in the post with a smooth Dream Shake fadeaway. His hands were active around the basket and that made Melo confident in feeding him for layups:

Offensively he came through for us. It felt good to hear his name chanted in the arena. I’m proud of him.

Melo’s passing (5 assists) and rebounding (11) were strong, but his shooting touch was off (6/18). He missed numerous layups at the rim, and usually a night like this would produce a Knicks loss. Porzingis showed his value in not just being a strong second option, but also being able to take over on a cold Melo shooting night.

And when we have nights where both are shooting well and scoring over 20? Whew, watch out league…

HORNETS 2ND UNIT HAS OUR NUMBER: Once again, the Hornets benched outscored ours 41-27. Jeremy Lin had a strong second quarter where he got to the rim at will (13 points). Even Spencer Hawes was balling for a stretch, hitting two three pointers and finishing with 14 points. Luckily, the Hornets as a whole took some sloppy shots late in the fourth and the Knicks were able to pull away. Kemba Walker decided he wanted to show out for his hometown (31 points), but his one-man show wasn’t enough.

UNSUNG HEROES: Much attention will be paid to Porzingis’ big night, but several cast members made this victory possible. Arron Affalo looked for his shot the entire night, dropping 16 points and doing his part (along with Melo) to hold Nic Batum to 1/9 shooting. Langston Galloway (9 points, 4 rebounds) continues to hit clutch shots (usually threes) to lift our team in key moments. His three to close the third put us up 80-72. The Hornets would get close, but never got the lead.

 

[Video] Welcome Back, Shump! — Knicks 105, Spurs 101

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What a difference a competent shooting guard makes. We’ve saw a flash of it during the Nets win earlier this season, and Iman Shumpert reminded us last night why most fans were so high on him going into this season as he dropped a career-high 27 points to lead the Knicks to their best win of the season over the Spurs.

 

1-2 PUNCH: The Knicks had an excellent inside-outside game going with Carmelo Anthony’s return and Shumpert’s fiery outside shooting. Melo chipped in 27 points on 50% shooting and nabbed 12 rebounds. When he drew double teams, he and the rest of the teammates looked for Shump behind the three-point line for open treys. This allowed Iman to not have to worry about putting the ball on the floor and keep the Spurs defense spaced out.

THE SPURS’ BEST WEAPON: Although New York kept Tim Duncan (9 points, 7 rebounds) and Tony Parker (12 points, 7 assists) contained, the game was close due to Marco Belinelli playing possessed and dropping 32 points (6 threes, 12-16 shooting overall). It wasn’t until the final two offensive plays, where he badly bricked two threes, that he finally came back down to earth.

SHOOTING WELL: The Knicks maintained a strong shooting percentage the entire game, hitting 51% of their shots, including a hot 9-17 (53%) from downtown.

MURRY OR UDRIH?: Beno Udrih go to play the crucial final minutes of the fourth and almost blew the game with a near turnover. His defense was also a struggle. Murry is still learning out there, but I haven’t forgotten how Udrih blew that Wizards game by not being able to keep his man in front of him. I hope to see Murry’s minutes get around the 20 minute mark until Felton and Prigioni’s return.

NO TIME TO REST ON LAURELS: The Knicks are now 11-21 and 4 1/2 games behind the division-leading Toronto Raptors. The upcoming schedule features the Rockets (tonight), Dallas, Detroit and Miami through next Thursday. The team will need to bring the same effort we saw yesterday to get through this stretch with a winning record.

Copeland Drops Career-High 33 Points in Knicks Season Sweep Win of Hawks

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No Melo. No JR. No Felton. No Chandler. No K-Mart. It felt ugly just to write that, so you can imagine how disjointed last night’s game was with most of the Knicks starters resting. The Knicks were still able to come out on top behind the offense of Chris Copeland to take a season series sweep over the Hawks with a 98-92 win.

 

YET ANOTHER INJURY: Does it ever stop? Pablo Prigioni was manning the point and doing a great job of moving the ball for open shots (the Knicks shot 50% in the first quarter). And even better, Pablo had the green light and was gunning from three.

Disaster struck when he went bassline and sprained his right ankle. The X-rays were negative, but Prigioni didn’t return and the offense suffered with Iman Shumpert forced to play point guard. There’s no word yet on if he’ll have to sit out the playoff opener on Saturday against Boston.

 

SHUMP SETTLES DOWN: Shumpert had a real tough time with point guard duties. He couldn’t penetrate consistently so a lot of times the ball remained stuck on the perimeter with long jumpers or isos to Copeland.

The offense pretty much stayed that way until a minor Copeland left shoulder injury forced others to contribute. Shump was then able to start getting in the lane and finishing for layups and finding James White for jumpers. The pair connected for a nice fast break alley oop that pushed the lead to 93-78 late in the fourth.

 

FIND YOUR SHOT, NOVAK: Steve Novak got a lot of good looks yesterday but couldn’t hit anything (going 0-6 in the first half). He wouldn’t score until  the closing minutes of the fourth and got a sarcastic applause from the crowd when his three-pointer gave the Knicks a 98-86 lead.

Since Novak is a huge liability on defense, if he isn’t scoring he’ll need a firm seat on the bench in these upcoming playoff games.

 

THE “NEW OLD KNICKS:” This game marked the return of two Knicks from the franchise’s dark ages in Earl Barron and Quentin Richardson. 

Barron must have seen what happened to Solomon Jones because he started fast in scoring the first few points and eating up rebounds. He came back to earth real quick and we started to see his liabilities, namely a penchant for fumbling passes. He’s a big body though and in spots he can be effective, as evidenced by the fact he had 18 rebounds to go with 11 points.

Quentin Richardson hit his first shot, a three-pointer, and promptly did the “three to the head” taunt. After that he missed his next 10 shots. His defense was mostly solid and he nabbed 10 rebounds, so if that holds I’ll be ok with this signing.

 

COPELAND THE THIRD OPTION: Copeland dropped a career-high 33 points and was the reason the Knicks held the lead the full game. When the Hawks would get within the 3-5 point deficit range, Cope would secure a bucket inside or a three-pointer. His job was made harder by the fact no one else on the Knicks could create their own shot.

We already know in the playoffs that Melo and JR will carry the bulk of the offensive load. But for the Knicks to really go deep, there needs to be a third scorer in there. Copeland has proved over these last two games that he’s versatile enough to be that guy.

[Video] Are You Not Entertained?! Curry & Chandler Post Career Highs, Knicks Win Thriller Over Warriors

Golden State Warriors' Curry drives between New York Knicks' Martin and Prigioni in their NBA basketball game in New York

Games like this will have you beside yourself. Warriors point guard Steph Curry walked into the Garden last night, became possessed, and put on one of the most amazing shooting displays I’ve ever seen. I think I speak for every Knicks fan when I say I’m thankful we only have to see this kid twice a year (We damn near got a repeat of the infamous “Double Nickel”). But luckily we had our own beast last night in Tyson Chandler, along with high-level scoring from Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith to pull out an important home victory. While the game wasn’t decided until the final seconds, the Knicks made some crucial adjustments to pull this one out.

 

CHANDLER HAS A GAME FOR THE AGES:  With no David Lee to counteract him in the middle, Tyson Chandler was feasting from the opening tip. Our man in the middle had 13 rebounds in the first quarter along with seven points. He never let up throughout the entire game and snatched 10 offensive rebounds and ended up with a career high of 28 rebounds (the most by a Knicks player in over 20 years).

While we can’t expect Chandler to grab that many rebounds regularly, the team definitely needs that high energy as the defense begins and ends with him.

 

FELTON TAKES A BEATING BUT PROVES HIS WORTH: For most of this game poor Raymond Felton was getting the Ike-Tina Turner treatment from Curry. Sometimes it was Curry taking advantage of the Knicks’s overall poor transition defense and popping pull-up treys off fast breaks. Other times it was beating Felton off the dribble and getting to the rim or nailing short jumpers. At halftime, the kid had 27 points and was 4/6 from downtown.

Curry dropped 11 points on Felton’s head in the third and a three-pointer briefly gave them the lead (67-65) with over 7 minutes left. Felton responded with his own three that helped NY get back in front 77-73, but Curry continued blitzing from downtown. He had four more treys (one being an absolute dagger with just 4 seconds left on the shot clock to put the Warriors up 103-102).

At this point, you’d think Felton would have been sufficiently demoralized. But the man remained focused even after missing two wide-open momentum threes and bricking two free throws. On the other end, he finally succeeded in pushing Curry off the three-point line and forced him into a jumper he was able to block. The key defensive play resulted in a score off a JR Smith jumper to make it 107-105. Felton would later steal a simple inbounds pass to burn more time off the clock and even though he bricked two more crucial free throws, he secured his own offensive rebound to kill additional time.

His stat line overall doesn’t jump out at you (10 pts on 3/10 shooting, 4 assists), but Felton’s 4 steals were invaluable.

 

JR FROM DOWNTOWN: The only Knick consistently hitting from downtown last night was JR Smith, who had a great game on 10/19 shooting (6/11 from the arc). Smith is much better from the arc when he catches and shoots as opposed to a bunch of dribbling. He was quick with the trigger and seemed to have a timely triple every time Curry started feeling himself. And another overlooked contribution from JR was his five aggressive rebounds, several on them in the key fourth quarter.

 

STAT CORRECTS 1ST HALF WOES: Amar’e Stoudemire came in with a dunk late in the first quarter and promptly caught two cheap fouls. He picked up his third early in the second and got a tech for mocking the referee. Wasn’t solely his fault, but Stat’s problems were huge in the second unit going scoreless for six minutes. That allowed Golden State to make a run behind Curry’s hot hand to tie midway in the second and only be down 58-53 at halftime.

The third was a little better but Stat too often found himself switched onto the perimeter on defense. The fourth was different with Stat, Melo and Chandler playing at the same time. Melo made it a point to look for Stat when he drew double teams, resulting in Amar’e getting several easy dunks.

While the rebounding (4) could have been better, Stat ended up with a very solid 14 points on 6/7 shooting.

 

MELO’S 35 POINTS: Melo went 10/26 but there’s more behind those numbers. Yes, he took a few bad shots (two very ball iso ball possessions late in the fourth), but other times it was the result of the offense being stagnant and the guards passing to him late in the shot clock looking to be bailed out. With his shooting erratic, he got to the line (13-15) and moved the ball to the open man (Felton, Stat etc.) and notched 8 assists. Overall he made the right decisions, and his late three-pointer and post-up jumper are two of the baskets that took this game from Golden State.

 

WOODY’S HEAD-SCRATCHER: Coach Woodson left me dumbfounded with the decision to leave Felton on Curry. A few times JR got the assignment, but it wasn’t until Shumpert got on him that we got a breather from the three-point barrage. Granted, no one was going to be stopping Curry last night, but at least Shumpert would have made him work a little harder, as he did in the second quarter in being physical.  Shump made his defensive presence known all the night to the tune of 6 steals and securing a key turnover late in the fourth — he and Chandler forced Jarrett Jack into a baseline trap resulting in a travel.

Outside of that, the most important decision Woody did right was making sure Jason Kidd and Novak had nice seats on the bench as their contributions were nil.

 

IT’S A TEAM GAME: In all the marveling about Curry’s 54 points, people forget that basketball is a team sport for a reason. The rest of the starters combined for 5 points at halftime and 13 points for the game. The team outside of Curry had 51 points. Once the ball got taken out of Steph’s hands down the stretch, the Knicks victory was sealed.

 

JASON KIDD IS MIKE BIBBY STATUS: I get no joy out of saying that, but Kidd should be in the doghouse for the foreseeable future. The man cannot hit an open shot to save his life — he bricked four wide open threes and couldn’t get anything going. I do think Kidd gets out of this slump, but for now he needs a mental and physical rest… on the bench.

 

K-MART’S WELCOMED DEFENSE: Kenyon Martin had a very limited 5 minutes of work in the second quarter. But in that stretch we saw why he should have a nice place on this team. He got switched off on Curry and forced him into a pass and later on covered up Novak getting burned with some timely help defense. If Woody insists on playing Stat and Novak at the same time, a guy like Martin can help tremendously in covering the defensive mistakes those two are prone to make.

The Knicks get to enjoy their victory today but need to get refocused on Friday when they face the Wizards, who embarrassed them earlier in the month.