Chris Copeland is gone from the New York Knicks after signing a 2 year, $6 million-guaranteed offer sheet with the rival Indiana Pacers.
The Knicks allowed Copeland to test the free agent market by not offering a contract and focusing on other players such as JR Smith, who was recently signed for 4 years. After using part of their mid-level exception to sign veteran guard Pablo Prigioni for 2 years, the Knicks only had an estimated 1.8 million left and won’t be able to match the Pacers’ offer.
Immediately following the Knicks’ playoff exit to the Pacers, Copeland had expressed a strong desire to remain a Knick. His agent John Spencer says the decision was tough and Copeland remains very grateful for the chance the Knicks took on him.
“Chris is grateful to the Knicks for giving him his first opportunity to play in the NBA,” Spencer said. “Also, the Knicks veterans showed him how to be a pro. They taught him to always be prepared. So it was hard for him to leave. But at the end of the day, the opportunity to play for a championship-caliber team was important for him, and he looks forward to working with another world-class organization.
Copeland averaged 8 points last season for the Knicks and provided a sorely needed offensive spark late in the Pacers series.
I’m usually happy to see former Knicks get well-deserved paydays and wish them well. But as a Knick fans that goes back to our huge 90s rivalries, did it have to be Indiana, Cope? Sheesh. It still irks me that Coach Woodson waited until we were in a 3-1 hole to play him in the Pacers series.
Although it was probably unintentional, there was a little shade in the statement from Cope’s agent, who said the main reason for his client’s departure was the desire to play for a “championship-caliber” team. All in all, I’m sad to see Cope not develop further under us but it’s not like he’s output can’t be replaced via another free-agent signing. This just adds another wrinkle to the various rivalries the Knicks will have for next season.
The 2012-2013 season is at an end for the New York Knicks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t relive all the great moments from the last seven months that returned the Knicks to prominence. From our team captains (Melo, Chandler, Stat) to our tough role players, you’ll see plays you vividly remember (like J-Kidd’s four-play against Brooklyn), to others just as spectacular, but forgotten over the course of the year (like Novak and JR smashing on the Spurs). Even if you’re still down about the second round playoff exit, these highlights will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face.
Much respect goes to www.obglobal.net for taking that time to put together this awesome collection. Go there to register and talk Knicks all throughout the off-season.
Not in our house! Who do you think we are, the Brooklyn Nets? The Knicks dug deep and took advantage of the Pacers missing their point guard George Hill to stay alive with a 85-75 win at Madison Square Garden. The motto is take it one game at a time, and New York made some improvements that we’ll hopefully see in Indiana on Saturday.
DEFENSIVE ADJUSTMENTS: It only took us being sent to the brink of elimination for Coach Mike Woodson to realize the constant post double-teaming and defensive switching was a death sentence against Indiana. Chandler didn’t score much (2 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks), but in the first half he played Hibbert straight up and protected the paint. This killed Indy’s ability to find open treys and forced everyone else to become playmakers, resulting in them shooting 27% in the first quarter and 29% for the half.
The Knicks weren’t exactly on fire themselves, but JR Smith was slowly finding his shot (9 points on 3/5 first half shooting) and Melo kept the team in front with 15 first half points. Melo contributed to Roy Hibbert getting in foul trouble which opened up the paint. Unfortunately, he Knicks didn’t close the first and second quarters particularly strong and had to settle for a 40-34 halftimelead.
THE DEFINING PLAY: The 3rd quarter looked shaky early on with the Pacers hitting back to back threes to pull within two (42-40). To make matters worse, Tyson Chandler picked up a bad fourth foul sending him to the bench. But from there, Raymond Felton (12 points) came alive and began working smooth pick n’ rolls with K-Mart (7 points) that lead to layups and a key fourth foul on Hibbert. Chris Copeland’s three-point offense lead to some breathing room (53-44) and set the stage for the biggest sequence of the game.
JR Smith turned the ball over leading to a 2-on-1 Indy fast break. DJ Augstin blew the layup, but Paul George recovered on the perimeter and drove right back to the basket to miss his own contested layup. The Knicks raced back and Felton found Copeland open for a three. He missed, but Felton secured a hard rebound and kicked it to an open JR, who also missed. This time, Copeland snatched the offensive rebound inside and nailed a baby hook to extend the lead to 59-48, the largest of the game for the Knicks to cap a 12-4 run.
From that point on, I felt highly confident the Knicks would keep their poise.
COPELAND ARRIVES: After his bad play against the Celtics, Woodson have lost all faith in Copeland. This was the reason he only looked Cope’s way again out of the desperation of avoiding elimination. We saw last night that was probably Woody’s biggest mistake of the series.
The Pacers had been able to focus on Melo and JR since our lineups were composed of guys who weren’t offensive threats (Jason Kidd glaringly stands out). With Cope out there draining threes (13 points, 3/4 from downtown), the floor opened up and it allowed Melo and even JR to work better without multiple Pacers being so quick to collapse on them.
The biggest Copeland moment for me was seeing him barking at Amar’e Stoudemire about a missed defensive assignment. That let everyone know he wasn’t deferring to anyone not pulling their weight.
STAT’S CONTRIBUTIONS: Speaking of Stat (2 points, 2 rebounds), it seems most people are realizing there isn’t much he’s going to be able to do unless we make it do the conference finals. It took him close to the 10 games to get back to form in January after the first injury. For now, all I hope for is that he’s not a defensive liability in his limited minutes.
JR IMPROVES: Our Sixth Man of the Year isn’t completely himself yet, but he helped way more than he hurt last night. JR went 4/11 for 13 points.We got a few bad shots, but he kept his head in the game. The public Rihanna dis may be just the wake-up call he needed.
MELO THE CLOSER: Melo had 28 points on 12-28 shooting. Not spectacular on paper, but he did what we always want of him, and that’s close the show in the fourth. He went MIA in games three and four, but this time he was an active on both sides of the ball. He took Paul George in the post, drew fouls (a 5th on Hibbert) and hit clutch fadeaways. In addition, he got a jump ball, adding to three consecutive Indy turnovers in crunch time. Over the final 2-3 minutes, the Knicks were able to ice this game behind a 10-4 run.
HOW ABOUT OUR DEFENSE?: We’ve been hearing all series about Indy’s great D. Last night, the Knicks held them to 36% shooting and 19 turnovers. And remember Woody, all these from minimal double teams and switching!
BRING THAT POISE TO INDIANA: In the huddle, Pacers coach Frank Vogel was heard saying once the game got to around 2-4 points, we would start feeling the pressure. Well, the Pacers were never able to secure the lead, showing that when focused and relying on each other, the Knicks are a match for any team in this league.
A bigger test happens on Saturday when we return to Indiana. We haven’t won there all year, but our chances are very good if George Hill sits again with his concussion. If he plays, the challenge is much more daunting. Either way, the Knicks will have to play again with the passion of knowing their playoff lives are on the line.
The NBA announced late last night that JR Smith will serve a one game suspension for his flagrant 2 elbow on Jason Terry during the fourth quarter of game 3 against the Celtics Friday night.
The play came when Terry attempted a hard swipe of the ball on the perimeter, resulting in Smith swinging an elbow that first landed on Terry’s chest and then face. Terry had to be restrained by teammates and officials. Smith was ejected after the play was reviewed.
The Knicks went on to win the game 90-76 and take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Smith has been averaging 16 points thus far in the playoffs and is the Knicks second leading scorer.
This decision is just another reminder to the Knicks that as one of the premier teams in the league, they’ll be extra scrutiny on everything they do. Much like Kevin Durant got a BS fine for simply doing a throat slash, the Knicks have been victim of overreactive disciplinary actions from the NBA front office. Melo got one earlier in the season for attempting to confront Kevin Garnett after the game despite no punches or up-close confrontation happening. Hell, KG choked a Knicks players after a game in the 2011 and there wasn’t a peep from the NBA about a suspension.
In a way, I’m glad JR learned how important he is to the team and not to risk his contributions on silly retaliatory shots. Nonetheless, I still want the sweep today so someone else needs to step up and bury the boys in the green. I’m looking at you, Chris Copeland.
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.
The Knicks checked off one last regular season goal this afternoon by defeating the Indiana Pacers to not only lock up the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but also have the luxury of resting key players over the season’s remaining two games. The Pacers weren’t a squad to make it easy though, and they gave the Knicks, specifically Carmelo Anthony, a taste of the rough and physical defense they’ll have to overcome for a deep playoff run.
FIRST QUARTER UP AND DOWNS: Melo came out firing hitting his first three shots and scoring the first 11 points for the Knicks. The problem was none of the other Knicks could find their shots and the Pacers remained close until Chris Copeland came in. Along with Felton, Cope sparked an 8-0 run to finish the first 12 minutes with an 23-15 lead.
MELO JR: Speaking of Cope, or “Melo Jr.” as I’ve started calling him, he did a marvelous job in being the focal point of the second unit. He hit back to back three-pointers to start the second quarter and was integral in the Knicks going on a 21-4 run with Melo on the bench to get a 41-21 lead.
With the Knicks big men still convalescing, Copeland was again relegated to having to guard the center and power forward positions. It was no easy task for him this game as he had David West and Roy Hibbert to contend with. He rose to the challenge defensively, and had one stretch where he stripped Hibbert and then drew an offensive foul on Lance Stephenson.
Cope was the most efficient Knick this afternoon in dropping 20 points on 8/12 shooting. The Knicks are in dire need of having a third option to compliment Melo and JR, and Cope has shown over the the last month he’s the most consistent Knick offensively to do it. His three-point shooting really helps to open up the paint, and he can finish at the rim. I’m hoping for a big first round playoff performance from him.
PACERS GOON TACTICS GIVE THE KNICKS AN EARLY TASTE OF THE PLAYOFFS: Because of their defensive reputations, the refs really let the Pacers roughhouse with the Knicks down low. And to NY’s credit, they gave as good as they got (most of the time). Melo got a tech in the third for complaining too much, but he also made sure to get the ball in the basket, hammering down an angry two-handed stuff after a Hibbert hack wasn’t called.
Hibbert got a flagrant 1 for basically face-palming an Iman Shumpert’s dunk attempt, and Melo had to sit late in the third after suffering a left shoulder contusion from a David West hard foul. Nonetheless, the Knicks kept working in the paint, and two JR Smith drives help to give them some breathing room heading into the fourth with a 69-60 lead.
HOW ABOUT OUR DEFENSE?: The Pacers had 24 turnovers in this game (and we didn’t have to maul to do it). Many of them were just savvy plays from the Knicks. Jason Kidd literally snatched the ball out of Lance Stephenson’s hands on a drive to the basket. The 7’2 Roy Hibbert should have had a dominant game with Copeland and Solomon Jones guarding him, but the Knicks trapped extremely well, forcing him into five turnovers and holding the big man to just 4 points.
The problem for the Knicks this game was Lance Stephenson, who was being given way too much room to shoot threes (4/9 from downtown). He did most of his damage in the first half and finished with 22 points.
SOLOMON “RAGDOLL” JONES: Coach Woodson saw early on that Jones wasn’t going to be anything but food out there to the Pacer bigs. Hibbert and West had him falling all over the place in the first quarter. In his 13 minutes, he only had 1 rebound as he couldn’t establish any good position in the paint. We’ll see if he fares any better tomorrow, but I doubt it.
ELECTRIC RELAXATION: Melo (25 points) made it clear in the post-game that his shoulder is nothing serious. In addition, he confirmed he won’t be playing tomorrow. Now this is the only time it’s permissable to have James White in the starting lineup. Let guys like Novak and Shumpert get ample time to work on their shots, and hopefully Rasheed Wallace will be back to log a few minutes and shake off his rust.
All good things must come to an end. After weeks of stellar play, the Knicks fell into some bad habits last night (cold shooting, bad perimeter defense) and had their 13-game win streak snapped by the Chicago Bulls, who seem to have had their number this season. Even with all our bigs out, Melo having his first off night of April, and having to start Chris Copeland at center, the Knicks were still within a jumper of winning this.
ALL IS WELL THROUGH 3 1/2 QUARTERS: The Knicks came out strong in the first quarter behind their three-point shooting and jumped out of a 23-6 lead. Copeland in particular was hot behind the arc. The Bulls went on an 10-0 run to get back in it, but the Knicks kept them around the five-point deficit mark through halftime (59-54).
In the third, Copeland heated up from three again and got a fourth foul call on Luol Deng, The Knicks went up by as much as 77-62 midway through the third and seemed to be on their way to a nice victory until two-plays started the slow downfall.
THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT, PABLO!: Pablo Priginio threw two telegraphed passes that were picked off by Jimmy Butler for fast-break dunks. From there the momentum shifted completely to the Bulls. The Knicks guards of Kidd, Felton and Prigioni started losing Robinson badly on screens and gave up countless three-pointers. Next thing you know, the Bulls had gone on a 16-3 run to end the third and the Knicks were clinging to a 82-80 lead.
MELO NEARLY SAVES THE DAY: The Knicks picked the worst time in the fourth quarter to start bricking their shots. It wasn’t like it was all due to the Bulls defense either — guys like Kidd and Felton got wide-open shots out Melo and JR double teams. On the other hand, Nate Robinson continued his hot hand from the second quarter on and hit a three to extend the Bulls lead to 97-90. However, a 15-6 Knicks run tied it at 105 with the Knicks in possession with a little over a second left. Melo got a good look at a long jumper, but failed to convert.
The way the Knicks had been playing, this was their best shot to pull this out. The jumpers still weren’t falling in overtime and the refs swallowed their whistles (particularly Joey Crawford), who seemed to have a grudge against JR Smith for his complaining at the lack of calls inside. As a result, the Knicks were outscored 13-4 and ended up losing 118-111.
NOT WORRIED: We were due for a bad game and considering it was a nine-man rotation without our best defensive players (Martin, Chandler). And when you let Nate Robinson score 35 points off the bench, you’re giving yourself a hard time to win. This was the first time in a minute that Melo was forcing it (13-34, 36 points), but he really had no choice with the rest of the team outside of JR shooting so poorly.
Copeland had a good first half, but went 4-14 overall and couldn’t hit anything over the second half. And when Copeland isn’t scoring, you’re not getting anything but blown assignments on defense.
The Knicks get a chance tonight to start another little streak to end the season when they face the lowly Cavaliers. NY already holds two wins over the Cavs this season.
It’s been a LONG time coming, as the great Sam Cooke sang decades ago. After nearly 14 years, the Knicks have won the Atlantic division and did so in grand fashion by burning the Washington Wizards for 20 three-pointers (!!!) in a 120-99 rout last night at Madison Square Garden.
It was a grand celebration for most of the night except for a freak injury that may have a large effect on our playoff run.
KENYON MARTIN SPRAINS LEFT ANKLE: K-Mart was having a solid game keeping the Wizards bigs under wraps. In the third, he came down from a routine rebound and ended up badly spraining his left ankle. The crowd gasped in fear as most of us thought he had further damaged his knee, which was sore and had made his status questionable for this game.
Although Mike Woodson didn’t rule out him playing against the Bulls on Thursday, the Knicks need to be extra cautious and let him rest. I love this streak and want to extend it as much as any fan, but not at the expense of a deep playoff run.
MELO REMAINS MR. APRIL: Carmelo Anthony continues his amazing month and equaled his season-high for most points in a quarter by dropping 21 in the third (8-11 from the field). The Wizards are a solid defensive team but had no answers for Melo anywhere on the court. Whether it was deep jumpers, drives to baskets or post-ups, Melo had his way.
And unlike his other games, it wasn’t hocket assists but direct passes out of double-teams to our open guards that made Melo flirt with a triple double (36 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists).
COPELAND-SANITY: Melo told Copeland to remain aggressive and boy did he ever, going for 17 pointsand making the most of the mismatches that had seven-footers trying to guard him. Defensively, Cope had a tough time trying to bang inside with guys like Nene and Okafor, but his five fouls paled in comparison to the floor spacing he gave with his three-point shooting and drives to the rim. Excellent game.
GUARD PLAY: John Wall went off for 33 points, but he had to work hard for them. The Knicks guards made sure everyone else on the perimeter couldn’t get going with the exception of Cartier Martin (16 points) in garbage time. Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd pulled off a beautiful inbounds trap in the backcourt on John Wall which lead to a turnover and layup, capping a 7-0 run to end the first half with a 58-43 lead.
Iman Shumpert was one of the main reasons this game stopped being competitive in the third. After going 0-9 over the last two games, Shump had hit several treys and pullup jumpers, notching 8 points in the quarter and 18 for the game.
20 THREES-POINTERS: When the Knicks shooting is hot, this squad is very hard to beat. And when you nail 20 threes, it’s an impossible barrage to overcome. What stands out regarding this performance is it was predicated on constant ball movement (to the tune of 20 assists).
With the Atlantic now locked up, it’s time for the Knicks to close out a few more games to secure the #2 seed and home-court advatnage through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
What a game! I was confident in the Knicks’ chances considering they battled the Thunder down to the final shot at Madison Square Garden last month without Melo. The big concern was how our slower and older guards would handle the merciless penetration of Russell Westbrook and OKC’s strong frontline with Kenyon Martin sitting out his second game. The response came from our bench, who fought tooth and nail to set the table for the Knicks to outgun the Thunder in the final minute to pick up arguably their best road win of the season.
OKC LIVES AT THE FREE THROW LINE, THE KNICKS BEHIND THE ARC: The first quarter was very annoying to watch as the refs called a bunch of ticky-tack fouls on what seemed like every Knicks player. Any contact on Durant, no matter how light, resulted in a foul call. Just four minutes in, Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni had two fouls apiece. Melo got his second a few minutes later, helping the Thunder get out to a 21-14 lead.
Like the first game, the Knicks were not intimidated and roared back behind two three-pointers from Jason Kidd. The Knicks would end up going 6/7 in the first quarter and were only down 31-30 despite the Thunder shooting over 60% from the field.
COPES SHOWS AND PROVES: The knock on Chris Copeland is that while he can score, it’s offset by the fact he’s a huge defensive liability. That wasn’t the case today. Copeland’s first half offense was crucial in keeping the Knicks in it with Melo sitting. He had 13 points that came from behind the arc and also in the paint. On defense, he swatted away a Westbrook drive and had active hands in causing deflections. And with ball movement, he kept the forced shots to a minimum, giving a sweet assist to Steve Novak for an open trey (who was 2-4 from downtown in the first half).
The bench output was the main reason the Knicks were able to go up by as much as 12 in the first half before settling for a 65-56 halftime lead.
SURVIVING THE RUNS: As expected, the Thunder made strong pushes in the third and fourth quarters. Each time, the Knicks had an answer. When the Thunder got to within a point (84-83) with 2:52 left in the third, Melo drained a three. When the Thunder took a brief fourth quarter lead, guys like Raymond Felton brought the momentum back.
Speaking of Ray, that man knows no fear in crunch time. Like he did in the fourth quarters against the Hawks and Bucks, he continued going right into the teeth of the defense. His aggressiveness resulted in 16 points and 8 assists.
MELO WINS HIS DUEL: It’s been a minute since Durant and Melo went at each other and it didn’t disappoint. While Westbrook was the primary scorer this afternoon (37 points), Durant wasn’t too shabby either with his 27 points. However, Melo dropped 36 and was most impressive with his attack on the offensive glass, where he had a season-high in nine (12 rebounds total). It was a welcome sight to see Melo keep his cool and get the putbacks despite being fouled repeatedly. He had two key tip-ins (one off his own miss and another off a missed JR free throw) late that gave NY a little breathing room and set up the coup de grace…
JR CLOSES THE SHOW: JR Smith didn’t shoot well today. He missed a few open threes early in the fourth that could have ended some of the late drama. But like he’s done all throughout this winning streak, JR got it done when the game was on the line. With the Knicks clinging to a 115-113 lead, Smith hit a long jumper with the shot clock expiring to make it 117-113. And on the next possession, Smith bailed us out with a dagger three to ice it. Applaud this man.
THE BENCH: The Knicks bench outscored the Thunder’s 55-30. JR was JR with his 22 points, but Kidd’s 14 and Copeland’s 13 were huge contributions. A total team win.
THE CRITICS ARE QUIET: No one gave us any slack when we rolled out our banged up lineups, but we were quick to hear about how our recent Heat win didn’t mean anything with Wade and James sitting. Well, the Thunder were at full strength and out for blood. They were turned back on their home floor. Speaking of emphatic road wins, the Knicks have them in abundance this year against the Spurs, Heat (2X),Celtics and now Thunder.
The Knicks have their first 50 win season in 13 years and are just one win away from securing their first Atlantic division crown since 1994. Taking out the Thunder was their 12th straight win. And this is all without having a fully healthy roster the entire year.
You’re still not a believer? It doesn’t matter — the Knicks know they are for real.
2004. That is the last time the Knicks won a season series against the Boston Celtics. Here we are nine years later with the Knicks breaking that drought emphatically with three straight wins (two in Boston) over their Atlantic division rivals to win the season series 3-1 and extend their winning streak to eight. Are the Knicks about to peak heading into April and the playoffs? There’s many reasons from this game to think so.
BLOWN OPEN IN THE SECOND: The Knicks had a 28-23 lead after one solely based on their hot shooting (52% from the field), punctuated by 4 three-pointers. The Celtics were right there with them courtesy of Jeff Green (27 points), who attacked the rim like JR Smith has been doing lately. But when the second quarter came around, the Knicks ran them out the building.
Chris Copeland provided some key offense with Melo on the bench by hitting his first two three-pointers. Steve Novak added a few treys and Jason Kidd added a shot-clock bailout one that extended the lead to 60-44. The three-point shooting was the main factor in the huge lead, as the Knicks hit 11 of them at the half. The ball movement was on point (15 assists for the team), and the scoring was evenly distributed.
You’ll recall the Knicks ran away with the last Celtics game in the second and capped their excellent play with a deep JR trey at the buzzer. Well, Raymond Felton did one better with a beyond half-court floater that banked in to make the lead 65-48. When shots like that are going down, you know you’re in trouble.
NO THIRD QUARTER MELTDOWN: Over the first 4-5 minutes of the third, the Celtics were the team with momentum. They were getting to the line and hitting threes, which got them as close as 11 on a few occasions. However, the Knicks responded with timely buckets each time, the biggest being a Felton 3-point play that gave Avery Bradley, the Celtics’ best perimeter defender, his fifth foul. NY finished the quarter strong and Boston faced a 86-69 hole headed into the fourth.
BOSTON SUCKS!: These type of Madison Square Garden chants have come back to haunt us in previous games, but not tonight. The chants started at the beginning of the fourth and the Celtics never could provide any reason to shut the Knicks fans up. Paul Pierce had a good night (24 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists), but sat the entire fourth as coach Doc Rivers knew it was a lost cause.
JR COOLS OFF: JR Smith’s 30 point game, 50% shooting streak ended tonight on a very good note. I say that because we all wondered if JR would go back to his chucking ways when his shots weren’t going down. He was 4/12 from the field, but made sure to get to the line (7/10) and swallow up rebounds (12) on the small ball-minded Celtics. Tonight he faced one of the best defenses in the league and didn’t mentally have a setback, the clearest sign thus far that the “New JR Smith” is here to stay.
PABLO PRIGIONI REMAINS UNDEFEATED: Since Prigioni entered the starting lineup, the Knicks have been on this season-high eight-game win streak. It shouldn’t be surprising as Prigioni expertise in ball movement and steals/deflections have made sure the offense remains diverse with everyone being a scoring threat (except himself, of course). Pablo will get his biggest test on Tuesday against the Heat.
MELO’s 27 MINUTES: Carmelo had under 20 shots tonight (9/19) which is always a plus for the ball movement. The reason he ended up with 24 points instead of 32 is his struggles converting at the rim. A lot of them were point-blank shots that were just rimming out. But like JR, he contributed in other areas, namely in nabbing 10 rebounds. His defense was lazy at times (being late on switches and not contesting Green’s drives to the rim), but these lapses weren’t a huge detriment.
KNICKS SURVIVE THEIR TOUGHEST MONTH OF THE SEASON: How difficult was the month of March? We lost Tyson Chandler, Kurt Thomas and Amar’e Stoudemire to injuries, leaving just two bigs on the team. Melo missed several games with a bum knee and appeared in dire straits at times. Our West Coast trip proved to be a disaster going 1-4, and the Brooklyn Nets at one point were one game out of the top of the Atlantic Division. This winning streak helped the Knicks finish the month 12-6, stay atop the Atlantic by 4.5 games, and remain poised to have a healthy and confident team headed into the playoffs.
We’ve vanquished Boston. Now it’s time to make a statement to Miami and win that season series on Tuesday.