Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images
When the Knicks were down 18 points in the third quarter, they could have easily thrown in the towel. What we saw was the desperation and defensive focus we’ve wanted all year as the Knicks outscored the Bucks 33-15 in the fourth to take a dramatic win and snap their losing streak at six. To put it bluntly, we absolutely needed this game.
MELO LEADS THE CHARGE: Carmelo Anthony is playing through a bum shoulder that’s clearly affecting his shooting touch. But the last two games have shown his commitment to adapting his game. He’s tallied 17 assists in that span and had a stat line last night of 26 points, 6 boards and 10 assists. The assists were his most since 2012 and key in keeping the ball moving during the 4th quarter run. Despite his 8/20 shooting, he had enough left in the tank to deliver a dagger three-pointer to put the Knicks up 112-111 with 51 seconds left.
With all that said, it would be prudent if Coach Hornacek strongly considers resting Melo tonight. He’s played his worst basketball this year on back to backs.
PORZINGIS BATTLES THE GREEK FREAK: Our future looks bright. Despite fouling out with 2 minutes remaining, Porzingis’ superb play on both ends of the floor put the Knicks in a position to steal this one. In his 30 minutes, KP scored 24 points (9/14), was 3/4 from downtown, and in one sequence stopped Antetokounmpo twice at the rim in the fourth (Giannis would shoot 1-7 in the quarter).
Porzingis hits a 3-pointer. Then blocks Giannis twice at the rim. And then hits a 3 from 30 feet.
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) January 7, 2017
RON BAKER ANSWERS THE CALL: The Knicks weren’t getting the guard play they needed from Derrick Rose nor Brandon Jennings. Rose shot 4/14 despite dishing 8 assists, and Jennings was abhorrently bad in 5 minutes (0 points, 1 assist, -12). Coach Hornacek took a gamble and played Baker the entire fourth quarter.
Unlike the Phoenix game, Baker didn’t make key late mistakes. He kept the ball movement going and attacked when he had openings. In his 12 minutes he was a +18 with 6 points, 2 boards and 4 assists. Those stats include a steal that lead to a fast-break that put the Knicks up three with 27 seconds remaining, a key defensive rebound, and 2 free throws to seal the game.
LANCE THOMAS’ REDEMPTION: After getting burned on Wednesday by Antetokounmpo, Thomas was locked in this game. He contributed by nailing a few open treys (10 points, 4/4), but most importantly he stripped the Greek Freak with 33 seconds left and New York holding onto a one-point lead. He was unquestionably the most important bench contributor.
Was this win an aberration or a game-changer for the season? We’ll find out tonight against the Pacers.