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.
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.
It’s been a long time since this squad had an “easy win.” Tonight, the Knicks got their best player in Carmelo Anthony back in the lineup, moved the ball around and played solid defense throughout to complete a season sweep of the Orlando Magic. Sure, the Magic are one of the worst teams in the league and were on the end of a back to back, but a win is a win, and the Knicks need plenty of them over the next month if they hope to hold off Brooklyn and win the Atlantic Division. With Knicks legends Patrick Ewing and John Starks in the house tonight, the Knicks are slowly bouncing back from that atrocious West Coast road trip.
EXCELLENT SHOOTING: The Knicks came out strong in shooting 58% in the first quarter (5-8 from downtown). With the bigs from both sides banged up, the Magic went with a three guard lineup while the Knicks inserted Kenyon Martin at center. Melo had 7 points in the opener and moved the ball quickly out of double teams to find guys like JR Smith (22 points) and Chris Copeland (9 points). The Knicks had a nice 10-0 run in the quarter and held a 26-15 lead after one.
THE ONE BAD QUARTER: The Knicks were outscored 31-25 in the second and a lot of that fell on lax defense and get outhustled to rebounds. Still, the three-point shooting remained strong with Melo and Shump draining treys to help keep the Magic on the wrong side of 51-46 score going into halftime.
3RD QUARTER DOMINANCE: The Magic really gave it a go, but the Knicks pushed back every run they attempted. JR Smith was aggressive in going to the rim, which either forced a foul or resulted in a layup. Pablo Prigioni kept up the ball movement (finding Kenyon Martin on a nice pick n’ roll to the basket), and the Knicks ran through the Magic defense to the tune of a 32-19 quarter and 76-60 lead.
STARTERS REST IN 4TH, SECOND UNIT CLOSES THE SHOW: Coach Woodson remained true to his word in trying to lower Carmelo Anthony’s minutes. He did so by only playing him 33 minutes and letting him sit for the fourth. Melo was efficient with his time of the floor in scoring 21 points on 7-14 shooting (3-5 from downtown). Most importantly, he looked healthy — Melo’s lift and first step looked the best they have in weeks. Iman Shumpert had 7 points but sat for the fourth as a precaution due to stiffness in his knee. Let’s pray that’s all it is.
Jason Kidd and JR Smith were two of the more important pieces that ensured the game remained out of reach for the Magic. Kidd’s stat line shows 3 steals, but he caused numerous deflections and had the Magic offense sputtering. JR didn’t go the rim as much in the final 12 minutes, but his jumper became deadly.
There was a few minutes towards the end where the players got lazy and the Magic pulled to within nine (95-86), but a Novak trey that pushed it to 101-88 pretty muched iced the game with under two minutes. Speaking of Novak, he contributed 11 points and nailed some nice momentum threes.
Is there any way we can just play the Magic for the rest of the season? Our next game is “Friday Night Knicks” against the Raptors, who we have the dubious distinction of losing twice to. If the Knicks bring the effort they did tonight, especially when it comes to the shooting, they’ll emerge victorious. But as we already know with this team, that’s a big if.
They do a lot of switching… a lot of stuff where you can get caught in laziness and hanging back. So we’re just moving and cutting and guys are cutting hard. And we got Luke Walton out there so it makes it easy. – Cavs guard C.J. Miles on the Knicks’s first half defense
As you can see from the above quote, the Cavs were feeling themselves in the first half against the Knicks. They had reason to be cocky on 68% shooting and at one point in the second holding a 22 point lead (52-30). The Knicks couldn’t make basic defensive rotations and Luke Walton was dishing dimes like a prime John Stockton. And to add to the misery, Carmelo Anthony had a Benny Hill moment in tripping over his own feet and badly hurting his right knee to knock him out the rest of the game.
But halfway through the second, the Knicks began showing signs of life and very gradually it seemed to dawn on them they were playing the Cavaliers. Without Melo, Coach Woodson was forced to do what should become a regular end-game lineup in playing both Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.
MEET THE LATEST BENCH PLAYER TO TORCH NY: Center Marreese Speights got the start today and promptly began going to town with jumper after jumper. He hit his first 10 shots and had 15 points after the first. Whether it was Chandler or Stat, he was the Cavs’s dominate scorer in the first half. However, reality (and the Knicks defense) made him a non-factor in the second half where he only had 2 points.
MELO’S INJURY TRIGGERS RUN: The Knicks looked completely demoralized down 22 and the Melo injury appeared to signal this would be a blowout evening. The Knicks instead rallied with a 17-4 run to close the quarter and take a 49-61 deficit into halftime. In the third, the Knicks stormed out with a 10-0 run to pull within 59-61 behind tough interior defense that triggered jump balls, and solid shooting from Jason Kidd and JR Smith. Still, the Knicks couldn’t quite get over the hump despite holding the Cavs to just 1 point six minutes into the quarter and outscoring them 21-13 overall. Going into the fourth, they were still down 70-74.
LIVE BY THE THREE: The Knicks drilled seven treys in the fourth and everyone got in on the party. Novak rebounded from the horrid Sunday game against the Heat and had three treys in the quarter. Kidd nailed two crucial ones, and Raymond Felton added one of his own late. Kidd’s last trey in the final minutes put the Knicks up 97-91, which proved to be just enough breathing room down the stretch.
THE STAT N TYSON SHOW: For the first time in what seemed like ages, Woodson played our two elite bigs in the fourth to devastating effect. Guards Pablo Prigioni and Felton had Stat feasting on pick n rolls for easy dunks and Chandler was all over the boards. The game-changing plays in the last minute came down to this duo. With a slim 97-95 lead, Stat attacked the rim, got blocked and went back up strong to push the lead to 99-95. Later, a missed Stat jumper was tipped out by Chandler to Jason Kidd, leading to a free throw to push the lead to 100-97. And finally, Irving’s three-point attempt to tie was promptly blocked by Chandler to ice the game.
LOSING STREAK ENDS: For some inexplicable reason, the Cavs have been a huge problem for the Knicks even after the LeBron era. Before tonight, the last time the Knicks had won in Cleveland went back to November 2006. To put that in perspective, current Cavs all-star Kyrie Irving for 14 years old at the time.
At this time, we don’t know how much time Melo will miss. Even though the Knicks are claiming it isn’t serious, I don’t have much faith in an early prognosis from the Knicks medical staff considering what we’ve seen happen this year with Rasheed Wallace, Stoudemire and Camby.
Next up is the Pistons, so the Knicks should be able to handle that squad again without Melo.
I needed 24 hours to cool down before writing about this game. For one quarter, the Knicks looked like the formidable team we saw in November and December — sweet passing, hot three-point shooting and our bigs rolling to the basket for easy slams. As expected, the Miami Heat made a second half run that was exacerbated by bad defensive rotations and head-scratching lineups down the stretch. No, yesterday’s game isn’t a sole reason to become irate as a Knicks fan, but it sure as hell was one to make you highly annoyed.
JASON KIDD RESURRECTED: Without question, the Knicks highlight of the game was Kidd retrieving his jumper from El Segundo. The man was on fire in the first half in nailing fourth straight treys. In addition, he nabbed eight rebounds, caused several deflections and got three steals. The Heat defense phased him out in the second half, but hopefully this performance will do wonders for his confidence.
REALLY ONE GOOD QUARTER: A lot has been going around over the last 24 hours about the Knicks playing really well over the first half, but it was really just the second quarter, where NY outscored Miami 37-22. In the first, no one could score outside of Melo, who had 17 of NY’s 22 points.
THE WALKING USELESS: James White got the starting assignment again and might as well have been wearing a Heat uniform. In less than five minutes, he had three fouls, one of which being a three-point play given up to Mario Chalmers on the Heat’s first possession.
Steve Novak had three open looks from downtown that he bricked. His biggest detriment was on defense, where he gave up a defensive rebound by being out-hustled by Ray Allen which lead to the LeBron James trey that tied the game.
Why these two got burn while Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby languished on the bench was mind-blowing.
JR GUNNING: Jr Smith went 5-18 from the field and took 14 treys! Where was the leash for this man? Another Woodson blunder had JR still in chucking while benching Stoudemire, who had been giving Miami fits down low. JR was handling the ball way too much with his more blatant mistakes being two telegraphed cross-court passes that LeBron picked off (the last being the game-killer in the last 30 seconds).
MELO HURT AND SHUT DOWN: Melo had 24 points at halftime but injured his arm on a three-pointer in the second. He only went 3-11 in the second half which was combination of James, the Heat help defense, and Stat not being on the floor. When they did play together, Melo’s pick and roll with Stat lead to two easy dunks.
GET IT TOGETHER, WOODY: Coach Woodson is quick to give guys the Ice Cube early 90’s screwface when they mess up. He needs to give himself that face in the mirror. The Heat experimented with many lineups, but in crunch time their Big Three is on the floor, and that’s why they closed the fourth strong (outscoring the Knicks 26-16). On our end, Stat rotted on the bench while JR was cold and the Heat defense zeroed in on Melo.
And again, not playing K-Mart or Camby while guys like Novak weren’t scoring and getting the red-headed stepchild treatment is inexcusable.
CRYING AND GIVING UP POINTS: Sure, LeBron James did his share of complaining (and even gets caught on camera calling a ref a “bitch ass nigga..”). But guess what — King James doesn’t do it when the game is still in play. Raymond Felton did it at the end of the third and didn’t get back on defense, leading to an open three-pointer from Shane Battier that brought the Heat within four, 77-73. In the fourth, James got away with a foul on Chandler, who sat on his ass and literally threw a fit while James sprinted back, got an offensive rebound, and put in a layup to get the Heat up 91-87. Those two sequences where huge momentum swings and five important points the Knicks literally gave away.
The Knicks get to redeem themselves tonight in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. This is by no means a guaranteed win, as the Knicks have had a lot of problems winning up there in recent years going back to the LeBron era.
It took Jason Kidd shooting 19% from the field over the entire month of February for Mike Woodson to take away his starting spot before last night’s game against the Washington Wizards. Unfortunately, Woodson’s stubborness came back on display in the fourth quarter and for a while seemed like it may cost us the game. Lucky for the Knicks, the Wizards give you a lot of room for error and New York got themselves right to hold a three-game winning streak before facing the Miami Heat tomorrow.
NEW LINEUPS BUT SOME OLD BAD HABITS: James White made the start at small forward with Iman Shumpert finally getting moved to shooting guard. White didn’t supply anything in the way of offense, but he also wasn’t a defensive liability, which had been the problem with Kidd trying to defend faster guards. Unfortunately, Carmelo Anthony was off (1-6 in quarter), but JR Smith and Raymond Felton were aggressive looking for their shots and getting to the rim. And Steve Novak hit a nice bank shot and a trey to help the Knicks lead 26-23 after one.
With Pablo Prigioni out with back spasms, Woodson had Kidd man a new second unit of Kidd, Shump, Novak, Stat and Chandler. The defensive rotations were still off and Chandler was visibly annoyed at times, but at least a deficit wasn’t created. Things tightened up with Melo and JR coming back in and the Knicks took a 54-48 lead into halftime.
After a horrid third quarter where the Knicks went six minutes without a field goal and were outscored 29-19 to give up the lead (73-77), Woodson resumed his love affair with Kidd getting major minutes in the fourth despite bricking several open shots. He would keep him in there until the 3:21 mark. Stat had words for Woodson when he sat for most of the fourth after getting some good points in the post, and he wouldn’t come in until Kidd got benched. Shumpert got in when the game was all but already decided by the cold shooting from the Wizards.
Knicks fans can only hope Kidd doesn’t get this much burn against Miami tomorrow.
NO K-MART?: I would have really liked to see what Kenyon Martin could have done last night. I guess with the Wizards not having Nene, Woodson didn’t feel the need to play him. I feel his defense could have really helped stifle that crazy 21-6 run the Wizards had in the third quarter. K-Mart and Camby are expected to be available for Sunday.
CLOSING STRONG: Outside of the third, the Knicks closed every quarter with a run. They had shutout runs of 8-0 and 9-0 in the first half, and the Wizards were held to just three field goals in the entire fourth quarter (outscored 23-11 in the quarter).
MOMENTUM PLAY: The Knicks were down 75-77 early in the fourth when a steal lead to a Kidd fast break. Wall chased him down for a block that was ruled a goaltend, sending Wall into a brief tirade that earned him a tech. That three-point swing gave the Knicks a 78-77 lead, which they would not relinquish the rest of the way.
FELTON HITS A FLOATER?!: Hell has frozen over. Not only did Felton hit a floater, but it was the shot that iced the game. That shot has been broken all year, making this one of the most unintentionally funny Knicks-related videosof the season.
ANOTHER CAREER-HIGH: Surprise, surprise — another guard gets their career-high on the Knicks. Last night it was Bradley Beal scoring 29 points with 12 coming from downtown. Luckily he was off in the fourth with the rest of his team.
BACK IN 2ND PLACE: The Knicks are back in second place in the Eastern Conference, but the hold is very tenuous — a bad loss or two and the Knicks could be as far down as fourth place. That makes the Heat game on Sunday very important.
Rinse and repeat… the Knicks yet again showed a lack of defensive awareness and late-game execution last night and suffered their second disappointing loss to the Toronto Raptors in consecutive weeks. The losses before were infuriating, but at least fans could hold on to the fact the squad was still firmly #2 in the Eastern Conference. Well, now these embarrassing defeats are sliding New York further down the ranks and now at the third seed.
PLAYING DEFENSE WHEN THEY WANT TO: How erratic was the defense? The Knicks gave up 32 points in the opening quarter as the Raptors shot a crazy 58%. Then the Knicks clamped down in the second and hold Toronto to just 16 points on 6/22 shooting. They follow that up with a wretched third quarter where they give up 31 points, which ended up being too much for the Knicks to overcome in the fourth despite outscoring the Raptors 28-21.
Several extremely lazy defensive plays stood out during the game. In the first quarter, Melo let a Raptor guard come down the lane for layup while putting a half-hearted push on him, resulting in a foul and a three-point play. In the second, Steve Novak failed to rotate when the Raptors swung the ball around the perimeter and gave up an open three. JR Smith foolish gambled on a steal in the third and got burned for a trey, and Amar’e Stoudemire lost track of his man on an inbounds play and got dunked on.
The constant defensive switching continues to be the death of this team. It is completely inexcusable that this hasn’t been corrected as the recurrent mismatches down the stretch gives teams, no matter how mediorce, great chances at winning. The guards (all of them) have to fight harder to get over simple screens. And when they can’t, our big men (Stat, Tyson), need to briefly trap and scramble back to their man as opposed to trying to D up a guard on the perimeter. Rudy Gay made a mockery of Stat on the perimeter because of the constant switching and Chandler got duped into a bad foul on Demar Derozan near the three-point line. Until this is fixed, the Knicks defense will remain broken.
THE TURNING POINT: As inconsistent as the defense was, the Knicks got several emphatic stops late in the fourth that gave them chances to win. Jason Kidd had a huge block on Lowry that led to Felton pushing the ball up the court with the Raptors defense in disarray and the game tied at 95. He passed to a wide open Kidd at the top of the key. But Kidd, despite hitting two treys earlier in the game, passed the ball right back. Felton fired it to him again as Kidd still had a good look until he bungled the pass. The Knicks would come up empty on that trip and Rudy Gay wouldn’t hesitate on the other end — he nailed a jumper to put the Raps up 95-93. The Knicks would tie it once more, but there momentum was effectively gone.
Remember the Jason Kidd that hit this three-point dagger on the Nets earlier this season? That man is long gone.
PLAY SMARTER, NOT HARDER: The hard effort and play was there for most of the fourth — Melo dropped 30 points and Chandler had an impressive 5 blocks. It was the end-game mental lapses that killed any chance of a win. With this cast of veterans, the decision-making has got to get better. Chandler should not have been guarding Lowry on the perimeter late (again the result of defensive switching), which lead to a floater that gave the Raptors the lead for good with less than 30 seconds left.
WOODY’S HYPOCRISY: You know what’s sad? When the Knicks were still flying high in December, Woodson had no problem experimenting with different starting lineups. Sometimes Ronnie Brewer would get the call and other times it’d be Chris Copeland or even James White. So why when the team is playing its worst basketball of the season do you stick with a lineup that’s been failing for weeks? It makes zero sense.
Onto another important Atlantic division game on Sunday when the Knicks face the Sixers.
This team, man. What else is there to say? All-Star Break, sufficient rest, and the Knicks still delivered one of their worst all-around performances for the year. Having now lost four of their last five games and just a half-game removed from third place, now is the time to be very concerned about where the Knicks are headed over the second half of the season.
PUTRID OFFENSE AND DEFENSE: The Pacers are known for their phenomenal defense but also for their struggles to score. In fact, they are one of the lower teams in the league when it comes to scoring. Last night you’d have no clue as damn near the entire team lit up the Knicks to the tune of 53% shooting and over 100 points while still in the third quarter.
The Pacers were getting open treys at will since the Knick guards couldn’t fight through picks to close out. It’s become a tradition as of late to have some unheralded guard drop a career or season high against the Knicks, and last night it was Orlando Johnson (8 pts, 2-2 from downtown) and Sam Young (7 pts) — the latter could be seen slamming home windmill dunks in the fourth.
The Knicks offense (33.7% shooting) was pathetic with zero ball movement and hoping for Melo to be hot (he wasn’t). Melo went 7/21 for just 15 points and no one else stepped to fill the void except Tyson Chandler (19 pts, 11 rebounds), who got 11 of his points at the line. Amar’e Stoudemire had 7 points and just one field goal as he struggled to handle Tyler Hansborough and was nearly ejected for yelling at a ref.
Raymond Felton tried (12 pts) to make things happen, but the pick and roll with Chandler was well scouted and there was zero cutting from any of the players around him. The guards of Iman Shumpert, Jason Kidd and JR Smith would go a combined 2-17 for just 9 points.
GAME ENDS IN THE 2ND QUARTER: This game didn’t feel promising from the outset. A four point deficit in the first felt like 10 the way the offense was going. The Pacers bench took full advantage and outscored the Knicks 44-26 in the second quarter to take a 77-44 lead into halftime.
WOODSON REMAINS STUBBORN: Coach Woodson had a terse rebuttal when asked in the post-game if he’d consider changing the starting lineup. He said it was a matter of getting better, not changing lineups. Has Woody gone mad? Going back to when Felton went down with the hand injury, Kidd has been a disaster in the starting lineup. Over his last three games, he’s only made one shot and is getting torched on defense. Last night it was Lance Stephenson (14 pts) abusing him. And it was sad to see Iman Shumpert trying to be play small forward and at times having to body up much bigger guys like David West.
This lineup is not going to cut it. Woody’s love affair with Kidd will have this team looking at the fifth seed if this keeps up. First off, Kidd needs to be benched, Shumpert to shooting guard, Stat to power forward and Melo at the 3. We need as many offensive weapons as possible and as we’ve seen, just dropping it in to Melo will not suffice.
A MENTALITY OVERHAUL: For a team that likes to administer bully ball, they sure do not handle it well when a team gets physical with them. Once again, the Knicks resorted to whining (Stat), and cheap shots when the game got away from them. JR Smith got ejected for his shenanigans with Stephenson, and the team just seemed to literally bend over like we’ve seen far too many times this year.
We’ll see if this was a wake-up call on Friday when the Knicks look for revenge against the Toronto Raptors.
This was way harder then it needed to be. With a little less than seven minutes in the game, the Knicks were down 11 points (76-87) to the lowly Timberwolves. Their guards, whether it was Luke Ridnour or Ricky Rubio, were looking like superstars blowing by Knick defenders. The prospect of back to back losses to sub. 500 teams had most Knick fans on Twitter going irate. Thankfully, the Knickstape woke up and did what they should have done all game in executing defensive stops.
MELO CARRIES THE LOAD: With the team dead in the water on offense and defense, Carmelo Anthony had to work through his shooting struggles to create something. Although he would take 26 shots, Melo found fire in the 4th to the tune of 12 points, including a game-sealing 20 foot jumper in the final minute. Melo was also strong on the boards with nine rebounds.
MORE STAT PLEASE: Amar’e Stoudemire went 5-7 from the field for 11 points. The Wolves tried to play him physical and got a few turnovers, but we would’ve have been wise to go into the post more, especially that atrocious third quarter that saw us get outscored 18-31. However, we have to remember that Coach Woodson is big on defense and the lapses made by Stat at times did him no favors. Not to mention, Stat got a stupid technical for ref complaining at the beginning of the fourth. Stat had another nice block (he’s been getting at least one per game), but Woody and the rest of the coaching staff have to realize playing Stat and Novak together creates too many defensive liabilities when our guards keep getting beat.
WHERE ART THOU PERIMETER DEFENSE?: This is the biggest problem with our defense and frankly I don’t know for sure what’s the solution. We had better defense with Ronnie Brewer starting, but suffered on offense and constantly had to fight out of deficits after the first quarter. With Kidd starting, we get better offense (sometimes), but can’t keep the other guards out the paint. Felton has been back for 8 games and Iman Shumpert 11, so in theory we should still be giving them some slack about getting back into the swing of things (especially Shumpert coming off ACL surgery). But with February being very favorable schedule-wise, we cannot afford to be dropping games to trash teams. Leave that nonsense to the Nets (ha!).
One lineup we haven’t seen recently is Felton and Shumpert in the backcourt, Brewer at the 3, Melo at power forward and Chandler at the 5. But even this is problematic as Shumpert and Brewer struggle to finish at the rim and Shump’s 3 in not a consistent threat at this point. *Sigh* When are Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace coming back again?
It was an ugly game on the offensive end, but a key JR Smith 3-pointer and two huge defensive stops on Paul Pierce allowed the Knicks to get their first win in Boston last night since November 2006. I was not in the mood to see another Pierce dagger jumper and thankfully JR saw to it that NY fans didn’t get another disappointing loss. Onto the game’s notable points.
MELO WAKES UP, BUT OFFENSE PROBLEMS PERSIST: Melo had a horrid first half going 4-13. It wasn’t all his fault either — the refs allowed him to get pounded down low and swallowed their whistles on several calls. To his credit, Melo keep his cool and picked up his aggression in the second half, finishing with 28 points and nailing a key three-pointer in the fourth to help push the lead to 10.
So why was the game so close in the end? There was way too much iso Melo in the last few possession with everyone just standing around. Yes, Melo is our best player, but let’s get some cuts to the basket to help him out. You could see in his body language that Melo was getting exasperated in continually getting the ball with the shot clock running down, which brings me to my next point…
STICK WITH KIDD OR GIVE PRIGIONI A SHOT?: PAblo Prigioni gave us good minutes last night. He got Stat going on some pick n’ rolls and hits two 3s to keep the defense honest. I understand that Coach Woodson has a lot of faith in Jason Kidd — who can forget his early season heroics, especially in the San Antonio and Brooklyn comeback games? Nonetheless, the season is wearing on and Kidd’s legs aren’t as fresh. Rajon Rondo was abusing him in the fourth and like in the Sacramento game, his holding the ball late instead of getting the offense going lead to several bad possessions. I can’t help but think Prigioni would’ve done more than just dump it in to Melo.
STAT GETS GOING: I must say, I like the progress that Amar’e Stoudemire showed today. His block and reverse dunk sequence in the second gave me flashbacks of Stat’s 2010 form. He also got a few offensive boards, 2 blocks and worked the ball in the post. For whatever reason, Stat was ignored on offense during the last few minutes of the fourth which was a huge mistake. If Stat would’ve gotten some of Melo’s and JR’s bad shots, I’m certain he would’ve had his first 20 + game of the season.
KNICKS IN THE ZONE: On defense New York went for long stretches using zone defense which provided excellent results. During one stretch in the first half, the Celtics missed 11 straight field goals. And in the fourth, their offense went stagnant again to allow the Knicks to pull out front 80-70.
I LIKE KURT THOMAS… ON THE BENCH: Unless the Knicks are having a blowout, it’s best that Kurt Thomas stays on the bench and gets his 90s Herb Williams on. In less than a minute during the second quarter, Thomas bricked an open jumper, blew a layup and got beat by Garnett on an alley oop. Woodson did the smart thing pulling him immediately on a timeout and that’s the last we saw of him.
SHUMPERT’S JUMPER: I’m praying that Iman Shumpert’s shooting isn’t fool’s gold like Ronnie Brewer’s early season success. In the second quarter, Boston went on a 8-0 run to take a 33-31 lead and Pierce was lighting us up to the tune of a 15-point quarter. It was Shumpert who hit back to back 3-pointers to kill their momentum and allow NY to take a slim 50-48 lead into halftime. We’re in desperate need of a third reliable scorer, especially when Melo and JR are struggling. If Shumpert can be that, it’ll do wonders for the rest of the season.
CHANDLER NOT AT HIS BEST: Although he picked it up in the second half, Tyson Chandler had a subpar game by his standards. Guys were getting into the lane too easy without him contesting. I’m sure foul trouble played a role, but he had some strong finishes at the rim in the third for “and 1” finishes that helped NY to take a 72-66 lead into the fourth. He finished with 5 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Most importantly, he held Kevin Garnett to eight points.
WHY YOU STAY WITH JR SMITH: When you don’t shoot well, you have to contribute in other ways. That’s exactly with JR did last night. He shot 3-16 for just 9 points, but with him off the floor we lose. With Boston threatening to take the lead, JR single-handedly made Paul Pierce look like a fool on two possessions. The first was a deflection off Pierce after breaking up a Jason Terry pass. The second was the game-clincher in JR thwarting a potential three-pointer by slapping the ball away and off Pierce. JR should’ve took a bow and blew a kiss at the crowd to prove a point.
A STATEMENT GAME: After getting pushed around for most of the season by teams with physical defense, the Knicks proved they could get it done in a grind-out, playoff type game. It was made extra sweet being against a hated division rival, pushing their record two games under .500 (20-22),and extending their losing streak to five. I couldn’t ask for better “revenge” game ending to the whole Honey Nut Cheerios nonsense.