In biggest move of Phil Jackson’s tenure as president, the Knicks have agreed to dump over $20 million in salary by trading guards JR Smith and Iman Shumpert to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Per the Associated Press, New York will get a second pick in 2019 from the Cavs. The Knicks will acquire filler players that they plan on immediately waiving. So far, the only confirmed one is rookie center Alex Kirk. The Oklahoma City Thunder will acquire Dion Waiters from Cleveland.
Shumpert is currently sidelined with a dislocated shoulder and averaging 9 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Smith, who was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year in 2013, is averaging 11 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists on the season.
So long, homies. I have a lot of love for JR and Shump. At their best, I loved the brash, young swagger they brought to the veteran lineups we’ve had in recent years. But if I’m honest, it is very apparent that both players have reached their ceilings in New York. We’ve been waiting for about 2 years for Shumpert to make that “leap” as a second option which just isn’t his game (nor fair to expect from him). Since JR’s excellent 2013 season, we’ve only seen erratic flashes of the focus that made him the Sixth Man of the Year.
A change of scenery will be beneficial for both guys. Shumpert will get to focus on being the lock-down, wing defensive specialist that was his calling card. And JR can be a secret weapon/gunner off the bench. The Cavaliers at the very least get more entertaining with JR on their roster.
I’ll remember the good times. Once a Knick, always a Knick.
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.
Yesterday’s loss to Miami further dampened the Knicks’ playoff hopes, but that didn’t stop JR Smith from going down fighting. Our streaky point guard made a record 10 three pointers for a new franchise record, and notched an overall NBA record with 22 attempted treys.
The Miami contest caps a three-game stretch which saw JR nail 24 shots beyond the arc. Now if we can only get the team to play some competent defense to go along with this crazy shooting to close out the season…
After two bad blowouts on this West Coast trip to the Lakers and Suns, the Knicks gave themselves a playoff gut check last night against the Warriors in pulling out a critical road game to pull within a game of Atlanta for the last playoff spot. Like most games this season, the Knicks played good basketball in spurts and had an atrocious fourth quarter that nearly lead to the game being stolen in the final minutes. Luckily, New York got defense from a surprising source to keep their post-season hopes alive.
CURRY ON FIRE, BUT NOT WHEN IT MATTERED MOST: Steph Curry lit the Knicks up, going for 32 points (10/21, 6/12 from downtown). Raymond Felton was once again the victim, getting killed on screens and not being able to close out. Pablo Prigioni got ran around in circles during the fourth and couldn’t keep up with the roaming sharp-shooter, allowing for an open three that tied the game at 81 with 2:42 remaining.
The game hung in the balance with both teams exchanging bad fouls and clutch shots that lead to the Knicks clinging to a 87-84 lead after two free throws from Carmelo Anthony. Curry got the ball with five seconds left and went up for a three. Felton closed out well on him, forcing Curry into a bad pass which Shannon Brown picked off for a clear path foul that iced the game. The play was reminiscent of last year at the Garden when Felton forced a late turnover on Curry to spoil Steph’s 54-point effort.
Despite the overall futility of Felton game numbers (2 points, 4 assists), Felton’s game-ending play might be the one that saves our playoff hopes.
MELO THE INEFFICIENT: Whether it was due to Andre Iguodala’s defense or mentally not being engaged, Melo had a struggle-filled night from the field. Foul trouble limited him to 10 minutes in the first half. In the second, he chucked numerous long jumpers completely out of the offensive flow. At one point in the fourth, he was 0/5.
Starting at the 4-minute mark, our leader settled down and made several key plays. The first one was dishing to Tim Hardway Jr. for a three-pointer that made it 81-75. At the 1:23 mark, he nailed a tough mid-range jumper that pushed the Knicks ahead 85-81. And at the 45 second mark, he drew a shooting foul on Iguodala and swished two free throws to make it 87-84. It wasn’t pretty, as New York only managed 15 points in the fourth, but Melo was another catalyst that willed this win through.
JR n STAT: With Melo sitting most of the first half, JR Smith carried the load with a deadly and varied offense. Whether driving to the lane for circus shots or bombing threes, our reigning Sixth Man of the Year couldn’t be stopped. His hot hand sparked a 15-0 run to enter halftime with a 56-44 lead.
While Stoudemire had a seesaw game on the offensive front (5/14, 15 points), but he took full advantage of David Lee’s absence. Stat grabbed 13 rebounds with six of them coming on the offensive glass. He was key in helping the Knicks not blow their lead in the third, and provided strong minutes in the fourth. He was briefly sat for a few minutes in favor of Tyson Chandler, but Coach Woodson quickly realized his error and let Stat close out the game.
DEFENSE AND LUCK: The Knicks had some strong defensive moments in the first half. Their close-outs and help defense limited the Warriors to 35% shooting overall. What’s a little deceiving is that the Warriors had plenty of open shot opportunities in the fourth (particularly Klay Thompson), but just couldn’t covert. The aforementioned Thompson was 3/11 from three.
The Knicks wrap on their West Coast swing tonight at 9 p.m. in Utah. Like all the remaining games, this is one is a “must-win.”
We had the perfect stage set. The Atlanta Hawks had choked and lost a game to the Raptors the preceding Sunday afternoon. The Cavaliers were coming into the Garden without their best player, Kyrie Irving. And what do the Knicks do? Play an excellent first half of basketball and then revert to the wretched defense and putrid iso offense that has sunk them most of this season.
Under normal circumstances, a trap/letdown game like this happening after winning 8 straight wouldn’t be that bad. But with the Knicks fighting for the 8th seed with under 15 games left, the margin for error is so small that losses like this are completely inexcusable. It’s even more disheartening that this horrible effort happens after the Knicks were scared late against the Sixers just a few days ago.
2ND HALF MELTDOWN: After going up by as much as 17 in the first half, the Knicks settled on a 61-46 halftime lead. They shot 59% over the first 24 minutes, incluiding 8/11 from downtown.
Just two minutes into the third, the Knicks gave up a 9-0 run that turned the contest back into a game. Felton and Melo hit a few timely threes to hold onto the lead, but the Knicks were still outscored 31-23 and clung to a seven-point lead headed into the fourth.
And what happened in the fourth? How about the Knicks were outscored 29-16. So who was doing all the damage, you ask?
JARRETT JACK RUNS AMUCK: There is absolutely no excuse for a player like Jarrett Jack, who’s averaging 9 points for the season, should go for 31 points and 10 assists. Jack kept doing the same pick and roll move to kill Raymond Felton and force mismatches. Iman Shumpert’s defense was sorely missed here as Felton had Jack looking like the league MVP.
Jack’s backcourt mate in Dion Waiters didn’t do too shabby either in dropping 22 points, making them a combined 53 points on the night.
A BAD MOVIE: Melo (32 points, 8/20 FG) had been a great closer during the winning streak. But last night, he went 0/5 in 4th quarter field goals and had a very costly offensive foul on the last-minute that sealed New York’s fate. And Melo wasn’t the only one who was ice-cold — JR, Hardaway Jr. and Felton all missed wide open shots
MARGIN FOR ERROR DRAWS SMALLER: It can’t be emphasized enough how much of a blown opportunity this game was. The Knicks can only hope they ignite another long winning streak and the Hawks to keep losing. Should New York lose 2-3 more games, this playoff race is likely over.
The Knicks will officially welcome Phil Jackson to the team tomorrow night on the heels of a win streak that’s extended to six games via a weekend matinee blowout over the Bucks.
As most Knicks fans will remember, we owed this lowly team for beating us in overtime last month AND having the gall to tweet out “#Buckstape” on Twitter.
The Buck never a got a true foothold since the perimeter defense was strong and kept guys like Brandon Knight (14 points) and Nate Wolters (15 points) from having career nights. On the other end, Melo lead the way with 23 points (50% shooting), 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Best of all, Melo only needed 33 minutes of work. Tyson Chandler (2 points, 5 rebounds) and Amar’e Stoudemire (15 points, 6/13, rebounds) had struggles in their return games, but the slack was picked up by Tim Hardaway’s 20 points off the bench, and Jeremy Tyler adding 6 rebounds in 18 minutes.
The Knicks will get their win streak tested on Wednesday when the face the Pacers, a team NY has yet to defeat this season.
I love nights like this. Four guys with 20-plus points. Sharing the ball. Making plays. Having fun out there. Taking the load off me. I love nights like that. – CARMELO ANTHONY
As bad as the Knicks have been this season, it could be worse. Dont’ believe me? Just take one look at the Sixers, who are not only out of playoff contention, but currently on a 17-game losing streak. The Knicks added to Philly’s misery last night, overcoming a 12-point deficit (29-17) in the first quarter to score a much-needed home win to remain in play (3.5 games back) to catch the Atlanta Hawks for the 8th and final playoff spot.
SLEEPWALKING: The Knicks came out very lazy and allowed the Sixer guards like Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten to get in the paint at will. With Tyson Chandler out due to personal reasons, the Knicks missed his defensive presence and rebounding. In addition, Melo wasn’t his usual self, looking lethargic coming off a cold last game. He didn’t have good lift on his inside game nor on his jumper. Thankfully, the Knicks only had to settle for a 31-26 hole after hitting a few timely threes to close out the first stanza.
DEFENSE PICKS UP: By the second quarter, the Knicks realized their were playing the Sixers and started playing defense. They took a small five-point lead following two Raymond Felton threes, but hurt themselves by going in the penalty six minutes in, allowing Philly to stay close at the line and keep it tied at halftime, 61 all.
THE BEST PLAYER ON THE FLOOR: Amar’e Stoudemire has been beasting and his output was sorely needed yesterday to keep the pressure off Melo. Playing at the 5, Stat was too fast and quick for guys like Thaddeus Young, dropping 23 points (9/10 shooting). Stat’s defense was adequate as well, including a nice block at the rim that lead to a JR Smith three on the other end. A 9-0 run late in the third, after a few minutes of back and forth buckets early on, allowed the Knicks to take the lead for good.
FOUR OVER 20: The Knicks had four different plays score over 20 points: Melo (22), Stat (23), JR (22) and Hardaway Jr. (28). Tim’s output was the most scorching, including 13 points in the fourth that allowed Melo to rest the entire period.
The Knicks head to Boston Wednesday night to take on the Celtics. I wonder if Melo and Rondo will have any “side” conversations.
Phil Jackson hasn’t even got here yet and the team is already playing better. In all seriousness, the Knicks vowed to build on their Timberwolves win and did just that in completely dominating the Utah Jazz for a 108-81 blowout victory. There were several key contributions, namely Melo’s season-high 8 assists, that made this game an easy one almost from the opening tip.
CAREER-HIGH START: The Knick burst out the gate with 39 points in the first quarter (season-high) on 70%shooting. As usual, Carmelo Anthony lead the barrage with 18 points, including a nifty four-point play. More impressive than his scoring, Melo made sure to move the ball quickly out of double teams and fed the hot hand (JR Smith). This lead to everyone being more active on defense as the Jazz were held to 22 points.
NO LET UP: The second unit of Prigioni, Hardaway Jr., Tyler, Clark, and Shumpert gave up an 11-4 run to start the second. Luckily, the Knicks had built a decent cushion. Once Melo, Stat and Chandler returned, the domination resumed. Stoudemire showed defensive competency in drawing a charge on Richard Jefferson and blocking Derrick Favors at the rim. Felton was finding Chandler at will for alley oops. And Melo had a constant smirk on his face over the fact Jefferson was trying to guard him. When the halftime buzzer sounded, the Knicks had a 60-41 score lead by Melo’s 22 points and 5 assists.
EXTENDED GARBAGE TIME: The Jazz hung around for the early part of the third but never got it to single digits. Melo continued torching Jefferson, and Chandler ran amuck with dunks and controlled the boards (16 points, 11 rebounds). Outside of Felton, every starter hit double figures. They were allowed to rest all of the fourth with the bench holding the lead and young guys like Aldrich and Tyler getting much-needed burn.
FAVORABLE RESULTS: The Knicks are going to need some help to make the playoffs and they got it from everyone last night. The teams in front of them (Pistons, Cavaliers, Hawks) all lost, and New York can jump in front of the Cavs with a win tonight.
After seven games of futility, the Knicks finally played a solid game and took a much-needed wire to wire win over the Timberwolves. Outside of a horrid third quarter which saw the Wolves outscore them 31-22 and pull within 1 point, the Knicks were wholly dominant with the backcourt hitting their shots, Chandler making Kevin Love’s life miserable, and Melo being the usual scoring machine. The entire starting lineup of Melo (33 pts), Stoudemire (18 pts), Chandler (15 pts), JR (14 pts) and Felton (18 points) hit double figures for only the second time this year.
Speaking of Felton, he arguably had his best game of the year, adding 8 assists, 4 steals in completely outplaying Ricky Rubio (11 pts, 8 assists, 6 turnovers).
Knicks fans also got a second look at Kevin Love, who will undoubtedly be a free agent target in 2015. The Wolves big man had 19 points and 8 rebounds, but was a liability on defense, giving up repeated Chandler alley oops and other easy buckets inside. Chandler seemed to relish matching up with Love, even going as far in his halftime interview to say Love doesn’t play any defense. K-Love would definitely be an asset in New York, but pairing him with Melo might not be the best idea unless there is a strong defensive center added to the mix.
The Knicks have the Utah Jazz tonight in another “must-win” with just 20 games left.
We actually won a close game! When Raymond Felton (SMH) hit the deck and allowed Tyreke Evans to put the Pelicans ahead (91-90) with roughly 2:00 remaining, the game was ready to become a replay of Tuesday’s defeat to the Grizzlies. Instead, Carmelo Anthony put forth a Herculean effort, punctuated by 42 points (13 points in the fourth), to will the Knicks to much-needed victory. But as usual, it was the game the Knicks made harder than it needed to be.
STARTING LINEUP DISAPPOINTMENTS: Outside of Melo, no one in last night’s starting lineup (Shumpert, Chandler, Felton, Prigioni) managed to score in double figures. Shump was 1-6 (4 points) before leaving the game in the second with a left ACL sprain. Felton was 1-8 (5 points), while Chandler managed 4 points and Prigioni 6. With that type of production, it’s a wonder Melo didn’t gas out again in the fourth as we’ve seen in recent games. Whether you like Melo’s game or not, it’s clear to everyone watching Knicks game that he’s the main reason this beleagured squad still has a chance of making the playoffs.
BENCH GUNNERS: JR Smith (19 points) and Tim Hardaway (16 points) stepped up big time to keep the team afloat. They were essential in getting the Knicks the lead in the second, and pushing it to double digits in the third quarter.
4TH QUARTER COLLAPSE AVERTED: The Pelicans ripped off an 11-0 run to take a 83-81 lead with 7:25 left. From there, the game became a seesaw battle for several plays. Coach Woodson re-inserted Tyson Chandler, who had some key rebounds (11 for the game) but also a few blunders. The worst was turning his back on the ball, which allowed Prigioni’s man to burn him for an easy layup and put the Pelicans back up 89-88 with 3:50.
Luckily for us, Melo went into God mode for the remaining minutes. With the towering Anthony Davis in his face, Melo recovered from a block and knocked down a jumper. On their next possession, Chandler keep a baseline loose ball alive that allowed Melo to hit a layup to make it 94-91. With Davis again all over him, Melo drove for a stop and pop jumper to push the lead to 94-91. To put the nail in the coffin, Melo got a steal and then hit another stop and pop jumper (this time over an inspired Luke Babbitt) to make it 98-91.
It’s a shame Melo has to run himself into the ground every game just to barely pull out wins. Unfortunately, the Knicks have no choice but to ride the man’s talent in hopes of securing a playoff berth.
OTHER INJURIES: Amar’e Stoudemire sat this one out and Kenyon Martin is also nursing nagging injuries.