Bench Failure: Magic Outhustle Knicks 100-91

AP Photo/John Raoux

ORLANDO — We need to stay out of Florida for the foreseeable future. After dropping a turd of a performance on Monday against the Heat, I swore the team would get it together on pride alone for the Magic last night. Instead, we pretty much equaled Monday’s futility with horrid shooting from the field (37%) and sheer ineptitude from the bench.

The Magic didn’t shoot well either during the first half, but they put together a key run in the second to go up by double digits at halftime, 46-35. By the time we started hitting shots, scoring 28 points in both the third and fourth quarters, the Magic got by on getting to the line (27-32 FT) to win comfortably.

Speaking of the fouls, the Knicks were on the wrong side on many questionable ones. Jason Smith were very physical with Porzingis to the point of knocking him down and standing over him while talking trash. That move prompted Melo to get right in his face and that put an end to the nonsense. However, Smith didn’t get a tech for his behavior while Melo got one later for mouthing off.

Speaking of Melo, he and Calderon were the only ones that had strong offensive games. Melo dropped 28 points (9/17) and grabbed 13 boards. Calderon had his best scoring output as a Knick with 23 points on 50% shooting.

Four of the five starters hit double figures, but the bench failed again to keep the team in position to win. They were outscored 43-12 by Orlando’s reserves, mostly due to Victor Oladipo dropping 24 points. Some of the blame there needs to be placed on Derek Fisher’s bad rotations. Some of the lineups, like ones featuring Seraphin, O’Quinn, Thomas, Vujacic and Grant made you wonder who was supposed to score. Inevitably, lineups like that allowed Magic to stretch their leads.

Once again, a bad game from Porzingis was still productive. The Latvian rookie had 10 points (3/13 FG), 8 rebounds and 6 blocks. His best highlight was one of those blocks turning back an Oladipo dunk. His challenge in these type of games is continuing to look for smart shots over forcing it.

Fisher better be using this Thanksgiving to get his rotations together for a revenge game on Black Friday against the Heat.

[Video] Carmelo Anthony’s Rolled Ankle Puts OKC Christmas Game In Doubt


Carmelo Anthony is hopeful that he’ll be able to play in tomorrow’s big Christmas game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but cautioned that the ankle injury he suffered against the Orlando Magic Monday night makes it a game-time decision.

Anthony, who’s second behind Kevin Durant in league scoring this year, explained that the ankle roll was not as severe as it could have been.

“I’m walking. I caught it before I rolled it all the way but it rolled pretty bad,” Anthony told the New York Post.

Anthony went up for an offensive rebound in the third quarter and landed awkwardly on a Magic player Tobias Harris, resulting in the rolled ankle. He received treatment on the bench and did not return to the game despite going to the locker room under his own power.

The Knicks and Thunder last met in April in a wild shootout game that saw the Knicks win behind Anthony’s 36 points and 12 rebounds. Durant chipped in 27 points. The win allowed Anthony to take the #1 scoring spot and eventually win the league scoring title.


Much as I’d love to see another Melo-Durant duel, I’d rather our best player sit this one out and get healthy. He’s been playing way too many minutes as it is and trying to guard Durant on a bum ankle will do his health no favors. As we saw in last night’s Magic game, this team is hopeless without him, so risking a situation where he has to miss further time is not smart.

With that said, Melo is a baller and since he’s been here, he’s always loved these Christmas games. I give it a 70% chance that he ends up trying to play.


Melo Returns, Knicks Breeze By Magic 106-94


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.


[Video] One for History: Melo Sets Knicks Record in 113-97 Win Over Magic


We started slow but ended strong at Madison Square Garden last night as the New York Knicks notched their third win over the Orlando Magic this season. Our prolific scoring leader Carmelo Anthony had a “quiet” scoring night by his standards with 20 points, but it was enough to put him alone in Knicks history with 30 consecutive games of 20 points or better, surpassing Richie Guerin’s 51 year record. With the rough month that’s been January, the Knicks showed improvements in crucial areas in the second half that will hopefully translate into additional easy wins during a favorable February schedule. Onto the game’s notable points.


MAGIC GUARDS ON FIRE: Once again, poor Raymond Felton found himself getting lit up by the opposing team’s point guard. Jameer Nelson went at Felton from the outset and got deep into the lane at will (19 points in the first half). Iman Shumpert fared no better in attempting to guard J.J. Redick, who drained numerous three-pointers for a 17 point first half.

Coach Woodson was irate at the defense which had the Magic shooting 63% at one point and the Magic guards accounting for 46  of the 51 first half points. Thankfully, the Knicks shooting was equally as hot with guys like Shumpert hitting their own threes and Tyson Chandler establishing his offense down low, which keep the game even after the first (31 all) and second (51 all) quarters.


PRIGIONI LEADS CHARGE: Pablo Prigioni once again provided a huge spark off the bench. He was aggressive looking for his shot (11 points, 9 from downtown), which forced the guards to stay with him on pick n’ rolls and allowed Amar’e Stoudemire to feat at the rim.


FRONTCOURT EFFICIENCY: We’re finally starting to see how devastating our Big Three frontcourt of Melo, Stat and Tyson can be. The trio shot a combined 25-35 from the field for 55 points, nabbed 18 rebounds (7 offensive), 11 assists and 3 blocks. Stat in particular went 7-7 (14 points) from the field and Chandler (21 points) really opened up the offense by driving to the basket and even shooting a jumper. And with the additional offense, Melo was able to be much more efficient and ease back on the Iso ball.



DEFENSE STILL WINS GAMES: Even with the offense flowing in the second half, it was the defense that closed this one out. Jameer Nelson finished with 21 points but only 2 came in the second half. Redick had a game-high 29 points, but found it much more difficult to get open down the stretch. The Magic would end up shooting 46% compared to the Knicks 57%.


NOVAK FINDS HIS SHOT: Steve Novak had been in a bad shooting slump the last few games and finally opened up, albeit mostly in garbage time. Novah had 8 points but nailed two long three-pointers which we can only hope will get him going.


MELO NEW RECORD: Richie Guerin set the Knicks record of 29 straight games of 20 points or better back in the 1961-1962 season. Melo’s 20 points last night was his 30th to set the new mark, much to the happiness of the the now 80 year old Guerin, retired in Florida.


The Knicks will look to hold off our Friday night curse when we face the Bucks at home tomorrow.







Defense for 2 Quarters? Melo Drops 40 to Rally Knicks Past the Magic 114-106


After a dominant, defense-heavy win over the San Antonio Spurs last game, most of us were hoping a light bulb had gone off for the Knicks in realizing their defense has to be like that every game. At the very least, we hoped the defense wouldn’t go to shit in the very next game.

That’s exactly what happened in the opening quarter last night against the lowly Orlando Magic, who blitzed the Knicks for a 36-point first quarter and replicated another 30 point-plus quarter after the half to go into the final quarter with an eight point lead. But luckily for us, NY has this MVP candidate on the squad you may have heard of… Carmelo Anthony.

It wasn’t pretty at times, but Melo’s 40 points (16 in the fourth) was a joy to watch. Onto the game’s notable points.


WE’LL HAVE TO LIVE WITH OPPOSING GUARDS GOING OFF (FOR NOW): Face it, Knicks fans. We’ll have to live with the fact that any team with quick point guards are going to give us fits until Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert make it back. Jameer Nelson lit up Jason Kidd in the first quarter last night for 12 points. Kidd couldn’t keep up on screens or when Nelson drove to the basket. Pablo Prigioni did marginally better, but it was a recurring problem in the first and third quarters.


ONLY DEFENSE FOR 2 QUARTERS, BUT IT WAS DAMN GOOD DEFENSE: The Knicks again played hard defense when they wanted to. But when they did, the team had phenomenal results. After giving up 36 points in the first, the Knicks held the Magic to just 19 points in the second while scoring 32. The offense was spurned on by a aggressive Carmelo Anthony, who came in at the 9 minute mark and was able to draw a third foul on Vucevic. This helped to open up the lane and the rebounding for the Knicks. JR Smith took full advantage, earning three-point plays at the rim and driving at will. Aside for some late defensive lapses in the second that lead to JJ Redick hitting a three to pull the Magic within 2, the Knicks played strong to take a four-point lead, 59-55, at halftime.

The Knicks started the third strong but inexpicably fell apart halfway through. This coincided with Nelson, and Arron Affalo for that matter, getting hot from mid and long-range. A coast to coast Nelson drive off a jump ball gave the Magic the lead for the quarter, and he added further damage with three pointers. Affalo got in his own and even a four-point play earlier in the quarter to give the Magic a nice 87-79 lead going into the fourth.

The Knicks woke up again and held the Magic to just 17 points. NY somewhat got a break in the Magic waiting a little too long to put Nelson back in, but even then the defense was stifling. With the game on the line, we had the ultimate closer in Melo and the Magic had no one.


JOSH MCROBERTS ON MELO?: Poor Josh McRoberts probably woke up this morning in a cold sweat and shivering from the lingering effects of that torching he received from Melo in the fourth. Melo was literally toying with him: exaggerated dribbling, holding the ball to the end of the shot clock, and chuckling repeatedly after every bucket. Vucevic got some abuse too when he had to guard Melo on switches. Melo pretty much lived in the post with short jumpers and the Magic had no answers. A double team late in the quarter led to an open Kidd three-pointer which served as the dagger in putting them up 111-1104.


MELO’s DEFENSE: Lost in Melo’s 40 point performance was his great defense on JJ Redick in the fourth. It seemed like a crazy move to have Melo chasing Redick on screens, but he stayed with him most of the time. Redick is a rhythm shooter and you could see he never felt comfortable shooting over Melo. He had several possible game-changing three-pointers that bricked and finished the game shooting 3-10.


CAMBY LIMITED AND RIGHTLY SO: The Spurs game had a lot of people saying Marcus Camby in our starting lineup was the solution to our defensive woes. Well, Camby had 2 points, 1 rebound and 0 blocks yesterday. The lineup needs to be adjusted to the competition and that was proven in spades last night. The most promising thing I liked about Camby’s time was his passing out of the high post. His teammates fumbled some of them (including Melo on what looked to be an easy alley oop) and hopefully that improves in the coming weeks.


STAT TRYING HARD: It was rough watching Amar’e Stoudemire. On the positive end, he was getting to the rim easily on pick and rolls and his first step. But once he got there, he couldn’t finish for anything — either his shot got swatted or rimmed out. You could see it was bothering him and Melo had some encouraging words. I liked that the team kept going to him even with the repeated misses. He started the fourth good with a three-point play and a open dunk, so that’s promising. The defense is still shaky, but 11 points and 4 rebounds in 17 minutes is solid.
JR, TYSON AND KIDD: JR Smith couldn’t extend his 20 point game streak to six, but his 18 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals were very important. If he didn’t get his fifth foul early in the fourth, I’m sure he would have been even more aggressive. Kidd did get lit up for 29 points from Nelson, but he dropped 15 points, going 5-8 from downtown. Chandler couldn’t keep Vucevic off the boards (18 rebounds), but he contributed another strong double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, going 6-6 from the field. And all three were very strong defensively in the closing fourth quarter.

I want the team to get all the rest they need because we have the division rival Celtics next, who are currently on a two-game winning streak and looking to pick things up to get back into the playoff picture.