[Video] Beasley’s 30 Spoils Melo’s Homecoming

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It was a bittersweet evening last night for Carmelo Anthony’s homecoming to Madison Square Garden. On one hand, it was sad to see Melo in another team’s uniform after giving his prime years to the city and never truly wanting to leave. On the other hand, the Knicks seem headed in the right direction as they outplayed OKC without Porzingis to win going away and improve to three games over .500. There was a lot to celebrate last night as the team appears to have brought in to Hornacek’s system just in time to face a challenging road stretch.

B-EASY’S GREEN LIGHT:  To say Beasley’s had an up and down season so far is an understatement. We’ve seen him lost on defense and out of control on offense. But tonight and in recent games, the former #2 pick has been locked in. He knows without Hardaway and KP, he’s one of the few guys on the squad that can get his own shot. He did that last night in spades by thoroughly outplaying Melo to the tune of 30 points on 11/17 shooting.

We saw post-ups on mismatches, slashing to the rim to score or draw fouls, and long-range shooting. And most importantly, we saw Beasley moving the ball and hitting guys like O’Quinn for open dunks out of double teams.

I’m surprised Beasley didn’t get an MVP chant last night.

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LEE PROVIDES BACKUP: Courtney Lee was excellent tonight, tallying 20 points (3/6 from downtown) and getting to the line (7/7). He did a good job making Paul George work on offense and managed to nab two steals. When he’s aggressive and looking for his shot, it makes it much harder for teams to collapse on our main offensive weapons.

JACK CLOSES THE SHOW: Frank Ntilikina has been the closing PG in recent games, but he struggled mightily in keeping up with Russell Westbrook (25 points, 7 reb, 7 ast). So Hornacek went with Jack, who relied on veteran savvy to time Westbrook’s drives for steal opportunities. He pestered Russ and did a good job of running him into double teams and settling for mid-range jumpers. And Jack nearly had his own triple double, finishing with 12 points, 8 rebound and 7 assists.

BENCH PUTS IT AWAY: OKC was only down 5 in the fourth quarter before our bench players effectively put the game away. Doug McDermott was a man possessed early in the quarter, hitting 3 three-pointers and finishing with 13 points. Kyle O’Quinn prowled the paint on offense and defense, finishing with 9 points, 7 rebounds and a team-best +16. And let’s not forget the scrappyRon Baker, who chipped in 11 points on 3/4 shooting from downtown. But his biggest contribution was on defense, where he pestered the perimeter (2 steals).

TIRED THUNDER: Although many had their doubts about us winning with Porzingis out, OKC were on the second night of a back to back after playing a triple-overtime game in Philly. Those heavy legs became apparent in the fourth when OKC just couldn’t push the tempo. They hoped jumpers and threes would get them back in it, but when we closed those opportunities none of them had the energy left to attack the basket.

Melo looked the worst of the bunch. Outside of hitting his first two jumpers and an alley oop later, he had a horrible shooting night. Melo finished with just 12 points on 5/18 shooting. His miserable homecoming was punctuated by getting denied at the rim late in the fourth by O’Quinn. I hope our old star can get it together out there.

As for us, I’m starting to feel very confident we’re developing the chemistry to be a playoff team.

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Melo to Replace Kevin Love as 2017 All-Star

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Carmelo Anthony is once again an All-Star. The Knicks forward learned today the NBA has selected him to replace the injured Kevin Love.

Love is expected to miss six weeks to recover from knee surgery. Sunday’s game will be Melo’s 10th All-Star game appearance.

Anthony is averaging 23 points on 44% shooting for the season. The selection comes with Melo on a recent hot streak of 26 points on 46% shooting for his last 10 games.

 

Melo’s 31 Points Lifts Knicks Past Hawks 104-94

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Photo Credit: USA Today

Sunday’s game had the chance to be a defensive disaster when news hit that Joakim Noah was out. Dwight Howard did run rampant, but Carmelo Anthony’s 31 points and sound team defense gave the Knicks an impressive 104-94 win over the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden.

NOT WAVERING: The Knicks were locked in on defensive rotations. Outside of a few open treys, the Hawks had to work for every basket and only managed 40% from the field. Billy Hernangomez (7 points, 8 rebounds) and Kyle O’Quinn (8 points, 8 rebounds) harassed Dwight Howard (18 points, 18 rebounds, 6/12 FT) and made him work at the free throw line. And Derrick Rose (14 points, 7 assists) dominated his matchup with Dennis Schroder (0/8, 1 point).

MELO LEADS THE CHARGE: Melo’s offense set the tone, but it was team effort to get this one. Four of the starters hit double figures, including Porzingis with another double double (19 points, 11 rebounds). Courtney Lee chipped in 14 points and was excellent slashing to the rim and using his three-point shooting to stifle several Atlanta runs in the second half.

FOUR STRAIGHT AT HOME: The Knicks have done a fantastic job protecting home court by notching their four straight at Madison Square Garden. The challenge in channeling the focus on the road where too many times we’ve seen a lethargic ball club.

Next up is another home stand against the struggling Trailblazers, who are 1-4 over their last five games but come in off a 129-109 beatdown of the Brooklyn Nets.

 

[Video] Crappy Effort: Wizards Torch Lethargic Knicks from Three-Point Arc

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Photo Credit: USA Today

What a crap performance. There isn’t a better way to describe our last outing in D.C. against the Wizards. After coming off Kristaps Porzingis scoring a career high 35 points, everyone was optimistic that the team may have turned the corner. Instead we got a lethargic team in the second night of a back to back that allowed one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league to torch them for 45 points from downtown (15/25, 60%) and shoot 54% from the field.

The Knicks staged a faux pas comeback in the fourth after falling behind nearly 30 points, but New York would get no closer that seven points down the stretch. If you’re looking for bright spots, you can hope Derrick Rose (27 points, 3/5 from three) and Brandon Jennings (17 points, 7/10, +19)  continue the improved shooting.

It bears repeating — this team will only go as far as their ability on defense, particularly when it comes to guarding the three-point line.

Things will get no easier to close November as New York has Atlanta, Portland, Charlotte (2X), Oklahoma City and Minnesota over the next two weeks.

[Video] Carmelo Anthony Pokes Fun at Trolls and Critics in New Foot Locker Commercial

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Since coming to New York, the scrutiny on Carmelo Anthony has been high. And with New York not making the playoffs the last several years, some have come to view the perennial all-star as “overrated” and not even a Top 20 player in the league.

Foot Locker brilliantly captured that sentiment while giving Melo the chance to poke back with their “Week of Greatness” commercial series. Two fans attempt to belittle Melo’s accomplished career, but he quiets them with one simple question.


Fun aside, this is a make or break seventh year for Melo in New York. With future franchise player Kristaps Porzingis in his second year and the acquisition of Derrick Rose, a losing record and missing the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year will have fans and media alike calling for Melo’s head. The tepid 5-7 Knicks record and Anthony’s own recent haphazard play (21 points on 42% shooting, 28% from three), have not helped matters.

Nonetheless, we’re not even a full month into the season. Carmelo Anthony has more than enough time to make his real-life detractors eat their words just like this commercial.

[Video] Defense Loses Games: Knicks 107, Raptors 118

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Photo Credit: USA Today

I couldn’t write about this game on Saturday because I was too pissed off. If there was ever a game that was an indictment on how bad our defense is, it would be this loss to the Raptors last Saturday.

If you would have told me going in that Carmelo Anthony would have 31 points with Derrick Rose and Kristaps Porzingis adding 21 points apiece, I would have supreme confidence the Knicks would enjoy a blowout win.

Alas, you don’t get easy wins when you statistically have the worst defense in the league. The Knicks couldn’t defend the pick and roll in crunch time, allowing Kyle Lowry several clear drives to the rim to ice the game in the final minutes. Maybe it wouldn’t have gotten to that point if the Knicks could play defense without fouling — the Raptors got 38 free throw attempts to the Knicks’ 16. New York also allowed 20 points in transition.

The verdict is clear nine games into the season. If the Knicks can ever salvage themselves to play adequate defense, they make the playoffs with a decent seeding. If not, we’ll have another extremely disappointing year in the books.




Foul Happy Knicks Screw Themselves Against Jazz

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It was all good in the first quarter. Kristaps Porzingis (28 points) was cooking with his shot (4/5) and had 11 points. Carmelo Anthony (28 points) was picking spots and also had a scorching 4/5 start, leading to the duo accounting for 24 of the Knicks’s first 26 points, and a 30-20 first quarter lead.

Then the BS started. The game literally came to a grinding halt in the second quarter. The Knicks could not stop fouling. The Jazz knocked down 15 free throws in the quarter and were only down 54-49 despite shooting 38% from the field and the Knicks 51%. Exacerbating the problem was Porzingis got in foul trouble and had his rhythm broke. He wouldn’t score again until midway through the third quarter.

The Knicks had a scrappy third quarter as the Jazz found their offense. Utah briefly took a 62-60 lead, but a quick Courtney Lee (10 points) three put New York back in front. The Knicks clung to a 80-78 lead headed into the fourth.

The starters fought tooth and nail to hold the lead and had to sit to start the fourth.This proved disastrous as the bench unit couldn’t score and the Jazz promptly reeled off a 9-0 run to start the quarter and go up 87-80.

Then our defensive woes came back to bite us. A couple of strong Derrick Rose (18 points) drives would get the Knicks to within five (100-95), but we couldn’t hold defensively. Either Rodney Hood, who had 10 points in the fourth, would hit a timely three, or the Jazz would find an open mid-range jumper after breaking down our switching defense. The Jazz would have a 36-point fourth quarter and hand New York their second straight defeat at Madison Square Garden.

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100 points or more given up in every game this season. This defense is so bad, it makes me long for the days of Mike Woodson and Mike D’Antoni. Seriously, is it that hard to not play defense with your hands? Sure, Hornacek deserves some of the blame, but outside of KP this is a team composed of experienced players. They need to take some pride in fighting over screens and not being so dependent on a switch to bail them out (and in turn create more mismatches). Even the switching under Woodson wasn’t this bad.

Our defense was a godsend for the returning Gordon Hayward, who put up 28 points with HALF of them coming from the free throw line!

We have three days until we face the Nets on Wednesday. Our practices better consist of pick and roll defense drills and fighting over screens.

[Video] Opening Night Statement: Knicks’ Team Effort Holds Off Grizzlies

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(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Late pass on this review, but before tonight’s game against Detroit I had to drop some thoughts on our impressive 111-104 home opener win over the Grizzlies last weekend. After being embarrassed by Cleveland on national TV, I was interested to see how our squad would perform. Although it’s early, the mentality I saw on the court leads me to say with confidence this might be our most mentally strong team since the late 90s.

BLEW THE LEAD, BUT NEVER GAVE IT UP: Despite building a near 20-point lead in the first half, the Grizzlies slowly got themselves back in it by making it a plodding, half-court game where Marc Gasol and others feasted at the foul line. Like Knicks teams in recent years, there was a lot of complaining to the refs (particularly Melo, who earned himself a technical). But unlike our former teams, we held firm and put the game away in the fourth. Rose’s playmaking combined with Noah’s interior defense proved to be the difference maker in the fourth.

KP and Melo = 41 POINTS: We waited all last season for these two to put up big numbers simultaneously. We got it with Porzingis dropping 21 points on an efficient 7/11, and Melo going for 20 despite getting mauled in the paint and refs swallowing their whistles. That is the main reason for his 5/15 field goal performance, but Melo made up for it by going 9/12 in free throws.

NOAH IS OUR HEART AND SOUL: This man was fired up from the opening tip and his energy proved contagious. His post presence was a big factor in holding Gasol to 5/15 from the field, and he cooled off a heating up Zack Randolph in the fourth. His stat sheet (6 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists) shows the versatility Noah brought. His passing was crucial in getting others like Courtney Lee (16 points) off to quick starts.

Barring no serious injuries, it’s hard for me to imagine this team not making the playoffs.

[Video] Tearful Carmelo Anthony Wins 3rd Gold Medal, Calls for Unity in U.S.

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After 12 years, Carmelo Anthony’s Olympic journey has come to an end. Team USA scored a lopsided 96-66 victory over Serbia, making Anthony the first U.S. player to win three gold medals. The Knicks player also put his stamp in U.S. Olympic history by becoming the all-time leader in points and rebounding.

“I know this is the end. This is it for me, this is it for me. I committed to something….” Anthony told NBC Sports before trailing off to gather his thoughts. “I committed to this in (2004). I’ve seen the worst and I’ve seen the best and I stuck with it, we stuck with it. And I’m here today, three gold medals later.”

Recent weeks have seen the spotlight on Melo’s off the court social activism, including his comments on police brutality and prison reform. He used his post-game interview to allude to the importance social and political unity.

“Despite everything that’s going on right now in our country, we got to be united,” Anthony stressed. “America will be great again, I believe that. We got a lot of work to do, but one step at a time. I’m glad we represented it in the fashion that we did.”

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Melo has come a long way from the cornrows days in Denver. While most people have been stressing health, I think mentality is equally important for Melo, D-Rose and Noah this upcoming season. The emotional high of this win as the team’s senior player should give Melo the extra confidence needed to lead the Knicks to a successful season.

Stephen A. Smith Apologizes to Carmelo Anthony Over “No Rings” Criticism

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Last week on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A Smith absolutely ripped Carmelo Anthony for an article where the Knicks star stated he’d still be proud if he finished his career with no rings.

Anthony, who’s still competing for Team USA in Rio, was furious with Smith and made his feelings known on Instagram. Sometime over the last two days, the two spoke over the phone and Anthony made it clear his comments were misinterepeted. In addition, Anthony took Smith to task for lashing out in public before speaking with him personally.

You can see Smith’s full apology below. Hey Stephen A, you don’t want to make an enemy out of Melo.