The Friday night Knicks curse? Not with the Washington Wizards in town. The Knicks lets their haphazard opponent hang around for a few quarters, but blew the game open at the end of the third and cruised to an easy 108-87 win to remain undefeated this season at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks were never in any serious trouble after falling behind 2-6 to start. The first quarter was quiet with no on taking over, but three-pointers in the final minute from JR Smith and Steve Novak pushed the lead to 26-17 after one.
This game was a coming out party, or rather a return to form for JR Smith, who after averaging 17 points off the bench to start the season had been shooting less than 30% and averaging 9 points over the last five games. His jumper was working and he finished at the rim to the tune of 10 points at the half. Pablo Prigioni was another spark off the bench; our 35 year old “rookie” was draining 3s off screens and making sure to feed Tyson Chandler. Melo’s jumper was working, but our leader was more focused on passing and notched five assists, the majority to Chandler for easy dunks and layups. Although the Wizards had eight offensive rebounds and roughly half their points in the paint, a Melo buzzer beating, 23-foot jumper gave the Knicks a 58-46 halftime lead.
Trevor Ariza had some success early in the third, but the Wizard’s deficit hovered around 14 points for most of the quarter courtesy of good shooting from Ronnie Brewer. His defense remained strong as he got a steal that lead to a Chandler dunk. Raymond Felton got aggressive getting into the lane and finding Chandler, who got a three-point play inside. Add on some three-pointers from Rasheed Wallace and Novak, and the Knicks were resting on a 84-63 lead after outscoring the Wizards 29-19 in the third.
With another blowout, Melo and the other starters got to rest all of the fourth. The rest of the team stayed productive with Novak still hitting 3s, and Prigioni delivering a sweet alley oop to JR Smith. Chris Coperland and James White got significant minutes and were able to hit shots. The Garden got loud with Marcus Camby chants, but Coach Woodson sadly ignored them, saying later that Camby’s a “pro” and understood tonight we were going with the young guys.
Outside of a few too many fouls and the continued rebounding woes, the Knicks stat lines were great. Melo had 20 points in 27 minutes on 6-13 shooting. Chandler had a double double (12 points, 10 rebounds). JR had 20 points off the bench on efficient 9-14 shooting (2-3 from downtown). Prigioni had 8 points and 5 assists. Felton had an overlooked 11 points. Novak went 3-6 from long-range. As a team, the Knicks only had 8 turnovers while forcing 17. And with this blowout, the Knicks have held 10 of their 15 opponents thus far under 100 points while having one of the toughest schedules of November.
Yes, it was the Wizards. But any Knicks fan that’s been around longer than this season remembers quite well that no victory was guaranteed against any team in previous years. The Knicks are not just taking care of inferior teams; NY is doing it in dominant fashion which should bring a smile to all our faces. Our home stand continues tomorrow afternoon against the Phoenix Suns. Get well J-Kidd, Stat and Shump!