[Video] Porzingis Drops Career-High 35 Points in Close Win Over Pistons

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We are privileged to watch the growth of a future superstar. Kristaps Porzingis delivered a career-high 35 points to lead the Knicks to a close 105-102 win over the Pistons at Madison Square Garden. Despite a focused game, the scrappy Pistons made sure the Knicks worked for this win until the final buzzer.

FEED THE BEAST: Melo said before the season that he’s never played with a weapon like Derrick Rose. That applies even more so to Porzingis, who feasted to a 25 point first half and truly showed how versatile (and scary) his game is. He worked unblockable fadeaways in the post, ran the floor for contested layups on fast breaks, and burned Detroit for three three-pointers. He shot 13/22 from the field and managed to get to the line seven times.

I said earlier in the week that Porzingis can take the reins at the #1 option in 2-3 years. But if he keeps up this pace, we might have a changing of the guard by next year.

MELO’S NOT TOO SHABBY: All the attention on KP should not negate another efficient game from Carmelo Anthony: 22 points (13/22), 5 rebounds and 3 assists. For this team to work, both guys need to continue being the one-two punch on scoring.

IMPROVED DEFENSE: We’re still a work in progress, but the last two games have shown some marked improvements. The Knicks are playing defense with their legs and stayed in front of their assignments. The Pistons were held to 12 free throw attempts compared to 19 for the Knicks. Joakim Noah’s (7 points, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks) defense, particularly in the first half on Andre Drummond, proved very effective. Drummond was contained to 15 points and 9 rebounds.

The glaring problem remains the three-point defense, which allowed Detroit to claw their way back in the fourth and nearly force overtime on the final play. Once that area gets under control, we’ll see a lot more easier wins.

SOLID BENCH PERFORMANCES: Justin Holiday (9 points, 5 rebounds) continued his solid play on both ends of the floor. Brandon Jennings was hot-dogging out there too much (got called for a carry), but his 7 assists keep the offense flowing in his 17 minutes. Kyle O’Quinn got the nod over Hernangomez and made the most of his 15 minutes. He tallied 6 points, 5 rebounds, 3 blocks (including one on Drummond) and 2 assists. Outside of KP, O’Quinn just might be our best post defender.

The Knicks complete their back to back tomorrow night in D.C. against the Wizards.

[Video] Wasted Opportunities: Pistons 102, Knicks 89

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D-E-F-E-N-S-E. What does that spell, ladies and gentleman? If you’re a Knicks player, you couldn’t spell nor understand the concept as the Pistons torched them from three-point land and dropped the Knicks to 0-2 on the road. Considering this was the first of a three games in four nights stretch, this defeat is extremely disappointing against the “easiest” team paper.

OPEN SHOTS: At one point last in the first half, the Pistons were shooting 59% from the field. Marcus Morris seemed on pace for a career night with 16 points on 7/9 shooting, and repeatedly made Melo look slow and old on the defensive end. Melo was efficient on the scoring end with 14 points, but the lack of defense made it essentially trading baskets with Pistons going up at one point by 13 due to the second unit not being able to score.

FRONTCOURT DOMINANCE SANS DRUMMOND: Coming into last night, the main concern was containing Andre Drummond, who on a good night can have a 20-20 game. In that regard, Joakim Noah (2 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists) did a fantastic job holding him to 9 points (Drummond did manage 13 rebounds). The problem was due to Noah not being able to slack off Drummond, Tobias Harris and Morris (22 points) went off. The former had 25 points on 8/12 shooting, which is a big indictment on how bad Porzingis and Lance Thomas guarded him. Harris had way too many easy looks at the rim. Overall, the Pistons outscored the Knicks 50-32 in the paint.

RANDOM BIG NIGHT: If you’re looking for an x-factor, it was Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. He nailed four treys and delivered 19 points. Once again, the Knicks failing to close out adequately on shooters was a huge issue.

CLOSING WITH A WHIMPER: Despite how bad we looked for three quarters, the Knicks were right there in the fourth down 89-92 with nearly six minutes left. From there we had two bad iso situations with Rose and Melo, and would not have a field goal the rest of the game.

BAD LINEUPS: Because we’re playing Houston tonight, I understand Hornacek was trying lineups that would preserve our starters. The problem was the guys he selected for big minutes, like Lance Thomas (1-6 in 26 minutes), couldn’t produce. Since our bench is weak when it comes to offense and playmaking, every lineup out there needs to have at least one starter that can score (Melo, Rose or KP). Thomas wasn’t pulled until 3:22 left in the fourth.

We’ll see if home court gets us re-energized for the Rockets.

 

 

[Video] Watch Arron Afflalo Break Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s Ankles

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What got into Arron Afflalo tonight? AA produced a 7/7 first half for 15 points and finished the game with 20 as Knicks beat the Pistons 102-89. Afflalo’s most memorable play came in the first quarter with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope being victim of an ankle-breaking crossover. It was only right that the basketball gods rewarded Afflalo with a friendly rim bounce.

Check out the link below for more angles.

 

Knicks Contain Drummond, Defeat Pistons 108-96

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NEW YORK — The Knicks received by efforts from Robin Lopez (11 points, 6 blocks) and Derrick Williams (18 points) to snap a four-game losing streak and beat the Pistons 108-96 at Madison Square Garden.

Melo lead the way with 24 points and kept the Knicks close throughout until Williams exploded for 16 points in the fourth on 5-6 shooting. The team effort was rounded out with Calderon (15 points), Kyle O’Quinn (12 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (10 points).

The main threat coming in was Andre Drummond, and the Knicks did a superb job of throwing different bodies at him and keeping him from dominating the glass. Although no Knick had more than 7 rebounds, Drummond was held to 13 points (5/15) and 9 rebounds. Leading the way for Detroit were Ersan Ilyasova (19 points) and Reggie Jackson (17 points).

A big positive to take from this game is the Knicks are 11-2 when they score at least 100 points. But a glaring problem this season has been the losing streaks — this was the third time the Knicks had lost four straight. If we hope to get a playoff spot, these stretches of futility cannot keep happening.

The Knicks are back in action on New Year’s Day against the Bulls.

Boos, Cheers and Late Hustle: Pistons 97, Knicks 81

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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.

 

 

Andrea Bargnani Back to Sidelines With Re-injured Right Calf

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Andrea Bargnani’s return lasted one full game. The injured-plagued foward/center is back on the sidelines after re-aggravating his right calf just one minute into tonight’s game against the Pistons.

Bargnani made his season debut on New Year’s Eve, scoring 9 points in 19 minutes in a 99-78 losing effort to the Los Angeles Clippers.

Bargnani has played just 20 minutes this entire season.

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ENOUGH! Remember we gave up two draft picks for this man last year? The Raptors are very grateful for that misstep. If the Pistons could figure out a way to drop their most expensive player in Josh Smith, we surely can figure out a way to get Bargnani out of here.

No Relief in Sight: Knicks Drop 7th Straight in 96-85 Loss to Pistons

I’m running out of comments – CARMELO ANTHONY

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AUBURN HILLS, MI — Is it the offseason yet? For the Knicks, it might as well be since from their play it’s become quite apparent they no longer care. This is what a broken team with no confidence, pride nor sense of duty in what they do looks like. At this point, predicting how a Knicks game will go is quite easy. They’ll jump out to a quick lead (this time 14 points), blow it as soon as they get, and let their defensive woes get them blown off the court in the fourth when they fail to get stops. Oh, and let’s not forget letting someone on the oppoosing side notch a career-high in some category.

BACKCOURT TRASH: Our starting backcourt of JR Smith and Raymond Felton was absolutely woeful with both going scoreless for the entire first half. JR managed 16 points for the game, but that was only due to gunning when the game had already been decided in the fourth. They shot a dismal 6-26 for the game. Iman Shumpert (5 points, 2/7) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (0 points, 0/6) couldn’t provide much of a spark off the bench, either.

ANOTHER GUARD GOES OFF: During this losing streak, we’ve seen the likes of Stephen Curry (triple double) and DJ Augustin have monster games. Last night Will Bynum got in on the fun, scoring all of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Opposing guards seem to realize by the start of the fourth that our guards can defend and start picking us apart.

LATEST CAREER HIGH: Andre Drummond was a beast last night. Aside from schooling Amar’e Stoudemire in the paint during the third quarter (six straight points on various spin moves), he pulled down a career high 28 rebounds.

STAT N’ MELO: When it came to offense, New York only got consistent production out of these two. Stoudemire scored 22 points and Melo added 28. While their shooting percentages were strong, the ball movement wasn’t consistent, so a good bulk of their points had to come through isolation plays.

WOODY: Raymond Felton continues to get paraded out for heavy minutes despite being a clear detriment on the floor. Felton played 32 minutes, going 1/9 from the floor (4 points). Any competent coach would have benched him a long time ago for Prigioni and Toure Murry, who can’t possibly do any worse.

We’ll see if the Knicks can make the bleeding stop on Wednesday when they head to the Target Center to face the Timberwolves.

[Video] Choke Averted — Knicks 89, Pistons 85

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A win is a win, but last night’s game unnecessarily went down to the wire after the Knicks blew an early 15-point 4th quarter lead and had to rely on Melo free throws (and the ever-present bad Josh Smith jumpshot) to pull out a 89-85 victory at MSG.

2 BAD, 2 GOOD: Why did this game turn out to be so difficult? It’s hard to cruise to a win when your play right down the middle between horrible and great. The Knicks put together a very good first and third quarter, where they outscored Detroit 24-21 and 32-17, respectively. The second and fourth quarters saw them shooting under 35% and get outscored 20-17 and 27-16.

A THIRD THAT SHOULD HAVE ENDED MATTERS: After settling for a 41 tie at halftime, the Knicks blew open the game behind three consecutive treys from Carmelo Anthony to push the lead to 58-49. The rest of the team fed off that energy and became terrors in the passing lanes and on double teams to force seven turnovers (the majority of them on Josh Smith) that lead to repeated fast breaks, including a Shumpert three-point play on Greg Monroe. It turned out to be a 25-3 run that gave NY a 73-58 lead going into the fourth. That should have been the last we saw of the starters.

JR SMITH THE CATALYST: Knick fans have come to expect trouble when we see JR starting the fourth. He made several bad passes that lead to turnovers, and the Pistons began to creep back by getting to the foul line. JR had a few iso plays that went nowhere as well. Instead of getting benched, JR continued to get crucial fourth quarter minutes that did the team no favors. In his 30 minutes, JR contributed 6 points (2/6 shooting) and 2 assists. He also got some boos when introduced and very audible groans when he touched the ball in crunch time.

FELTON NEARLY BLOWS HIS SOLID RETURN: For most of the game, Raymond Felton played well in his return (12 points, 6 assists). He moved the ball and his jumper was working off pick n’ rolls. The big problems happened late in the fourth when he coughed off the ball on back to back possessions. They were the result of bad concentration — Jennings picked his pocket close to halfcourt, and Felton got stripped driving right into heavy traffic. On top of that, he missed a second free throw that would have iced the game. Thankfully, Melo got a key offensive rebound to save the day.

MELO VS. J-SMOOVE: Melo (34 points) and Josh Smith (21 points) were battling all night, with Melo getting the better of it most of the evening. However, Smith made a strong push late in the fourth to get the Pistons back in it and got a key offensive foul on Melo with less than 30 seconds remaining and 86-85. Smith then blundered with this airball jumper.

The funniest thing about this clip was Melo feeling mighty proud like he blocked the shot.

OTHER CONTRIBUTORS: Despite the game being uneven from a playing standpoint, the Knicks were able to gut this out due to varied team contributions. Andrea Bargnani cooled after a fast shooting start, but had a double double (13 points, 11 rebounds). Stoudemire got abused a lot by Detroit’s formidable frontcourt, but still managed to drop 9 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes. Shumpert only scored 5 points, but also had 6 rebounds and 5 assists in addition to being the main defensive spark in the third quarter run.

The Knicks got the win, but they’ll need to regain their Texas trip form if they have any hope of being the Miami Heat Thursday night.

Clueless Knicks Drops 3rd Straight, Fall to Pistons 92-86

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It’s starting to look like that ESPN prediction of a 37-45 record was on the generous side. The Knicks put together a decent first half, imploded defensively and offensively in the third, and then had to play catchup in the fourth. They couldn’t get the stops they needed and most alarmingly, our leader Carmelo Anthony was a petulant, unfocused player who had his teammates tuned out and the refs non-calls in his head.

 

NEW LINEUP: With Felton sitting out with back spasms, Coach Woodson elected to go with Iman Shumpert and Beno Udrih in the backcourt. The frontcourt was manned by Melo, Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin, who NY hoped would bring some toughness and interior defense.

The first quarter was solid with Bargnani getting off to a quick start (7 points in the quarter) by driving to the rim. The interior defense was still a problem, but it didn’t become damning until the second half.

Udrih went scoreless and managed five assists while Shumpert chipped in 11 points. Even with Felton out, the perimeter defense was still abysmal as noted by Rodney Stuckey going for 21 points off the bench and getting into the paint at will. 

Melo had a horrid first half where he shot 3-12. He complained about the lack of calls, missed several free throws, and overall played with tunnel vision. This is one the games were you could clearly see he wasn’t trusting his teammates and rushing bad shots. The whining earned him a tech in the third and he didn’t settle down until the fourth. He missed a three with the Knicks down 82-87 which basically sealed the game.

 

INEXCUSABLE DEFENSE: Sometimes a picture is worth more than any game analysis. For a synopsis of how bad the defense is and why the Knicks have been playing from behind in nearly every game, click on the image below and watch Amar’e Stoudemire. Also note Melo’s reaction on the bench.

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This is the reason the team went down by as much as 15 early in the fourth (63-78) and ran out of time despite clawing their way back into it with two minutes remaining.

 

MORE PAIN TO FOLLOW: It’s not going to get better, as tonight the Knicks have to face the Indiana Pacers, who sport the best record in the league. I see no other scenario but a blowout that rivals what the Spurs did to NY last week.

Without Melo, Knicks Win Ugly in Detroit

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Nothing comes easy for this Knicks team, even when playing a banged up Detroit Pistons with only eight available players. New York got some scares throughout the night, but this one was decided in the end by talent and execution. A win is a win, but we better see a massive improvement tonight if our team hopes to be competitive against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

WHITE AND THOMAS STARTING?: When I saw James White and Kurt Thomas in the starting lineup, I expected a long night. They played for a combined 12 minutes in the game, so there wasn’t too much damage from this. But when you see Kenyon Martin still languishing on the bench, you wonder what could possibly be going through Coach Woodson’s head. Marcus Camby got six minutes, so at least there was some progress made in opening up the lineup.

 

STAT EATS UP DETROIT: The Pistons only had two players (who happened to be rookies) 6’10 or taller in the lineup last night, making it a feast on the inside for Stoudemire. Stat bullied his way to 10 points in the first quarter and 17 at the half. Woody made a misstep in taking Stat out with a few minutes left in the second. That, combined with the horrid ball-handling (15 turnovers), lead to a Pistons 13-2 run to get within six (44-38).

Stat started the second half, but the Knicks were more interested in chucking long jumpers than really working through Stat again. He would only post five points over the second half, but contributed solidly on the boards (9 rebounds, 6 offensive).

 

CHANDLER OUT OF SYNC: Tyson Chandler was mentally out of it on defense and offense for most of this game. The interior defense, which starts with him, was inconsistent and particularly bad in the opening quarter with Detroit scoring the majority of their points on layups and dunks. With Detroit’s lack of bigs, Tyson should have been feasting inside like he did to the Warriors last week in the absence of David Lee.

 

JR FEAST AND FAMINE: The Knicks kicked off the third quarter on the wrong side of a 10-2 run and a big part of that was due to JR chucking from the outside (4-16 early on). Brandon Knight got hot due to lazy defense and the run extended to 18-4 with the Knicks facing a 65-55 hole with just over two minutes left. JR then found his three-pointing (as did Raymond Felton) and helped erase the lead and tie it at 65.

JR nailed three treys in the fourth but his most significant contribution came when he got three big steals to help deflate Detroit.

 

FELTON CAN’T MISS: When Melo’s out, no other player on this Knicks squad decides to pick it up on the offensive end more than Raymond Felton. He did it in the December when he lit up the Heat for nearly 30 points and did again last night, going 10-15 from the field (4-5 from trey) for 26 points. How in the zone was Felton? The man caught a lob from Pablo Prigioni like he was Chandler.

 

MORE FROM SHUMP AFTER THE FIRST: I’m liking this trend of Iman Shumpert coming out aggressive and being…well… a shooting guard that actually shoots. He dropped 9 points in the first quarter off three treys but like previous games, his offense disappeared after that.

 

KNICKS SLOPPY BUT PISTONS “SLOPPIER”: The Knicks average a league-low 11 turnovers and had 20 last night. However, the Pistons also had 20 and theirs were way more costly with six of them coming in the fourth quarter.

 

WHEN MELO COMES BACK: Can we just cut the nonsense now, Woody? You’re getting a lot of deserved heat for the constant and unnecessary defensive switching and parading these crazy lineups out there. Our starting lineup needs to be Felton, Shumpert, Melo, Stat and Chandler. Mix and match as you please, but our Big Three needs to start and end games. They either prove definitively they can play together or they crash and burn. This team was put together to “win now” and that only happens with your best players on the floor.

No time like the present to get that lineup going tonight against the Thunder.

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