[Video] Porzingis Adds 31, Rose’s Late Heroics Down Blazers 107-103


Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

In years past, a poor shooting performance from Carmelo Anthony was guaranteed to end with a Knicks defeat. In the present, that won’t happen if Derrick Rose (18 points, 5 assists) and Kristaps Porzingis (31 points, 9 rebounds) have anything to say about it. The pair combined for 49 points, including a timely Rose jumper with 6.8 seconds left to seal the Knicks’ fifth straight win at Madison Square Garden.

FENDING OFF A HUNGRY TEAM: The Blazers destroyed the Nets a few nights ago and picked up right where they left off. They went 4/5 from three-point land in the first quarter and had the Knicks scrambling to keep up on pick n’ rolls. New York managed to keep it close and found themselves down by only five (33-28) headed into the second.

JENNINGS THE X-FACTOR: Brandon Jennings might be the best $5 million the Knicks have spent in a long time. With the first unit offense lethargic, he came in pushing the ball and attacking Portland’s star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He opened up the floor with 4 first half assists that lead to the bench pouring in 17 points by halftime to give the Knicks a 60-58 edge.

Cramps would keep Jennings from playing in the fourth, but he still managed 11 assists in 22 minutes.

KUZMISKAS STEPS UP: With Jennings out, Kuzmiskas picked up the slack with 10 points. He hit a crucial three-pointer late in the fourth and had a great drive for a layup. He kept the floor spaced just by being a scoring threat.


UNSUNG HEROES: Courtney Lee, Willy Hernangomez and Justin Holiday don’t have numbers that’ll jump out at you, but all three worked hard defensively. There was one great sequence where Lee completely shut down the driving lanes on McCollum and forced him into a well-contested jumper that elicited cheers from the Garden faithful.

MELO’S SCORELESS 4TH OVERSHADOWS OTHER GREAT PLAY: With KP hitting half his shots in the fourth, the crowd was in a frenzy to get the ball to him on every play. Unfortunately, the frenetic play had him winded and Melo tried to pick up the slack on a few iso plays that went nowhere. The crowd jeered their disapproval.

 It’s unfortunate that we’re going to read a few articles tomorrow about how Melo needs to play “in the flow” of the offense and now about how his fourth quarter defense and rebounding was a key factor in this win. 

It’s unfortunate that we’re going to read a few articles tomorrow about how Melo needs to play “in the flow” of the offense and not about how his fourth quarter defense and rebounding was a key factor in this win. He tipped out two offensive rebounds for extra possessions in the final two minutes and also helped force a turnover on Evan Turner. In addition, his late screen for Rose helped the speedy point guard score a layup to put New York in front for good 102-101. Melo’s 7-22 shooting was ugly, but he locked in where it was needed to grind out this win.

We’re at .500! The Knicks will look to improve on that record this Friday when they face the Charlotte Hornets.

Blazers Hold Off Knicks at MSG, 94-90


We can’t say we didn’t have our chances in this one. Despite the uneven defense and streaky offense, the Knicks were down by just two points (89-87) with 1:30 left following back to back treys from JR Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. But an inability to get stops resulted in New York dropping their third straight game and now sitting at the 10th spot in the East with no relief in sight.

BENCH OUTPLAYS THE STARTERS: Our bench took full advantage of the Blazers’ weak second unit, dropping a total of 50 poitns with several guys hitting double figures: Stoudemire (15 points), Hardaway (12 points), and JR (18 points). Outside of Melo (26 points) and Prigioni (5 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists), our starters just didn’t get it done. Shumpert was held scoreless while Chandler botched several layups and only managed 2 points in 31 minutes. Raymond Felton wasn’t as horrible as he had been against the Bucks, adding 7 points and 3 assists in 21 minutes.

JR lead a great second quarter surge, utilizing dribble penetration to feed Stoudemire and Jeremy Tyler for several big slams. The defensive intensity picked and was a key reason the Knicks were down just one point (46-47) at halftime despite a late 9-0 Blazers run.

MELO GASSES OUT: Melo had a hot start, dropping 14 points on 6/7 shooting in the first quarter. He was also active on the defensive end, getting a big block on Wesley Matthews that lead to a fast break dunk. And even in the third with the Blazers threatening to pull away, Melo dropped 11 points to keep NY in it. Unfortunately, all that expended energy left him weakened in the fourth when his offense was needed most. He missed all four of his shots while the Blazers executed just enough to squeak by.

For Melo, it must have been an eye-opener to see how a complete team like the Blazers picks up the slack when their star is having a bad night. LaMarcus Aldridge shot just 5/17 from the field (15 points), but his struggles were negated by big contributions from Nicolas Batum (20 points), Wesley Matthews (18 points), and defensively from Robin Lopez (3 blocks). Melo got no such help from his starting crew.

MORE THAN ENOUGH CHANCES: Melo and Hardaway had multiple chances in the fourth to swing the momentum in NY’s favor. Each missed open shots and with every one, you could see the confidence in winning deflate from the team. Aldridge’s fadeaway over Chandler with 35 seconds left took the remaining fight out of the team.

Friday Night Knicks is in effect tomorrow with NY hosting the Denver Nuggets.

At Least Melo Still Cares: Blazers 102, Knicks 91


PORTLAND, OR. — The Knicks’ three-game West Coast swing started with their sixth straight defeat as the Trailblazers, behind hot, efficient play from guards Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews, burned the Knicks for a combined 40 points. Outside of Carmelo Antony having another double double (34 points, 15 rebounds) and Kenyon Martin of all people being the high man in assists (6), there wasn’t much to applaud on the Knicks’ end.

FLAT 1ST HALF: The Knicks went down by as much as 22 points in the first half courtesy of bad help defense in the post (primarily Andrea Bargnani), and no offense outside of Melo. Portland went on a 12-0 run to go up 22-12 with 5 minutes left in the first quarter and NY wouldn’t get it to single digits again until midway through the 4th quarter. A 17-4 run in the second quarter got the Blazers their biggest lead, 44-22, before settling on a 56-39 halftime lead.

A SOLID THIRD QUARTER FOR A CHANGE: The Knicks slowly began chipping away late in the third behind inspired play from Melo. Instead of doing damage on the scoring front, he got three consecutive assists, two of them 3s from Udrih and Bargnani, that kept the Knicks within a 13-10 point striking range headed into the fourth.

THE BACK-BREAKER: A Bargnani three trimmed the lead to seven (81-74) early in the fourth, but then the momentum collapsed in less than a minute. Metta World Peace touched the ball after the shot, leading to a technical on a second delay of game. A broken fast break on the Knicks’ next play lead to Blazers exploiting the team’s bad transition defense for an easy Batum dunk, and then a Shumpert missed three lead to Wesley Matthews sinking one on the other end to put the deficit at 88-74.

The Knicks’ effort was never the same after that outside of Melo, who managed to get to 98-91 off a jumper with 1:47 remaining. Lillard promptly hit two shots, a mid-range jumper and floater in the paint, to ice the game.

SHOOTING GUARD HOLE: This is where the Knicks were hurt the most on offense. Iman Shumpert is playing like a man with broken confidence and it’s evident in his stats last night (0 points, 1 steal, 2 TOs). JR Smith wasn’t much better off the bench, managing just 6 points on 2-8 shooting and 5 fouls.

PG PLAY: Beno Udrih improved from last game, going for 13 points and 5 assists. Still, our guards overall have to improve defensively and offensively for the team to prevent big deficits going forward. Pablo Prigioni didn’t have it this game — the veteran contributed 0 points and just 1 assist in 17 minutes.

STOUDEMIRE: Amar’e had his usual defensive woes (giving up a four-point play opportunity in the first half), specifically trying to guard LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points, 14 rebounds). However, he was active and showed life on offense, dropping 10 points off jumpers, post moves and rolling to the basket.

I’ve worked my butt off to get in tip-top shape and to be able to compete at the highest level. To work that hard and to be losing like we are, it’s not a great feeling. – CARMELO ANTHONY

The criticism is starting to quiet about Melo. While his defense will never be standout, his shot selection is improving, and his rebounding has been the best of his career while trying to pick up the slack for Tyson Chandler. The man needs help badly and unless JR, Iman and Bargnani match his effort, this losing streak will not end anytime soon.

Knicks Fight, But Falter Down the Stretch to Blazers 105-90


Well, at least we didn’t get blown out by 20-plus points. The Knicks’s losing streak has extended to three as they remain winless on this five-game West Coast swing. JR Smith urged the team to find their hearts after getting drubbed by the Nuggets on Wednesday. While the team did fight, there were some key bad stretches to put this game out of reach.

IT STARTED OFF WELL: The Knicks came out with lots of energy and ball movement courtesy of an inspired Raymond Felton, who was returning to Portland for the first time and got greeted with boos every time he touched the ball. He penetrated often and Kenyon Martin was the main recipient in notching 8 first quarter points. The isolation plays that did happen were for Chris Copeland, who made sure to take it to the rim. He had 6 points and the Knicks nursed a 30-22 lead after one stanza on 62% shooting.

The big bright spot for the Blazers was Damian Lillard, who had a few three-pointers to keep his team in it. The Knicks’s second unit did a strong job with Pablo Prigioni working the pick and roll to perfection with Marcus Camby, who got about four easy layups inside. In addition, Camby crashed home a putback dunk that had me checking the calender, as it was straight out of his ’99 form.

NO ADJUSTMENTS: Unfortunately for New York, once Portland stepped up their defense and clamped down on the pick and roll, the Knicks offense degraded into shambles. The Knicks led by as much as 13 (41-28), but Portland went on a 8-1 run to get back in it, and then a crushing 13-0 burst to close the quarter and go up 51-48 at halftime.

The Knicks spent way too much time on the perimeter during this stretch and there were costly turnovers. Coach Woodson, for whatever reason, kept Copeland on the bench which hurt our opportunities to score with Steve Novak completely off from three-point land.

3RD QUARTER OFFERS NO RELIEF: Over this losing streak, the Knicks have had at least one quarter where nothing goes right. I have no qualms with anyone picking the second, but for me it was the third. The Blazers outhustled them badly for rebounds and loose balls. There was zero guard penetration for the Knicks and the Blazers reeled off another game-changing run (11-2) while the Knicks’s shooting dipped to 42%. Overall, the Blazers outscored the Knicks 27-14 in the quarter and took a big 78-62 lead into the fourth.

THE LAST STAND:  You can’t say the Knicks didn’t make a go of it. Copeland hit a three followed by two more from JR Smith and a layup that brought the deficit to 80-73. Prigioni’s energy was essential during this climb back — he made two key steals, one of which was converted into another Smith three to bring the Knicks within 4 (80-76) with about seven minutes left.

Prigioni’s decisions weren’t all good — he had a fast break on the first steal but opted to reset on the perimeter with the defense closing in, and had a turnover on a bad pass. But Woodson made a mistake pulling him, since as soon as Felton came back in, Lillard burned him for a three-pointer.

Felton, much like he did in the games against Jeremy Lin, got caught up in trying to prove himself and his decision-making lead to more turnovers. The ball movement relied on long jumpers which were cold while the Blazers sizzled behind the arc with the likes of Nicolas Batum going off. By the time the barrage ended, the Knicks were down 78-95 with just four minutes remaining.

As a fitting conclusion, Felton bricked a three-pointer for the Knicks’s last possession.

ANOTHER INJURY:  As if matters couldn’t get any worse, Kenyon Martin left the game with what was later diagnosed as a bone contusion in one of his knees. No word yet on if he’ll miss any time.

Right now I’ll say the Knicks are at the lowest point they’ve had all season. There is no identity on defense or offense, and the team’s confidence is suffering for it. We can only hope they’ll focus on the good play they had in the first quarter and early part of the second for the next game (Clippers in LA on Sunday).

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