Even with the Knicks struggling mightily in the New Year with various injuries, a loss to the Hornets would have been a huge low point. It wasn’t a flawless performance earlier today, but we saw glimpses of the ball movement and defense that made this team great to kick off the season.
A CONTINUATION OF THE BULLS BEATDOWN: Including today, the Knicks have lost 11 of the last 14 first quarters. Early on the Knicks were flat today with no ball movement and heavy on isolation plays for Carmelo Anthony, who was ice cold from the field (1-5 to start). Our second-leading scorer in JR Smith was no better in going 0-4 in making a stupid foul at half-court with the clock winding down that gave the Hornet 3 free throws to push their lead to 29-22. Eric Gordon had a hot start as well lighting up our guards from long range and driving at will. The one bright spot was Chris Copeland, who hit 3 three-pointers to keep it close.
COPELAND MAKING A NAME: With JR struggling, Chris Copeland provided the offense that the Knicks sorely needed. He went 4-7 from downtown and made some key drives to the basket to keep the Hornet at bay. At times, the Knicks have gone with lineups that has them playing three against five when it comes to offense execution. As one of the few guys on the team that can create his own shot, let’s hope Coach Woodson keeps Copeland in the rotation.
NOVAK DOING WHAT HE DOES BEST: Steve Novak hit some key three-pointers in the fourth that put this game out of reach. One at the beginning of the quarter pushed the game to 76-68, and another a few minutes later put it at 84-68.
STAT MOVING ALONG: Amar’e Stoudemire had a productive 23 minutes in getting 12 points. The rebounding was still bad; he only had 3 and was getting pushed out of position by the likes of Robin Lopez. However, Stat did get one offensive board and with the exception of a few miscues, was competent on defense (even with 5 fouls). It’s only his seventh game back and I remain hopeful that he can start beasting with our second unit.
MELO WAKES UP: After going 1-9, Melo woke up and and went off for 18 points in the second quarter. He showed his full arsenal by scoring on fast breaks and jumpers. His work was instrumental in an 8-0 run to take the lead for good at 36-34. At one point, Melo scored 14 straight Knicks points which lead to MVP chants whenever he went to the line. He finished with 27 points and was a presence on the glass in notching 7 rebounds.
JR OUT OF SORTS BUT STILL CONTRIBUTES: Aside from the bonehead three-pointer foul mentioned earlier, JR Smith also got a technical for complaining about fouls in the third. Nonetheless, our shooting guard started to find his jumper in the second half and was aggressive driving to the basket. Even with only 8 points, JR notched six assists and two steals, showing his importance in the second half in regards to ball movement and defense.
It’s onto to London (!) next for a game against the Detroit Pistons.