NY Trades Novak & Camby to Raptors, Acquire Andrea Bargnani

03132013_andrea_bargnani

With crosstown and division rivals the Brooklyn Nets shaking up their core with the acquisitions of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the New York Knicks made their first big move of the off-season in trading veterans Steve Novak and Marcus Camby to the Toronto Raptors for their much-maligned center/foward hybrid Andrea Bargnani.

My initial reaction was one of disgust. After last season, where we saw literally every big on the roster fall due to nagging injuries, the last thing the squad needed was another injury-plagued 7-footer. And in Bargnani’s case, why pick up a big man who doesn’t rebound well (averaging just four over his seven-year career) and is coming off his worst year last season? Bargnani played just 35 games due to season-ending elbow surgery.

But the more I thought about it, the better I felt. Make no mistake, I’m not happy, but Bargnani can’t be any worse than what we got from Novak and Camby last year. Novak’s shooting went down and defensively he was a huge liability on every play. Camby couldn’t stay healthy for any stretch of the season to justify the multi-year contract he was sitting on. It remains to be seen if Bargnani can remain healthy, but at least we get a guy who can space the floor and create his own shot (that’s huge in preventing the offensive stagnation that plagued the team). And while his contract ugly at first glance ($23 million over the next two years), Bargnani be off the books like everyone else in 2015 when the Knicks can blow up the team if needed.

The Raptors will also get Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first round pick, and two second rounders (2014, 2017). It’s an ok deal, but only if Bargnani can be reliable enough to contribute 12-15 points a night. It would seem like a given based on his career, but we all know players all of a sudden like to turn into complete trash when they come to New York.

Will the change to a winning culture and a no-nonsense coach make Bargnani a valued contributor and a crowd favorite in New York City? Us Knicks fans can only hope so (and pray this isn’t the last big off-season move from NY…).

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[Video] New York Knicks: The Top 100 Plays of the 2012-2013 Season

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The 2012-2013 season is at an end for the New York Knicks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t relive all the great moments from the last seven months that returned the Knicks to prominence. From our team captains (Melo, Chandler, Stat) to our tough role players, you’ll see plays you vividly remember (like J-Kidd’s four-play against Brooklyn), to others just as spectacular, but forgotten over the course of the year (like Novak and JR smashing on the Spurs). Even if you’re still down about the second round playoff exit, these highlights will undoubtedly bring a smile to your face.

Much respect goes to www.obglobal.net for taking that time to put together this awesome collection. Go there to register and talk Knicks all throughout the off-season.

100-90

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89-80

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79-70

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69-60

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59-50

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49-40

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39-30

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29-20

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19-11

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TOP 10

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Copeland Drops Career-High 33 Points in Knicks Season Sweep Win of Hawks

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No Melo. No JR. No Felton. No Chandler. No K-Mart. It felt ugly just to write that, so you can imagine how disjointed last night’s game was with most of the Knicks starters resting. The Knicks were still able to come out on top behind the offense of Chris Copeland to take a season series sweep over the Hawks with a 98-92 win.

 

YET ANOTHER INJURY: Does it ever stop? Pablo Prigioni was manning the point and doing a great job of moving the ball for open shots (the Knicks shot 50% in the first quarter). And even better, Pablo had the green light and was gunning from three.

Disaster struck when he went bassline and sprained his right ankle. The X-rays were negative, but Prigioni didn’t return and the offense suffered with Iman Shumpert forced to play point guard. There’s no word yet on if he’ll have to sit out the playoff opener on Saturday against Boston.

 

SHUMP SETTLES DOWN: Shumpert had a real tough time with point guard duties. He couldn’t penetrate consistently so a lot of times the ball remained stuck on the perimeter with long jumpers or isos to Copeland.

The offense pretty much stayed that way until a minor Copeland left shoulder injury forced others to contribute. Shump was then able to start getting in the lane and finishing for layups and finding James White for jumpers. The pair connected for a nice fast break alley oop that pushed the lead to 93-78 late in the fourth.

 

FIND YOUR SHOT, NOVAK: Steve Novak got a lot of good looks yesterday but couldn’t hit anything (going 0-6 in the first half). He wouldn’t score until  the closing minutes of the fourth and got a sarcastic applause from the crowd when his three-pointer gave the Knicks a 98-86 lead.

Since Novak is a huge liability on defense, if he isn’t scoring he’ll need a firm seat on the bench in these upcoming playoff games.

 

THE “NEW OLD KNICKS:” This game marked the return of two Knicks from the franchise’s dark ages in Earl Barron and Quentin Richardson. 

Barron must have seen what happened to Solomon Jones because he started fast in scoring the first few points and eating up rebounds. He came back to earth real quick and we started to see his liabilities, namely a penchant for fumbling passes. He’s a big body though and in spots he can be effective, as evidenced by the fact he had 18 rebounds to go with 11 points.

Quentin Richardson hit his first shot, a three-pointer, and promptly did the “three to the head” taunt. After that he missed his next 10 shots. His defense was mostly solid and he nabbed 10 rebounds, so if that holds I’ll be ok with this signing.

 

COPELAND THE THIRD OPTION: Copeland dropped a career-high 33 points and was the reason the Knicks held the lead the full game. When the Hawks would get within the 3-5 point deficit range, Cope would secure a bucket inside or a three-pointer. His job was made harder by the fact no one else on the Knicks could create their own shot.

We already know in the playoffs that Melo and JR will carry the bulk of the offensive load. But for the Knicks to really go deep, there needs to be a third scorer in there. Copeland has proved over these last two games that he’s versatile enough to be that guy.

Happy Easter, Boston! Knicks Dominate Celtics 108-89, Take Season Series

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2004. That is the last time the Knicks won a season series against the Boston Celtics. Here we are nine years later with the Knicks breaking that drought emphatically with three straight wins (two in Boston) over their Atlantic division rivals to win the season series 3-1 and extend their winning streak to eight. Are the Knicks about to peak heading into April and the playoffs? There’s many reasons from this game to think so.

BLOWN OPEN IN THE SECOND: The Knicks had a 28-23 lead after one solely based on their hot shooting (52% from the field), punctuated by 4 three-pointers. The Celtics were right there with them courtesy of Jeff Green (27 points), who attacked the rim like JR Smith has been doing lately. But when the second quarter came around, the Knicks ran them out the building.

Chris Copeland provided some key offense with Melo on the bench by hitting his first two three-pointers. Steve Novak added a few treys and Jason Kidd added a shot-clock bailout one that extended the lead to 60-44. The three-point shooting was the main factor in the huge lead, as the Knicks hit 11 of them at the half. The ball movement was on point (15 assists for the team), and the scoring was evenly distributed.

You’ll recall the Knicks ran away with the last Celtics game in the second and capped their excellent play with a deep JR trey at the buzzer. Well, Raymond Felton did one better with a beyond half-court floater that banked in to make the lead 65-48. When shots like that are going down, you know you’re in trouble.

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NO THIRD QUARTER MELTDOWN: Over the first 4-5 minutes of the third, the Celtics were the team with momentum. They were getting to the line and hitting threes, which got them as close as 11 on a few occasions. However, the Knicks responded with timely buckets each time, the biggest being a Felton 3-point play that gave Avery Bradley, the Celtics’ best perimeter defender, his fifth foul. NY finished the quarter strong and Boston faced a 86-69 hole headed into the fourth.

BOSTON SUCKS!: These type of Madison Square Garden chants have come back to haunt us in previous games, but not tonight. The chants started at the beginning of the fourth and the Celtics never could provide any reason to shut the Knicks fans up. Paul Pierce had a good night (24 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists), but sat the entire fourth as coach Doc Rivers knew it was a lost cause.

JR COOLS OFF: JR Smith’s 30 point game, 50% shooting streak ended tonight on a very good note. I say that because we all wondered if JR would go back to his chucking ways when his shots weren’t going down. He was 4/12 from the field, but made sure to get to the line (7/10) and swallow up rebounds (12) on the small ball-minded Celtics. Tonight he faced one of the best defenses in the league and didn’t mentally have a setback, the clearest sign thus far that the “New JR Smith” is here to stay.

PABLO PRIGIONI REMAINS UNDEFEATED: Since Prigioni entered the starting lineup, the Knicks have been on this season-high eight-game win streak. It shouldn’t be surprising as Prigioni expertise in ball movement and steals/deflections have made sure the offense remains diverse with everyone being a scoring threat (except himself, of course). Pablo will get his biggest test on Tuesday against the Heat.

MELO’s 27 MINUTES: Carmelo had under 20 shots tonight (9/19) which is always a plus for the ball movement. The reason he ended up with 24 points instead of 32 is his struggles converting at the rim. A lot of them were point-blank shots that were just rimming out. But like JR, he contributed in other areas, namely in nabbing 10 rebounds. His defense was lazy at times (being late on switches and not contesting Green’s drives to the rim), but these lapses weren’t a huge detriment.

KNICKS SURVIVE THEIR TOUGHEST MONTH OF THE SEASON: How difficult was the month of March? We lost Tyson Chandler, Kurt Thomas and Amar’e Stoudemire to injuries, leaving just two bigs on the team. Melo missed several games with a bum knee and appeared in dire straits at times. Our West Coast trip proved to be a disaster going 1-4, and the Brooklyn Nets at one point were one game out of the top of the Atlantic Division. This winning streak helped the Knicks finish the month 12-6, stay atop the Atlantic by 4.5 games, and remain poised to have a healthy and confident team headed into the playoffs.

We’ve vanquished Boston. Now it’s time to make a statement to Miami and win that season series on Tuesday.

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Six and Counting — Knicks Survive 2nd Half Grizzlies Surge, Extend Winning Streak

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Could the Knicks have been any more bipolar tonight? Leave it to my beloved squad to deliver the best first half of this season only to flush it right down the toilet with an abominable second half. Luckily for New York, their dominance in the first two quarters was enough of a cushion to give them an important win to extend the winning streak to six games. Yes, a win is a win, but I still watched the entire second half pissed off.

FIRST HALF BRILLIANCE: It cannot be overstated how phenomenal the Knicks were over the first 24 minutes. The offensive blitz started behind the hot hand of Iman Shumpert, who scored 13 points just six minutes into the first quarter. He hit three treys and had his mid-range jumper working as well. Although Grizzlies center Marc Gasol surprised everyone by playing despite suffering from an abdominal tear, the Knicks made it a point to go right into the teeth of their defense with aggressive layups courtesy of Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith, who had 11 points each in the first quarter to give the Knicks a 37-25 lead. In addition, the team shot a scorching 72% from the field.

With Melo resting to begin the second, the ball movement got even better with JR manning the second unit. Steve Novak delivered 9 points on three treys while Jason Kidd found JR for a monster alley oop dunk to extend the lead to 58-34. Raymond Felton and Shumpert added more three-pointers and by halftime the Knicks had a 69-41 lead. Smith had 23 points off the bench to lead all scorers, and the field goal percentage for the team was still high at 61%.

With how great things were going, apparently the Knicks could only go down in the second half…

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A GRINDING HALT AND REPLAY OF THE KNICKS’ FIRST DEFEAT: Remember when the Knicks lost to Memphis way back in November? In that game, the Knicks also shot roughly 60% in the first half, but fell apart in the third and earned several technicals for complaining. Nearly the exact same thing happened tonight with Marcus Camby getting tossed for cursing out the refs after picking up quick fouls. Shumpert and Kenyon Martin were forced to sit with 4 fouls apiece, and this quarter dragged on and on as the Grizzlies were able to live at the line (14 free throws in all) to outscore the Knicks 29-17.

The beautiful ball movement that marked the first half had degraded to repeated isolation plays and long jumpers. With this being the second night of a back to back, you’d think fatigue might have played a factor. But it was clear that this bad quarter was simply the result of the team getting too relaxed with their big lead, which had wilted to 86-70 entering the fourth.

ANOTHER LONG QUARTER: This game should have been put away early in the fourth and at first it appeared that was going to be the case. JR Smith kicked off the first Knicks possession with a three-point play on a fast break. But then Jerryd Bayless, another bench player like Toronto’s Alan Anderson that seems to get fired up to play New York, started hitting some timely three-point shots to pull his squad to within 10 (89-79). Melo didn’t do the team any favors by earning his own technical for complaining about a missed foul inside, but he made up for it later by hitting back to back jumpers to extend the lead to 100-86.

Still, the Grizzlies refused to go away and the Knicks kept giving them chances. Unbelievably, they cut the lead to just five (100-95) before Jason Kidd was fouled on his only made shot, a three-pointer, to earn a four-point play with 1:29 left. There must be something about four-point plays that rattle Kidd because he missed this one just like he did in the second Nets game. The Grizzlies had a little life and they used it over two timeouts, but JR’s free throws to make it 106-99 with 26 seconds left finally iced the game.

JR GOES OVER 30 AGAIN: How about JR Smith dropping over 30 points on back to back nights? The best thing about these games is how JR is staying in control and continuing to not settle for jumpers. I can count on one hand how many contested, outside jumpers he took. I never thought I’d be saying Melo could learn a thing or two from JR’s new approach. If Smith keeps this up, he’ll not only win Sixth Man of the Year, but ensure the Knicks lock up the Atlantic Division and the #2 spot in the East.

GOOD DEFENSE UP FRONT, BAD DEFENSE IN THE BACK: I was worried about how the Knicks would handle the Grizzlies’ big frontline, but the team did very well in that department. Kenyon Martin did good work on Marc Gasol (13 points) and Zach Randolph (3 points), and Melo held his own when he got those assignments (even drawing two offensive fouls on Randolph).

The backcourt is where the Knicks got some punishment, with Mike Conley (26 points), Jerryd Bayless (24 points) and Tony Allen (18 points) all going off at different points. Luckily for New York, Felton made up for some of his bad turnovers with 13 points overall and some key drives to the rim in the fourth.

The Knicks are still in second place in the East with a small lead over the Pacers, so it’s a welcome sight that the next game is against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats at home. With that said, it was a tooth and nail battle against them in December with the Knicks needing a JR game-winner. Let’s hope the “Friday Night Knicks” curse doesn’t rear its ugly head.

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Rest Easy, Melo — Knicks Come from 22 Down to Stun Cavs

They do a lot of switching… a lot of stuff where you can get caught in laziness and hanging back. So we’re just moving and cutting and guys are cutting hard. And we got Luke Walton out there so it makes it easy. – Cavs guard C.J. Miles on the Knicks’s first half defense

Melo

As you can see from the above quote, the Cavs were feeling themselves in the first half against the Knicks. They had reason to be cocky on 68% shooting and at one point in the second holding a 22 point lead (52-30). The Knicks couldn’t make basic defensive rotations and Luke Walton was dishing dimes like a prime John Stockton. And to add to the misery, Carmelo Anthony had a Benny Hill moment in tripping over his own feet and badly hurting his right knee to knock him out the rest of the game.

But halfway through the second, the Knicks began showing signs of life and very gradually it seemed to dawn on them they were playing the Cavaliers. Without Melo, Coach Woodson was forced to do what should become a regular end-game lineup in playing both Amar’e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler.

 

MEET THE LATEST BENCH PLAYER TO TORCH NY: Center Marreese Speights got the start today and promptly began going to town with jumper after jumper. He hit his first 10 shots and had 15 points after the first. Whether it was Chandler or Stat, he was the Cavs’s dominate scorer in the first half. However, reality (and the Knicks defense) made him a non-factor in the second half where he only had 2 points.

 

MELO’S INJURY TRIGGERS RUN: The Knicks looked completely demoralized down 22 and the Melo injury appeared to signal this would be a blowout evening. The Knicks instead rallied with a 17-4 run to close the quarter and take a 49-61 deficit into halftime. In the third, the Knicks stormed out with a 10-0 run to pull within 59-61 behind tough interior defense that triggered jump balls, and solid shooting from Jason Kidd and JR Smith. Still, the Knicks couldn’t quite get over the hump despite holding the Cavs to just 1 point six minutes into the quarter and outscoring them 21-13 overall. Going into the fourth, they were still down 70-74.

 

LIVE BY THE THREE: The Knicks drilled seven treys in the fourth and everyone got in on the party. Novak rebounded from the horrid Sunday game against the Heat and had three treys in the quarter. Kidd nailed two crucial ones, and Raymond Felton added one of his own late. Kidd’s last trey in the final minutes put the Knicks up 97-91, which proved to be just enough breathing room down the stretch.

 

THE STAT N TYSON SHOW: For the first time in what seemed like ages, Woodson played our two elite bigs in the fourth to devastating effect. Guards Pablo Prigioni and Felton had Stat feasting on pick n rolls for easy dunks and Chandler was all over the boards. The game-changing plays in the last minute came down to this duo. With a slim 97-95 lead, Stat attacked the rim, got blocked and went back up strong to push the lead to 99-95. Later, a missed Stat jumper was tipped out by Chandler to Jason Kidd, leading to a free throw to push the lead to 100-97. And finally, Irving’s three-point attempt to tie was promptly blocked by Chandler to ice the game.

 

LOSING STREAK ENDS: For some inexplicable reason, the Cavs have been a huge problem for the Knicks even after the LeBron era. Before tonight, the last time the Knicks had won in Cleveland went back to November 2006. To put that in perspective, current Cavs all-star Kyrie Irving for 14 years old at the time.

At this time, we don’t know how much time Melo will miss. Even though the Knicks are claiming it isn’t serious, I don’t have much faith in an early prognosis from the Knicks medical staff considering what we’ve seen happen this year with Rasheed Wallace, Stoudemire and Camby.

Next up is the Pistons, so the Knicks should be able to handle that squad again without Melo.

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[Video] A Bench Massarce: Clippers’ Second Unit Runs the Knicks Out of MSG

NBA:  Los Angeles Clippers at New York Knicks

It was not a pleasant Sunday for the Knicks yesterday as a fourth quarter hammering (outscored 31-18) at the hands of the talented Los Angeles Clippers resulted in a bad 102-88 loss at home. The Knicks were never completely in sync throughout the game but had a slim lead to start the fourth before everything simply collapsed. Want to know what went wrong? Let’s start with what else but the perimeter defense…

 

CP3 FEASTS ON SHUMPERT: We’ve been begging for Shumpert to get moved off guarding small fowards to the guards that have been killing us in recent games. Well, Shumpert had no easier time stopping Paul, who drained several three-pointers off picks and got by Shumpert at will in the first quarter. Coach Woodson said Shumpert’s timing and lateral movement are still slowly coming back since his ACL tear, so we just had to live with CP3 going off, unfortunately.

 

USELESS DOUBLE-TEAMS AND SWITCHING: We’ve seen it every game. Our Knicks players end up switching defenders way too easily and we end up with a gross mismatch in someone like Tyson Chandler trying to guard Paul (that happened a few times yesterday). Or we double-team players that aren’t that big of a threat leading to open threes when we can’t rotate back soon enough. The most blatant example yesterday of a useless double was on players like Lamar Odom, who haven’t warranted that type of attention since 2010.

Still, a lot of this stems from the fact our guards can’t stay in front of their man.

 

CRAWFORD ON FIRE, SMITH ICE-COLD: The battle of best bench players in the NBA was definitively won by Crawford, who dropped 27 points on an array of long treys and circus shots in the paint. JR Smith was a woeful 1-9. And it wasn’t like it was the Clippers defense that kept JR in check — he bricked plenty wide open shots. We’ve come to expect these type of games from JR, but it’s a death sentence when he plays this bad and we also don’t get big contributions from Amar’e.

 

STAT STRUGGLES: Amar’e Stoudemire had his worst game since early January with 9 points and 6 rebounds. The Knicks had problems getting the ball to him in the second half. And defensively Stat missed a few assignments.

 

NOVAK EXPLOITED: Novak had another scoreless game and his defensive liabilities swung the momentum in the Clippers favor early in the fourth. The Knicks had a 73-71 lead and the Clippers went straight at Novak to kick off a 7-0 run. At times like this, it would have been better to go with Ronnie Brewer. It would have done nothing for the offense, but at least our defense would have vastly improved.

 

MELO’S 42 AND FELTON’S 20 WASTED: Melo and Felton were the only two that had energy and really seemed to want this game. Melo had an amazing first three quarters where he dropped 38 points. That worried me because he was carrying nearly all the offense (including an 18 point 3rd). We saw in the last game against Brooklyn he had nothing left in the fourth. While Grant Hill did a good job guarding him in the last quarter, I feel the real reason he only had 4 points was due to fatigue.

Felton suffered whiplash but toughed it out and did his best to try and contain Paul, who dropped back to back buckets (one of them a three-point play), to seal the game in the fourth 96-86 with just a few minutes remaining.

 

HORRID REBOUNDING:  The Knicks gave up way too many offensive boards but this isn’t on Chandler, who have 11 rebounds and several tip-outs. Melo even contributed 8 rebounds. With Camby and Wallace out, other players have to crash the boards. In recent games, we’ve seen Shumpert and SMith do this. Yesterday, they only had 4 rebounds combined. The Clippers nabbed 13 offensive rebounds and won the board battle 43-35.

 

BENCH SLAUGHTER: How badly did the Clippers bench outplay the Knicks’s second unit? How about a scoring edge of 48-15. Only one Clippers bench player, Ryan Hollins, failed to score. Our bench had no scoring outside of Stat and JR, who combined for 15 points.

JR Smith went on Twitter yesterday and called Wednesday’s home game against the Raptors a must-win. Let’s pray the whole team brings that mentality to the Garden.

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Steve Novak and James “Flight” White Headed to All-Star Weekend

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The New York Knicks will be well-represented on All-Star Weekend with the announcement of Steve Novak and James “Flight” White being named to the Three-Point Shootout and Slam Dunk Contest.

Novak is shooting 44.4% (third in the league) from downtown this year. White has vowed to deliver a “classic” dunk performance that will be the best since Vince Carter’s memorable 2000 win.

Novak and White will mark four Knicks participating in All-Star Weekend, with team captains Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler playing in the All-Star game.

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Maybe I’m a tad bias, but I’m predicting Novak takes the three-point contest easy. Unless he gets a severe case of nerves, the three-point contest pretty much mirrors his warm-up routine. And White’s dunk acumen needs no introduction. All we need now is Melo to show out in the main game.

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Knicks Complete Perfect Home Stand with 99-85 Win Over Pistons

Tyson_Chandler

Five and counting! The Knicks extended their winning streak to five games last night with a dominating 99-85 win over the Pistons. The Knicks are back to what they were doing in November and early December in destroying teams that aren’t on their talent level. Onto the game’s notable points.

 

NO FIRST QUARTER SLUMP: There was no slow start in this one as the Knicks held the Pistons to just 13 points, a record for their season thus far. Detroit was being out-hustled to every ball and their frontcourt of Andre Drummon and Jason Maxiell struggled to score over Tyson Chandler (a combined 4 points and 7 rebounds). The Knicks shooting was erratic (at times under 40%), but the defense and offensive rebounding gave them plenty of opportunities to the tune of six treys to take a 28-13 lead.

 

THE GAME ENDS: You know a team is doing well when they can laugh about an airball free throw (courtesy of JR Smith). Much to Coach Woodson’s chagrin, the team decided to turn this into a pickup game in spots with JR chucking threes and the team trying wild alley oops. However, the Pistons couldn’t take advantage with JR and Tyson crashing the boards and Novak getting hot from downtown. The half would end with the Knicks holding a 57-36 lead.

 

SECOND HALF SLOPPINESS: The Knicks mentally were clearly elsewhere no matter how much Woody yelled and glared. Chandler got lazy on defense and gave up easy layups to Drummond and Calderon early in the third. Melo, who had 19 points in the first half, also started slow in picking up his third and fourth fouls. Still, this is the lowly Pistons we’re talking about, and they could only get as close as 70-54 before some timely hoops by Stoudemire and Chandler helped to push the lead back up to 20 (76-56).

 

NOT MUCH REST: Since he was not pleased with the effort, it seems like Woody left the starters in for the fourth quarter to prove a point. The offense got bogged down in isolation ball for Melo and long JR treys. On defense, NY started getting beat a lot backdoor by speedy Detroit guards like Will Bynum. Nonetheless, three-pointers by Smith and Novak effectively iced the game at 91-75, and the starters were pulled at the 1:31 mark.

 

CHANDLER’ HISTORICAL MARK: Tyson Chandler had his third consecutive game with 20 rebounds, being the first Knicks player to do since Willis Reed 43 years. With the Wizards coming up next, he may just set a  new record.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtmnauL7YjY]

The Cope & Melo Show — Knicks End Three-Game Skid with Hornets Victory 100-87

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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.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_AUOm-FtkJ4&feature=youtube_gdata_player]