[Video] Knicks Hold Off Suns in OT, Extend Winning Streak to Five Games


The Knicks blew an early 14-point first half lead, but showed the poise and grit that was missing from the first two months of the season to battle back and defeat the Phoenix Suns in overtime, 98-96. It wasn’t pretty and the defensive switching made this one harder than it needed to be, but the squad got the job done despite Melo working on fumes and refs making suspect calls in key moments.

FAST START AND SLACKING: Melo came out strong with 13 points in the opening 12 minutes to give New York a 28-21 lead. They went up by as much as 14 in the second quarter, but bad defense allowed the Suns to pull within four at one point. The Knicks had to settle for a nine-point halftime lead, 52-43, after Goran Dragic hit a three at the buzzer.

WHEN THE PROBLEMS STARTED: The Knicks took a 75-68 lead into the fourth, but Coach Woodson went with the lineup of Toure Murry, Tim Hardaway Jr., JR Smith, K-Mart and Amar’e Stoudemire. Murry uncharacteristically took back to back bad shots and Stat was continually expoited by Leandro Barbosa’s (21 points off the bench) drives to the rim. The lead was erased and Melo was forced to come back at the 9:03 mark, giving him little rest after already working hard to nab over 10 rebounds.

TIC FOR TAC: Even with Melo back in, the ball movement struggled and the teams traded baskets before NY turnovers and horrible help defense allowed for a Dragic open layup and a 88-83 deficit. The Knicks looked dead in the water, but Woody made a key substitution of Andrea Bargnani, who played solid interior man to man defense once paired with Martin. Unfortunately, Melo’s legs were gone on his jumper and he couldn’t deliver a dagger to knock out the Suns, including a missed wide-open mid-range shot. Nonetheless, he made one of the game’s most important plays in driving and kicking out to an open Felton who swished a three-pointer to put the Knicks up 92-90.

FINAL CHANCES: Now with the lead, Melo had to take a shot that would leave roughly 10 seconds on the clock. He was clearly fouled on the arm going up for a jumper, but the refs either missed it or decided to swallow their whistles (Melo had been jawing with the refs earlier, including a brief face to face that almost earned him a technical). Melo was furious and had to be calmed by Woody in the huddle.

Barbosa went for a drive and appeared to have been tied up successfully by Martin for a jump ball. However, the refs deemed this one a foul, and Barbosa hit two foul shots to send the game into overtime after JR missed good inbounds fadeaway (ironically, the same shot that beat the Suns in regulation last season).

MELO GRINDS IT OUT: Melo scored four of the team’s six overtime points to put this one away. One was a nice alley-oop from K-Mart, and the other a tough fadeaway in the post over Gerald Green, who had been giving Melo a tough time all night. The Suns couldn’t convert on open threes. K-Mart got two crucial stops on Dragic at the rim despite being switched off and having to cover him from the perimeter both times.

Although Melo didn’t shoot the ball well in the second half (9/24 overall), he found other ways to lift his team with his rebounding (16) and assists (4). K-Mart was huge on the defensive end in addition to several monster putbacks, contributing 8 points and 9 rebounds. And despite being torched at times by Dragic (28 points), Felton had his own moments with 19 points.

BACK IN THE PLAYOFFS…FOR NOW: This win put the Knicks ahead of the Brooklyn Nets for the final playoff spot in the East. If the Knicks hope to keep it that way, it’ll be important for Tyson Chandler to make his return tonight against the Bobcats since most of the starters will be dead tired.


Melo and Woodson Shoot Down Shumpert Trade Rumors


With the All-Star Break and trade deadline looming, Knicks coach Mike Woodson and team captain Carmelo Anthony spoke out against the rumors that guard Iman Shumpert will be traded.

News broke last week that the Knicks were interested in Suns player Jared Dudley and would consider dealing Shumpert for him. Anthony, who called the current Knicks team “the most talented” squad he’s ever played with, told the New York Post that the Knicks organization should not entertain any trades.

He [Shumpert] shouldn’t be worried about that. The Knicks shouldn’t even be in trade talks right now.

Coach Woodson echoed those sentiments, but stopped short of making a guarantee that Shumpert would definitely be staying.

I don’t think you can ever tell a player he’s not, that’s kind of out of my hands. If te owners came to me and said we have to do a deal, then you do the deal. I sat him and told him. He knows how I feel about him. We show him love and he’s a big part of what we’re doing. Those are just trade rumors.


I wonder how much traction these rumors would be having if Shumpert did get torched by Chris Paul yesterday afternoon. Dudley would be a nice player to have, but he does nothing to fix our current biggest woe, which is perimeter defense. Shumpert is around 11 games back from an ACL tear; I’m fully confident that he’ll be close to the pesky defender he was in 2012 by the end of this season.

[Poll] Charlotte or Phoenix – Which JR Smith Game Winner Was Better?


JR Smith has activated his “clutch gene” this year courtesy of two dramatic game-winners over the Charlotte Bobcats and Phoenix Suns within the last month. Both shots were made under pressure from tight defense, but which jumper was the better shot? Personally, I give the Charlotte one more style points because of JR’s smug pose afterward while being mobbed by his team mates. But when you look at the difficulty of the Phoenix shot coupled with just a second left and the need for Jason Kidd to deliver a perfect pass, I’m going with JR’s dagger to the Suns. What really made both shots great was the Knicks fans being deep on the road and making the reactions look like Madison Square Garden.

Felton and Melo Are Out… JR Isn’t: Swish Hits Another Game-Winner In Phoenix


With Christmas being a disappointment courtesy of the Lakers, yesterday evening’s game against the Phoenix Suns was supposed to be an easy bounce back game. We had already bested them by a comfortable margin earlier in the season. That meant nothing as the Suns played inspired ball behind Jared Dudley, who dropped a career-high 36 points. But in the end, it was key defensive stops and timely buckets that lifted this depleted Knicks squad to a much-needed road win.

JR SMITH DOES IT AGAIN: Not only did JR hit the game-winner with just a second left, but the man from St. Benedict’s Prep also hit a contested circus shot the possession before to tie the game. If the latter shot doesn’t go in, we lose this game. Smith never lost his confidence despite bad shooting early in the game. Coach Woodson knew our chances of winning hinged on Smith breaking out at some point and that’s exactly what happened. Smith was also great on defensive with key fourth quarter steals and deflections. His stat line was awesome with 27 points, 5 assists, 5 steals and 6 rebounds off the bench. JR showed a bit of his nasty side too in taking out Goran Drajic.

JASON KIDD REMAINS YOUNG AT HEART: J-Kidd is our glue and proved it again last night with a phenomenal game on both ends of the floor. He mixed up his attack with three pointers (5-8) and driving to the basket. His 23 points were sorely needed, but his biggest contribution was on the defensive end during the last possession for the Suns with the game tied at 97. Kidd caused a deflection which lead to Telfair stepped out-of-bounds And with the game on the line, Kidd delivered a perfect inbounds pass to Smith and the rest is history.

CHANDLER AND CAMBY DELIVER THE 1-2 PUNCH: Candler shook of his bad Christmas game with an excellent effort (14 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks and just 2 fouls). Our rebounding normally goes in the trash can when Tyson sits, but Camby showed why he’s another invaluable pickup, notching 9 rebounds (4 offensive) in just 13 minutes! Camby is still rusty in regards to finishing around the rim and passing, but his defensive presence and rebounding is all we need from him right now. And lo and behold, with Camby playing well the Knicks win the rebounding battle 41-38.

BAD DEFENSE WE CAN LIVE WITH: Yes, seeing Jared Dudley drop 36 was annoying, but with several backups having to give heavy minutes with our injuries, we’ll have to live with it. Copeland got burned a few times with pump fakes, but he also made key buckets with his 14 points. With Steve Novak still struggling, another scorer was key to spreading the floor and Copeland was it.

While I’m not a fan of these down to the wire games against lowly competition, they serve as great confidence builders for our bench and can only help with poise when the playoffs come. Don’t get content, Miami. NY is still right on your heels in the standings.


Ball Don’t Lie! Sheed Tossed, Knicks Still Hold Off Suns 106-99


For most of the first quarter, it looked like a rout. The Knicks were forcing turnovers and hitting nearly all of their open shots to the tune of a 21-6 lead. Then some mental lapses brought the Suns back in it — Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler picked up 2 fouls each, and Rasheed Wallace picked up two dumb technicals (off an unnecessary hard foul on Luis Scola after the whistle and yelling “Ball Don’t Lie!” when the technical shot was missed). This left the Knicks undersized, but rookie Chris Copeland stepped up huge, going 4-5 from the field in the first half to help lift the Knicks to a 106-99 win to go 7-0 at Madison Square Garden.

The Wallace ejection coupled with Melo and Tyson sitting helped prompt an 8-0 Suns run and only a 24-20 lead after one despite leading by as much as 15. Copeland responded well off the bench hitting his outside jumpers and having a monster putback dunk off a Melo miss. Steve Novak contributed three 3-pointers on a Suns teams ranked with the worse three-point defense in the league. Felton’s jumper was cooking as well, and Melo abused P.J. Tucker with several turnaround jumpers in the paint. Before you knew it, Melo had 17 points in 16 minutes and the lead was 59-42 at halftime.

The Knicks started the third strong with Melo meeting every Mike Beasley three with one of his own. As the quarter wore on, NY had a brief time of sloppy defense and let Shannon Brown get off with several shots, including two layups (one of which being a three-point play) to cut the lead to 74-60. Novak added a three, but got beat on defense that lead to a three-point play inside for Markieff Morris. Luckily, the Knicks had several guys shooting over 40% from three this afternoon, and Ronnie Brewer added another to keep the Suns clawing from behind (80-63). Melo had a nice defensive stop to prevent an easy Shannon Brown layup fast break, but Brown’s hot shooting continued. Melo put an end to that by drawing a foul inside for easy free throws and hitting a step-back three-pointer over Tucker with 2 seconds left in the third to push the lead back to 17 points (89-72) and notch his 30th point.

The Knicks were horrid for most of the fourth. JR Smith continued bricking shots and Suns shooters were being left open to drain long jumpers. Melo had to come right back in, but that still didn’t prevent Sebastian Telfair from draining a transition three to cut the Knicks advantage to 91-82 courtesy of another Suns 8-0 run. Suns would get as close as six before a Tyson putback dunk and a tough Felton drive over Marcin Gortat pushed the lead back to 10 (95-85) with 5:52 remaining. With the offense sputtering, Raymond Felton hit two jumpers to keep the Suns at arm’s length. However, a Melo turnover that resulted in a fast break layup and two missed Ronnie Brewer free throws had the Knicks clinging to a six point lead, 103-97, with 45 seconds left. It would take free throws from JR and Chandler in the final 30 seconds to finally ice the game 106-99.

This was much too close for my liking. After Melo pushed the game to 17 points at the end of the third, that should have been the end of it. But games like this happen. Why Coach Woodson didn’t give Chris Copeland any burn after a great first half was mind-boggling. Melo was huge as usual with 34 points, but it was Felton (23 pts, 7 assts, 0 TO) and Chandler (15 pts, 13 rebs.) that sealed this one. After such a nice game against Washington on Friday, JR Smith was abysmal today with just 4 points on 1-11 shooting. We can only hope JR gets it together.

Knicks are back at it on Wednesday in Charlotte against the Bobcats.