O’Quinn’s 20 Points, 13 Rebounds Helps Knicks Surge Past Timberwolves

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Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

Three nights ago, Karl-Anthony Towns burned the Knicks for 47 points in Minnesota. The Knicks made a vow that wouldn’t be the case in their house.

“We accepted the challenge,” Kyle O’Quinn said.

The Knicks did just that in holding Towns to 4 points in the first half and locking him up for two blocks in the final minute to take a hard-fought 118-114 victory at Madison Square Garden. Aside from a ridiculous collapse at the beginning of the fourth, the Knicks showed great composure and dominated the game with good passing and defensive rotations.

MELO IN THE FLOW: Everything was clicking for our leader. He was a +22 on the floor by making quick decisions with the ball. He hit the open man when the double teams came, and worked well off picks to get open looks. He had 25 points on 50% going into the fourth and was able to conserve energy by having two other guys score 20 points despite Porzingis struggling. He finished with 29 points.

ROSE IN ATTACK MODE: Derrick Rose didn’t get every call, by his aggressiveness forced the refs’ hands. His 24 points came not only from his creativity at the rim, but also several solid mid-range jumpers. If this can become a consistent weapon, the team offense opens up even more.

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KYLE O’QUINN = TOWNS STOPPER: Ok, I might be going a bit overboard, but Kyle O’Quinn deserves tremendous praise for one of the best Knick performances so far this season. O’Quinn delivered 20 points (9/11), 13 rebounds and 2 blocks. He was a complete animal on the offensive boards with 7 and made all the critical hustle plays.

When the momentum shifted and Minnesota took a 102-101 lead, it was O’Quinn who grabbed the offensive board off two Porzingis missed free throws. He scored a contested layup to retake the lead and the team never looked back. The Knicks’ 13-4 run over the last six minutes was punctuated by O’Quinn delivering a rifle pass to Anthony for a fast-break layup and a 112-106 lead.

The Wolves went back to Towns, but O’Quinn blocked him in the paint. On Town’s second attempt, O’Quinn forced him into the help defense of Porzingis, leading to a jump ball and another Knicks possession.

Who would have thought tonight’s game would end up being a duel between Towns and O’Quinn with our guy being the winner?

BENCH DIFFERENCE: The fortunes flipped tonight with our bench being the one that struggled. The worst stretch was the first 3-4 minutes of the fourth as the Knicks committed 5 turnovers leading to a 12-2 Wolves run. The lineup (Jennings, Sasha, Kuzmiskas, O’Quinn, Hernangomez) was completely inept with Jennings showing visible frustration and not getting back on defense. It was surprising to see Jennings get that rattled and Coach Hornacek wisely benched him in crunch time.

Overall, the Knicks bench was outscored 47-21.

PORZINGIS OUT OF SYNC: KP had a horrid shooting night (11 points, 2/12), but made up for it on the defensive end (3 blocks). Most of his shots were good looks, but his positioning just seemed off. Another matter was him not being aggressive on mismatches. Several times in the fourth, he settled for passive jumpers despite having a little guard like Ricky Rubio on him.

OTHER BUSINESS: Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee sat this one out with injuries. Lance Thomas returned, but only played three minutes. He did hit a three, so maybe he’s brought his jumper back from rehab.

  • Carmelo Anthony was 5/10 from three-point range. (season high)
  • Every Knick starter hit double figures for the second time this season

Karl Anthony Towns Drops 45 Points, But Melo Nails Game-Winner in 106-104 Win

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Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

When Karl Anthony Towns hit his first nine shots and scored 22 points in the first quarter, the Knicks knew they were in for a long night. But a timely Carmelo Anthony mid-range jumper with 2.3 seconds left was enough for the Knicks to hold off a 21-3 run from the Timberwolves to take a 106-104 win and get back to .500.

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THE GOOD: The Knicks had stretches of excellent ball movement. They started off with every Knick getting an assist in the opening minutes and hitting their outside shots. Brandon Jennings (12 points, 7 assists, 2 steals) was our biggest spark in getting open looks for Porzingis (29 points, 8 rebounds) and Kuzmiskas (14 points, career-high). The team had 24 assists and looked primed for an easy win with a 17 point lead and 7 minutes remaining.

THE BAD: The Knicks also showed their bipolar tendencies by literally collapsing in the last six minutes and allowing the Wolves to go on a game-tying 21-3 run. The Knicks let Karl Anthony Towns live at the line while stopping the clock, didn’t secure loose balls, and gave up open shots. Worse yet, the Knicks stopped attacking and everyone looked scared to shoot, resulting in poor possessions and spacing.

THE UGLY: How bad was the free throw disparity? The Wolves had 39 attempts compared to New York’s 15. Towns had 20 attempts by himself. Speaking of Towns, the man hit a career-high with 47 points, and added 18 rebounds and 3 blocks. Luckily for the Knicks, they outscored the weak Wolves’s weak bench 43-5 to get some breathing after being down 31-28 after the first quarter.

REDEMPTION: Melo only took his first shot with 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter. He was clearly trying to be a faccillitator, and perhaps that was spurred by the boos he heard in Monday’s loss to the Thunder. In the second half, his shot wasn’t there and he ended up shooting a poor 5/16 from the field and was a -17. Nonetheless, Melo reminded us of his clutch gene on that game-winner over Andrew Wiggins.

Let’s be happy we only have to see Towns one more time on Friday.


[Video] Melo’s Near Triple Double and Porzingis’s Block Party Lead Knicks Over Timberwolves 107-102

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NEW YORK CITY — Karl Anthony Towns “won” his rookie battle against Kristaps Porzingis, but the Knicks, powered by a near triple double from Carmelo Anthony and 29 points from Arron Affalo, held on for a 107-102 victory last night at Madison Square Garden.

Despite the Knicks blowing a 20 point halftime lead and letting the Wolves get within three points in the last minute, you never got the feeling New York would blow the lead. Melo, Galloway and Affalo all hit clutch free throws to ice the game. Moving forward, the first half should be the template for how the Knicks play going forward.

MELO’S BRILLIANCE: This was by far Melo’s best game of the year. When Affalo having the hot hand, Melo focused on defense, rebounding and being a facilitator. His stat line of 20 points (6/15), 15 rebounds and 9 assists shows how much of a two-way threat he can be when his teammates are hitting shots.

AFFALO LESSENS THE LOAD: Affalo was aggressive all night with his outside jumper and slashing to the basket (8/9 from the line). Every game, he contract looks to be an absolute steal.

BENCH PLAY: The Knicks got key contributions from Lance Thomas (14 points, 7 rebounds) and Langston Galloway (12 points, 6 assists). It was great to see Galloway finding confidence in his shot and being locked in on defense. In the crucial final minutes of the fourth, he had a key offensive rebound and a nice chase-down block on Zach LaVine.

PORZINGIS VS. TOWNS: KP was overly excited with this matchup and didn’t shot well (4/14), but his defense was fantastic. The Latvian prince has 7 blocks on the night to go along with 11 points. Towns was a beast all the court wit three-point plays in the post and hitting outside jumpers. He finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The Knicks are back in action this Friday against the Sixers.

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[Video] Didn’t Need to be This Hard: Melo’s 36 Points Help Knicks Escape Wolves 100-94

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This was way harder then it needed to be. With a little less than seven minutes in the game, the Knicks were down 11 points (76-87) to the lowly Timberwolves. Their guards, whether it was Luke Ridnour or Ricky Rubio, were looking like superstars blowing by Knick defenders. The prospect of back to back losses to sub. 500 teams had most Knick fans on Twitter going irate. Thankfully, the Knickstape woke up and did what they should have done all game in executing defensive stops.

 

MELO CARRIES THE LOAD: With the team dead in the water on offense and defense, Carmelo Anthony had to work through his shooting struggles to create something. Although he would take 26 shots, Melo found fire in the 4th to the tune of 12 points, including a game-sealing 20 foot jumper in the final minute. Melo was also strong on the boards with nine rebounds.

 

MORE STAT PLEASE: Amar’e Stoudemire went 5-7 from the field for 11 points. The Wolves tried to play him physical and got a few turnovers, but we would’ve have been wise to go into the post more, especially that atrocious third quarter that saw us get outscored 18-31. However, we have to remember that Coach Woodson is big on defense and the lapses made by Stat at times did him no favors. Not to mention, Stat got a stupid technical for ref complaining at the beginning of the fourth. Stat had another nice block (he’s been getting at least one per game), but Woody and the rest of the coaching staff have to realize playing Stat and Novak together creates too many defensive liabilities when our guards keep getting beat.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_n9P52d4kvU&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

 

WHERE ART THOU PERIMETER DEFENSE?: This is the biggest problem with our defense and frankly I don’t know for sure what’s the solution. We had better defense with Ronnie Brewer starting, but suffered on offense and constantly had to fight out of deficits after the first quarter. With Kidd starting, we get better offense (sometimes), but can’t keep the other guards out the paint. Felton has been back for 8 games and Iman Shumpert 11, so in theory we should still be giving them some slack about getting back into the swing of things (especially Shumpert coming off ACL surgery). But with February being very favorable schedule-wise, we cannot afford to be dropping games to trash teams. Leave that nonsense to the Nets (ha!).

One lineup we haven’t seen recently is Felton and Shumpert in the backcourt, Brewer at the 3, Melo at power forward and Chandler at the 5. But even this is problematic as Shumpert and Brewer struggle to finish at the rim and Shump’s 3 in not a consistent threat at this point. *Sigh* When are Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace coming back again?

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2aQdA7Yecs&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

[Video] Melo’s 19 4th Quarter Points Steals Game from Wolves 94-91

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With all the running around for the holidays, I finally got the chance late last night to sit down and watch the Knicks’s thrilling comeback victory over the Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden to finish our six-game home stand at 4-2. The same bad defense that defined our recent losses to the Rockets and Bulls was an issue in the first half, but the Knicks clamped down in the remaining two quarters to hopefully have some momentum later today in Los Angeles against the surging Lakers. Here’s my thoughts on our last victory to put us at 20-7.

REFS ARE STILL TRASH: The referees weren’t as bad as they were in the Bulls game, but their incompetence nearly cost us the game. There was no consistentcy in the calls and Melo’s late fouls that clearly showed a bias against him. One was a ridiculous offensive foul and the other was simply jocking for position inside for a rebound. Keep in mind Melo was getting hacked all night when trying to score in the post. You can’t even say the refs were trying to help out the Wolves because they gave us several make-up no calls down the stretch.

MELO the MVP: After every game it’s getting harder and harder to deny Melo’s MVP credentials. We looked to be dead in the water on offense during the closing minutes with Melo picking up his fifth foul and Coach Woodson a technical to give the Wolves a four-point lead. Instead, Melo would reel off 19 of the team’s 23 fourth quarter points. A three-pointer with less than 3 minutes left trimmed the Wolves lead to 86-85. A stop lead to Melo getting back in the post for a lauyp and a foul to extend the lead to 88-86. Melo would then live at the line the rest of the way in making six straight clutch free throws to seal the deal. We can’t expect this every night, but it’s great insurance to know Melo can bail us out even when overall he’s had a bad shooting night (10-25, 3-10 from downtown). Melo’s 9/10 from the free throw line was huge.

SAVED BY DEFENSE: The Wolves didn’t have Kevin Love, but that didn’t stop them from dropping 55 points in the first half behind a dominant post game from Pekovic, who had 21 points points and 17 rebounds. Tyson Chandler did his part in limiting Pekovic’s output to single digits in the second half. When that happened, it was all on the Wolves guards of J.J. Barea and Ridnour to score. While they had solid scoring nights of 14 and 12 respectively, their shooting was off during the key final minutes. The Knicks held serve with allowing only 36 points in the second half and forcing 17 turnovers.

The pivotal defensive stand of the game came in the final three minutes where the Wolves had four chances to score off two offensive rebounds and fouls. Each time the Knicks turned them back and Melo immediately drained a three to take the lead for good.

STAY THE COURSE, JR SMITH:  For the third straight game JR Smith has remained on point. As the only other player on the team talented enough to create their own shot consistently, the Knicks struggle badly when he’s off. Against the Wolves he had 19 points on 7-15 shooting and 7 assists. He’s finding himself coming into the game quicker these days as starting guard Ronnie Brewer (0 points, 3 rebounds) is in a horrible runt now that his three-pointer isn’t falling. Aside from a horrible blunder in the final minute that lead to the ball being taken away and the Wolves sinking an open trey, Smith was fantastic.

The Knicks are back at it later today against the Lakers. With the Heat playing the Thunder, this is a game we absolutely need to get back to our rightful spot atop the East.