Tonight was the New York Knicks’ most important game of the young season, so far. The 76ers were coming into town with an offense that was aggressive and tough to defend; Their defense was ranked first in points allowed coming into tonight. They were coming in as one of the hottest teams in the league.
This is the year when the Knicks and their fans want the team to become dominant, and perhaps eventually make a run at the NBA Finals. If they are to accomplish anything close to that, they will need to win games against teams like the 76ers. Tonight, they did indeed get the win, 85-79.
In the first three quarters of the game, the Knicks were doing everything right. Their defense was suffocating Philadelphia’s excellent shooters, holding them to fifteen measly points in the first quarter, and thirty-five in the first half. The 76ers’ stout defense was getting dominated by the likes of Carmelo Anthony (who finished the game with 27 points,) and a surprise performance by the Knicks’ second-round pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Josh Harrellson. Harrellson went 3-5 from behind the arc, and shot fifty percent overall. The other Knicks’ rookie, Iman Shumpert, continued his energetic defense, and chipped in on the other end of the floor with ten points and three assists. Though, towards the end of the game, Shumpert started to show off some rookie-tendencies and ended the game with five turnovers. Although Amar’e Stoudemire started the game cold from the field, he began to find his shot as the game progressed. Most importantly, it looked like the Knicks were going to coast to a quality win against a playoff team from a year ago.
Just as the fourth quarter began, all of the positive things the Knicks were doing went out into the New York City night-time. The offense became stagnant, relying on Carmelo Anthony to launch threes. The ball movement stopped. The defensive effort when out the window. The turnovers began to pile up. All of the sudden, it looked like the Knicks might just let this one slip away. But, despite the sloppy effort down the stretch, the Knicks found a way to win, which is what matters most when push comes to shove. But, instead of a perfect evening for New York, Mike D’Antoni will probably struggle to sleep on his flight to Memphis this evening. The fourth quarter showed the Knicks’ glaring flaws: there was a lack of communication on defense, poor decision making by Shumpert, and all the teamwork and ball movement disappeared. But, the Knicks did improve to 6-4, with two more crucial games to finish the week.