Tonight, in their second pre-season game, the New York Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics by a score of 98-95, in over time.
The team continued playing without some of their rotation players, this time playing without JR Smith who was nursing a sore ankle, and again playing without Amare Stoudemire, who was held out of the game as a precaution. The lack of JR Smith and Amare Stoudemire freed up some playing time for some reserves, most notable Chris Copeland and Pablo Prigioni.
The Knicks started out, once again, with a bunch of offense in the first quarter, jumping out to a quick lead. Their success stemmed from great play by Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler, and once Felton picked up two quick fouls, the offense became noticeably more stagnant. The second quarter, behind play of the team’s reserves, witnessed the Knicks lose the lead, and start to settle for jumpers. Sound like game one, anyone?
Without Felton on the floor, the team was solely relying on Carmelo Anthony for offense — needless to say, not very pretty. At the half, the Knicks had just 9 free-throw attempts, from a lack of aggression, and 48 field-goal attempts, compared to the Celtics’ 20 free-throws and 29 field-goals.
In the second half, the team benched most of their starters, which allowed Prigioni and Copeland to excel. Pick-and-rolls-a-plenty allowed the Knicks to pull themselves back into the game, finally tying the game at 96-96, before heading into over-time. In overtime, the teams exchanged possessions, and it came down to one final play: Knicks were up by three, and the Celtics had the ball. Knowing the Celtics needed a three, Copeland played tight defense, and ended up securing the game-winning block.
Now, for some things that stuck out to me.
- Simply put, Chris Copeland earned himself a roster spot tonight, succeeding on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. He ran the pick-and-roll over and over with Pablo Prigioni, seemingly for a bucket each time. Copeland finished with 21 points on 6-11 shooting, and collected four rebounds. Tonight’s showing has likely earned him a roster spot, much of which he has to thank Pablo Prigioni for.
- Speaking of Prigioni, he was awesome. He was able to control the offense, by running endless pick-and-rolls, and he also picked up two steals. He found nearly every cutter, which is really excited, since Ronnie Brewer’s offensive game revolves around cutting. Prigioni-Brewer cuts could be the highlight of many games to come.
- On the note of pick-and-rolls, both Felton and Prigioni ran them quite effectively with the likes of Tyson Chandler and Chris Copeland – two players that don’t possess too much offensive skill. Once Stoudemire comes back, the pick-and-roll should be a great tool to bring him back to his 2010 self.
- We’ve talked about two point guard lineups on the site before, and tonight, after the game, Coach Woodson said that he thinks he’ll “absolutely” play Prigioni and Kidd together during the season.
- This did not feel like a pre-season game. Benches were fired up, players were talking trash, and both teams wanted to win. If nothing else, tonight’s pre-season game should hype you up for the fantastic season that is to come.
- Tonight, the Knicks won without fool’s gold. The Knicks shot just 3-29 from deep. Yes, just 10.3%, but they still managed to pull out a win. With the likes of Novak and Smith on the roster, the Knicks will go through stretches of endless threes, but it’s important to not rely on them for the total offense, but rather as just a bonus.
All in all, tonight was a really exciting game, one that hypes me up for both the season and each of the games against the Celtics.
The Knicks will resume their pre-season schedule on Friday, October 19th, against the Toronto Raptors (get ready for Landry Fields!).