With the Knicks set to take on the Philadelphia 76ers in their fifth preseason game, let’s take a look at notes from their two losses this weekend against the Toronto Raptors (a 107-88 loss on Friday) and Boston Celtics (a 109-88 loss on Saturday).
Amar’e Stoudemire: The game against the Raptors marked Stoudemire’s first action of the preseason. In 27 minutes, STAT scored 18 points, going 8-for-11 from the floor and making both his free throws. He displayed some of the post moves he worked on during the summer with Hakeem Olajuwon and showed signs of good chemistry with Carmelo Anthony, as the two found each other on a number of opportunites, leading to buckets or fouls drawn. Any good feelings about the game were gone however, when it was learned yesterday that Stoudemire would miss the next 2-3 weeks with a ruptured cyst in his left knee. Stoudemire missed the game against the Celtics.
Carmelo Anthony: It was a glass half-full game for Anthony against the Raptors. He scored 24 points and filled up the stat sheet (six rebounds, three assists and two blocks). He continued his propensity to get to the free throw line, going 8-for-11 from the line. He is now 22-for-27 from the free throw line in three preseason games. However, he was 0-for-7 from the three-point line and is now 4-for-14 from beyond the arc in the preseason, a ghastly 29%. He sat out the game vs. the Raptors.
Tyson Chandler: Chandler had a rough game guarding Andrea Bargnani on Friday night on the perimeter. Bargnani scored 20 points, many of them on jump shots, causing Chandler to leave his customary place in the paint. Things weren’t much on the offensive end. While he was able to draw fouls, he shot just 2-for-8 from the foul line. Chandler also sat out the game vs. Celtics.
Raymond Felton: Felton has yet to find his stroke this preseason. He shot just 4-for-11 vs. the Raptors and 3-for-7 against the Celtics. In both games, he was a combined 1-for-7 from three-point land. He didn’t help his cause vs. Toronto by committing six turnovers, some carelessly, compared to just four assists. He was much better against the Celtics, where he had seven assists and three turnovers. One are Felton has excelled is penetrating into the lane. He can seemingly get into the paint at will, creating layup opportunities for himself or drawing in the defense, allowing him to find open teammates.
James White: White had himself a strong weekend. Against the Raptors, he scored a modest six points, all towards the end of the second quarter. He upped his scoring against the Celtics, scoring 16 points on 7-for-16 shooting. In both games, his energy on defense was high and he had five steals against the Celtics. It’s important that White continues to play well, as he could find himself in the rotation early this season with Iman Shumpert out until maybe January and now the uncertainty regarding J.R. Smith’s ankle.
Kurt Thomas: Thomas’s numbers don’t jump off the boxscore. However, in his 25 minutes of play this weekend, he compiled a +/- of +12 and did the little things we expect from him. Thomas is another man to keep an eye on. With the injury news about Stoudemire and Marcus Camby yet to see the court this preseason, Thomas could find himself playing big minutes early in the season.
Mychel Thompson: Thompson played just one minute against the Raptors but was on the floor most of the night vs. the Celtics. However, he didn’t do much to help his cause. Thompson is known for his shooting, but we have yet to see it this preseason. In 38 minutes against Boston, he scored just seven points on 3-for-11 shooting, including 0-for-3 from beyond the arc. He did show active hands, grabbing six boards, dishing out three assists and getting two steals. However, if Thompson has any hopes to make this Knicks squad, it will be because of his shooting. So far, he’s shooting just 22% in the preseason and has yet to make a three-point shot (0-for-8).
Chris Copeland: Copeland must’ve grown up as a kid hating the Celtics. After a quiet night against the Raptors (four points and two rebounds in 15 minutes), Copeland exploded for 34 points in his 37 minutes against Boston. This was after his 21-point performance against the Celtics in the Knicks second preseason game. He scored from inside, outside (3-for-4 from three-point range) and made all nine of his free throw attempts. He was also active on defense. In four preseason games, Copeland is averaging 15.5 points while shooting 53% from the floor and 82% from the free throw line. If Copeland continues his strong lay, especially with the injury to Stoudemire, he could find his way onto the team.
John Shurna: Like Thompson, Shurna is only making this team based off his shooting. After playing just one minute against the Raptors, he played 13 against the Celtics but didn’t make a basket. He is now 1-for-8 from the floor in four games and just 1-for-6 from beyond the arc.
Steve Novak: An up and down weekend for Novakaine. He shot just 2-for-6 from beyond the arc vs. the Raptors but was active on the boards, hauling in five rebounds. He found his stroke the next night vs. the Celtics, going 5-for-9 from the floor, all from beyond the arc, for 15 points.
Pablo Prigioni: Prigioni was brought to New York to be the third string point-guard. However, if he continues his strong play, Coach Mike Woodson will have no choice but to find him minutes and make him a part of the rotation. Against the Raptors, he scored nine points and dished out five assists while getting two steals. When he didn’t have the ball in his hands, he moved well without it, getting himself open. He and Jason Kidd have seemed to have their own chemistry going, as the two have played well in this preseason when on the court together. He had on off-shooting night against the Celtics (1-for-7 for only two points) but again found his teammates (nine assists) and played aggressive defense, getting two more steals.
Jason Kidd: Kidd only played vs. the Raptors, but in his 23 minutes of play, he showed some of the little things he can bring to the Knicks. He had four assists, including a beauty on a cut by Prigioni to the basket. His three-point shooting is a bit of a concern, as he went just 1-for-5 against the Raptors and is now 2-for-14 from beyond the arc in three preseason games.
Henry Sims: Sims only saw action against the Celtics but was very good in his 18 minutes of work. He scored nine points on 3-for-5 shooting. He’s biggest strength is on the defensive end. While you only see one steal and not a single block shot, he was active with his hands, altering shots and forcing bad passes from Celtics players trying to get into the lane. Sims has a slim chance at making the roster, but again, with the injury to Stoudemire and uncertainty regarding Camby, he could sneak his way onto the roster, at least for the early part of the season.
Some things to look forward to tonight vs the Sixers:
Ronnie Brewer: The guard will see his first action of the preseason. The belief is Coach Woodson would like to pencil Brewer in as the starting shooting guard for this season.
Who starts at PF: Coach Woodson has options. He can insert Kurt Thomas as the starter, as he did for the first two preseason games. He could also start small and move Anthony to PF, Brewer at SF and Kidd at SG.