The Knicks ended their three-game road losing streak in resounding fashion tonight, running the Milwaukee Bucks off their own floor by a score of 102-88. Carmelo Anthony led five Knicks in double figure scoring with 29 points, along with eight rebounds. Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton chipped in with 17 and 12 points respectively. Steve Novak, playing back home and in front of his family, scored 19 points off the bench, knocking down 5-of-7 three-pointers while Pablo Prigioni had his best NBA game, scoring 11 points and dishing out seven assists. Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings combined for 35 points for the Bucks, but only five of those came in the second half.
The Knicks began the game with an interesting defensive minded lineup of Felton, Ronnie Brewer, Anthony, Kurt Thomas and Chandler. However J.R. Smith was brought off the bench shortly, in an attempt to match the offensive of outpouring of the Bucks’ formidable Ellis/Jennings 1-2 punch. Uncharacteristically, J.R. proved to be ineffective in limited minutes, committing 3 fouls, coughing up the ball and getting beat off the dribble with regularity. The team however, was carried by strong play from Carmelo (11 pts.) and a much improved Felton. A somewhat promising quarter was greatly overshadowed by a ridiculous Anthony foul on an intercepted inbounds pass, which lead to two Ellis made free throw shots. The Knicks went into the second quarter down by three, 26 to 23.
The second quarter was all about the play of the Argentinean Priginoi, who filled in excellently for the ailing Jason Kidd. His strong play, namely sharpshooting from behind arc and smooth passing, facilitated an 11-point Knicks turn around. He scored 8 points and dished 3 assists in 11 minutes of play. Melo played hard-nosed basketball, pushing the ball hard inside and stepping outside to shoot with a man in his face. Felton redeemed himself from his horrific showing in Brooklyn, passing the ball with fluidity and knocking down shots. Despite spurts of lackluster defense, the Knicks went into the half leading by 10, much in part due to their tremendous three-point efficiency, shooting 7-for-11 (63.6%).
The Knicks got off to a torrid start in the third quarter, scoring ten unanswered points. Everyone seemed to get involved; Carmelo, Felton and Novak all shot the ball well. Felton sliced and diced through a relatively weak Milwaukee interior, and recorded a number of nice steals. The Knicks lead ballooned to twenty points, and barring a few defensive miscues, never really relinquished their hold on the lead. Chandler continued his strong play, getting to the line with frequency and cleaning up the boards. He had 11 points and six rebounds in the third period. As a whole, the Knicks played good defense in the third quarter. They contested shots, and maintained a strong defensive presence in the paint. Unfortunately, J.R. Smith’s poor play continued, as he committed another two fouls in five minutes of play. Thanks to strong play from the team’s other contributors, the Knicks jumped out to an 18-point lead.
The Knicks played conservatively in the fourth quarter, trying to maintain their lead. Carmelo rested, allowing for the coaching staff to assess the play of rookie big man, Chris Copeland, as well as Novak to get some minutes in front of his friends and family in his hometown. On a funnier note, Novak grabbed a steal and ran one of the slowest fast breaks that I have ever seen. Felton and Prigioni continued swishing a dishing; they combined for 13 assists. There was a James White sighting, but unfortunately no rim rattler. The Knicks cruised to 10-4, with a 102-88 win at the Bradley Center.
- Felton and Chandler seem to be developing very strong pick and roll play.
- Chandler continued his strong play: cleaning the boards with intensity and tenacity, playing above the rim and knocking down free throws.
- J.R. Smith really had a nightmarish game, shooting 1 for 5 and recording 5 fouls in just 18 minutes of play. The game was probably just an aberration, and I expect him to bounce back against the Washington Wizards at the Garden.
- Novak played his best game of the season in front of friends and family in his hometown of Milwaukee, making a case for the large contract that he signed in the off-season. He played a season high 40 minutes, scoring 19 (5-7 from three), grabbing four boards and recording three steals.
- I think that Prigioni summed up the game very well. He said, “we tried to move the ball, and give the extra pass”. He was spot on, the Knicks won because of unselfish and team oriented play.
- The Knicks were again efficient from downtown, going 11 for 21 (52.4%).
- Thankfully Carmelo seemed to rectify his poor free throw shooting performance in Brooklyn, in which he went 10 for 16. It doesn’t look like there is a trend; he went 8 for 9 tonight.