Well, last night really turned out to be a dud in Carmelo Anthony’s return to Denver. Anthony left the game about three minutes into the second half when his knee began to “tighten up”, which led to a pretty impressive “WHERE IS MELO” chant by the Pepsi Center crowd. In Denver’s 23 point rout of the Knicks, there was one, tiny bright spot Knick fans can take away from this game.
Iman Shumpert hit the 20-point mark for the first time this season- a sight for sore eyes as Iman has faced an uphill battle all year in his return from an ACL injury. Shump shot 80% from the field, and 4-5 from three point land. Now, lets put this in perspective for the rest of this road trip.
Where do the Knicks turn next, with Anthony back in New York, and Chandler obviously will not be 100% tonight at Portland, who is going to step up? My plea for Copeland, I guess, was somewhat answered when he was inserted in the second quarter and made into a poster by JaVale McGee, but that’s besides the point. Maybe he starts tonight in Melo’s absence, which would insert some fresh young legs into a gassed starting lineup. This team has shown they are able to produce without their two top guns present. Tonight, against a Portland team who is on the fence of a playoff berth, and another draft lottery, New York can grasp their first win on this west coast swing which already feels like it’s more of a permanent vacation after two grueling losses in a row.
Now, it is still possible (and we can all dream, can’t we?) that the Knicks can still finish this road trip above .500 before they head back to the big bad city. Portland will look to double their winning percentage at home tonight on TNT. This will also be the second out of three nationally televised games on this road trip, in where the Knicks have already been blown out in one. I don’t want to call anything too early, but I think the Knicks have hit rock bottom on this trip, if not, the entire season. New York has been outscored 209-157 so far on the west coast, and a loss tonight would drop the Knicks to 20-20 in their last 40.
So, what we are looking at right now is a few unsung Knicks stepping up on a team full of disarray. If I’m Mike Woodson, I am going balls to the wall and making a dramatic change tonight. Insert Copeland and Kenyon Martin into the starting lineup and be ready to throw JR Smith in there as soon as the going gets rough. Scoring has the chance of being scarce, although this team seems to pull together in times of need, as we saw against Utah. If Shumpert can replicate his success from last night, and Smith plays well, the light at the end of the tunnel will still be shining heading into Los Angeles in a bit of a revenge game against the Clippers.
At this point, just get through these next three games and head back home. Indiana took a one game lead for second place last night with the Knicks loss, and New York fell to a game and a half within Brooklyn to losing the division lead. Let’s see if New York can get the thing moving in the right direction again, starting tonight. Stay tuned, Knicks fans.