The New York Knicks are undefeated!
Okay, maybe it’s a tad premature to start getting sized for championship rings, but New York start its 2013-14 season by dispatching the visiting Milwaukee Bucks, 90-83, last night at the newly-refurbish Madison Square Garden. Though all Ws look the same in the standings, this one wasn’t all glitter and rainbows despite the fact that the Knicks were up by 25 points during the contest. Instead, fans were treated to an uneven “Knicks-like” performance with a third quarter that harkened back to, well…
November 21, 2012
January 7, 2013
February 13, 2013
February 22, 2013
March 3, 2013
What do those dates have in common, you ask? Surely you recall those times last season when New York led at the half, but absolutely imploded in the third quarter, and ultimately suffered a heartbreaking loss, no? For a while last night, it looked as if history was about to repeat itself. The Knicks led 56-31 at the half, but were outscored by the Bucks 33-18 in the third. Things actually got worse from there, as Milwaukee actually managed to grab the lead with 3:13 left in the fourth quarter. Amazingly, the Bucks were doing this without their PG, Brandon Knight, who left the game early on with a leg injury. In the end, timely buckets by Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert and Tyson Chandler saved the day, and those who attended the season opener were able to walk out of the Garden with smiles on their faces. But not before a barrage of Knick turnovers had them squirming in their seats, of course.
Last year’s third quarter meltdowns remain etched in the minds of many, and one cannot help but groan/sigh/cringe as yet another ”insurmountable” lead simply vanishes. In fairness, though, even Mike Breen noted that it can sometimes be difficult, especially this early in the season, for teams to keep up their intensity and focus once a lead swells. Still, it being game one of the season is no excuse making boneheaded plays that lead to turnovers.
And boy, did the Knicks turn it over during the second half! Even the typically sure-handed Pablo Prigioni managed to cough up the rock three times in a span of just four fourth quarter minutes as the Knicks’ lead evaporated. (Last season, Pablo turned the ball over three times or more in just nine of the 78 TOTAL games he played in!) But it wasn’t just Prigs. New York tallied a whopping 22 turnovers, their second-highest turnover total in a game in the last two seasons. (The Bucks turned it over 23 turnovers, so there’s that, if you’re an optimist.) Last year, the Knicks were ranked first in turnovers-per-game at 11.6. But with their new personnel, including the incredibly lackluster Andrea Bargnani, we can probably expect a team that will struggle to achieve that level of care with the ball.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- In their preseason matchup against the Bucks, the Knicks did not score a single fast-break point. Last night, they dropped 24. New York averaged just 8.5 fast break points-per-game last year, mostly relying on half-court sets and three-point shooting. It’ll be interesting to see if Woodson continue to push his team to play at a faster pace going forward.
- The Knicks played some pretty spectacular defense in the first half. Active hands and passing lane interceptions led to 16 first-half turnovers for the Bucks. Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, and Prigioni all had three steals.
- Despite only shooting 5-for-13, Shumpert carried over his stellar preseason play to the regular season, finishing with 16 points, 4 rebounds and a critical make late in the fourth quarter as the outcome was still undecided. In particular, Shumpert’s jumper looks “silky smooth,” and he was menacing as always on defense as well.
- Pablo was perfect from the floor, going 3-for-3, including a three-pointer. His passes were crisp until his odd fourth quarter (he had five assists) and he chipped in with three rebounds. Go Pablo!
- Felton bounced back from a less-than-inspiring preseason, driving to the basket without fear and initiating several fast-breaks. He finished with 18 points, three rebounds, and three assists, but he also re-aggravated his nagging hamstring injury, and his availability for tonight’s game in Chicago remains very much in doubt. After the game, Woodson told the media that they need to be careful with Felton, but it begs the question of why Ray was brought back into last night’s game after getting injured.
- Without a doubt, Chandler was the game’s MVP. He was the anchor for the Knicks’ inside-defense, blocking five shots, and he even knocked down a 17-foot jumper. It was very good to see the Tyson of old tonight and the crowd was out of their minds when he sealed the game with a massive block in the final minute.
- Carmelo Anthony had himself relatively quiet night with 19 points and 10 rebounds. It seemed like he was content to defer to his teammates most of the time, seemingly feeling them out.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Again, turnovers almost killed the Knicks last night. Surprisingly, though, it was the starters that were the main culprits. Chandler led the team with five, Pablo had four, and ’Melo and Felton had three each. (Shump-Shump only had one.) YUCK!
- Stay healthy, Raymond!
- To say that Bargnani had a rough night in his New York debut would be a gross understatement. The Italian was a defensive liability, he couldn’t buy a bucket (especially from three, where he was 0-for-3), and he generally looked tentative and timid. Fittingly, Bargs only played 1:23 in the fourth quarter before he was pulled for good. Sample size and all, but Bargs’ +/- trend is alarming.
- The three-point ball was not the Knicks’ best friend. They only connected on 3-out-of-13 attempts from beyond the arc, which is surprising for a team that made more threes last season than any team in the history of the league.
- The newly renovated Madison Square Garden was dressed in orange, as the team provided orange t-shirts to everyone in attendance. Predictably, the Gothamites thwarted the “orange out” initiative, opting to the put the shirts away over wearing them.
- MSG Network’s Jill Martin had Paul Rudd for the always-awkward 60-second halftime bit which ended with a failed attempt at Rudd saying a quote from “I Love You, Man.” It may be time to put poor Jill out of her misery. Tina Cervasio is far more knowledgeable about the game and can handle the celeb duties, anyway.
- Once again Clyde refused to try to pronounce Bucks’ rookie, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s name.
- Rumor has it that the Knicks will debut their orange alternate jerseys in Chicago tonight, just in time for Halloween! The game starts at 8:00pm and it will be a legitimate test for New York, especially since the Bulls were embarrassed by the Heat in their season opener on Tuesday.
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