Now that’s more like it.
The NBA season is a long one. You always want to be wary of labeling games as “must wins,” especially so early into the year. But facing the possibility of a fourth straight loss, last night’s rematch with the Charlotte Bobcats was a game the Knicks simply could not afford to lose. After all of the questionable personnel decisions made so far this season by head coach Mike Woodson, the temporary loss of All-Star center Tyson Chandler forced his hand… the Knicks returned to the 2-point guard lineups that brought the Knicks so much success last year.
After Carmelo Anthony held a players-only meeting following Tuesday’s uninspired home loss to the Bobcats, the team responded as a whole, delivering four-quarters of inspired basketball. For those of us who felt these Knicks lacked a clear identity, last night’s performance was reminiscent of last season’s team, featuring ball movement, efficient 3-point shooting, and low turnovers. It will give New York something to build on as they enter a rough stretch of their schedule, facing 7 playoff teams over the course of this month.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Andrea Bargnani had himself a GAME. In his best outing as Knick this season, Bargs would finish last night’s contest with 25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 blocks. While not necessarily efficient (took 25 shots), a usually gun-shy Bargs was letting it rip with extreme confidence and his contributions on the perimeter helped with the Knicks’ spacing issues. But more important than his offensive impact was his play on the defensive end. Bargs was as lively as we’ve seen him as a defender last night, generally doing a good job of staying with his man and contesting shots at the rim. Believe it or not, Bargs stepped up to be the defensive anchor the Knicks need after losing Chandler.
- Carmelo Anthony looked like Carmelo Anthony. Let me say that MKG is a very good defender and will be a solid pro, but despite his best efforts, Melo was just too much. He racked up a healthy and efficient stat-line with 28 points, on 12 of 22 shooting, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists. With Chandler out for the next few weeks, New York will need this type of performance on a nightly basis. Thus, last night was an encouraging start.
- 46.2% shooting from 3. *holsters shooting hand*
- The Knicks cut back on the turnovers last night, finishing with just 12. As a team that doesn’t push the pace much, they cannot afford to waste possessions and it seems like the message has finally hit home. A lot of this is owed to the return to the two point guard lineups, and improved decision making that comes with having Felton and Prigioni on the court at the same time, which also resulted in 25 total assists.
- The improved effort on defense – as a team – was felt, with New York holding Charlotte to 40.8% shooting. They were much better closing out on shooters and contesting at the rim with solid help defense.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Only nine free throw attempts as a team. Knicks did most of their damage from 16 feet and out last night, but that number is still kinda weird. The threes were falling, so it’s not as big a deal, but you always want a healthy balance in the event that you go cold from the perimeter.
- Shump led the team in minutes played with 39, yet only took 3 shots. He contributed in other ways, finishing with 7 boards and 4 assists, but it would be nice to see Shump stay aggressive on the offensive end.
- Woodson said that he would be implementing more double teaming to help make up for the absence of Chandler, but there were a handful of times were it was just unnecessary, like doubling Biyombo and letting a guard get free on the perimeter. New York won’t be able to get away with those types of gambles on Sunday against Tony Parker.
- Bargs put Josh McRoberts on skates in the 3rd quarter and it was HILARIOUS.
- These little nuggets from HoopsWorld’s Tommy Beer were pretty dope:
Andrea Bargnani is the first Knick ever to score 25 points, blocks 5 shots & hit 3 3PT’s in the same game.
Bargnani also joins Ewing (80 times), Amar’e (2x) & Kurt Thomas (1x) as the only Knicks since 1985 w/ 25 pts, 8 rebs, & 5 blocks in a game.
- Next up, the Knicks will meet the 5-1 San Antonio Spurs for a 12:00 PM showdown on Sunday.