Don’t commit turnovers. Inside-out ball movement. Shoot threes. Make threes.
Playing under .500 ball clubs helps greatly, but this was the formula that led last year’s 50 win team to success on most nights, and despite Woodson’s best attempts to handicap himself, it’s clear that the denizens of Madison Square would prefer to have that old thing back.
With the Knicks looking to build off a (ridiculously) satisfying drubbing of the Brooklyn Nets the night prior, the young and feisty Orlando Magic came into the Garden hoping to snatch a win from our struggling boys in blue and orange. Led by early Rookie of the Year favorite, Victor Oladipo, the Magic got off to a strong start, opening up a 10-point lead with just under eight minutes to go in the first quarter. The Knicks responded with a healthy dose of Carmelo Anthony and Andrea Bargnani to help close the gap as the 1st quarter ended with Orlando clinging to a just a three-point lead.
In the following quarter the safeties came off, as New York unloaded with seven three point makes in the second, to take the lead going into the second half. Pablo Prigioni continued his campaign for more minutes, as his swishing and dishing directly led to three of those bombs (or, as Darren Rovell would put it, 42.8%), and he even sank one himself (more Rovell fun: Priggy accounted for 57.14% of the threes in the quarter!).
The onslaught would continue throughout the rest of the game as it became clearer and clearer that Orlando simply had no answer for Melo one-on-one in the post. Their reckless double teaming, to account for the issues he created inside, only served to add fuel to the inferno as the Knicks were superb in firing the ball along the perimeter, in order to find the open shooter. By the end of the third quarter this had become a laugher, and a much needed win for a Knick team looking to build momentum as they enter a soft section of their schedule.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Melo gets buckets, this is certain. He’s a threat to go for 30 every single night, but one aspect of his game that sometimes comes under the microscope is the amount of shots he needs to hit that number. It’s only right that after recording 20 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and one resounding block on Glen “Big Baby” Davis, we give credit where credit is due and note that his 20 came on a very efficient 10 shots. With his supporting cast doing most of the heavy lifting, Melo was able to divert his focus to other aspects of the game besides scoring and it showed last night. Salute.
- When Tyson went down we knew that Melo would have a full plate trying to pick up the slack for this team, but with JR’s early season struggles, Bargs has done a damn good job of playing the role of Melo’s Robin. After a 17 point and 8 rebound performance, the lanky Italian is fast on his way to winning the hearts of NY faithful, if his clash with Kevin Garnett on Thursday didn’t seal the deal already.
- Speaking of JR, last night was undoubtedly his best outing of the season. When the ball started moving in the second quarter he was one of the many beneficiaries, finishing with five threes, as he was able to just spot up instead of fighting for tough shots in one-on-one situations. Catch-n-shoot JR is the best kind, and 17 points on 11 shots is a clear indicator of that. Great sign.
- When the Knicks drafted Tim Hardaway Jr., I believed their style of offense, along with his rep as a spot up shooter, would be a match made in heaven. Last night was an awesome preview of what he’s capable of when the machine is running the way it should. 7 shots taken. All threes. 17 points. Let that boy cook.
- 25 assists, 10 turnovers, 50% shooting (17-34) from 3-point land. That’s what I’m talking about.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- I got nothing.
- Actually, there is the matter of Iman Shumpert’s impending trial for an attempted double-homicide:
- Toure’ Murry did THIS after an Andrea Bargnani three. Brilliant.
- The Knicks play the Celtics tomorrow at noon. Hopefully they can take advantage of this upcoming collection of under .500 teams and start digging themselves out of the hole they put themselves in.