The New York Knicks won a basketball game last night, but for some reason, I still defeated. It just feels weird to act so jubilant and cheery after the game. Why? Well, last night’s game was your prototypical “rollercoaster of emotions” Knicks game.
How “Knicksian” was the win? It had the following: a blazing first half start, injuries, shoddy defense, an almost monumental collapse, and a “toughening it out: to win the ball game.” Add all of that together and you get the Knicks (9-18) somehow defeating the Orlando Magic by a score of 103-98.
Plenty of you are probably saying, “We’ll take whatever we can get,” and that is absolutely the mindset to go by — if you’re an optimist. I mean, despite having everything but the kitchen sink thrown at them last night, they’re only two and a half games out of first place in the Atlantic Division. If they can keep a consistent identity on the court, win a string of games, then hey, I’ll gladly take the optimistic route.
However, the Knicks saw two of their starters succumb to injuries sustained during last night’s game. Carmelo Anthony came down on Glen Davis’ foot after a rebound attempt and left the game with a sprained ankle. Raymond Felton — who missed the previous six games due to a hamstring injury — left with a strained groin. This is all just hours after coach Mike Woodson stated that he’s not even sure when Felton will ever be 100 percent. Great, add another injury to Felton’s already tumultuous season.
But, back to the game itself. The first half represented the happy days during the 2012-2013 season: crisp passing, open shots, hounding defense, and a lot of smiling. The last 24 minutes of the game represented the dumpster fire that the 2013-2014 season was shaping up to be: lethargic ball movement, injuries, bonehead shot selection, and matador defense. If you haven’t gone mad yet, I applaud you.
Luckily for the ‘Melo and the Knicks, they have a full day of rest before they play again. Hopefully they can continue their winning ways on Christmas Day. Now, let’s look at the schedule, shall we?
Oh crap. *sees the Oklahoma City Thunder*
Let’s try to enjoy the victory against the Magic as long as we can.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Hello, Earl Joseph Smith III. It’s nice of you to show glimpses of why you were the Sixth Man of the Year last season. J.R. had his best all-around game of the season by dropping 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting, while also dishing out four assists and rejecting Tobias Harris twice. Smith also had his first double-double of the season thanks to his ten rebounds. After a rough start to the season, perhaps we may be looking at J.R. finally turning the corner.
- Tyson Chandler was simply a beast last night. Chandler also had a double-double, with ten points and 13 rebounds and he was the facilitator for most of the Knicks’ 16 second chance points. Oh, he also had a few instances of TYSON SMASH moments. Thanks Beno!
- Despite leaving the game with the sprained ankle, Anthony was still the Knicks’ leading scorer with 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting. He knocked down two three-pointers and ended the night with three rebounds and two assists. This is the 27th consecutive game in which Anthony is the team’s leading scorer.
- The box score doesn’t show much, but Iman Shumpert looked like a man on a mission tonight. He shot the ball confidently, made some fantastic efforts on defense, and managed to come away with six total rebounds (three offensive ones.) He looked quick on the court and the Knicks can only hope that he continues this pace of playing for the rest of the season.
- Beno Udrih has ice, cold water in his veins. The Slovenian point guard knocked down six crucial free throws in the final 26 seconds of the game to seal the win for the Knicks. With Felton going out with another injury, the Knicks will look to Udrih to be the floor leader for the Knicks until their backcourt is healthy. Udrih finished the game with six assists.
- The Knicks ended the first half as strongly as they have finished any half this season. They outscored the Magic 65-41, shot 52 percent, were 8-of-14 from beyond the arc, and were +7 in the rebounding department. Their bench scored 25 points and the entire team only had one turnover.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Then the second half started and it all went downhill. The Knicks were outscored 57-38 in the second half, they turned the ball over nine times, they shot 2-of-7 from beyond the arc, and lost both Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton to injury. As MSG Network analyst Alan Hahn says, last night’s third quarter was the Knicks’ Third Quarter of Doom.
- The Knicks allowed 42 points in the paint, while only scoring 26 in the paint.
- Andrea Bargnani didn’t have his best night. Although he hit two clutch shots in the fourth quarter, he was still -8 for the evening and the Knicks went on a big run in the first half without him. In the first half, the Knicks were up 29-23 with in 9:35 Bargnani was in the game. When he checked out due to his second personal foul, the Knicks went on a 36-18 run in the 14:25 without him. In the third quarter, Il Mago was part of the 29-13 Magic run that cut the 25-point lead down to eight.
- In the fourth quarter, the Knicks were on a 4:30 scoring drought and didn’t score their first points until 7:30 left on the clock. During this time, the Knicks had two missed free throws, one turnover, two loose ball fouls, and five missed field goals.
- After the Knicks added to their lead in the second quarter, there was a moment where the Knicks were taking stupid jumpers and running isolation plays. This caused Clyde to say, “You know, they can’t handle prosperity, Mike.” Oh Clyde, you’re so smart.
- I think Raymond Felton complains about every call against him. No, seriously, EVERY. SINGLE. CALL.
- Amar’e Stoudemire, if you didn’t know is originally from the Orlando area. Mike Breen said that STAT had about 70 family members and friends attend the game. He also needs a haircut.
- There are no basketball games today since it’s Christmas Eve. If you do celebrate the holiday, then Merry Christmas! The Knicks are back home to face Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday, Christmas Day at 2:30 p.m. And don’t forget that they’ll be playing in those hideous, Christmas-edition sleeved jerseys.