Don’t look now, but the New York Knicks (15-22) are now the holders of a five-game winning streak and also the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. After defeating the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, the Knicks took the I-95 back home to face off against the Eric Bledsoe-less Phoenix Suns. Despite some Herculean efforts by Goran Dragic and Leandro Barbosa (two point guards, surprise, surprise!), Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton led the Knicks to a gutsy, overtime victory at the Garden.
Prior to last night’s game, the Knicks were surrounded by yet another trade rumor concerning Denver Nuggets’ point guard, Andre Miller. Miller, in the midst of a tumultuous season with head coach Brian Shaw, is 37-years-old, but has experience playing with Anthony back with they were teammates on the Nuggets. ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the Knicks have been trying to entertain the idea of trading for Miller, as the point guard would add a presence for a team in need of a veteran voice.
But let’s be real for a second, do the Knicks need another aging point guard? Have they not learned that the 2013 version of Jason Kidd was sometimes cringe-worthy?
Well, luckily for the Knicks, their young stars, and their fans, Raymond Felton returned from a groin injury and has injected life into the Knicks. Last night, Felton was able to knock down a ton of open shots, but none bigger than a fourth quarter three-pointer that gave the Knicks a two-point lead with 53.1 seconds left on the clock. The game ended up going into overtime, but Felton finished the night with 19-points on 50-percent shooting.
So can the Knicks really do it? Can they really make a run at the playoffs after starting their season in the dumpster? Maybe they can, but they’re still missing one piece:
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- After being named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, ‘Melo continued to GET BUCKETS. Although he was inefficient, the veteran swingman had a big double-double with 29 points and 16 rebounds. He chipped in with four assists and one steal, while also knocking down three three-pointers.
- Additionally, Anthony had two highlight plays in the first quarter. First, he completed a four-point play after getting fouled on a three-pointer attempt. Three minutes later, he swatted a Gerald Green layup, ran up the court, received a pass and knocked down a three-pointer from what seemed like Montauk. Last night marked the 27th game Carmelo has scored over 20 points.
- Iman Shumpert was a menace on defense. He didn’t have a gigantic offensive game like he did last week, but he did a spectacular job playing D on Gerald Green, who only scored four points on a ghastly 2-of-16 shooting. Shump snatched away nine rebounds to go with his six points.
- Earlier in the intro, I mentioned that Raymond Felton knocked down a timely bucket to give the Knicks the lead in the fourth. Tim Hardaway Jr. also had a big bucket in the frame. After getting outscored 8-3 in the beginning of the fourth quarter, J.R. Smith dribbled himself into a screeching halt. Smith passed the ball to Hardaway and “rook” knocked down a 28-foot three-pointer to give the Knicks some breathing room.
- Andrea Bargnani had himself a relatively quiet night, but played some solid on-ball defense on Goran Dragic late in the fourth quarter. Also, the game log shows that Bargnani had a game high +22 +/- rating. STATS DON’T LIE. TAKE THAT MASAI UJIRI.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Remember praising the ball movement during this current winning streak? Yeah, well, that went away last night. The Knicks had a total of 11 assists. In their previous game against the 76ers, the heroes in orange and blue had 26 assists. The Knicks and the Suns last night combined for a grand total of 25 assists. Yikes.
- The rollercoaster season for Earl “J.R.” Smith III continues. Against the Suns, J.R. was quiet only scoring 10 points, and looked extremely hesitant on the floor. The game log also shows that he had a game low -15 +/- rating. TRADE HIM. RIGHT?
- I criticized the Knicks on their constant “foul call” complaining, but it’s slowly becoming an N.B.A. issue. There were numerous times where either Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert, or Amar’e Stoudemire were complaining about a foul. But later on in the game, there were times where Gerald Green and the rest of the Phoenix Suns were hatin’ and beratin’ the refs.
- The Knicks almost let Leandro Barbosa beat them singlehandedly. He combined for 16 points in his previous three games played with the Suns, yet was able to punish the Knicks for 21 points last night.
- STOP SWITCHING.
- After the first 2:30 eclipsed in the second quarter, the Knicks and Suns were playing some Division 3 basketball out there. This caused Mike Breen to ask Clyde Frazier, “What’s going on out there!?” Clyde brilliantly responded with, “Nothing! Ha, ha.”
- Also in the second quarter, one of the Morris brothers, Markieff, was ejected after receiving his second technical foul. Since he was fouled on a shooting attempt, Mike Woodson was given the chance to select any player on the Suns’ bench to take the free throw. Woodson elected Viacheslav Kravtsov (who?) to shoot the free throws. He made 1-of-2.
- It’s always entertaining when on-air talent explain the idiosyncrasies of the New York Knicks. Last night, Tina Cervasio explained the telephone gesture Iman Shumpert performs whenever he knocked down a three-pointer. Tina stated that the gesture is from Drake’s “Worst Behavior” where Drake says, “hold up, hold my phone.” Thanks, Tina!
- The Knicks look to extend the streak to six games as they visit Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Bobcats at 7:00 p.m. tonight.