GAME RECAP: Knicks 118, T’Wolves 106

It was splash Wednesday in Minnesota.

Melo hit a jumpshot. Then Hardaway Jr. hit a jumpshot. Amare and JR, both inserted into the starting lineup, connected on jumpshots clean and contested alike. And then, after some time had passed, Raymond Felton went ahead and hit a jumpshot, to ease your troubled heart and to put your worries (and the Timberwolves) to bed.

That’s how it went for one night, and you weren’t sure if you should enjoy it or be sad that what you were witnessing has become at best a bi-weekly special, instead of the staple item we became accustomed to a season ago.

For their part, the Timberwolves looked more like basset hounds in their field goal percentage and general intensity. MSG’s Spero Dedes commented that the Knicks were playing Kevin Love as well as anyone can defensively. Whether it was stingy D or just an off night, Love was a mere 6 for 17 from the floor for 19 points. The Knicks for once controlled the game for all most of the 48 minutes. This Minnesota team is by no means the Knicks’ equal in the disappointment department, but they’ve known their fair share of it this year. They just seemed a little…out of whack, leaving President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders looking like this most of the night:

wolves

Knicks fans got to see their guys knock down shots and play with energy tonight. That brand of basketball has been an absentee family member this season – often M.I.A., and even when it’s around, you’re just not sure how to act. Tonight, we all just got to hang out for a while, and everything was okay. Don’t want to know what tomorrow holds? I don’t blame you.

What Went Right:
• Carmelo’s stat line: 33 points on 14-27, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals. While we are more accustomed to seeing 9 rebounds and 1 assist from Melo, those 5 dimes added a nice element, in kick outs to Felton and pick-and-roll work with STAT.
• Kevin Love hardly left Knicks fans salivating for his potential arrival in 2015. It looked like the Knicks threw a variety of defenders at him based on switches and how the play unfolded, and it may have prevented him from catching the ball easily in favorable spots on the floor.
• Ray Felton’s talk with Mike Woodson. Clyde Frazier and Spero Dedes made much of the “heart to heart” that Felton had with the head coach. Whatever was said, Woodson should consider having more of those conversations (Felton’s line: 5-8, 18 points, 8 assists, 4 steals).
• For the first time all season, all 5 starters registered double figure points.
• Some cool Ricky Rubio moments, including a slick pocket pass to a cutting Pekovic early in the 3rd, but not enough to really affect the game. Given how point guards have manhandled the Knicks’ defense this season, this was relieving.

What Went Wrong:
• Boxing out for rebounds was an issue when Chandler was on the bench getting a rest or getting a technical (early in the 4th)
• Good to see Shump back in action, but his return saw some rust on what was already an up and down year. His elevation to the rim and failed dunk attempt in the 4th might as well have been his season in a single play.
• With J.R. and Amare in the starting lineup, and Shump getting back into form, a paltry 20 points came from the bench, 11 of those from Timmy Jr.
• Shabazz Muhammed a perfect 5 for 5 from the field. Where was the D?

Knick Knacks:
• Kevin Love holds the T’Wolves’ record for most consecutive double doubles. Whatever streak he was working on ended tonight as he only pulled down 8 rebounds.
• The Knicks’ next 5 opponents are all under .500 as of this game
• Coming into this game, the T’Wolves’ 30-29 record would have been good for 6th in the East, but put them outside the playoffs at 10th in the West.
• Shannon Brown received a DNP-Coach’s Decision

By Brian Kavanaugh