GAME RECAP: Knicks 116, Celtics 92

No Kenyon? No Tyson? No Amar’e? No problem. Carmelo Anthony and the rest of his buddies packed up to Boston and took care of the Boston Celtics to win their fifth straight basketball game. The New York Knicks (26-40) are now in sole possession of ninth place in the Eastern Conference and they’re only three games behind the Atlanta Hawks for the coveted eighth and final playoff spot.

Funny how things can change in two weeks, right? The Knicks were defeated, they were sulking, and they lost all hope. They came into March winning only two games for the entire month of February (2-13). Then, as quickly as they were losing games (their most recent losing streak was halted at seven games), they finally put up a victory. After that one, they won another game, then one more after that, and another one. They kept winning and they look like they’re not going to stop.

Granted, they’ve been facing some inferior talent, but they’re winning those games impressively. Don’t look now, but their path to playoff basketball looks easy. It’s like the N.B.A. paved them a red carpet for the playoffs. It’s up to the Knicks if they want it.

They face the Milwaukee Bucks next, then the following teams they face afterward include the somewhat struggling Indiana Pacers, the pitiful Philadelphia 76ers, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Los Angeles Lakers. They then end the month by facing the Sacramento Kings, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, and Utah Jazz. If all goes well, they have a really strong chance of ending March winning at least six of those nine games.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, right? But, it’s so hard not to. The team is playing well and there’s a surprising positive vibe that’s flowing around that locker room, and not to mention that NBA TV announced last night that Phil Jackson has officially hopped on board to be part of the Knicks front office as the President of Operations.

Hey Knicks, do us all a favor? Keep on winning. Keep on streaking. And let’s give Phil another trophy.

WHAT WENT RIGHT:

  • COLE ALDRICH double-double everybody! It’s only fitting that the center from Kansas gets the headline for his first career start in an N.B.A. game. Cole World impressed his teammates, received the game ball, and finished the night with 12 points, ten rebounds, and three blocked shots. COLE FOR MVP.
  • Well, it was another night at the office for ’MELO. The veteran swingman just keeps on cookin’ while ending the night dropping 34 points on 11-of-25 shooting, while also grabbing nine rebounds. He was perfect from the line and it looks like his illness might finally be exiting his body.
  • The most exciting thing about Tim Hardaway Jr. is that when his shot is on target, he’s practically unstoppable. Not quite Steve Novak-behind-the-arc unstoppable, but the “Rook” is quite close. THJ continued his N.B.A. Jam “HE’S ON FIRE” ways by completing the evening with 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting, three of which were from behind the arc.
  • J.R. Smith — quiet, but effective. J.R. didn’t have the flashiest of nights, but still managed to score 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He had two steals, four assists, and three rebounds.
  • The Knicks as a team outshot the Celtics 53% to 42% from the field, 58% to 40% from three-point land, and 88% to 70% from the free-throw line. The Knicks also out-rebounded them 47 to 38 and committed three less turnovers than the Celtics. All keys to victory.

WHAT WENT WRONG:

  • Aside from allowing Jeff Green to score 27 points, nothing much.
  • Like I said in the Cavaliers game a few nights ago, the Knicks need to learn how to continue to put pressure on the other team, despite the big lead. They had the lead 68-48 heading into halftime, then were outscored 27-17 in the third. Luckily, the lead never got lower than nine, and the Knicks were able to make a bunch of buckets in the fourth to force garbage time.

KNICK KNACKS:

  • Last night was the first time all season that Tim Hardaway Jr. has scored 20+ points in consecutive games.
  • The Knicks return home to face the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. Tip-off is at 12 noon.