The Air Jordan Melo M9 just gets better every month – as does every current Jordan product, it seems. Tonight, University of North Carolina will debut the Carolina blue and white colorway of the M9 in their game against Villanova. The heat coming from the initial lineup of colorways worn by Carmelo Anthony for the All-Star game and Black History Month were a taste of some of the wild styles to be released from his signature shoe. Now, NCAA teams are basking in the glory of even better color schemes.
Last month, on February 23rd, Syracuse—Melo’s alma mater—wore the M9′s with the orange upper in his honor, on the day his jersey was retired.
The California Golden Bears got their own Team Exclusives in black, yellow and navy blue. So when Syracuse and California go head to head this Saturday, you already know it will be a sneaker showdown for the books. Which NCAA team has worn the M9 the best? Sound off below.
The Knicks released a few statements earlier regarding Tyson Chandler and Kurt Thomas. As per The Daily News-
An MRI of Thomas’ foot Tuesday in New York revealed a stress fracture/stress reaction according to a person close to the veteran Knicks forward.
Big Kurt will miss about 2-4 weeks, but he deserves some rest time playing 27 minutes last night– a season high. Along with that, we have also learned that the MRI Tyson Chandler received on his neck, revealed a slight bulging disk. Chandler is expected to miss approximately one week.
Insult to injury is the best way to put it. Kurt Thomas had been an absolute warrior for the Knicks’ during their west coast swing, playing 27 minutes against Utah coming up with some crucial plays in helping to salvage a win before heading back to New York. Chandler has been out of action since collapsing in Denver, and what scares me is the fear of Chandler becoming listed as day-to-day, because you do not get listed day-to-day by the Knicks training staff unless your injury is extremely serious. This makes sense, doesn’t it?
For now, I am guessing Marcus Camby will fill the void at the five spot for the next week. Hopefully he won’t be relied on too heavily, but there virtually aren’t many other options in the frontcourt. The Knicks are currently missing five players, all ranging from power forward to center, considering Carmelo Anthony at the power forward spot, for now.
Luckily for New York, they do not play a team above .500 for exactly one week when they head to Boston next Tuesday. Hopefully, that is when Chandler returns. Anthony is expected to return tomorrow after missing a week of basketball, and says he feels ‘no pain’ in his knee. But without Tyson, the going may still get rough on defense.
Right now, I am more worried about heading into the playoffs healthy instead of worrying about where I am seeded. With our veterans breaking down left and right, I am legitimately worried the same thing will continue to happen if minutes aren’t seriously monitored with guys like Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby. Lets keep our heads up, grab a couple wins right now where we can, and get through this next month in one piece.
The second and final meeting between New York and Utah is tonight at Energy Solutions Arena. The Knicks have ran into a whole heap of issues on their five game trip. Between injury, rotational issues, and questioning of the teams mere will to win games, it’s time for the Knicks to put up or shut up, and steal a game to avoid coming home to a rude awaking from the MSG faithful.
This has been one of the most painful road trips in recent memory. The Knicks have lost by at least 13 points in each game (per ESPN) and are downright depleted on the front line. On the contrary, New York’s last win came nine days ago against Utah, also without Carmelo Anthony manning the frontcourt. Tyson Chandler, though, was available that game, and is questionable for tonight; he also missed the morning shootaround to receive treatment. The Knicks are now making it known that there is now more of an issue with Tyson’s neck, rather than his knee (UGH). With or without Chandler, the Knicks are running out of excuses, and breathing room. Luckily, Brooklyn dropped one to Atlanta last night helping New York in a big way to maintain their one game lead in the Atlantic Division.
Utah does have the revenge factor on their side. Also, picking up two of their last three, Utah needs wins more desperately than New York to stay within the tight playoff race in the west. Two Friday’s ago; New York put a whopping on Utah, scoring 113 points without Anthony. The Jazz had went 0-4 on their east coast trip when they visited New York, and will be looking to spoil the final game of the Knicks’ trip if no one rises to the occasion. JR Smith will need to duplicate his success against Utah (24 points) if New York wants to have any chance of pulling out at least one win. Novak rose from the dead that game, also, lighting up the floor with 20 points.
Furthermore, lets see a stable rotation, Woody. If it works, don’t try to fix it. Whoever produces offense tonight, I’m leaving them on the floor. Yesterday’s effort against the Clippers was not terrible for a team without their three best players. The defense turned up mid-late third quarter- but by then it was too late to trade baskets and play a game of runs.
If any game on this trip was, or is going to be winnable, it’s tonight. If New York wants to show everyone they are still serious contenders, there is no better time to do so. I’m beginning to get sick and tired of staying up into the twilight of the night to see my Knicks lose, and lose ugly. It’s gotten to a point where I will turn my TV off and go to sleep if the game is entirely ugly by the 4th quarter. I’d rather count my sheep than count the times the Knicks make a poor decision or bad rotation on defense. Optimistically, I see the Knicks winning a close one tonight, one that will do wonders for their confidence. Right now, that seems to be something they desperately need. #Knicks.
The losing streak has reached four games. The Knicks dropped the fourth game of their West Coast trip to the Los Angeles Clippers by a score of 93-80. Chris Paul was the game’s leading scorer with 20 points while passing off for eight assists. Blake Griffin registered a double-double for the Clippers with 12 points and 12 rebounds while DeAndre Jordan just missed out on a double-double of his own with eight points and 10 rebounds. The Knicks, playing without both Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, were led by J.R. Smith’s 17 points off the bench.
Just as they did this past Thursday night against the Portland TrailBlazers, the Knicks actually got off to a nice start this afternoon. The Knicks jumped out to an 8-1 lead thanks to an Iman Shumpert jumper to begin the game’s scoring and a couple of three-pointers from Chris Copeland and Raymond Felton. They would eventually stretch their lead to eight (13-5) as the combination of Copeland and Felton scored on two more baskets, looking as if each would have a big game to help the Knicks sneak out of Los Angeles with a win. Unfortunately, the good early vibes would disappear very quickly. An 11-2 Clippers run gave them their first lead of the game at 16-15. The Knicks would quickly grab the lead again on a Kenyon Martin layup but it would be their last lead of the game. A 5-1 spurt from the Clippers to end the first quarter gave L.A. back the lead and they wouldn’t relinquish it the rest of the way.
Even without their top three players and having already been blown-out in each of their first three games of the road trip, the Knicks fought hard in this game, at least in the first half. After Smith scored the first two points of the second quarter, the Clippers scored four straight on a Chauncey Billups jumper and Lamar Odom layup to extend their lead to five, 25-20. However, the Clippers had trouble extending that lead and the Knicks would eventually tie up the score at 31 on a Smith dunk attempt. Only problem was that was as close as the Knicks would get to the Clippers the rest of the game. A 13-6 Clippers run, powered by 11 combined points by Paul and former-Knicks Jamal Crawford helped L.A. take a 44-37 lead into halftime.
The Knicks opened the second half trying to fight their way back into the game, scoring the first four points on jumpers from Copeland and Shumpert to cut their seven-point deficit to three. Then the Clippers finally starting displaying the talent gap between them and the injury filled Knicks, going on an 11-1 run to push their lead to 13 highlighted by a textbook Paul to Griffin alley-oop. The Knicks quieted the storm a bit, even as the Clippers extended the lead to 16. With the score 60-47, Jason Kidd found his stroke, hitting on three straight from beyond the arc to help the Knicks get to within 12, 65-53. However, a 7-0 run from the Clippers pushed their lead to biggest Knicks deficit of the night at 19. The Knicks responded with a 7-0 run of their own, sparked by five Smith points, to end the third quarter down 72-60.
The Clippers tried ending the game early in the final period, opening the quarter with another 7-0 run to again push their lead to 19. The Knicks however did not go quietly, going on one last 14-5 run to cut their deficit to 10, 84-74. The run was just too late, even as they eventually cut it to single digits at 89-80 with 1:56 left in the game. The Knicks would not score again and the Clippers earned their second win against the Knicks this season, 93-80.
- Despite leading the Knicks with 17 points, Smith had a terrible shooting game, going 4-for-20 from the floor. Smith has shot 23-for-64 during the road trip (36%).
- Steve Novak finally broke out of his 0-for-12 slump, connecting on all three of his trey attempts.
- The starting PF/C combo of Kurt Thomas and Kenyon Martin couldn’t stay on the court consistently, as the two picked up nine fouls in their 45 combined minutes of play. Martin did manage to haul in nine rebounds in his 28 minutes.
- Felton had a nice box score line (16 points, nine assists) but the load of his scoring came early when the Knicks built their 13-5 lead and late when the game was already decided.
- The Knicks will try to salvage the final game of their road trip tomorrow night against the last team they earned a win against: the Utah Jazz. The Knicks could enter the game tied atop the Atlantic Division, if the Brooklyn Nets can earn a win against the Atlanta Hawks tonight.
When you look at the Knicks’ stats as a team compared to the rest of the NBA, something stands out like a sore thumb: assists, or more accurately, lack of them. Of the 30 teams in the NBA, the Knicks are 29th, with 19.4 assists per game. Only the pathetic Bobcats make fewer assists per game than our beloved ‘Bockers. Since New York scores the tenth most points in the league and is sixth in offensive rating, this is pretty shocking.
When you consider the Knicks roster and their style of play, it starts to make a little more sense. The Knicks have a roster filled with good offensive players; the team is well stocked with scorers, shooters and ball handlers, just not playmakers. They have some players that are skilled at creating their own shots, but few that are displaying much skill in creating shots for others.
Despite the presence of future first ballot hall of fame point guard Jason Kidd on their roster, the closest they come to a true playmaker on the team currently is Raymond Felton. Felton is averaging 5.8 assists per game, down from his career average of 6.6 a game and only good for a four way tie for 25th best in the league. Of course Felton’s stats may be hurt by the slow pace the Knicks play at (25th in the NBA), but Greivis Vasquez and Deron Williams are both in the top five in the league in assists and they play for teams with an even more glacial pace than the Knicks (29th and 30th!) Rajon Rondo leads the league in assists with 11.1 per game and the Celtics have the 20th slowest pace. Not only is there little evidence to suggest that a slow pace prevents a playmaker from racking up big assist numbers, but the opposite almost seems true. Obviously some teams rely heavily on their playmaker to create shots out of half court sets.
In theory the Knicks would like to be one of them. Much of their offense is intended to revolve around pick and rolls orchestrated by Felton; giving him the opportunity to get assists by setting up the roll man or feeding an open shooter. Despite this plan, entirely too many of the Knicks’ offensive possessions boil down to Carmelo Anthony or JR Smith trying to create their own shots in isolation.
While it may seem obvious that the more assists the better, this specific stat seems to be particularly revealing in the case of the Knicks. In games where the Knicks have made fewer than 17 assists this season, they are 2-11. In games were they’ve made 23 or more assists, they’ve gone 14-2. For a team that’s one of the two worst assist producing teams in the NBA, this correlation is quite troubling.
This has been especially glaring over New York’s last 17 games. Over that span they’ve averaged a meager 17.3 assists, Raymond Felton has had more than 5 assists in a game only once and the Knicks have gone 7-10.
Obviously there are lots of reasons the Knicks have been struggling recently. The past week and a half have been particularly rough with the knees of all three of the Knicks’ frontcourt superstars breaking down at the same time. Despite this kneepocalypse or perhaps because of it, it’s no time to panic. Unfortunately, the Knicks are not acting like the team that started the season 8-1 without having Amare Stoudemire available to play. Instead of sharing the ball, finding open shooters and trying to create the most efficient offense possible, the Knicks seem to be relying on individuals like Melo and JR to create their own offense more than ever.
If New York is going to overcome the loss of so much star power to this kneegeddon and pull themselves out of their awful tailspin, they’re going to have to work as team, now more than ever. They can start by sharing the rock and finding some good shots. Failing that that could always try playing some great defense, but I don’t want to get too crazy.
As Knicks broadcaster Al Trautwig has labeled the second quarter’s of New York’s turbulent west coast quest to, at least, stay afloat without their big three. The Knicks are four days into their weeklong road trip, with two more stops in Los Angeles and Utah. There seems to be frenzy everywhere. From the team, to the trainers, New York is completely depleted of knees and is searching for answers to the scariest word in Knicks land, day-to-day. But until that’s solved, the Knicks should worry about their second quarter woes. Lets take a look at their past three endeavors in the second 12 minutes of play.
Vs. Golden State
As far as the second quarter goes, the Knicks couldn’t hit water if they fell off a boat. Monday night, shooting 3 for 18 (16%!), New York scored only 12 points. The team entered the quarter down by 3, but was down 15 by the half. Carmelo Anthony lost the battle of sore knees to David Lee, who scored 9 of the Warriors 24 points.
In the shadows lingering, this was supposed to be Carmelo’s big return to Denver, but it only lasted until about the third quarter when Anthony pulled himself. Denver revealed the Knicks lack of interior defense with six layups and a dunk. Starting the quarter within 5, New York quickly crumbled under some bad decisions and plays off, and trailed by 22 by halftime. The Knicks scored 16 points and made only six shots, three more than they did in Golden State.
This was a fun game to watch, man! Until the second quarter came, I was finally starting to regain sanity watching the Knicks play good basketball again. New York entered the quarter up by eight– Chris Copeland gave a strong showing in the first. Even midway into the second quarter was going extremely well on both ends going up by 13 at one point. But a few Felton turnovers and the disappearance of Chris Copeland led a 16 point swing for New York as they lost the lead within the last 30 seconds of the quarter, and went into halftime by three. This was the Knicks best shooting second quarter of the trip (64%).
Moral of the story, epic lapses in the second quarter have led to a three game demise, in which the last one hurt the most, as the Knicks mis led us for about a half of basketball into believing someone had awoken the lethargic Knicks. New York remains one game ahead of Brooklyn with the Division lead.
Well, last night really turned out to be a dud in Carmelo Anthony’s return to Denver. Anthony left the game about three minutes into the second half when his knee began to “tighten up”, which led to a pretty impressive “WHERE IS MELO” chant by the Pepsi Center crowd. In Denver’s 23 point rout of the Knicks, there was one, tiny bright spot Knick fans can take away from this game.
Iman Shumpert hit the 20-point mark for the first time this season- a sight for sore eyes as Iman has faced an uphill battle all year in his return from an ACL injury. Shump shot 80% from the field, and 4-5 from three point land. Now, lets put this in perspective for the rest of this road trip.
Where do the Knicks turn next, with Anthony back in New York, and Chandler obviously will not be 100% tonight at Portland, who is going to step up? My plea for Copeland, I guess, was somewhat answered when he was inserted in the second quarter and made into a poster by JaVale McGee, but that’s besides the point. Maybe he starts tonight in Melo’s absence, which would insert some fresh young legs into a gassed starting lineup. This team has shown they are able to produce without their two top guns present. Tonight, against a Portland team who is on the fence of a playoff berth, and another draft lottery, New York can grasp their first win on this west coast swing which already feels like it’s more of a permanent vacation after two grueling losses in a row.
Now, it is still possible (and we can all dream, can’t we?) that the Knicks can still finish this road trip above .500 before they head back to the big bad city. Portland will look to double their winning percentage at home tonight on TNT. This will also be the second out of three nationally televised games on this road trip, in where the Knicks have already been blown out in one. I don’t want to call anything too early, but I think the Knicks have hit rock bottom on this trip, if not, the entire season. New York has been outscored 209-157 so far on the west coast, and a loss tonight would drop the Knicks to 20-20 in their last 40.
So, what we are looking at right now is a few unsung Knicks stepping up on a team full of disarray. If I’m Mike Woodson, I am going balls to the wall and making a dramatic change tonight. Insert Copeland and Kenyon Martin into the starting lineup and be ready to throw JR Smith in there as soon as the going gets rough. Scoring has the chance of being scarce, although this team seems to pull together in times of need, as we saw against Utah. If Shumpert can replicate his success from last night, and Smith plays well, the light at the end of the tunnel will still be shining heading into Los Angeles in a bit of a revenge game against the Clippers.
At this point, just get through these next three games and head back home. Indiana took a one game lead for second place last night with the Knicks loss, and New York fell to a game and a half within Brooklyn to losing the division lead. Let’s see if New York can get the thing moving in the right direction again, starting tonight. Stay tuned, Knicks fans.
A few months ago I finished reading Jon Krakauer’s Into thin Air. For those unfamiliar, Krakauer, a former Outside magazine journalist, was paid to cover an excursion up Mount Everest. The story – an entirely true one – covers the details of the ascent up the mountain, and the disastrous descent, which, plagued by a combination of human error and an unearthly blizzard, resulted in the deaths and severe injuries of several of the climbers. At the time, I thought, Wow, that is the story of hell 30,000 feet in the air.
Now, take those events, and more-or-less place them some 20,000 feet lower in the atmosphere, in the United States, and on a basketball court. This is sort of what tonight’s Knicks-Nuggets game felt like.
The game didn’t even scratch the hype surrounding it. The Knicks came in a broken and battered squad, facing a Nuggets team flying at a mile-high level, riding a nine-game win streak. Carmelo Anthony, Denver’s former beloved son turned Knick by demand, was making his first return to Denver sine being traded in 2011, despite carrying a balky knee that he seemingly refuses to give serious medical attention.
From the get-go, things tumbled out of control. Though the Knicks did their best to keep up with the Nuggets, it was clear that New York was going to be run off the court. Even with the Knicks’ offense functioning fairly well in the opening quarter, the Nuggets simply sprinted through, around, and past the Knicks off makes, misses, and turnovers alike. A heavy portion of these baskets came in demoralizing fashion – a made three-pointer by the Knicks turned into an Andre Iguodala-Kenneth Faried alley-oop five seconds later; swift passing and uncontested layups; offensive rebounds; putback dunks. And when the threes started raining, it spelled doom for New York. However, despite how easily the blood seemed to be flowing out of the wounds, the Knicks still only trailed 31-26 at the end of the first quarter.
That was when the tourniquet was yanked. Similar to the Golden State blowout just two days ago, the second quarter was the “avada kedavra” spell (*adjusts Harry Potter-framed glasses*) for the Knicks. Mike Woodson, still unlearned from blowouts past, inserted a totally incapable lineup of Jason Kidd, Steve Novak, J.R. Smith, Chris Copeland, and Kenyon Martin, and the flood gates opened (though in Woodson’s defense: who else was he going to play?). While the Knicks’ offense consisted of few passes and a bevy of hoisted, contested jumpers, the Nuggets continued to sprint out after every Knicks possession, running them ragged, feasting on the open opportunities awaiting them at the basket. As the Nuggets’ lead ballooned from six to 20, things managed to get worse.
On offense, while rolling to the basket, Tyson Chandler seemed to collide knees with Corey Brewer, crumpled to the ground, and remained on the floor, clearly in pain. The Knicks attended to him, and minutes later, he hobbled off the floor, requiring assistance from teammates to walk back to the locker room. The Knicks later diagnosed it as a “contused knee” – AKA a bruise – but this is both vague and uncomfortable as just a few days ago, Amar’e Stoudemire’s “sore knee” turned out to be an injury requiring surgery.
Without Chandler, you can guess where this went: even further down the drain. With the Knicks already trailing by 20-plus points in the second half, Carmelo Anthony, too, decided to leave the game, unannounced, and head back to the locker room with a sore knee. He also would not return.
At this point, it seems silly to recap the game further. The Nuggets’ high octane attack slowed a bit to a less dramatic pace and elevation, but the scoreboard did not reflect it. For the remained of the game, their lead stayed put between 20-30 points, while the crowd delighted in “Where’s ‘Melo?” and “Who needs ‘Melo?” chants. For the Knicks, nothing was notable except a few rhythmic, canned jumpers from Iman Shumpert, some pleasant dishing from Pablo Prigioni, and a few well timed swats from Kenyon Martin.
At this point, the Knicks can just hope to salvage a game or two on this road trip and desperately avoid falling below the fourth seed (a very real possiblity). The hopes of the team, already largely dependent on Carmelo Anthony’s jumpshot and Tyson Chandler’s command of the defense, now seem excessively flimsy, and we can only wait in angst for further details of Chandler’s injury.
Four healthy knees between the Knicks’ Big Three, and a most unpleasant beginning to a very important road trip. As noted on Twitter tonight: We’ll Always Have November.
The New York Knicks made their way to Denver early Tuesday morning for the first time since the 2010-2011 season. Carmelo Anthony will also make his first return to the Pepsi Center tonight after forcing his way to New York in a trade two years ago. Along with Melo, there will be a plethora of ex-Knicks and Nuggets going at it. As Jonah Kaner quoted earlier, tonight is a faceoff of “the New York Nuggets vs. the Denver Knicks.” Here are five things to look for tonight when the Knicks and Nuggets face off at 10:30pm.
This should be pretty interesting to watch play out. Anthony’s knee was obviously bothering him Monday night against the Warriors, and still trotted out for 33 minutes of play. Shooting only 26% from the field was really the barometer for Melo’s decision to play instead of rest. It was reiterated after the Knicks’ loss, that Melo wanted to play in Denver. Woodson will definitely need to be aware of Anthony’s minutes, along with his effort and making sure he is not risking further injury.
2: Does Chris Copeland regain a spot in Woodson’s rotation?
The Knicks looked completely gassed against Golden State, and did not have the ideal start to their five game west-coast swing. Scoring only 63 points, probably the brightest spot throughout the whole game for the Knicks was Copeland’s resurgence off the bench long after the game was settled. Though, it was fun seeing Copeland’s sweet stroke, scoring 15 points in 18 minutes. Woodson said after the loss he will see to getting Cope more minutes on this trip, which fans have been vying for watching the team struggle to score at times. It can’t hurt the Knicks current state; both the starting five and bench could use a boost. Copeland’s defense is manageable providing he is putting the ball in the basket, just like Steve Novak.
3: Can the Knicks produce points early?
Heading into the half against Golden State the Knicks trailed by 15, being outscored by 12 points in the second quarter. First half play has been suspect for the Knicks’ all year, especially their starting lineup. James White and Kurt Thomas being inserted into the starting five for the first four minutes of games has proved to be uneventful, and spotty. Besides James White hitting an occasional three, and usually a few fouls, the Knicks rely heavily on Anthony early for points when the rest of the first unit is not in unison. Filling up the scoreboard will be crucial against a tough, fast-paced Nuggets team who is looking for their 10th straight against their former superstar Carmelo Anthony.
4: JR Smith, Kenyon Martin, Marcus Camby, and Raymond Felton.
Besides the prime focus being on Carmelo Anthony, four other Knicks will be making returns to Denver after stints with the ball club. The one that interests me the most will be JR Smith. After deciding not to sign back with Denver post-lockout, JR signed in New York and left Denver hanging. Although there was not a beat missed losing their sixth man, Smith also had some soreness in his knee after winning against Utah. Along with Anthony, he claimed there was “no way” he would be missing his return to Denver. Big night tonight for Smith? Raymond Felton is another player who brings an interesting past to the table tonight. After being traded away from New York (where he preferred playing) in the Anthony blockbuster, Felton has a chance to show the Denver fans why he was upset with being shipped off from the Knicks two years ago which led to Felton falling out of shape and a sub par performance in Portland before returning to New York. For the rest of the returning Knicks, I’m hoping for another Kenyon Martin sighting, and the amount of energy he brings to the team.
5: Denver looks to make it 10 straight against New York
The Denver Nuggets boast the best home record in the NBA, at 28-3. The arena gets loud, and Denver easily gains momentum with their acrobatic, athletic squad. The Knicks need to make a splash early, and get off to a good start. Falling behind early will not make the game, or the rest of the road trip any easier. With one chance at snapping an opponents win streak (Miami) don’t look for the Knicks to be just a number again. I think the Knicks will be focused in tonight, on national television.
I, for one, love staying up to watch the Knicks’ west coast swings here on the east coast. Tonight is sure to be an interesting game throughout. More important than the game, though, is Anthony’s health in the long run. Will he be able to pull himself out if he knows he’s hurting? I at least hope Woodson does.
Carmelo Anthony is under a microscope after his lackluster play against Golden State on Monday night. The Knicks were held to 63 points, with 14 from Melo’s output. How efficient he will be over the course of four more games on the road is up in the air, considering he’s sustained a sore right knee, which had him sidelined for three games. As Melo’s performance is being scrutinized by press in the face of his health, and the state of his team that can succeed in his absence, there’s one thing not at the center of controversy—his sneakers. Melo signed with Jordan Brand in 2003 when he entered the league fresh off an NCAA championship at Syracuse. The white, university blue, and yellow taxi colorways of the Denver Nuggets became a staple of his signature shoes; metallic silver, and black were part of the alternate design.
Being a member of Jordan Brand, Anthony also enjoyed the perks of having a limited run (e.g. Player Exclusive, Future Sole) of Jordans also in Denver colorways. He would wear those on court as much as his own signature shoes. Today, the Jordan Melo series continues with the M9, released this January. In the past couple of years since he’s been in New York, the M8, M8 Advance, and M9 are all you see in Melo’s rotation, not any special Jordan Retro versions in Knicks orange and blue. Is it safe to say Carmelo Anthony’s sneakers as a Knick have eclipsed his Denver era? The Melo collection has shown an evolution in design and popularity. There’s no denying the M6 as one of Melo’s best because they were one of his most light-weight shoes ever. Before that, the M5.5 contained notes of the Jordan 5 and 6: like the 3M tongue and silhouette, but it was all Melo at the end of the day with his emerald birthstone incorporated into the design, along with a TV ad campaign that took him back to his hometown of Baltimore.
The tide is changing for Melo’s sneakers. His most recent shoes are slowly breaking away from being referred to with the Jordan prefix, now becoming an major event that isn’t just another Jumpman23 release. The M9 is pushing the envelope with Flywire materials setting it apart from other Air Jordan releases. That’s an achievement for Melo’s branding. Immortalizing his legacy in the sneaker world can be mentioned in the same breath as his retired jersey. Patrick Ewing has seen this type of fanfare recently with the resurging popularity of his own signature kicks. Before that moment comes for Melo, take a walk down memory lane of his classic material.
AIR JORDAN XII MELO PE (UNWORN) (C. NICEKICKS)
Given the size of NBA rosters, it’s not that uncommon for a team to have a player languishing at the end of the bench, basically playing the part of a human victory cigar. For the 2004 Champion Detroit Pistons, it was Darko Milicic, who averaged less than five minutes a game, while only getting into 34 of them. For the 2008 champion Boston Celtics, it was Brian Scalabrine, who averaged ten minutes a game and only appeared in 48. These bench anchors generally only got into games that were clearly decided, with their team on one side or the other of a total blowout. For this year’s Knicks it’s suddenly and somewhat unexpectedly starting to look like that role is being filled by rookie forward Chris Copeland.
This was never more obvious than this week, with the Knicks playing in back to back games without injured star Carmelo Anthony. Over the course of the two nights, every healthy Knick got to play at least six minutes, except for Copeland, who remained glued to the end of the bench for the entire 96 minutes. Cope has only made one appearance in the Knicks’ last ten games, but the injury to Melo seemed like just the sort of the thing that would lead to him getting some minutes, especially with NY playing four games in five nights. Adding insult to injury for Chris was getting to see the two players normally sitting beside him at the end of the bench, James White and Kurt Thomas, suddenly inserted into the starting lineup, where they’ve both been less than impressive.
It hasn’t always been this way for Chris this season. There have been eleven games this season where he’s played 15 minutes or more and even six where he was in the starting lineup. He seems to respond well to big minutes too. In the four games where he’s played 28 or more minutes, he’s gone 11-19, 6-12, 8-16 and 9-15 from the field. That kind of offensive production can make up for lots of lapses on the defensive end, the type of trade off the Knicks make on a regular basis with Steve Novak, Amare Stoudemire, Raymond Felton, etc. Cope’s 48% from the field is surpassed only by Tyson Chandler, Stoudemire and Kurt Thomas, all of whom do their work closer to the basket than Cope. Those three players have attempted exactly one three pointer on the season (who can forget Kurt’s amazing bomb?), while Copeland has launched 64, connecting a respectable 36% of the time, also among the team leaders. Only Melo and STAT produce more points per 36 minutes than Copeland’s 20 per.
Obviously if offensive production was the only thing that mattered, one assumes Copeland would be getting big minutes every night. The biggest problem comes on the defensive end, where Cope joins Novak on the bottom of the NY heap with a 110 defensive rating. This also leads to the other problem with finding minutes for Cope: Steve Novak. Mike Woodson feels that Novak and Copeland fill the same role and he’s committed to giving those minutes to Novak. Joe Flynn had a great discussion comparing these two back in January. I agree with Flynn that it’s not clear that Novak is more worthy of minutes than Copeland.
Yet the Knicks shouldn’t have to choose between these two. If the Knicks can find minutes for five guards: Pablo Prigioni, Jason Kidd, Iman Shumpert, JR Smith and Felton, why is it so hard to find minutes for at least that many frontcourt players? Could playing Cope really be as bad as starting White and Thomas? Mike Woodson has bought himself a ton of slack from Knicks’ fans like me with the results he’s gotten from the Knickerbockers during his tenure, but it would be nice to see Cope getting some spin while Melo takes all the time he needs to recover from his injury.
The Knicks defeated the short-handed Golden State Warriors in an absolute barn-burner to spoil Stephen Curry’s eruption for an NBA season-high, 54 points. What looked like it was going to be breezy win for the Knicks in the early going turned into an edge-of-your-seat, big-play-after-big-play trade-off between two teams who desperately wanted to come away with a win. Curry nearly gave the Warriors the game, throwing them on his shoulders as he repeatedly launched from downtown, lighting the Garden ablaze with a multitude of long shots, contested and open. In the game’s final minutes, J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony each scored big baskets for the Knicks, and Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, and Iman Shumpert contributed big plays on the defensive end to give the Knicks the edge.
The first quarter was hardly indicative of what was to come later in the game. Both teams struggled out of the gate, the Warriors missing two-thirds of their frontcourt with Andrew Bogut out with a cranky back, and David Lee suspended because of his scuffle with the Indiana Pacers Tuesday night.
The Knicks, meanwhile, defended more ably than we’d seen in opening quarters in quite awhile. Their offense, however, took awhile to get going as Anthony continued his mini-slump from outside, while Jason Kidd and Iman Shumpert both laid bricks. The positive for the Knicks was Tyson Chandler’s youthful energy as he ravished the boards, collecting 10 rebounds in a matter of six minutes. He also skied to finish alley-oops and clean up misses from his out-of-tune teammates.
The Knicks’ defensive energy stemmed largely from Chandler’s dominance on the boards and Shumpert’s sudden aggressiveness in his on-ball defense. Shumpert bounced back and forth guarding Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, and Steph Curry, and was able to pester each of them, nabbing three steals in the opening period, showing signs of his exciting rookie year D. Chandler, too, bothered the Warriors into a couple turnovers, after which the Knicks generally looked to push the pace. One particularly splendid Shumpert steal from Curry led to a fastbreak dunk for Smith.
The Warriors struggles forced Mark Jackson to go very small, putting the 6’8″ Carl Landry at center, with Barnes at power forward, Thompson at the three, and Curry and Jarrett Jack in the backcourt. This small lineup prompted Anthony to go down on the right block where he continually abused whomever tried to guard him. Even when he missed, Chandler was able to finish over the much smaller Warriors. Anthony and the Knicks finally got some rhythm on offense and finished the quarter up 27-18.