March Madness is officially upon us! For the Knicks, they have had a whole March full of Madness, since the first day of the most grueling month on New York’s schedule this season. I hope everyone’s brackets are doing well. Yeah I know, Harvard screwed most of us.
Hopefully, New York does not get screwed over by Toronto in their final two meetings of the season in a home-and-home matchup. The Knicks flew to Toronto yesterday (did everyone else see that shirt Mike Woodson wore on the plane?), and tip-off tonight at 7:30. The wounds of the road trip we will not speak of, are slowly healing, winning two games in a row and seeing a healthy Carmelo Anthony revitalize the lethargic Knickerbockers. Toronto will not be a pushover of any sorts, though. Do not let this team’s 26-42 record deceive you, Rudy Gay and company are more than capable of putting up points quickly on any given night. There is also the element of New York being winless on the season against the Raptors.
There is no room left to drop games to lesser opponents this year. Especially Toronto who has dropped two in a row, and 10 out of their last 14. New York is still looking to achieve the first goal they set this season, winning the division. Brooklyn is quickly covering ground behind the Knicks; even Boston is making a little run. 10 of New York’s 16 remaining games are against playoff opponents, which leaves little margin for era.
What to look for:
- The ball movement against Orlando, for the most part, was immaculate. When the ball moves, everyone gets involved, which is crucial for New York who has more players than less who need ball movement to operate at 100%.
- When JR Smith drives to the basket, a whole new dimension opens up on offense for New York. His defensive intensity also was a very beneficial factor in winning on Wednesday. Smith is too athletic to not be putting himself in the driver’s seat more often, lets see if he can bring the same attitude tonight.
- Iman Shumpert is expected to play tonight. The pop in his knee was deemed nothing serious, and should be at full strength tonight. Shumpert seems to have shaken off the rust, and is looking like his self from last year more and more every game.
- A win on the first night of a home-and-home, on the road, is big for a team when heading back home with momentum. New York should look to get out early, play comfortably, and get a win to stay atop of the Atlantic. A win tonight will also clinch a playoff berth for New York, something that has not been done in 10 years.
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.
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.
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.
While the body of the Knicks’ players were in Indiana, apparently their brains and souls were still vacationing. In a performance lacking of effort, the Knicks were destroyed by the Indiana Pacers 125-91 in both of the teams’ first game since returning from the All-Star break. First time All-Star Paul George led the Pacers with 27 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Tyson Chandler led the Knicks with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony, the NBA’s second leading scorer, had just 15 points on 7-for-21 shooting.
Last season, the Knicks had a Defensive Rating of 101.0 or 101 points per 100 possessions, good for fifth in the league. This was despite having notorious pace addict Mike D’Antoni as their head coach for most of the season. This season, the Knicks, now coached by reputed defensive guru Mike Woodson, have a Defensive Rating of 106.1, good for 15th in the league. So how did our beloved Knickerbockers go from one of the league’s elite defensive teams to right smack in the middle?
In a possible preview of a first round playoff series, the Knicks defeated the Milwaukee Bucks at Madison Square Garden last night by a score of 96-86. The Knicks entered the game second in the Eastern Conference while the Bucks entered seventh in the conference standings. The Knicks were led by Carmelo Anthony’s 25-point, eight rebound, six assist performance. The Bucks were led by Ersan Ilyasova, who stuffed the stat sheet with 19 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.
This one was over before both team’s starters could even break a sweat. The Philadelphia 76ers embarrassed the Knicks last night, routing them by a score of 97-80. Sixers first time All-Star Jrue Holiday led Philly with a career high 35 points while dishing out six assists and grabbing five rebounds. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 25 points but shot just 9-for-28 from the field.
It may be hard to focus on Iman Shumpert’s basketball with his hair stealing the show, but his return to the Knicks yesterday will have a huge impact on the team. Shumpert’s return came at the perfect time and he really is the kind of player who the Knicks have lacked this season.
Shumpert scored eight points in 15 minutes in his first game back from a torn ACL and meniscus that he suffered in the playoffs last season. He hit two corner three-pointers, had a nice steal and layup and had an athletic dunk attempt that he barely missed. Shumpert looked like he had no limitations, which is a very good sign since this is his first game in nine months.
Cheers, mates! The Knicks’ one-game stint in London proved to be a fun, albeit sloppy one as they took care of the Detroit Pistons, 102-87. The team took another step in the direction of full health by welcoming Iman Shumpert back into the rotation in a game that featured some entertaining moments. The lowly, perhaps jet-lagged, Detroit Pistons team never really made much of a ballgame out of it as the Knicks used a number of offensive bursts and just enough defensive clamping to ensure they’d receive their 25th win of the season.
The Knicks were undoubtedly more spritely to open up the game, boosted by the debut of Iman Shumpert, O Flat-Topped One. Granted, the Pistons are a bit of a sorry bunch – 16th in offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency doesn’t quite summarize their on-court transactions – but the Knicks looked far more energized than we’d seen in recent weeks.
New York got things going in a grand fashion. Some dishing and swishing around the perimeter led to a Jason Kidd three, some stopping and popping from Carmelo Anthony twice from downtown, some paint points from Tyson Chandler and Chris Copeland, a nice welcome-back corner three from Shumpert. The Knicks quickly ran out to a 16-2 lead. The offense stalled a bit thereafter, but they were diligent in preventing Detroit from catching up too much by allowing just 15 points the rest of the way.
After the hot start, the Knicks’ tempo slowed and they were plagued by especially sloppy basketball for a stretch. The Knicks committed six turnovers in the first quarter and prevented themselves from ringing up 30 or more points. They finished the first quarter up 29-17.
After a slow start, the Knicks fought back to beat the Orlando Magic tonight at the Amway Center by a score of 114-106. Carmelo Anthony led all scorer’s with 40 points while adding in six rebounds and six assists. Jameer Nelson and Aaron Afflalo both scored 29 points to lead the Magic. The Knicks got a double-double from Tyson Chandler (14 points, 12 rebounds), 18 points from J.R. Smith off the bench and an all-around game from Jason Kidd (15 points, eight rebounds, 7 assists). Nikola Vucevic lead all players with 18 rebounds for Orlando.
This is awesome.