Yesterday, we witnessed a feat that has not been touched in 13 years. The last time the Knicks hit the 50 win mark was that long ago. America was at the turn of the millennium. Maybe many Knicks fans blame Y2K for 13 years of mediocre basketball in New York, or even the curse of Patrick Ewing (for the record, the Knicks are 11-0 since Pat joined the post-game crew on MSG). Whatever the case, this is enjoyable. It has me giddy about the playoffs for the first time since 2000.
1999 was a turbulent year in the big bad city; New York was coming off a trip to the Finals, and looking to repeat their success at the turn of the millennium. Not sure that anyone back then would of thought 2000 would bring horrific luck to the Knicks, through numerous questionable moves and unwanted drama. 13 years that really took their toll on the team and us, the fans. I probably would have been laughed at too if I were to tell fans back then too that Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby would still be holding their own among big men 13 years later.
The Knicks were a stalwart defensive presence in the league under Jeff Van Gundy, finishing in the top 10 in defensive rating in the NBA. Allan Houston and Latrell Sprewell were the new faces of the franchise and looked as if they were going to carry the team for the next 10 years. Though, this duo was not as offensively gifted at the group of Knicks we are watching today, this was made up for on the defensive side of the ball. Marcus Camby actually has a higher rebounding percentage now (18.8%), than he did in 2000 (17.7%).
New York easily swept Toronto back when a first round series only consisted of five games, and made way into Miami for their heated rivalries of the late 90’s. It was a classic seven-game series with a five point average deciding each game. New York won game seven behind Latrell Sprewell’s controversial timeout call that helped the Knicks advance to the Eastern Conference Finals to face Indiana. The Knicks were no match for prime time Reggie Miller who torched the Knicks in six games. Little did Knicks fans know this was the last time we would see a playoff run for an extended amount of time.
I managed to find the intro of game seven against the heat on YouTube. Sadly, people back then weren’t too into making season mixes and highlight tapes on the complex internet scene.
13 years later and we finally have something to talk about again. How the times have changed since the last time there has been a 50 win season in New York and given us something to cheer for. Just a bit of a walk down memory lane, go Knicks.
Stats used are from www.Basketball-Reference.com
The Knicks are 10 games into the best stretch of basketball we’ve seen all season, and it doesn’t look like they are going to take their foot off the accelerator any time soon. Yes, there is lots of credit due to many players. Kurt, you of course, get the upmost respect from all of us Knicks fans for literally kick starting us (no pun intended on his foot injury) from the bottom to where we are now. I hope you feature in a coming re-make of Drake’s “Started from the bottom” anthem that really can explain the heroics you have contributed to this winning streak being where it is now.
Elsewhere, there is Kenyon Martin, who, like Lazarus, has risen from the abyss of the NBA onto the biggest stage of them all. Then there is Carmelo Anthony, who has just been insanely bonkers the past two games, scoring 90 points and only missing 20 shots. What about the last eight games before Anthony seemingly took the rim and made it two feet wider in front of our own eyes?
Ladies and gents, Raymond Felton and JR Smith.
Truly Carmelo’s backing of sorts through this 10 game tear of almost effortless basketball. Going back 17 days all the way to Salt Lake City, Felton and Smith have averaged a combined 17 points per game on 50% shooting from the field, enough to back a powerful first option in Anthony to 10 straight. Felton’s defensive prowess has also seen a rebirth, along with the rest of the Knicks. Over 10 games, he has about two steals per, and deferring just enough where it evens out with him also being able to find his own shot when called upon at an efficient 52% clip. It’s no shocker that Felton piled up nine assists against Miami, mostly to Anthony, which was his high over the winning streak. In about 33 minutes per game, Felton has not really had any terrible games and has been a crucial piece in New York’s winning ways.
Before the past two games, the man running the show was JR Smith, who has been playing some of the best basketball in his career since Utah. Swish is averaging 23 points and five rebounds over the past 10 games. Oh, and he’s shooting 48%. Who would of ever thought we’d see the day where Smith actually attempts fewer than five three pointers in a single game? It has paid off dramatically, seeing an increase of free throws and penetration, which spaces out the whole floor for the Knicks and really gives shooters opportunities to knock down shots at a higher rate. Although he has slightly veered off path from his three games when he scored 32, 35, and 37, shooting over 50% in all three, it is still extremely gratifying watching Smith play at the level he is playing at. A level that must be maintained heading into the playoffs for the Knicks to really silence a great deal of doubters.
Smith and Felton both have justifiably been a shoulder for Anthony and company to lean on as of late, and it has transmitted into win after win. It’s going to be a sight for sore eyes seeing the Knicks keep their level of intensity up for the rest of the year, and peaking at the best time possible with their supporting cast taking a step up. Lets just remember, we are here because of Kurt Thomas.
Stats from NBA.com.
Resting on the shoulders of an absolutely torrid Carmelo Anthony and a rejuvenated defense, the Knicks continued their hottest stretch in decades, winning their tenth in a row by using a dominant fourth quarter to blow up a close game. While neither New York nor Atlanta played their best basketball through the first three quarters, the teams went opposite directions in the final 12 minutes. The Knicks strung together several solid possessions on both ends of the ball, locking down Atlanta’s offense, and exploiting a defense keyed in on stopping Carmelo Anthony. Raymond Felton took advantage of this neglectful defense and repeatedly burned the Hawks in the pick-and-roll, getting to the basket for easy layups and organizing a Knicks offense that nearly doubled up the Hawks in the final quarter.
The Knicks opened the game in a little bit of a daze as they missed seven of their first eight shots, while Atlanta canned open threes, layups, and contested, improbable deep jumpers. Carmelo Anthony knocked down his first shot attempt, but struggled shortly thereafter, misfiring on some turn-around jumpers and failing to finish around the rim. J.R. Smith checked in early to give the Knicks’ offense a boost, but he, too, missed on several close attempts after working his way towards the paint off the dribble.
The Hawks, meanwhile, jumped out to a surprising 10-2 lead, before the fortunes switched. For Atlanta, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, and Al Horford began to eat up a majority of the Hawks’ possessions, bricking routine jumpers close and far, and bricking bunnies at the rim. For the Knicks, after an initial slow start, both Anthony’s work on offense began to pay dividends as he found success driving to the cup for layups and fouls, and eventually began snapping the net on some pull-up jumpers and catch-and-shoot three-pointers.
After one, the Knicks led 23-18.
The second quarter didn’t find either team executing their best, either. Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith kicked things off for both teams with five consecutive points, respectively, both hitting on three-pointers and jumpers off the dribble. Shortly after, however, points became hard to come by. Kyle Korver oddly missed on his most wide open looks from beyond the arc while the rest of the Hawks’ thin bench failed to generate much offense at all. J.R. Smith continued to do the lion’s share of the work, but the Knicks had almost nothing to show for it.
As both starting units came back into the game with a little more than half the quarter remaining, the heat turned up again. Anthony promptly returned to disregarding whoever put their hands in his face, and was able to score on a variety of pull-up jumpers and aggressive takes to the basket. Korver made up for his misses from deep by exploiting a shaky perimeter defense and hitting jumpers off the bounce or just taking it directly to the cup.
While the Hawks’ offense was hardly scorching, the Knicks once again exhibited bad tendencies on switches and doubles, and just plain slow-footed defense on the perimeter that allowed the Hawks to get easy baskets when they actually executed. Also, once again, Knicks not named Carmelo Anthony failed to hit open looks they received from the defensive attention being paid to ‘Melo who remained blistering.
The Knicks, however, were still able to build their lead in the quarter – a testament to the Hawks’ general listlessness – and went into halftime leading 47-40.
The third quarter found Carmelo Anthony at his tip-toppest offensive form while the Knicks’ defense took a collective nosedive. Kyle Korver continued to be the Hawks’ only consistent form of offense, while everything on that end of the floor went through ‘Melo for New York.
Anthony kicked things off with an offensive rebound and layup after a missed three from Prigioni. He then operated in the pick-and-roll a bit and found Prigioni with a kick-out pass for an open three on the elbow. Later, Anthony welcomed Josh Smith and the Hawks’ sturdiest defense by simply netting difficult turn-around jumpers and splashing one- and two-dribble pull-up jumpers over out-stretched hands. Even when Smith managed to deflect the ball out of Anthony’s hands, he was able to regain possession along the baseline before it went out of bounds, and launch a 20-footer that didn’t even touch rim. 15 of the Knicks’ 21 third-quarter points came through Anthony, either by shooting or by passing.
The same lackluster defense remained for the Knicks, however, and Atlanta was actually able to work their way back to take the lead at certain points. Korver managed nine points, all on threes, in the quarter, and gave the Knicks, particularly Iman Shumpert fits, as he benefited from the space given to him off the Knicks’ needless switching and doubling. In one stretch, Shumpert left Korver open for a corner three, then proceeded to get blocked by Korver on a pull-up jumper attempt. Shump then rotated and closed out slowly on Deshawn Stevenson who scooped in for a layup and a foul on Kenyon Martin.
Jeff Teague and Shelvin Mack also gave the Knicks problems as they scooted into the paint and took advantage of the Knicks’ general lack of size down low (Chandler sat out for most of the quarter, appearing in pain). The two teams traded baskets back and forth, capped off by a stepback jumper from J.R. Smith to beat the buzzer and tie the game up at 68 heading into the fourth quarter.
Once again, heading into a pivotal final quarter, the Knicks pulled themselves together, this time basically running over the Hawks. It began with far more aggressive perimeter defense, and some handsy deflection and steals in the pick-and-roll, as seen the previous night in Miami. Felton (who’d been quiet heading into the fourth) picked Mack’s pocket and went coast to coast for a layup. Smith, sensing his size advantage on Atlanta’s smaller guards, went back to work off the dribble, and spun and twisted his way for some easy, close buckets. Careless passes coupled with a feisty New York defense led to copious amounts of Atlanta turnovers; the cough-ups just kept piling up and giving New York more chances to score.
While ‘Melo sat, Felton took the reins of the offense and punished a lackadaisical Atlanta defense. Three straight times, Felton squiggled his way through the defense off the high pick-and-roll and finished at the rim for mostly uncontested layups. Quickly, the Knicks built their lead up to eight. Then, Anthony checked in.
The Hawks’ defense was already spread thin, but Anthony’s presence only furthered their problems. After checking in and executing a post-up-spin-off-alley-oop with Jason Kidd, the Hawks focused their efforts almost solely on Anthony. The Knicks used this defensive attention to get Smith going. On one gorgeous sequence, Anthony sucked in the defense, threw a cross-court pass to Smith, who blew by the later-arriving closeout, and took it in for a two-handed jam.
The Knicks built up their lead to double-digits and were slowly able to ride the game out, punctuating it with a baseline jumper from Anthony that gave him a 40-point follow-up to his 50-point explosion the night before.
- Simply stunning work from Carmelo Anthony. In his last 81 minutes, he’s netted 90 points on 35-53 shooting from the field, almost all of those coming from outside of the paint. The man is in a rhythm like never seen before while he’s worn a Knicks uniform, and his offense has been good enough to carry the Knicks through some comatose starts. It’ll be interesting to see if ‘Melo can continue to get off to hot starts (he’s scored 81 of his total points in the first three quarters of the last two games), and attract opposing defenses so much that it allows other Knicks to get hot in the fourth quarter. It’s not an ideal attack, but there isn’t a hotter player in the NBA right now.
- To speak to the above point: Smith and Felton finished with a combined 33 points on 15-31 FG. In the fourth quarter they were a combined 9-11 from the field for 19 points.
- The buzzkill in all of this is that Chandler isn’t physically right, and now Kenyon Martin’s knee is “sore” which means he’s moments away from losing a lower limb entirely.
- Those fourth-quarter Hawks turnovers that I mentioned before – seven of them in the final 12 minutes. Some of it was pesky defense from the Knicks, some of it was carelessness from Atlanta.
- Tom Izzo randomly joined the ESPN broadcast in the second quarter and spoke pretty glowingly of about every person mentioned during his air-time. This was very different than what I imagined Tom Izzo to be like in person.
- Fun sequence in the 4th quarter: J.R. Smith fronts Josh Smith in the post, gets a steal, races down court, trips over his own feet, turns it over, DeShawn Stevenson picks up the ball, races down court, gets discombobulated between passing and dribbling, turns it over.
I’m not sure how I could handle a seven-game series between the two teams, but the Knicks, in both meetings, were able to out-execute the Hawks in the fourth quarter, and come up with the win both at home and on the road. If the two teams were to meet in the playoffs, as of right now, it’d bode well for the Knicks. New York will look to continue their streak when they face the Milwaukee Bucks at home on Friday.
Follow Scott Davis on Twitter: @WScottDavis
First and foremost, from what we already do know, Kevin Garnett is out for two weeks with an inflamed ankle. On the other hand, Tyson Chandler is listed as questionable tonight against Boston; so we probably will not know until a little later if he will be active tonight or not tonight.
Boston has been trotting out a relatively small starting lineup, similar to the Knicks’ with Kenyon Martin at the five spot. Jeff Green and Brandon Bass present a great matchup for Carmelo Anthony and K-Mart, which brings up the question to if Chandler, who’s neck is still not 100%, should play tonight against a worn-down Celtics squad. Would it be better if Chandler took the night off and returned tomorrow night at home against a frontcourt-dominant Grizzlies squad?
Without Garnett manning the middle, Boston’s defense and rebounding have plummeted significantly. They have allowed over 104 points in three of their four games during their losing skid. New York’s four in a row will meet Boston’s four in a row tonight, in what could potentially be a first round matchup.
Now ask yourself, how much will Chandler truly be needed tonight? Yes, Boston is a hostile environment, and Chandler is our number one guy on defense. But the lack of a true post scorer for Boston has resorted to a heavy reliance on Jeff Green and Paul Pierce to produce points—Both whom like to pick-and-choose their spots on the floor. Kenyon Martin has resurrected himself in Chandler’s absence, averaging 12 points and 7 rebounds, while filling the defensive captain role Chandler plays for the Knicks.
While tonight’s matchup will most likely come down to the last few minutes, New York should be more worried about giving up open looks on the wings to shooters, than slashers that will break down the Knick defense. Not to mention Marcus Camby is available if needed. But without Garnett, Brandon Bass is Boston’s biggest player at 6’10, and can easily be handled down low by Martin, the way he has been playing over these last six games.
It is a division game tonight, and a chance to build on a second place lead in the conference, but it can be done resting Chandler for tomorrow, as Mike Woodson probably hopes he can limit the minutes of most of his players on the first night of a back-to-back. Also knowing that Chandler is not fully healthy just makes his case to rest-up more plausible. We all know, though, how much of a competitor Tyson is, and how hard it will be to keep him out of tonight’s game if he wants to play. If he is completely healthy, by all means play tonight. His week off probably did wonders, as he has had no time off since his Olympic stint in London last summer. It can ultimately go either way, and I guess Woodson will let us know sooner or later.
Props to NBA.com for providing stats.
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.
There’s been some speculation the past few days about the Knicks’ front office pondering a move, but Mike Woodson, to this point, has been reluctant to cut anyone from this team. With the Knicks’ frontcourt completely battered and tattered, it would seem feasible that New York picks up a decent big to fill a void for a few weeks. However, there is also a gap in the backcourt, although not as big, that needs to be filled. We know New York has been monitoring Delonte West’s performance in the D-League the past two weeks. I have also seen a few sources linking the Knicks to the 30-year-old Josh Powell, who is currently playing in Greece, to help the Knicks under the basket.
There are already currently 15 players under contract, which means there would need to be a cut made in order to bring in some reinforcement along the lines of either defense, or rebounding. The problem is, Mike Woodson is optimistic that Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas could be healthy by the time April rolls around. I believe it is more of a respect issue, and not wanting to cut one of these veterans who believe it or not, still want to play. The chance of Wallace making a significant impact after missing about two-thirds of the year, coming off a foot injury, and a mini two-year retirement is slim to none. Kurt Thomas probably won’t get cut because of the respect the franchise has for him, although he is an expiring contract.
So, that leaves James White. White has bounced around the rotation routinely throughout the year, but has never played any noteworthy minutes that would build a case for him to remain on the roster, if a better option came along. If Grunwald and company were to come to a decision to make another signing, White would be the likely candidate to be let loose from the KnicksTape.
With that being said, does this make sense at this point in the season, with less than a month of regular season left? White, most likely, will not make any impact on this team from now through the playoffs. But I am against letting him go IF New York decides to bring in someone over the age of 35 who hasn’t played basketball all year (no disrespect to K-Mart). West has been playing all year, and so has Josh Powell. Two players who are both, at least capable of coming in and helping the Knicks to keep their division lead and maybe even moving back into second place in the conference. Delonte West’s only issue is his maturity level; there are already a few players on this team who have a reputation of being a misfit. But to Woodson’s credit, there have not been any outbursts this year, and maybe he can keep West under control? If so, West has a pretty sweet stroke from three, and can create for others off the dribble. He would be brought in, though, for sure on his defensive mentality and his ability to guard multiple positions. As we’ve been watching Felton and Kidd this season get burned on a regular basis, while Shumpert is stuck guarding small forwards, out of his natural position.
A few other notable names that deserve a mention, are Hakeem Warrick, Hassan Whiteside, Ben Wallace, and most recently Brooklyn (New Jersey) Net, Sundiata Gaines who’s name has been whispered a few times as a dark horse signing, if there is to be a signing. Again, I would stray away from the likes of players like Ben Wallace, who is aged. Any signing made would have to be one with an instant impact, not someone who needs two weeks to get in shape and be effective. If the right players available at the right time, I would go for it.
The Knicks returned home and got themselves a much-needed blowout victory over a badly struggling team. After a brutal 1-4 Western Conference road trip, in which a number of key players went down with injuries, the Knicks have a small window of easy games to try and regain some ground, and they kicked off the stretch with a double-digit victory over the Orlando Magic. While it wasn’t a completely reassuring outing, given that the Magic are the second worst team in the league and were missing their starting center, Nikola Vucevic, the Knicks should welcome all wins with open arms as they try to get their feet back underneath them in the home stretch of the NBA season.
The Knicks began the game with the same uber-small lineup that they utilized Monday against the Utah Jazz. Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni split backcourt duties while Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, and Kenyon Martin manned the frontcourt. Initially, given the relative inexperience of the lineup, the Knicks looked a little hesitant on offense, but that was quickly shattered by Anthony hitting his first three-pointer of the game, followed by a jumper from Felton, and a fastbreak layup from Shumpert. On defense, Orlando struggled to scrape up points as the Knicks actively trapped ball-handlers on the perimeter and attacked anyone that entered the paint. The five Magic turnovers in the quarter simply gave the Knicks more opportunities to score the ball.
The defensive intensity was nice, and the offensive cohesion was unlike anything the Knicks had demonstrated in the past few weeks. The ball swung with ease around the perimeter, setting up three-pointers for Anthony, Chris Copeland, and J.R. Smith. Inside of the arc, Felton and Martin worked the pick-and-roll successfully, connecting on one pretty alley-oop. Anthony and Camby got in the act, too. Early in the clock, ‘Melo posted up on the right block, kicked the ball out to Camby on the perimeter, and then spun around and caught a beautiful pass in the air from Camby, and threw it down.
At the end of the quarter, the Knicks were en route to a blowout, up 26-15.
However, the Knicks being the Knicks, some kinks reappeared, despite the promising first quarter. The Magic used a 7-0 run to start the quarter, and cut a double-digit lead to four points. Initially, the bench lineup of Jason Kidd, Smith, Steve Novak, Copeland, and Camby struggled to defend against a semi-reckless Orlando bench squad. The Knicks took arrhythmic contested jumpers on offense, and were unable to stop penetration or inside baskets by the Magic.
While said defensive issues plagued the Knicks all quarter, the offense eventually came back around. For the second straight game, J.R. Smith made a point to work off the dribble and get to the basket where he finished a few nice drives and set up teammates with some good, open looks. Later on in the quarter, the game still only within two baskets, the Knicks and Magic shared baskets back and forth. Anthony and Shumpert connected on back-to-back threes, all the while Orlando’s indomitable Beno Udrih carved up the Knicks’ pick-and-roll defense for some floaters in the lane and some set-ups for teammates.
Despite a nice offensive showing, the Knicks only led 51-46 at the half after surrendering 31 second quarter points to Orlando.
Whatever was said to the Knicks at halftime seemed to light the fire back underneath them. Kenyon Martin opened the quarter with a nice post-up move for an and-one layup. Although he missed the free throw, Felton scurried in to collect the offensive rebound, pulled the ball back out and nailed a three-pointer. Prigioni, who actually seemed to spend more time on the ball than Felton, also made his presence felt with a three-pointer, and then ensuing assists in a pick-and-roll with Martin and a cross-court pass to Smith for a three-pointer.
Much of the Knicks’ offense thereafter came from Anthony, Smith, and Copeland, all of whom mixed up their looks on offense going inside and out, and benefiting from the generally good ball movement. Orlando, on the other hand, just didn’t have the talent to keep up. Part of that was the Knicks’ collective defensive efforts. The guards pestered Orlando’s backcourt, and even Anthony and Smith got caught in the energy, each displaying a willingness to play solid, man-to-man defense.
The Knicks outscored the Magic 32-19 in the period and led 83-65 going into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter followed the Knicks’ usual blowout script. Woodson rested guys like Anthony, Felton, and eventually Martin, and ran out a wily group featuring Kidd, Smith, James White, Copeland, and Novak, along with Martin to begin the quarter. Kidd and Smith whiffed on an alley-oop attempt. And as expected, the Knicks let up on the gas a little bit and played slightly nonchalantly, allowing the Magic to actually get within striking distance. At one point, with the Knicks’ lead down to 11, it looked as though Woodson would have to reinsert starters to take control of the game.
He didn’t, though, as the bench responded. Steve Novak hit a three-pointer to push the Knicks’ lead back to 13, then James White came up with a steal and went coast-to-coast for a dunk much better than anything he gave us in the dunk contest. Even with the game’s fate all but sealed, the Knicks didn’t let up. J.R. Smith chased Andrew Nicholson down in the final 50 seconds and pinned his layup attempt on the glass to protect the score.
When the buzzer rang, the Garden stood to its feet and applauded the Knicks for possibly the best overall effort and confident game they’d seen in recent weeks.
- Iman Shumpert didn’t play the second half after he appeared to tweak his knee at the end of the first half. He was available to play, but Woodson chose not to. Tina Cervasio grossly explained the situation that appears to not be too serious.
- The Knicks actually shot less free throws than the Magic (who are one of the worst in the league at getting to the line) and grabbed fewer boards. However, they made up for it with four less turnovers than Orlando, and by shooting a blistering 44% from beyond the arc, connecting on 15 of 34 attempts.
- Two very efficient nights for Anthony and Smith. Anthony finished with 21 points on 7-14 shooting, with 8 rebounds, 1 steal and a block. Smith finished with 22 points on 8-16 FG, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished 2 assists.
- I don’t get MSG at my current residence, so while I watched League Pass Broadband’s coverage of the game, I missed the postgame which included Patrick Ewing(!). He and John Starks sat courtside together and received a standing ovation.
- Also, Patrick Ewing said the Knicks can’t beat the Heat.
- I’m pretty much flat-out amazed every time Kenyon Martin jumps in the air to dunk a ball or block a shot. Considering the guy is 35-years old, has undergone microfracture surgery, and been in and out of the league for the last two seasons, he’s probably still one of the Knicks’ best leapers. Thus far, I’ve greatly enjoyed Kenyon’s presence.
- The Knicks’ starting five was a combined +77 for the game. The bench was a combined -17, with Smith being the only player with a positive +/-
- A fun exchange between Clyde and Mike Breen about Kurt Thomas’s long journey through the NBA and the number of people he’s played with. Clyde: “Did he play with George Mikan?!” Breen: “Yes, he remembers playing with Dr. James Naismith!”
The Knicks still sit in third place in the East and didn’t put any distance between themselves and the Nets for the Atlantic Division lead. The Knicks play a home-and-home with the Toronto Raptors Friday and Saturday, in what could be two crucial games before another tough stretch.
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.
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.