|Andrea Bargnani, PF 22 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -21Bargnani had to guard Josh McRoberts tonight, who is essentially a better, more Charlie Day-ish version of himself. (There are zero vermin in the basement of the Bobcats’ training center.) Bargs took just four shots tonight, typical spot-ups for him, except for one two-handed slam that was fun because it was a two-handed slam that Bargs did when he slammed it. Dunk. Moving on.|
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 38 MIN | 9-22 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -20It was a two-sided showing for Melo on the offensive end tonight, with the division coming between his jacking up threes and scoring in the mid-range area according to the MSG broadcast team. However, it was really the defender Anthony faced that shifted how his night went. With the young stud Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on him, Carmelo struggled big time with his offense – settling for long-range contested shots and connecting on very little overall. With MKG’s backup in – Anthony Tolliver – Melo’s looks fell with ease. (Side note: In 4 games prior to tonight’s match-up, Melo is shooting 41% from the field against Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.) Anthony was energized on the defensive end early, but it gave away quickly enough due to fatigue.|
|Tyson Chandler, C 16 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -7Made his return tonight from one nasty tummy bug/Ebola strain (Yes I made the same joke for two recaps of mine in a row, and yes I’m boosting my word count with this unnecessary insertion. My recap, my rules.) (EDITOR’S NOTE: Verts gonna Verts) and turned in a predictably underwhelming performance. Chandler was rusty and played limited minutes, looking very 2013 neck injury Tyson tonight. Al Jefferson had a field day on him, but in Chandler’s defense Al crushed all who opposed him on this night. Give him another one-two games to recoup.|
|Raymond Felton, PG 29 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | -21Felton was pretty decent for the first 20 minutes of basketball, connecting on his jumpers and not allowing Kemba Walker very easy looks – forcing the New York native to hurt the Knicks from behind the arc. Then things… changed. Felton got lazy and switched a lot letting Kemba explode for 25 points, and Ray’s good start offensively regressed to the shallow mean that it is. On the bright side – he looks healthy!|
|Iman Shumpert, SG 33 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +5Shumpert had a very silent game, taking few shots and lacking his usual spark on the defensive end. Again, fatigue was probably an issue here – as it was for the entire team tonight. Gerald Henderson lit Shump up for 17 points on 13 shots, but the worst part about Iman’s game tonight was his lack of ferocity on the boards. Shump’s three rebounds was a low he hasn’t hit since late December.|
|Kenyon Martin, PF 28 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -7Martin too suffered from the effects of the back-to-back beginning with an overtime contest, looking grounded all night. Like Chandler, he wasn’t able to answer the Al Jefferson question. The question, of course, is “How do you defend Al Jefferson?” The answer is “D) None of the above.” He did have a nice mid-range jumper and oop pass to Melo–the latter of which is becoming a mainstay of his game. Love that.|
|Jeremy Tyler, PF 2 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +5400 billion points per 36 minutes, if my math is correct.|
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 22 MIN | 6-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +4RETURN OF THE STAT. I mean, wow. Has this guy been phenomenal lately or what? Bask in the glory that is post-prime, vintage phenomenal Amar’e Stoudemire and his phenomenal-ness. I’m not sure what’s caused this phenomenal revival, but STAT’s jumper returned tonight with two good-looking, phenomenal mid-range makes, and he once again converted phenomenally in the post (did I really just say that? Phenomenal.) and he unleashed a monster, phenomenal slam at the end of the third. He also did this.
Not so phenomenal.
|Beno Udrih, PG 13 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +3Beno stepped in to replace the offensively-challenged Murry and unleashed some solid point guard stuff–P&R close-range pull-ups, sweet dishes–sparking a Knicks run late in the game. Of course, he also allowed Kemba Walker to whatever shot he wanted, where he wanted, how he wanted them, in what flavor, with however many toppings he wanted on them, the shots. Which he hit.|
|Toure’ Murry, SG 8 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +13Murry had a decent 1st half, but saw fewer minutes than Beno Udrih because of his inability to run the offense. It was for the better, as the Knicks kicked off a run when Udrih stepped in, but Murry would have been useful during Kemba Walker’s rampage late in the ball game.|
|Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 27 MIN | 4-10 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -6This game–played in front of Tim Hardaway Sr.–started out as what looked like to be THJ’s best professional basketball outing with 4 straight makes (with two from downtown) and a nifty dime to Tyson Chandler for the alley-oop slam. Then all of his shots started finding iron, and as usual he couldn’t defend at an NBA level whatsoever. Tim hasn’t been able to get out in transition much lately, and tonight was no different. It could be due to the team’s slower pace, or Chandler being out, but it needs to change because Hardaway Jr. is quite possibly the Knicks’ best open-court player.|
|J.R. Smith, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | YOU TRYIN’ TO GET THE DNP-CD?!|
Woody was a mixed bag tonight, not making any timely substitutions to give the Knicks a real shot at the win outside of Beno’s entrance, not giving Tyler any burn when the frontline had no legs and running Carmelo into the ground by having him play 38 minutes after playing 45 just the night before. Some nice things though, like not playing the Carmelo-Bargnani-Stoudemire lineup big mins, bringing Murry off the bench first despite Udrih being healthy and limiting Tyson’s minutes. But the big coaching note of the night – J.R. Smith not playing at all. More on this later.
Three Things We Saw
- Okay, we’ve waited long enough. Let’s talk about J.R. Smith. Coming off of two games where Smith played decently enough to warrant a continuing role following his benching against the Miami Heat, Smith was benched again on a night where the team DESPERATELY needed some fresh legs. At halftime Herb Williams said Tim Hardaway Jr. took Smith’s minutes on this night because he was on fire early. Mike Woodson declined to comment. Smith packed some luggage – beat writers tweeted about it, because they are Knicks beat writers covering the Knicks – which is peculiar? Why would it be? I don’t know. Smith can be traded starting tomorrow, which has made many in the Twitterverse believe a deal is impending, but I doubt any team out there wants J.R. Smith. There may be a single team interested, maybe, but in such a case why even bring Smith into the stadium? Why have him active? Who knows what comes next, but it’ll probably be heartbreaking/hilarious/stupid as hell, if past/recent history is any indicator.
- Some statistical nonsense: The Knicks played a Murry-THJ-Shump-Melo-Chandler lineup tonight. Big smile. For one minute per NBA.com/stats with a NetRTG of +63.9. That obviously means nothing, but nonetheless I’d like to see it s’more, please Also, some recent trends didn’t keep up tonight. From New Year’s up until the Phoenix overtime win, Stoudemire has shot 3-11 from mid-range. Against the Bobcats, Stoudemire was 2-5! Improvement!
- Oh, the game, right. I wouldn’t look to deep into this one; the Knicks were dead. The body language screamed, “I’m tired as hell, I want to go home.” Which can happen after five straight wins and on the second of a back-to-back where the first went into OT, right before they had to hop on a plane. So, let’s see how this team does in a tough one on the road against the Indiana Pacers. If you aren’t aware, theyare very good at basketball. I’ll hope for a competitive game, and also that Shumpert doesn’t foul any more shooters. REMEMBER THAT?! Go Knicks!