|Carmelo Anthony, SF 42 MIN | 14-32 FG | 8-9 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 39 PTS | +6
Melo provided yet another sterling performance, continuing a run of basketball in April that’s almost made me forget he also got his coach fired this season. (Zing!) In all truthfulness, it was Melo’s offensive prowess, intensity, and hustle (10 boards) that allowed the Knicks to eke out a win despite the absence of defensive stalwart Tyson Chandler. Bravo.
|Landry Fields, G 30 MIN | 7-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS | +6
Today, Landry Fields looked like a good basketball player. Wait, what? I’m pretty sure the last time someone tweeted “Get Landry the rock!” was last January. Knicks fans can only hope that making all three of his 3pt attempts is a sign that he has won back the favor of the basketball gods, as opposed to being a statistical blip likely to vanish into the numerical ether. I’ll sacrifice two matrices and a quadratic equation tonight, just in case.
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 34 MIN | 9-13 FG | 4-8 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 22 PTS | -6
Amar’e Stoudemire, today you also looked like a good basketball player. While shooting 50% from the charity stripe is a major no-no, an efficient 22pts on 13shots would be a very acceptable new normal in the Melo-centric offense. It’s worth bringing up that Marvin Williams only had the chance to dunk it for the win because he blew past Amar’e, but hey, as long as Amar’e doesn’t look like he needs back surgery before the next quarter starts, it’s a win.
|Baron Davis, PG 31 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 10 AST | 13 PTS | -1
At one point in the game Baron and ATLPG Jeff Teague got into it a little bit, causing Doris Burke to explain that Teague was risking Baron getting an “adrenaline rush” and raising his level of play. That’s funny, because if I were a member of an opposing team, I’m pretty sure my first strategy would be to get Baron as high on adrenaline as possible, then watch him shoot the Knicks out of the game. However, Baron’s shooting percentages and 10ast for the game were quite respectable, so what do I know. As the other ESPN announcer (he doesn’t have Doris Burke status yet) remarked, “Baron, looking like the Old Baron Davis! As opposed to an old Baron Davis.”
|Iman Shumpert, G 36 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | 0
Shump-Shump I love you, but you’re bringing me down. You made a key defensive play in the final seconds, denying Joe Johnson the ball on Atlanta’s last possession, and that was Shumptastic. However, for the second straight game your defensive intensity was barely felt throughout the first three quarters. Solid performance, but let’s get back to being the defensive standout you are.
|Mike Bibby, PG 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -5
Look at that stat line, and soak in the blissful existence of Mike Bibby.
|Steve Novak, SF 20 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -2
I am really beginning to be annoyed with how few shot attempts Novak is getting. Some of this is undoubtedly other teams preparing for his long-range barrage, but more plays should be run with “Novak shooting the 3″ as the strongly preferred second option. The Knicks have the best three point shooter in the league. Use him!
|J.R. Smith, SG 32 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 7 PTS | +2
JR was pretty average JR today. Hit a key 3 in the fourth quarter, missed four other attempts. I’ll use this space to comment on the difference between JR’s perceived status as a weak defender versus his obvious intensity, energy, and ability on defense this season for the Knicks. What gives? Was he really not trying in Denver, or did the scheme simply make him look bad? I have never been disappointed with JR’s effort for the ‘Bockers, and for someone who has been known as both a sieve and a bit of a head case, that’s quite a compliment.
|Josh Harrellson, F 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +7
The Hawks, after observing the Knicks’ small lineups, decided they were quite willing to play without post players either, meaning that Jorts got very little burn. That Knicks-Clippers game can’t come soon enough. If Jorts doesn’t play more soon, he’s a likely suspect to tie some poor damsel to the tracks of the 2 line beneath MSG.
Three Things We Saw
- Tyson Chandler did not play, Amar’e Stoudemire played center, Amar’e played well. Landry Fields also played well with the increased floor spacing this lineup provided. There are two tasks at hand for Coach Mike Woodson as he prepares for the playoffs. First, designing plays that let the Knicks put points on the board even with the cramped spacing an Anthony-Stoudemire-Chandler lineup provides. Second, picking out lineups for the middle of the game that keep only two of those three on the court at any given moment. Two suggestions for lineups that I think could work quite well: Baron-JR-Shump-Anthony-Stoudemire; Any point guard-Shump-Novak-Anthony-Chandler. You can look up the effectiveness of the lineups here. The first one did well in extremely limited minutes. For the second, almost any combination including the trio of Anthony, Novak, and Chandler has been successful.
- It’s ironic that a demonstration of why the Knicks have a better chance against the Bulls than the Heat may also ensure that the Knicks play the Heat instead of the Bulls. On that last play, watching Iman deny Joe Johnson the ball, I couldn’t help but think, “If the Knicks just kept itclose against the Bulls, Chicago’s late-game offense- ALL DROSE ALL TIME- would struggle against Shumpert’s isolation lockdown.” While Miami can be guilty of going to iso late in games as well, they also have the liberty of choosing from between either James or Wade, and could simply swing it to whoever Shumpert is not guarding. Additionally, James or Wade running the P’n'R with Bosh is likely to expose Amar’e's poor defense and create huge problems for the Knicks D, whereas while the Bulls could do the same thing, their big men are not of Chris Bosh’s quality (limited quality that may be.) Perhaps this is all irrelevant, as the win today likely solidified Knicks into the #7 spot. Ticket scalpers across Manhattan rejoice.
- Tyson Chandler absolutely should be the Defensive Player of the Year- who else do you know that can shut down two teams’ offenses at the same time? Kidding, kidding; the Knicks are undoubtedly better with Tyson roaming the paint, and hopefully sitting this game out gets him well-rested for the start of the playoffs. Receiving DPOY would be a fitting consolation prize for getting absolutely robbed of an All-Star team placement as well.