Knicks 99, Sixers 93
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 40 MIN | 6-18 FG | 16-18 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 29 PTS | -14Another day, another 40+ minute game, but at least this one was a win.Anthony looked really good tonight in spite of the fact that his perimeter shot still wasn’t working. He was super-aggressive and made quick decisions on his post-ups, spinning and winning and grinning his way to 18 free throw attempts. This aggression led to a number of turnovers and Sixer run-outs, but overall, Anthony played did about the best he could to help the team win.
The oddity of Anthony’s box score numbers is that he was -14 on the game. However, this can largely be attributed to the fact that Anthony played most of his minutes with Shumpert and Kidd, who continued their awful play, rather than J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire, who were the MVPs of this game.
The one boneheaded decision by Anthony was his decision to slap Spencer Hawes in the back of the head after he Hawes had blocked him. Not only did it bring back memories of the famous “Carmelo slap and run” (I didn’t make up that name; google suggested I add the “and run” to the end of my search for “carmelo anthony slap”), but it also led to Tyson Chandler picking up his tenth tech of the season, only six short of a suspension.
|Tyson Chandler, C 35 MIN | 2-2 FG | 1-3 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | +14Chandler took only two shots in 35 minutes as the Sixer defense repeatedly ignored Shumpert and Kidd in order to prevent Chandler from catching any lobs. In fact, both of Chandler’s field goals were put back dunks. He didn’t take a single shot within the offense.The difference between Chandler and Stoudemire’s offenses was put on display tonight, as Stoudemire’s ability and willingness to find shot opportunities off catches outside the restricted area resulted in a huge scoring night for him, whereas Chandler passed out on most of his paint catches.
Still, Chandler played some tough defense, blocking three shots (including a man-sized block of a Hawes hook shot early on), and his four offensive rebounds led to six points — what ended up being the margin of the game.
|Jason Kidd, PG 26 MIN | 1-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -9He also only had one basket, a wide open layup on a nearly botched four on two, in seven tries. His other six attempts were all threes, and most of them weren’t very close (although not as far of as some of Felton’s tries). He does deserve kudos for nearly making a three late in the game, on an attempt wherein he probably could have blown one of his trademark kisses to the rim before shooting. He also had nine rebounds, so that’s good, I guess.There’s really not much more to say about Kidd. At least he took the shots the SIxers were giving him, unlike on some other nights. The guy is old, and after a renaissance of a couple years over in Dallas, he’s been in decline for years, so while it’s fair to be disappointed with his shooting, it’s not really fair to be surprised.
It might be time for Kidd to spend some time away from basketball and over on Clyde’s island in St. Croix. Maybe then he can play in the playoffs as he did in the first month of the season.
|Raymond Felton, PG 36 MIN | 6-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -9Raymond was slightly better than he has been of late. He took the ball in the paint and finished relatively well, especially early on, and he took care of the ball. Like Kidd, he took the perimeter shots the defense gave him, and also like Kidd (although not as bad), he missed the bulk of them. He would have had several more assists if only Kidd and Shumpert made their open shots.In the end, the Sixer defense (what there was of it) marginalized Felton by taking away the pick and roll, going under most screens and cluttering the paint, forcing the Knicks to rely on Carmelo post ups, off of which Felton is just not a great option due to his ho-hum perimeter game.|
|Iman Shumpert, PG 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | 0This was Shumpert’s 16th game of the season, and the Knicks are now 2-5 in games where he’s played over 20 minutes, and 7-2 in games where he’s played under 20.Iman hasn’t been Iman on either end of the floor but especially on offense. Yes, he had a nice play, forcing a Holiday turnover early in the first, but he was also beaten backdoor by Jrue on at least two occasions. On offense, the Sixers mostly acted as though he wasn’t there, and Iman seemed to agree with them.
My take on Iman is that he’s maybe going through a bit of an identity crisis here. He’s made his living as a defensive player, and because of his stellar defense, coaches have been able to forgive his freewheeling (the nice way of putting it) offense. His defense is still good, but it’s not at the level it was last year. He can’t hang his hat on it, so to speak, and so he’s left to wonder who he is as a basketball player, and that self-doubt only compounds the problems. (/armchair psychology)
It’s time for Shumpert to go to the bench. Not only will it take pressure off of him, but after last summer, when the Knicks offseason signings (and non signings) made it clear that it was now or never for a championship run, now is just not the time to be trying to develop a guy who is coming back from an injury from which it can take years to fully recover. Add to that that a bench role would take some pressure off in terms of media attention and level of compettition, so it might be a quicker path to recovery.
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 22 MIN | 9-10 FG | 4-6 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | +1022 points in 22 minutes on 9-10 shooting. I know you can read those stats just above this text, but I thought you should read them again. Stoudemire was huge tonight, and for once, the +/- numbers, which haven’t been so kind to Stoudemire this season, bare it out. Stoudemire was +10 on the game, second only to Chandler among those who played over 20 minutes. If you exclude the minutes he shared the floor with Anthony and just look at those during which he was the primary option on offense, Stoudemire was +20 in only EIGHT MINUTES!!!”That’s sick!” you’re saying under your breath right now, and I agree with you.
Yes, the Sixers were slow on defense having played in Philly one night earlier, and yes, they also saved Thaddeus Young, who gave Stoudemire a lot of trouble last year, to defend Anthony (god knows why since he seemed to bite on every Anthony head fake), but this was a magical night for STAT nonetheless.
|Steve Novak, SF 19 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +20Steve Novak played the most non-blowout minutes since early January.Steve Novak only took two shots in those minutes.
Steve Novak had the highest +/- on the team.
Yeah, he rode Stoudemire’s coattails, but you could also argue a big part of Stoudemire’s huge night was the fact that with Novak as his running mate, the paint was overflowing with red and white. Teams have to guard Novak, which is more than can be said for several other players in the Knick rotation.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +13Prigioni’s was serviceable tonight. The Holiday matchup kept his minutes down, but he and Stoudemire continued to exhibit the chemistry that we first saw in the preseason. He too couldn’t make a shot, except for the one where he was sort of cowboy kicking to his left and tossed it towards the basket as the shot clock was expiring. That was nice.|
|J.R. Smith, SG 36 MIN | 5-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +5Smith saved this game. His stats don’t suggest a wonderful performance, but the three consecutive fourth quarter threes stymied a Sixer run and just about sealed the victory. What was more remarkable about Smith’s performance though was the energy he played with on defense.Smith stopped a layup by Jeremy Pargo with a chase down block; his ball pressure and then deflection on Evans early in the fourth led to a Knick runout and kept the lead in double digits; and his offensive rebound after the Sixers had cut it to five with a minute left, were all huge plays that could not have happened if not for J.R. playing in turbo mode for most of the not.
Smith’s early season defense was a huge part of the team’s early run. He’s one of the only players the Knicks have who can cover ground quickly, making him crucial if the Knicks ever hope to control penetration (something they didn’t do all that well tonight, but still).
|Kenyon Martin, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | I enjoyed watching Kenyon laugh as Spencer Hawes and Tyson Chandler went after each other.|
|Mike WoodsonWhy did Woodson take Stoudemire out after his fifth foul? He was dominating, and odds were he wasn’t going to get back in the game anyway (he didn’t). Just a thoughtless decision that could have cost the Knicks the game. Also, again, Anthony plays 40+ minutes. If he’d kept STAT in for two more minutes, the Knicks quite possibly would have been up twenty, and Melo would have played 32 minutes instead of 40.This game didn’t offer Woodson too many chances to mess things up, but Woodson is just a bad in-game coach. In fact, he’s a bad between game coach, too, but that’s for an entire article. He seems pretty good at motivating guys, but he has no ability to think outside the box.|
Five Things We Saw
- Spiro Dedes, who has a beautiful voice and a lovely goattee, took the shoving match between Chandler and Hawes as a chance to blah blah blah for about ten minutes about how Chandler’s decision showed the Knicks had fight and toughness and were going to turn things around. Blah. Blech.The Knicks are a saucy team. Especially recently, they seem to cherish the opportunity for the sideshow garbage, whining to officials, talking trash to other players… Some guys know how to use this stuff as motivation, but outside of Sheed, who can trash talk all he wants in my book, the Knicks’ trash talk often seems born out of bogus machismo. It’s not a game wherein they’re trying to play the officials for calls or get into their opponents’ heads. For them, their manly pridefulness is more important than winning basketball games, and when it’s challenged, their focus shifts to defending it rather than defending the rim or taking smart shots. Rather than winning. Maybe they choose that that path because it’s easier to win a barking match (or at least to feel as though you’ve won) than to win a basketball game.So Spiro, I respectfully disagree with you and your goattee. The Knicks could use some training at the Tim Duncan school of basketball. You win these fights by unsubscribing from them and leaving your opponent feeling helpless and childish.
- For a game between two of the slower paced teams in the league, this sure was a fast paced game. My quick and probably incorrect calculation puts the pace at 106, about sixteen possessions faster than the Knicks and Sixers average. It seemed to work to New York’s advantage, too. When they were scoring well, it seemed to usually come off a miss and a push, with the team getting it to Stoudemire or Melo for a quick score before the Philly defense could set.This may have only been effective due to the Sixers’ tired legs, but it’s worth exploring given how challenging scoring has been for New York against the better defensive teams.
- This win was nice as it broke the losing streak, and there were certainly some positive signs, but to put it in context, the Knicks were home. They were playing a team on the second night of a home/away back to back. They were playing a team that had lost four in a row and was nine games under .500. They only won by six points. If this was November, we would have called this win ominous.
- The Knicks continue to give up easy shots in the paint at an alarming rate. The Sixers had 36 FGAs in the paint. The Knicks were simply fortunate that they only made 44% on those shots, a number that is completely unsustainable, especially against better offenses. We also continued to see open threes, but again Philly mostly failed to capitalize. There were streaks were the Knick D truly was stifling, especially late in the 3rd and early in the 4th, but that can be said of just about any team. The sum total of your performance is what matters.
- Tonight’s game was not unlike the Knicks performance over the last couple months. They had streaks of great play, but they did not play consistently, and with a team made up of so many role players — guy’s with no ability to freelance on a broken play or cover for a bad rotation — execution is critical to the team’s success. However, unlike the past couple weeks, at least tonight’s game was a win. Maybe that psychological boost will lead them to extend the good play across more than 5-10 minute stretches. Also, hopefully Kidd gets his shot back, because without that, this team will never be more than just above average.
In addition to writing for Knickerblogger, Max teaches English at Tallahassee Community College and writes short stories. He recently finished a feature screenplay, and he is working right now to raise the funds to film it. You can check it out on Kickstarter.