|Carmelo Anthony, SF 43 MIN | 14-27 FG | 12-15 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 42 PTS | -13
Melo was Iso-tastic today, hitting jumpers from all over the court and driving to the rim with both intensity and intelligence. Pouring in the most points any player has scored against the Heat this season was nice, but equally impressive was his smart play and ball movement . Melo also played some quality defense against LeBron, which made his late-game lapse in effort (with Knicks trailing 85-80, accepting he was screened and giving up open shot) the one sore spot in an otherwise otherworldly outing.
|Landry Fields, G 23 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 4 PTS | -15
This may have been the absolute low point to Landry’s season thus far. Taking shots with arcs equivalent to laser beams? Getting slaughtered by LeBron to put the ‘Bockers in a large first quarter hole? Getting blocked by Chris Bosh on a wide-open lay-up during a key fourth quarter possession? Landry, Landry, oh how we weep for thee.
|Tyson Chandler, C 31 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -13
Tyson was ineffective tonight, but I’m going to attribute that to the wily scheming of Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. Spoelstra’s sets effectively manipulated Tyson into getting drawn away from the rim, which meant that every time a shot went up approximately half a Knick was there to try to grab the rebound. Expect other coaches with mobile bigs to utilize this strategy more against the Knicks super-small (D’Antoni-esque, even) lineups. You also have to be worried about his “knee collision” which cause him to noticeably limp for much of the second half.
|Baron Davis, PG 26 MIN | 1-6 FG | 1-4 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 3 PTS | -13
Rule of thumb: If you are the cause of a million tweets reading “We miss you Jeremy :( :(” then you did not have a good game. Baron had one nifty fake-pass into dribble move into drawn-foul-on-layup, but managed to miss both the layup and one of his two foul shots (seriously?!?! 1-4 FT from a point guard?!?) to erase whatever positive might have come from his old-man trickery. While he found Tyson for a few nice buckets inside, he also turned the ball over in ever-increasingly-stupefying ways and missed a wide-open three. Bad Baron.
|Iman Shumpert, G 38 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 3 PTS | -2
Steal the ball from Dwyane Wade once and don’t put points on the board? Steal the ball from Dwyane Wade again. While that particular sequence had all of Knicks nation standing on their feet roaring in approval, Mike Woodson’s curious decision to sub him out immediately following (again: huh?) and the Knicks late-game offense consisting of Carmelo and JR Smith meant that Iman had little impact on the final stages of the game. Two things for Iman to improve on that reared their heads once more: fighting through screens and getting buckets.
|Mike Bibby, PG 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +2
I almost got mad Bibby missed a wide-open three, but then I was struck by amazement that a superhuman like LeBron James and a dead human like Mike Bibby could ever occupy the same basketball court.
|Jared Jeffries, PF 15 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +7
Jared! You played fifteen minutes, just like Mike Woodson said you would, and let me ask you: could you turn that into twenty-five? You did all sorts of Jared things like drawing charges and hustling and taking a three pointer from forty feet out because JR Smith passed you the ball there with one second left on the shot clock. I love you Jared. Don’t ever change.
|Steve Novak, SF 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +4
Quiet night from Novak, but then you realize he still shot 40% from three, and the Knicks decision to abandon ball movement in the fourth quarter becomes even more frustrating. Highlight of the night may have been in the first half when it looked like Mr. Novak was driving for a lay-up (I swear the lane was open!) but he, perhaps wisely, passed out of it. Bold prediction: someday, Steve Novak will dunk in a game, and the universe will explode.
|J.R. Smith, SG 36 MIN | 6-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 16 PTS | +3
J.R. demonstrated why Mike Woodson continues to place so much trust in him, playing (for the most part) competent, hard-nosed, aggressive basketball. Games like today, when Landry plays like a shell of his former self, remind you why J.R.’s presence on the team is so necessary. 44% from 3 is a wins-you-games kind of number, and though his isolation tendencies were frustrating as always, he clearly is up to the challenge of facing the Heat in a series. Is he up to this challenge because he believes he is honestly as good as Dwyane Wade and LeBron James? Well, that’s neither here nor there.
Four Things We Saw
- Recently the Knicks best moments have come from the JR-Shumpert-Carmelo-Novak-Chandler lineup. That same lineup is prone to slow the ball down and get stagnant (as they did today in the fourth quarter.) Coach Woodson needs to figure out how to avoid playing Baron Davis (at the very least, to avoid using him as a sacrificial lamb at the altar of LeBron.) He also needs to figure out how to keep the ball moving in late-game situations. These two needs are currently at odds.
- Will other teams be able to replicate the strategy of exploiting the Knicks’ lack of size by moving Tyson far away from the rim? Luckily the Celtics (Tuesday) send zero players after offensive boards, and, with the exception of the Bobcats and Byron Mullens*, the rest of the teams the Knicks play during the regular season (a quick reminder: NJ, CLE, ATL, LAC, CHA) lack jump-shooting bigs of Chris Bosh’s quality. However, playing Jeffries and Chandler together, if possible, should be looked into. *I think I’m kidding. I really hope that was a joke right there.
- The Knicks are now 3.5 games behind Orlando and 4 games behind Boston. Boston has chosen to give Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, AND Ray Allen tonight off vs the Bobcats. You’d think this could be good for the Knicks, but, again, the Bobcats. We will see. Could a 4-2 finish be enough to move the Knicks up the standings?
- The Knicks shot 60.9% from the free throw line. Imagine your high school basketball coach’s reaction if you shot 60% from the free throw line.