Recap: Knicks 99, Magic 89
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 43 MIN | 11-22 FG | 2-3 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 25 PTS | +7
Just like the Knicks on this night, Melo’s performance can best be described as “good enough.” A timely late three-pointer and some decent defensive stretches were laudable, and I’d be remiss not to mention that he buried a few jumpers to get the Knicks on the board. However, in the first half there were also quite a few defensive lapses, with Melo falling prey to several well-time Magic back-cuts. Luckily the intensity picked up in the second half, and as long as the Knicks keep winning, Melo’s few foibles can be overlooked.
|Ronnie Brewer, SF 17 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | 0
O Ronnie Where Art Thou? Turns out Coach Woodson wasn’t kidding about playing Brewer fewer minutes, although according to Isola it was swelling in Brewer’s knee that prevented him from playing more. I suspect the Knicks defense would have been even stauncher had he been able to grab a few more minutes- feel better Ronnie!
|Tyson Chandler, C 33 MIN | 4-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +19
Tyson looked like he spent the entire day at Disney World. For the first few quarters, if you’d told me waiting in line for Space Mountain had turned his legs into Jello, I wouldn’t have doubted you. Slow on defense, missed alley-oops… Fortunately, the opportunity to throw-down a reverse-jam brought Tyson back to life, but only for a moment. What was it Tyson? Turkey leg make you slow? Cotton candy stomachache? Let’s hope the San Antonio Boardwalk doesn’t pose similar issues.
|Jason Kidd, PG 32 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 5 PTS | +6
Man, savvy veteran leadership grit heart & experience were in full supply tonight! Once again Kidd played better than his stat sheet, but my favorite bit of grit was when Jsson blatantly ignored Ray-Ray calling for the ball like he was an annoying teammate in 2k13 online. Yeah, he passed it to Melo, who promptly stepped out of bounds, but Jason Kidd was smart enough to know that on this night Raymond Felton should stay far, far away from the ball, and that’s the type of leadership Americ- I mean, the Knicks- need.
|Raymond Felton, PG 37 MIN | 9-23 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 21 PTS | +4
Remember that one time when every player on the Knicks was freaked out because they thought they were getting traded for Carmelo, and Raymond’s coping mechanism was shooting a ton and not having many of those shots go in the hoop, and generally he just kept shooting way more than he scored, causing him to tail off very quickly from what had been an almost All-star level season? Today, Raymond provoked a flashback to an era that, contrary to what Chris Farley would say, was totally not awesome.
|Rasheed Wallace, PF 14 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | 0
Ra-sheed I love you, but you’re bringing me down. Too many deep threes on this night. Love the old man hustle, but Coach Woodson needs to figure out when to pull the trigger on Sheed’s outings. My prediction is that Sheed will oscillate between very good nights and very bad ones: it’s on Woody to know which is which and respond accordingly.
|Steve Novak, SF 20 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | +4
Steve didn’t do anything incredibly poorly tonight, but man, he’s just not getting open. On some nights this isn’t a killer– we’ve seen how, if the other team’s defense gears up to stop Novak from getting shots, it can lead to Melo seeing more single coverage. Tonight, however, it just looked like the offense forgot about its three-point-threat.
|Marcus Camby, C 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Mr. MC should have taken some of Sheed’s minutes. Next time, Coach Woodson?
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 7 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS | +1
Pablo looked really good tonight, and so Woody played him….. seven minutes? *crickets*
|J.R. Smith, SG 32 MIN | 9-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 21 PTS | +9
@NBA tweeted that Carmelo led the Knicks on this night. They were wrong. Once again, JR played out of his mind, hounding the Magic on defense, knocking down shots, and just bailing the Knicks out all over the place. On a night when the Knicks offense was as erratic as the six Houseguests from Argo, Earl Smith was Ben-Affleck-Cool, throwing out a low-pitched “You need to trust me,” and ensuring the Knicks made it out of Orlandian airspace alive.
In a way I feel bad for JR– the smart teams all recognize it’s best to have one of your better players come off the bench a la the Spurs and Manu. I suspect that for the Knicks it’s best for JR to fill that role. But put yourself in JR’s shoes: he’s doing everything right, he’s (mostly) keeping his cool, and if he asked “What more could I do?” there would be no answer. Yet it’s almost guaranteed that becoming a STARER will remain out of his reach. Let’s hope he keeps on keepin’ on.
Four Things We Saw
- The start of the game. Holy hell. Just ugly, ugly, ugly offense. Clanked outside shot after clanked outside shot. Even Melo’s first-quarter makes were of the “pull-up-jumper-I-don’t-like-to-watch” variety. Obviously against a better team that kind of start could be a killer.
- Luckily, the Knicks played the Magic, so even with a lackadaisical effort they won by ten points merely by focusing in the fourth quarter. That might be the truest indicator that these Knicks are legit; the past few years, it seemed like the Knicks couldn’t get out of their own way when it came to playing horrible teams that should give easy W’s. The mark of a good team is winning on an off-night, and that is what the Knicks did today.
Which makes me ask- how surreal is this all? I don’t mean to jinx it, but that this Knicks team would consistently play this well, in an almost clinical fashion, is crazy. It used to be that the one thing you could count on from the Knicks was drama from game to game, yet I’m left wrapping up a recap with the basic storyline of “The Knicks played, they were eh, they won.” Regardless, I’ll take games like this half the days of the week.
- Oh! The Magic: sneaky decent! The talent level is way below an appropriate NBA squad (especially when missing two starters to injuries), but the Magic players, perhaps recognizing their potential on any given night to get blown out by forty points, displayed some tremendous energy. Their vision and cutting was excellent-only problem was catching the ball on some inside passes- and throughout the Magic really hustled. While I’m still doubtful about Big Baby, JJ Redick looks like he a could be a key piece on a championship-level squad, and Nikola Vucevic was intriguing. Credit to Jacques Vaughn for getting the Magic to buy into a season that could go pretty roughly.
- Finally: Four wind sprints for the coaches!! I like this system. Expect the excellent Spurs to push the Knicks in this area when they play later this week for ALL YOUR NUMBER ONE SPOTS IN THE POWER RANKINGS!