Knicks 121, Magic 83

Orlando Magic 83 Final
Recap | Box Score
121 New York Knicks
Kenyon Martin, PF 20 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +6

It ain’t easy being the only help defender on a team that isn’t exactly the best at staying in front of ballhandlers or cutters in the first place. He filled that role nicely tonight but his run of puzzlingly mediocre rebounding on a team that has so few other plus rebounders also continued. Becoming clearer and clearer that he’s not quite the player he was in the second half of last season any longer but they need to get 20 steady defensive minutes a night from him. So far, they have been.

Andrea Bargnani, PF 28 MIN | 6-16 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +11

When he gets catch-and-shoot threes in the flow of the offense, he’s a serious asset. Possibly the single biggest beneficiary (or second behind JR) of the type of ball movement we saw tonight. Even though the shooting numbers weren’t there tonight he got good looks and didn’t force it too much. We should still be using him as a screener more but tonight the Knicks didn’t need the pick and roll what with the results they were getting from much simpler drive-and-kick action and generally excellent passing around the perimeter.

Bargs was also incredibly active on the offensive glass tonight, grabbing a few of his 6 offensive boards in the cushion between the interior and perimeter players. Boards in that range require some luck by nature but Bargs was opportunistic in putting himself in the right place at the right time and the numbers bear it out.

His help defense was not just bad but apparently disinterested, which is why he only gets a B-. But this is the type of offense in which he will very likely be able to thrive in the long run.

Carmelo Anthony, SF 30 MIN | 6-10 FG | 8-9 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +11

That would be a 76.9% true shooting percentage. Active in his on-ball defense, a pest in the passing lanes, eager to pass out of double teams (especially from the post), and a menace on the glass. His sole block was a vicious thing and in my head it was the bubbling over of weeks of simmering anger and frustration at everything — teammates, fans, refs, self — that had made him seem so beaten, so petty, so entirely the opposite of how he wants to see himself. That it led to a lovely outlet pass and an early dagger three by the rejuvenated JR Smith was just icing on the cake. There’s nothing bad to say here except that it’s games like this — where he shows just how complete of a package he can be — that make the grumpier among us a bit ornery on the nights when we don’t see it. But that’s not a conversation to have right now. He pitched a perfect game.

Raymond Felton, PG 27 MIN | 6-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +4

Tonight the Knicks had a fastbreak. They had a slash-and-kick game. They had excellent ball movement, ball security, and spacing. They didn’t stand still, they were tough to defend, and they scored 121 points on (by my count) 93 possessions.

Put simply: tonight, the Knicks had a point guard again.

Iman Shumpert, SG 25 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +4

For 25 minutes and 94 feet, Shumpert laid waste to the Orlando Magic like Visigoths at the gates of Rome. But more than that, there’s now a hole in the floor of MSG. It’s under the eastern basket and it’s in the exact shape of Moe Harkless’ dignity:

Metta World Peace, SF 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +39

He’s a feast or famine player and it was Metta World Feast tonight (count it!). Should really never be anywhere besides standing still in the corner extending the defense and waiting to hit open catch-and-shoot threes. He did plenty of that tonight but he also attacked the rim (once finishing a pretty reverse) and defended well everywhere between the rim and the three point line. My crazy idea to play him at center a bit until Chandler comes back was put into practice tonight and oh boy did it work out nicely. The uber-small lineup put a ton of distance between our trunk and Orlando’s hood and if it’s something that can work for 10 minutes a night between now and when Chandler comes back it could be the evening’s most important development. He was PLUS-39 tonight.

Cole Aldrich, C 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +8


Pablo Prigioni, PG 15 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 6 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | +26

What he did tonight was reminiscent of the very best games Jason Kidd had last year. The secondary passes, the no-doubt corner 3 on his sole shot attempt, the pesky defense, the almost conductorial influence over the way the ball went around the perimeter. I know you guys think I grade him too easily but he was freaking sublime tonight: his +26 in 15 minutes should serve as a reminder that having one supremely intelligent player on the court at a given time just makes good things happen for everybody else.

Beno Udrih, PG 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +8

If he averages 12/6/18 per 36 mins all year, I’m good.

Toure’ Murry, SG 7 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +8


Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 23 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | +32

He has a job. He does that job. He does that job well. And as the American philosopher Ron Swanson once said: “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

J.R. Smith, SG 28 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +33

ACTIVE. Active on defense, active running the break, active in the halfcourt looking to get into position for catch-and-shoots. Didn’t initiate the inside-out style of offense that keyed the Knicks 17-for-34 performance from downtown, but through a combination of talent and effort and desire and plain and simple hot shooting, took full advantage of it. It’s great to have you back. Please be real.

Mike Woodson

I’m giving him an A+ only for the swing pass drill they did pre-game and then the brilliant perimeter passing we saw in-game. I have no idea if these things were related but they did both happen and I’m in a good mood. Who says I’m hard to please?

Four Things We Saw

  1. How real is this? What does it mean? When you lose 9 games in a row and then sweep a back-to-back by a combined 68 points, it’s reasonable for your fans to have no idea what the hell to think. Obviously, Brooklyn and Orlando don’t represent the best of what the NBA has to offer but I think we can say that when the Knicks compete defensively and generate good looks from deep, they aren’t going to be mind-numbingly awful. At this point, that passes for progress.
  2. The best part about this win, though, is that it was so reminiscent of the best Knicks wins from last year. Variance is a fact of life for three-point-shooting teams but it can be minimized when the threes come off of movement — whether that means ball screens or forced defensive sags or good old fashioned swing passing — and not isolation. Running that kind of an offense effectively is relatively difficult but REALIZING that the offense has to operate that way is easy and it’s frustrating that we dug this deep of a hole by ignoring it before we went back to the thing that has worked for Woodson’s whole tenure in New York. If this is just a blip it will be really, really annoying.
  3. Old man game in the booth tonight:

    Clyde doesn’t know what the word “download” means.

    Mike Breen, when the MSG cameras showed One Direction: “That is the band One Direction. I do not know their names.”

  4. Take us home, Lou Brown:

    It Has. Happened. Before.

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Kevin McElroy

Kevin McElroy watches the Knicks and owns a computer.

19 thoughts to “Knicks 121, Magic 83”

  1. At this point in the year, I’m gonna look at one stat and one stat only, wins… I know we’re shooting crazy from three but by golly I’m happy after these two games and now am in the Christmas spirit.. Let’s go Knicks!

  2. Good to see the team has got back some semblance of their 12-13 selves. The ball movement looks good, their pushing the ball well and their not forcing the offence. D still needs a little work. 1st quarter we got killed on screens. It’s only 2 games, but hopefully this team is starting to show signs that they are on the up. What’s better there’s a pep in everyone’s step.

    Another thing, even though he’s only played a few minutes in garbage time the last 2 games, Aldrich is showing why he should be getting more burn with Chandler out. He hasn’t looked like a world beater, but he makes things uncomfortable in the paint.

    Orlando also look like they will be a really good team, and could really rock the boat and sneak up on teams if they aren’t on their game.

  3. Great win. Their division is so shitty they really should end the season as the #4 seed. Hell, who’s to say that Atlanta can’t be passed for the #3 seed?

  4. I don’t understand how a 3-13 team blows its next two opponents out by 30+ to get to 5-13 without any major changes happening. These are the same Knicks. I guess they’re finally getting healthy.

    I think this month will get us within a 2 game radius of .500. This team might actually not suck. You know, like most of us felt was the case before the season started?

  5. My eye test tells me they seemed to be fighting through screens and actually going over or under them, rather than just lazily calling out “switch!” every time.

  6. The new people probably are less strangers.
    Some guys may be getting healthy.
    Some of the players from last year probably have eaten some humble pie and realized they’re not going to do it alone.
    Some are beginning to trust in teammates, so the ball is moving.
    Woodson’s job was on the line, so they started to focus more.
    Felton didn’t suck.
    Melo is making his teammates better, not by sheer force of his greatness in scoring, but by actually creating.
    The latter is the biggest factor in these two wins. Instead of dribbling down the clock and boring us all to tears, Melo is drawing doubles and finding open men. He made Amare relevant in the PnR and reminded us how great Amare can be with that play as one of the best finishers in the game over the past decade.
    If he plays like that he is a Lebron-level talent. No, he’s not the freakish athlete Lebron is, but he can score from anywhere at any time. He is powerful. But it is his basketball IQ and his willingness to make the smart pass, to play a more intelligent role, that could make him like Lebron.
    Certainly he is boarding like a monster.
    Now we need to see the next step up: consistency of effort in a more complete way.
    But these past two games for Melo were probably his best in blue and orange simply because of how smartly he played.

  7. I would love to see the broadcast team graded each game. Clyde was hilarious last night. Just fantastic. Even Breen’s usual schoolmarm act (“now THIS is exactly how Carmelo needs to play EVERY day”) was tolerable. Ah, wins.

  8. I missed the 2nd half of this game. Did our defense get a lot better or did Orlando just stop shooting 85% from downtown?

  9. The last two games put the lie to the thesis that this roster cannot succeed. It is about execution, not personnel.

    When Carmelo is doubled, he has to move the ball to his teammates, who have to take advantage. Open threes, slash to the rim and uncontested mid-range twos. When Carmelo draws only single coverage, he has to punish the defense. Twenty points on ten shots is awesome.

    Using Carmelo as the ball handler on the PnR and PnPop is part of the solution. Carmelo is starting to develop chemistry with Bargnani. And Bargnani did not always settle for the Pop, but rather occassionally took the ball aggressively to the rim. He is not a great finisher, but the few successes force teams to react to him and open opportnities for others.

    The Sportvu data confirms what we have been saying – when Bargnani is in position to defend the rim, he is surprisingly effective. His post defense is strong, because he starts in position. He is quite bad at shifting from others to protect the rim, but if he gets there, he uses his length and strength to disrupt (and block) shots. He will often look foolish, but that is part of the mix.

    Shumpert and JR Smith had renewed aggression. They both took the ball to the rim. I do not recall seeing a single step-back jumper from JR last night.

    Hardaway has been enormously improved since November turned into December. He is hitting his open 3 and moving the ball. His defense will improve.

    Prigioni creates ball movement. He is a disrputive force on defense.

    This roster can win every game between now and Christmas. If the Knicks are withing haling distance of .500 when Chandler returns, they will have weathered an enormous storm.

  10. I agree with almost everything Ephus says. One exception: I still think roster construction was a problem but on nights like tonight they certainly played the way they need to play given their personnel.

  11. The roster construction has been a challenge, but it is not an insurmountable one. Until the last two games, many here have been arguing that this year’s roster simply could not work.

    Let’s see how much ground the Knicks can recover by Christmas. Still hoping for an Atlantic title, although I think my prediction of 51 wins is probably now a bridge too far.

  12. This roster can win every game between now and Christmas.

    Sure, but I’d be happy with 3-2 over the next 5. BOS/CLE/CHI/BOS/ATL is not exactly murderers row, but they are a step up from the Nets and Orlando.

  13. Haven’t posted in a while. Was in London for work the past month and I don’t think I’ve drank that much since undergrad. Definitely would recommend spending time in the UK and especially heading out to the bars on Football Saturdays there. Unbelievable atmosphere.

    I stopped sacrificing possible drunken sleep to watch Knicks games after that unbelievably depressing loss to the Pacers, but followed vicariously through the comments on the board. Was able to catch the game last night and watched a replay of the Nets game today in the morning.

    This stretch right now remind me a lot of the stretch in 2011-12 season after we fired D’Antoni and Woody took over when we just murdered teams and Novak and JR lit teams up from downtown. Obviously JR hasn’t been very good so far this season, but he also jumped right back into the fray following his rehab from a fairly serious surgery to his patellar tendon. I give the guy a lot of credit because for as many stupid, boneheaded decisions he makes both on and off the court, he certainly guts it out come hell or high water without complaint.

    As a Michigan alum I’ve got to say I’m loving what I saw from Hardaway the past 2 games and from what I read it seems he has been a bright spot even through our losing streak and I’m happy that Woodson is giving the kid minutes. He also seems to be a huge beneficiary of the small ball we are playing and his stroke looks pure. I actually don’t expect a huge regression from him in terms of shooting if his shot distribution stays the same, with most of his looks coming off of catch and shoot situations. He shot 40% from three his last year at Michigan in catch and shoot and his form and quick release give me a lot of confidence that if his role stays the same he will be a contributor.

    If Melo plays like he has the last two games consistently, there is no question he is a top-5 player. I still think the Knicks end up winning the Atlantic when all is said and done…

  14. Of all NBA players who have played at least 250 minutes this season, here are the 10 who have a usage of 20%+ and a TS% of .600+
    1. LeBron
    2. Durant
    3. Afflalo
    4. Klay Thompson
    5. Jeremy Lin :(
    6. Bosh
    7. Ryan Anderson
    8. Brook Lopez
    9. Timofy Mozgov (!!!)

  15. I missed the 2nd half of this game. Did our defense get a lot better or did Orlando just stop shooting 85% from downtown?

    flossy, it was a bit of both, but the key was that we started moving the ball well and everyone, even MWP, was draining 3 after 3. from mid 3rd Q to mid 4th Q we were awesome and they sucked.

    Of note, Melo not only deferred, he got a bunch of guys (Nickerson, Davis, Harkless) into foul trouble. Harkless in particular was totally overmatched.

    I wonder how good Bargnani could be if he could get himself into great shape, say, by working extensively with the guy in NJ that Lin worked out with. He just seems to get manhandled and stripped on rebounds even when he is in good position, and he lopes rather than runs.

  16. How fickle are we knick fans that 2 blowouts make us contenders… We all think it. In fact I thinker are one piece away from the top rung, but it’s a big piece… Rondo
    I can dream can’t i?

  17. “I wanted to do something a little different to see if it worked,” Anthony said. “Me scoring 30 wasn’t working.”

    Look out world!

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