|Carmelo Anthony, SF 39 MIN | 6-18 FG | 9-13 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 22 PTS | +4
Talk about a mixed bag. At times, Melo was the willing distributor seemingly seen solely in flashes this year, connecting on a couple of beautiful alley-oops with Tyson Chandler and finishing with six assists. He also shot 6-18 from the field, drew no less than three charging calls, and stymied a number of mini runs and momentum shifts with the kind of black hole stylings Knick fans hope will eventually peter out. He also hit a pair of clutch free throws to hold the Bobcats at bay. He also has clearly been taking courses at the Amar’e Stoudemire School of Ref Baiting, which — like Stat himself — partly explains his not getting a lot of calls on reckless forays to the tin.
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 39 MIN | 7-25 FG | 11-13 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 25 PTS | +3
Like his fellow front court gunner, Amar’e put up numberz. And, like Melo, he did so with an inefficiency and gracelessness that at times bordered on the petulant. Yes, he netted another double-double, and had only one turnover (for anyone who actually watched the game, that’s as amazing for me to type as it is for you to read). But there were also quite a few zeroes — assists, steals, blocks, and referee karma points being the most notable. The good news? Stat was once again productive on the glass, raking in a dozen boards. That makes for three consecutive games with 10 boards or more, which, according to some website, is the first time that’s happened since the Polk administration.
|Tyson Chandler, C 39 MIN | 7-8 FG | 6-8 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | +2
Yikes. Beyond his own mantastic offensive performance, Chandler was a monster in the defensive trenches, holding the Bobcats’ two-headed-goof of a center – DeSagana Diop and Byron Mullens – to four points and six rebounds combined. At least one of Chandler’s three blocks – and one of his three steals – came during Charlotte’s late, near tide turning run. While doubtless Chandler’s best performance yet in a Knicks uniform, the notoriously short-benched D’Antoni simply can’t expect his defensive anchor to continue logging above 35-plus minutes a game. It’s just a recipe for disaster, pure and simple.
|Landry Fields, G 37 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 5 PTS | +5
Dearth of stats aside, Fields – who hasn’t logged double figures in points or rebounds in over two weeks – managed to play within himself on both ends of the floor. He was quick and decisive on switches and help defense, didn’t force the issue on offense, and generally didn’t puke or poop all over the floor. Which, if you’ve watched Landry play lo these last few games, constitutes nothing if not progress.
|Iman Shumpert, G 35 MIN | 7-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | +6
The legend grows. At this point, Shumpert might want to consider taking out a restraining order on all of New York City. Or at least me. For my own good.
Top to bottom, it was yet another overwhelmingly impressive performance from our nasty noob. Perhaps most impressively, all three of Shumpert’s steals – and the three resulting throw-downs – came during key shifts in momentum when the feisty Bobcats appeared on the brink of making a significant run. But the numbers tell only part of the story. Indeed, it was the rookie’s unflappable poise, near-impeccable decision-making, confident communication, and tireless work on the defensive end that helped unfurl – however ridiculous – chants of M-V-P from the Garden crowd. Whether or not such hyperbole will ever ring true, Shumpert’s second consecutive uber-encouraging performance at the helm makes two thirds of the acronym semantically accurate, even if the ‘P’ might today just stand for “Point.”
|Mike Bibby, PG 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +1
|Toney Douglas, PG 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -2
|Bill Walker, SG 15 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2
|Josh Harrellson, F 19 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | +3
Five Things We Saw
- The defensive rotations were much quicker tonight than have been typical, although there were plenty of requisite ‘Bocker lapses. Still, the Knicks are showing — albeit in spurts — that they possess the ability to be a passable defensive team. But you have to wonder whether it will end up being Chandler, Shumpert and — God willing — Amar’e and Melo that end up setting the tone, and not D’Antoni or Woodson.
- Similar to the opening moments of the two teams’ previous Garden dance, the Knicks turned no less than four solid back screens into picture perfect alley-oops. In a nice little role-reversal, we even saw Chandler feeding Shump on one occasion. If and when the ball is moving and the defense is on its toes, the Knicks are much more liable to get these sorts of opportunities. At this point, however, them’s are very large ifs and whens.
- In a numerological confluence as weird as it is genuinely frightening, Melo, Stat, and Chandler each played 39 minutes. This is simply not sustainable. Whether D’Antoni has some grand vision for sitting his star front line during strategically decided-upon games, or whether he’s simply flying by the seat of his pants….It’s clearly the latter.
- A combined 13-43 from the field, Melo and Amar’e both very nearly shot us out of the game. All of the hallmarks we’ve convinced ourselves will eventually slink away — the ball-stopping, the tunnel vision, the momentum-killing shots — were instead on full display throughout. Luckily, Shumpert, Chandler, and Fields played efficiently and mistake-free enough to render the two stars’ volume scoring just voluminous enough.
- If Boris Diaw can average 23 points against you, despite averaging just over seven against the rest of the league, you need to reevaluate some things. Also, if your bench can only muster three points in an entire four-quarter game — three, as in one less point than what one-time Knick rental Derrick Brown tallied — you have even bigger things to reevaluate. Things such as: Why did I sign Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak, and Jerome Jordan to play professional basketball if I never had any intention of playing them in a professional basketball game? Aside from obvious issues of chemistry, cohesion, and continuity, the Knicks’ bench looms large as quite possibly the biggest threat to the team’s long-term success.