Tonight, the Knicks ground out a defensive 85-79 victory over a hot Philadelphia team. Melo and Amar’e lead the way with 27 and 20 respectively. The defense held a hot Philadelphia team to 39% shooting and forced 14 turnovers. Iman Shumpert is now 4-0 as the Knicks starting point guard.
Here are some notes from the game:
- De-fense! De-fense! De-fense! Now, I will not say the Knicks were great on defense tonight. The Sixers were playing their 3rd game in 3 nights. I get it. That being said, this game was the ugly, defensive type of win the Knicks will need to pull off in the playoffs. They will never be a great defensive team but they were very good tonight. I think the Knicks have the ability to defend well night in and night out but it all comes down to effort. Last week against Charlotte, you saw no effort. Tonight, you saw a great effort. I think this defense is vastly improving. Tonight they did have a few lapses and were bailed out by missed Philly shots, but overall I loved the defensive effort we gave.
- Stoudemire looks to be playing slower, less explosive. Stoudemire did have a very good, efficient game tonight. He was 8/14 with 20 points but he seems to have lost some explosiveness. It may have to do with all the added weight he put on over the summer bulking up but he doesn’t seem to have that explosiveness that he had last year. We haven’t seen many explosive dunks with him this year and he just looks slower moving with the ball. I love that he added weight to help his defense and he still is a dominant offensive player but right now he just looks to be moving in slow motion sometimes.
- Shump makes a difference. Rookie Iman Shumpert is 4-0 since supplanting the troubled Toney Douglas as the starting point guard. Even though he didn’t shoot that well (5/15) tonight, I thought Shumpert was impressive. You can just tell the difference when he plays as opposed to when Douglas plays. Even when he doesn’t shoot well, he moves the ball, he brings energy and he plays damn good defense. Tonight, he delivered the highlight play of the night when he got a steal and then zipped the pass through the lane to Amar’e for a layup. Shumpert continues to shine and more importantly he continues to help this team win games.
- Toney… Poor Toney Douglas. He was never a point guard, he was thrust into the starting job by circumstance. He was in way over his head, he’s been eaten alive by the fans and media and he got booed at the garden. Toney is a simple guy. He’s not real bright but he’s a really nice dude. I feel bad for him but at the same time he cannot be playing like this. He was a +16 tonight, I have no idea how, but he had some porous passes and continued to hurt the flow of the offense. Again, I am a fan of Toney and I think eventually he will come out of this funk but right now he is an absolute detriment to the team. When you are 1 of 3 players coming off the bench you have to produce. Jorts produced, even Billy dumbass hit a big 3 and got some boards. The Knicks need more production from Douglas.
- Jorts was very good again tonight. I love Jorts. I wish he had a post game on offense but apart from that, I love Jorts. He hit some big 3 pointers tonight and gave some good effort again. If we can get consistent offense from him, I think he and Jeffries will be a pretty serviceable front court bench.
- D’Antoni still doesn’t trust the bench. Once again, as has been all year, D’Antoni used a short bench tonight. I do believe that this team needs to continue to play together and gel but they also need to stay healthy. The starters all played 35+ minutes tonight. This is a trend that cannot continue or there will be injures that this thin team cannot afford.
- Fields is improving. Despite his lost jump shot, I think Landry Fields is improving. His defense continues to be excellent and I think he looks a lot more comfortable in the offense and moving the ball. Fields has a role on this team as a glue guy and him being on the court with Shumpert and Chandler gives the Knicks a very strong defensive lineup. I ultimately believe Fields’ jump shot will return at some point, although he seems to have lost all arc on it. If Fields can regain his jump shot, those 2-3 baskets a game he could add could pay huge dividends down the stretch as this Knick team continues to improve on defense.
Last season, the Knicks went 2-2 against the Sixers. Knick fans got a snapshot of what Melo brings when he hit a game icing 3 pointer against Philly in a 97-92 victory.
Here are some things to watch for tonight:
- The Knicks bench vs Philadelphia’s bench. Philadelphia boasts a deep bench with the likes of Evan Turner, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young. The Knicks on the other hand have a scrub bench that scored 3 whole points last game against Charlotte. As much as I hate him, Bill Walker MUST give the Knicks some scoring tonight for the Knicks to have success. Toney Douglas MUST pull his head out of his ass at some point. Jorts and Bibby have to give the Knicks quality minutes tonight if they are called upon. The Knicks bench scoring has to show up tonight if they want a chance to win.
- Shump vs Jrue Holiday. Holiday is one of the best young point guards in the game. His success offensively goes hand and hand with Philadelphia’s success on offense. If Shumpert gets in foul trouble, or is unable to slow down Holliday, Philadelphia may have a field day offensively.
- How will the Knicks defend Spencer Hawes? Yes I just wrote that. Not because Hawes is a great scorer but it is Hawes’ style of play which may give the Knicks problems. Hawes has taken 28 mid range shots this season and has shot 57%. If Chandler is guarding Hawes, he may be drawn out of the paint. The Knicks are a far worse defensive team when Chandler is not patrolling around the paint and guarding the rim. I believe it would be wiser to place Stoudemire on Hawes and placing Chandler on Elton Brand.
Last night at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks avenged their loss last week by beating the Charlotte Bobcats 91-87. The Knicks did some good things tonight but overall this was not a championship type effort. Despite outplaying Charlotte, the Knicks could not finish them off and let them linger the entire game. Eventually, it took a miss on a wide open 3 to seal a Bobcats defeat. Melo and Amar’e combined for 47 points but shot only 13-43 collectively from the field. Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert were fantastic tonight. Chandler finished with 20 points, 13 boards and 3 blocks. Shumpert had 16 points brought some great energy on both sides of the ball.
Here are some notes from the game:
- The Knicks bench scored 3 points tonight. 3 points. Douglas had a basket and Jorts had a free throw. That was it. If this Knicks team wants to compete for a championship, they will need to get more from the bench. Douglas is killing the Knicks right now because he is so out of whack that he cannot even shoot anymore. Jorts is going to be inconsistent on offense because he is more of a defender/rebounder. Walker is Walker. Novak can only shoot 3’s and Jerome Jordan isn’t rotation ready yet. The Knicks desperately need Jared Jeffries and Baron Davis to return to the lineup because right now the depth on this team is nonexistent.
- Due to the lack of depth, Coach D’Antoni was forced to play the starters all more than 35 minutes last night. With injury-prone stars like Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, playing those kind of minutes is dangerous. I understand that in this shortened season wins are very valuable but at the same time, D’Antoni has to keep the big picture in mind. Do you really need to play Amar’e 39 minutes against Charlotte? Why not put in Jerome Jordan for 3 minutes here, Jorts for another 2 minutes there? This team will be in the playoffs. It will be what they do in the playoffs that defines the 2011 Knicks. In order for them to make a run, the Knicks need all their stars healthy and fresh to go when playoff time rolls around.
- Speaking of Tyson Chandler, he was fantastic last night. Chandler has actually played very well the last 5 games, recording 3 double-double’s and scoring over 20 points twice. The Knicks finally got him the ball on cuts and alley oops to the basket. If the Knicks want those shots, they are there all day with Chandler especially when Amar’e and Melo are on the court.
- Amar’e Stoudemire is showing signs of improvement. Yes I know he was only 10/25 from the field. Yes I know, according to Hoopdata, he was 3-12 at the rim. I know he wasn’t great on defense (again). I will say this though. At least he got to the rim 12 times. He only took 5 shots from 16 feet and longer. Stoudemire is starting to realize that his best offensive trait is his ability to get inside. The midrange is important yes, but Stoudemire is starting to realize his constant driving of the ball opens up the midrange. He took 3 midrange shots and hit 2 of them. If he can continue to drive to the paint, his mid-range will come. Stoudemire still isn’t playing to where he needs to be but he’s improving.
- I think Carmelo Anthony is more banged up then he leads people to believe. The last two games, he hasn’t dominated. He hasn’t been bad and he did step up in the clutch against Charlotte but I think his back is really bothering him. Against Philly, he will be guarded by Andre Iguodala who is a pretty good defender. If Melo isn’t 100% then he may be in for a long night.