That was a solid win, but the real schedule starts this week. New York knocked off a Kyrie Irving-less Cleveland team 90-75. JR Smith and Carmelo Anthony carried the team on offense while the defense was strong as usual. Toney Douglas was resurrected from the depths of the underworld and gave the Knicks 10 “eh” minutes of play. He wasn’t great, but he wasn’t horrible. He was just “eh” tonight. The Knicks were good defensively and the Cavs were inept offensively. It was a game the Knicks should have won, and they won. Now, the real schedule starts. They play Indiana, Orlando and Chicago twice this week. New York has a lot to work to do, but they got off to a good start tonight.
Here are my notes from the game:
- It’s about time, JR. In one of his best games as a Knick, JR Smith scored 20 points on 8/15 shooting. Instead of missing countless threes with reckless abandon, Smith played somewhat under control tonight. He shot 3/7 from downtown and gave the Knicks the offensive boost they need. Despite not having Stoudemire and Lin, this offense will be okay if they can get consistent play from Smith. I called out JR yesterday for being consistently bad and now he has to be consistently good. If he’s not, the Knicks offense is in big trouble.
- Jorts was good tonight. Harrelson was really good tonight. I thought he defended well and he contributed on offense. He had a great dunk on the pick and roll and got to the free throw line 4 times, where he shot 6/8. He had a solid blocked shot and he grabbed 6 boards. The big country power forward is going to have to contribute in these last 13 games. His outside shooting hasn’t been very good since he returned from injury, but he’s still been solid defensively and rebounding. I know it was Cleveland, but I liked how he played tonight. We desperately need him to play like this going forward.
- It was good to see Toney Douglas again. I do like Toney a lot. He’s a hard worker, good teammate and class act. I want him to succeed. Tonight, he saw his first real minutes since 1974. In 10 minutes, he scored 5 points and dished an assist. I thought he was okay on both ends of the court. He wasn’t great on offense, missing both his 3’s, and he wasn’t great on defense, but I didn’t think he was horrible. Part of Douglas’ anonymity before Linsanity is that he was a detriment to the team. He wasn’t a star tonight, but he didn’t kill the team. Douglas has to continue to work his way back into the rotation with solid play. I think he can do it. If he starts shooting the 3 ball consistently and gives strong defensive effort, the Knicks will be far better than they were with Bibby as the backup.
- Thattakid Tyson! After disappearing last night against Atlanta, Chandler played far better tonight. He scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. His 3 blocked shots showcased his dominance over Semih Erden, Tristan Thompson and Samardo Samuels. The Knicks really need Chandler to dominate over these last 13 games. He’s been the heart and soul of this team all season and that has to continue. New York’s offense is not going to dominate without Stoudemire and Lin, so the Knicks will have to win defensively. Chandler is the leader of that defensive effort and he’ll have to continue to lead this defense to victories.
- Another good game from Melo. Carmelo Anthony was efficient tonight, scoring 19 points on 7/14 shooting. He’s been much better the past few games and he’s needed to be. The Knicks need him to carry them to the playoffs and he’s looked pretty good as of late. Melo can be the best scorer in this league when he decides to be. He looks motivated and assuming of the leadership role he’s been forced into. Anthony can carry this team over the past 13 games. If he doesn’t, the Knicks are doomed. Dramatic? Maybe. But that’s not as dramatic as things will be if this team misses the playoffs. They need to make the playoffs and they need Anthony to carry them there.