That was maybe the best basketball game I have ever seen. The Knicks did not play a perfect game by any stretch of the imagination, but they were tough and gritty and rode Carmelo Anthony to a 100-99 overtime win over the Bulls. Carmelo Anthony was finally the superstar the Knicks needed, scoring 43 points and hitting two clutch three pointers down the stretch. Iman Shumpert played well guarding Derrick Rose and held the reigning MVP to 8/26 shooting from the field.
The Knicks now sit a full game ahead of Milwaukee for the 8th seed in the eastern conference. This was a huge game for the Knicks and they came up big when they had to. The season is down to 10 remaining games. Five of the Knicks final ten games are against opponents with .500 records or better. New York isn’t out of the woods yet, but today’s game was a huge step in the right direction. The Bulls and Knicks played a gritty, hard fought affair and the result was a wildly entertaining game. The best part about this game is that they get to do it again on Tuesday.
Here are my notes from the game:
- CARMELOOOOOO ANTHONY! 43 points, 16/31 shooting, 7 rebounds. Melo was absolutely fantastic today. He began the game hitting his first five shots. I thought the Knicks did a nice job of getting him some rhythm jump shots by running him off screens and by getting him favorable isolation match ups. There was a small lull in the game for Melo throughout the 2nd and 3rd quarters as Chicago adjusted and locked down on defense. However, in the 4th quarter Anthony was not going to be stopped. Melo scored 17 points in the 4th quarter and overtime and delivered the two biggest shots in the game. He stroked a walk up three with 11 seconds left to send the game to OT and followed that up by stroking a game winning three with 8.2 seconds left. I really liked what Anthony did today. Sure, he had a few situations in which he chucked up some bad shots, but I thought Anthony played an efficient offensive game. I wasn’t wild about Woodson’s offense today. I thought the Knicks were too stagnant and often times had no purpose in their sets. Therefore, there were possessions in which Anthony was forced to make chicken salad out of chicken poop (family website). I really liked how Anthony got his jab step game going. I’d have to go back and look, but I think he hit 3-4 shots off his jab move. The jab step is one of Anthony’s staple offensive moves, but he hasn’t been consistently hitting his shots off it throughout the season. His jab step jump shot opens up the rest of his game. By hitting those shots early in the game, Anthony forced the Chicago defenders to play more hesitant on ball defense. If I have time, I would like to splice up video and analyze Melo’s jab step game on this site. Either way, I believe that if Anthony can consistently work the jab step jump shot, the rest of his game will open up offensively and he will get on a roll.
- Anthony also showed his clutch ability today. I’ve always argued that Anthony is one of the 2-3 best clutch players in the game, along with Kobe Bryant and Dirk Nowitzki. I will likely do a post later today elaborating on this further, but lets talk about today’s game. Anthony was absolutely cold blooded down the stretch today. I found myself screaming “no! no! no! YES!!!!” on both of the shots, as neither was necessarily a ‘good shot’. The ability to hit shots like that is what sets Carmelo Anthony apart from many scorers in the league. For my money, he’s the second best clutch player in the league to Kobe Bryant. There are so many ways for him to hit clutch shots, whether he’s posted up, isolated, spotting up or driving to the rim. Anthony showed his clutch three point ability today and that is a great sign for New York. In the playoffs, Anthony is going to have to have multiple games like this.
- There were other players who played in today’s game! One of them was Iman Shumpert. I thought the rookie shooting guard was fantastic today. His offense wasn’t great, 5/14 shooting, but I thought he did an excellent job defending Derrick Rose. Rose shot just 8/26 from the field, and Shumpert came up with 4 steals. Shumpert came up with two huge steals in the 4th quarter and overtime and played hounding defense all day long. I loved his on ball defense and his effort today. Shumpert is an elite on ball defender. He isn’t perfect, as he still struggles to fight through screens, but his length and athleticism serves as a huge weapon for him when defending 1 on 1.
- Tyson Chandler is a man. The Knicks weren’t great on the boards today, but that wasn’t Tyson Chandler’s fault. The Knick center pulled down a whooping 16 boards and held resident pest Joakim Noah to just 5 rebounds in 27 minutes. Defensively, Chandler was adjusting shots all day. He was the victim of a couple superstar calls on Derrick Rose, but I thought overall he was great on defense. Chandler was a +15 in plus/minus on the day, while Noah was a -14. Enough said.
- JR the ice man! Holy $%^@ was JR horrible today. He was 6/22 on the day and 2/11 from downtown. I actually like that JR continued to play his game, which is trying to shoot the ball. He took a few awful shots, but he did have quite a few open ones that he just missed. I don’t have as much of a problem with JR as I do with Mike Woodson. Landry Fields was pretty good today. He scored 10 points and was a +14 for the game. Rather than go away from Smith and put in Fields in the 4th, Woodson stuck with the ice man and the Knicks offense continued to struggle. In the end it worked out, but Woodson’s poor decision making almost cost the Knicks in the end.
- To Woodson’s credit, he drew up the greatest out of bounds play ever late in the 4th. He got Steve Novak wide open on a 3 and Novak hit everything except for the bottom of the net.
- I really hate Joakim Noah. I’m happy he played poorly.
- Happy Easter! Kate Upton wants to wish you one as well. **Viewer DiscretionAdvised**