Another game, another double digit margin of victory. The Knicks are 4-0. New York disposed of the previously 3-1 Dallas Mavericks 104-94 on Friday night. Carmelo Anthony was the star scoring 31 points on 22 shots. JR Smith played his best game of the season, chipping in an efficient 22 points on 8/16 shooting. My biggest take away from this game is that the Knicks won despite not playing a particularly sharp game. They gave up 57 first half points before bearing down and giving up just 37 in the second half. Unlike the first three games, the Knicks weren’t shooting lights out from downtown tonight. They also got out-rebounded. However, this is what good teams do. The NBA season is a long one. You’re not always going to play your best every night, but you have to find ways to win. The Knicks weren’t at their best tonight and they beat a very good Dallas team by 10 points. That, my friends, is a very very good sign.
Here are my notes from the game:
- I was going to start off talking about Jason Kidd, but I have to give praise to Carmelo Anthony. I wouldn’t say he was particularly sharp tonight. He missed a few layups and had some troubles at the free throw line, but he is absolutely zoned in right now. Defensively he had a few of his cool swiping blocked shots and had a few other instances where he disrupted the Mavericks offense. Offensively, this is the Melo I’ve been waiting to see. I’ve criticized him when he deserved to be criticized, but right now he deserves all the praise and acclaim he will surely get. In addition to leading the team to four wins in as many games, Anthony has absolutely been fantastic on offense. Unlike what we’ve seen in the past, the ball isn’t sticking for entire possessions with Anthony. When he gets the ball he’s making quick decisions, which has benefited both him individually as well as the team. Rather then settle for jump shots, Anthony has been focused on attacking the rim. Between his quick decisions and his constant attacking of the rim, Anthony shot 14 free throws tonight. He only had 1 assist, but that doesn’t really matter. He’s not being asked to distribute the ball in a point-forward like role. I think Woodson has done a really great job of not trying to force Carmelo into being LeBron, but rather utilize him to play the best he can as Carmelo. He’s a scorer, not a ball handling distributor and playmaker. He’s done everything the Knicks have asked. Make quick decisions, don’t let the ball stick. If the shot is open, take it. If you can get to the rim, get to the rim. If there’s an open guy or if you don’t have anything, pass the ball, let offense flow. I tip my hat to Carmelo Anthony as he has just been spectacular in this early season.
- JR Smith was fantastic. He really is just completely focused and zoned in on both ends of the court. Frankly, we haven’t seen this from him, not in NY, not in Denver. Given the sort of athlete he is, he can really wreck havoc on defense and he did that tonight. Smith had 4 steals and blocked a shot. He had a silly foul on a OJ Mayo jump shot, but I’m okay with that. It was a bad foul, but he was trying to be aggressive and contest the shot. You’ll live with that sort of effort from JR. Offensively, as he has been all year, he was on point with his jump shot. Smith was a perfect 3/3 from downtown. He also attacked the rim and worked more in the mid-range game. He didn’t hit many mid-range shots tonight, but its the fact that he’s not lazily shooting threes that is a good sign. Here is Smith’s shot chart from tonight’s game:
- Felton was dynamite to start the game, recording 5 early assists. However, as we’ve seen before Felton seemed to tired out as the game progressed. I’m not all that worried, as we’re 4 games into the season, but it is clear that he’s not yet in complete game shape.
- In the third quarter, Novak took a Dallas defender (I can’t remember who, might’ve been OJ Mayo) off the dribble and made a pull up shot over him. It was cool. He only shot 1-4 from downtown. Since the opening night blowout of Miami, Novak has been a bit off with his three point shooting. Tonight, he had the worst three minute stretch ever in the second quarter and basically let Dallas right back into the game after the Knicks won the first quarter. Novak will be fine though, I’m not worried.
- Sheed played 18 minutes and made his first appearance of the game in the first quarter, which was weird. Kurt Thomas saw a goose egg amount of minutes tonight. What does this mean? I have no idea. Thomas hasn’t been all that great and Sheed was okay tonight. Whether this means Sheed takes Thomas’ minutes, I have no idea. We’ll just have to wait and see. Mike Woodson may be in the business of rotating the two players each game. So for instance tonight Sheed played so next game Thomas would play and Sheed would sit. I don’t know if that is what Woodson is doing, but it might be. Or it might not be.
- Also, at one point Vince Carter got free throws on a questionable foul. He missed the first free throw and Sheed screamed out ‘BALL DON’T LIE’. I enjoyed that thoroughly.
- Marcus Camby played 8 minutes. He isn’t in game shape, so I liked that Woodson limited his minutes tonight. Especially with the Knicks being 4-0, Woodson can afford to slowly work Camby in to the rotation. Even in his limited time on the floor, you saw how Camby can help the team. Multiple times, I noticed Camby boxing out his man successfully which led to Knicks rebounds. He also grabbed 4 rebounds in 8 minutes. Camby led the league in rebounding rate last season, and you saw some of his prowess in that area tonight.
- Tyson Chandler was awesome, as always. 11 points, 9 rebounds, +14 in 25 minutes played. He had 5 offensive rebounds and an awesome put-back that made me jump out of my seat and spill some guacamole on my shirt. It was worth it though.
- So… Ronnie Brewer is shooting 55.6% on the season from 3PT land right now. I don’t really understand, but I really enjoy it obviously. Dave Hopla, one of the Knicks shooting coaches, has to get some credit for this. In addition to his Novak like shooting streak, Brewer is also grabbing all sorts of rebounds. He had 8 this game, 4 of them offensive. Brewer has been as good as could be expected so far. He is Landry Fields minus the suck and the hot girlfriend.
- MSG was running a fundraiser tonight for charity. John Starks was answering phones. Sitting next to him was Lil’ Jon. I almost called in just to try and get Lil’ Jon, but I couldn’t find my phone so I didn’t bother. Would’ve been fun though.
- Last, but certainly not least, I want to talk about Jason Kidd. He only played 15 minutes tonight, but he made those minutes count dammit. On par with the rest of his early season, Kidd was fantastic once again tonight. I have been so wrong about him, to this point. He has shot well, he has made a plethora of savvy veteran passes and he has been doing a good job of creating havoc in passing lanes. Kidd had 3 steals tonight. He guarded OJ Mayo about as well as you could expect a 39 year old to do, but I thought his effort was good. Dallas has a pretty quick backcourt with Mayo and Collison and Roddy Buckets coming off the pine, so it’s understandable why Kidd only played 15 minutes tonight. For the 15 minutes he played though, I thought he was very effective. Jason Kidd also gets a tip of the hat from me tonight.
- Knicks won the turnover battle tonight. Dallas had 20, the Knicks had 9. New York has had the least amount of turnovers in basketball this season. That is huge when you’re a defensive team like the Knicks are, you don’t want to give the opposition extra possessions. They didn’t give Dallas many extra possessions tonight and that was a big part of the win.
- Vince Carter looked mighty stupid with that headband. He also looked stupid constantly jawing with Tyson Chandler.
- Dallas was 1/13 on threes in the second half. Good job, Knicks!
- Someone remind me why Troy Murphy is still in the league? He is god awful. Apparently he had 7 rebounds, although I think the box score is lying to me. I can’t remember any of the rebounds he got and he really seemed to have 0 impact on the game. I remember when the Warriors had Murphy and Mike Dunleavy and we used to call them the Dun-Murphy sisters. That still makes me laugh.
Have a good weekend, folks! The Knicks try to go for 5-0 on Tuesday against the
Shaq led Dwight Howard led E’Twuan Moore led Orlando Magic. It should be a fun Tuesday!
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino