Joe Johnson’s 25 point effort led the resurgent
New Jersey Brooklyn Nets to a 88-85 victory over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden this afternoon. Following Johnson’s lead, the Nets sunk 12 of 24 threes on the day while the Knicks hit just 6/21 from the land of three. Carmelo Anthony was the Knicks leading scorer with 29 points, but it also took him 29 shots to get there. Nursing a three point lead entering the fourth quarter, the Knicks were outplayed 23-17 as Joe Johnson came up huge in crunch time. With 7:58 left in the quarter, Iman Shumpert reached his 20 minute limit. He came off the floor and Johnson hit three shots in a row. Trailing by one in the final seconds, Carmelo Anthony threw up an air-ball. Jason Kidd missed a clutch free throw late and JR Smith missed a three pointer at the buzzer that would’ve tied the game. In summary, this was a pretty poor game for the Knicks. Give credit where it is due, but New York was not on it’s A-game tonight. Whether it was the countless defensive breakdowns, stagnant offense or just poor execution, there wasn’t a whole lot the Knicks did well today. Unlike the pattern from the rest of the season, the Knicks were outplayed badly in the 4th quarter which ended up being the difference in the game. I’ll get into this more.
Here are my notes from the game:
- Let’s start with New York’s poor fourth quarter. Through these first 39 games, the Knicks have been the most efficient 4th quarter team in the league with a +16.0 Net-RTG. Now that stat doesn’t always equate to wins and losses, but it’s never a bad thing to be consistently good in the final period. After a good third quarter, the Knicks fell flat on their face in the 4th. The Nets shot 8/17 (47.1%) and sunk 4 three pointers while the Knicks shot just 31.6% and hit a single three. Carmelo Anthony, New York’s go to player down the stretch of games, was a miserable 0-6. This was a quarter where seemingly nothing went right for the Knicks and Mike Woodson made a few decisions that ended up costing the Knicks. I was surprised to see that the Knicks didn’t foul Joe Johnson on the possession where he hit the go ahead shot. The Knicks didn’t have any team fouls, so they weren’t pressed up against the bonus. Leading 83-82, the Knicks obviously needed the stop. Woodson put Iman Shumpert in the game to guard Johnson specifically, but the Knicks got switched around on defense and it ended up being JR Smith on Johnson. Smith should’ve fouled to reset the possession. Johnson shot with 22 seconds left on the clock, meaning that even if the shot clock were reset to 14 seconds, the Knicks would’ve had the final shot regardless. Then Woodson opted to run an isolation for Anthony rather than run a play. In theory it makes sense, but when you look at the fact that Anthony actually hasn’t been that great in isolation and he’s 0-4 on game winning/tying shot attempts this year, running a play might’ve been the better option.
- It was a tale for two halves for Amar’e Stoudemire. In the first half, Stoudemire was beyond terrible. His usually laughable pick and roll defense was uber laughable, as Kris Humphries was dunking on him left or right. In the second half, Stoudemire found some rhythm in a two-man game with Anthony and scored 11 points on 5/8 shooting. This has been the second consecutive solid game for STAT coming off the bench. He looks to be getting more comfortable, especially playing alongside Anthony and Chandler. Granted 13 minutes is an incredibly small sample size, but the Knicks were pretty good on both offense and defense with those three on the floor together. We’ll continue to monitor how Stoudemire plays alongside his star counterparts, but the signs were encouraging today.
- This was not a good shooting game for Carmelo Anthony. He was just 11/29 shooting, including 4/14 in the second half and 0/6 in the 4th quarter. However, he had a very good offensive game as a passer. Anthony had a season high 7 assists and was particularly impressive passing the ball to and setting up Stoudemire. Bad shooting games are going to happen and Anthony obviously has been great this season, so I’m not too worried about it. However, he is 0/5 now in the final 10 seconds of the 4th and OT in game winning/tying situations, which is very unlike the Melo man. Obviously he’s still the guy who should be taking those shots, but I think the Knicks should think about running some plays for him rather than just isolating him. Maybe working to get him a shot off a screen or even a post up, given the isolations aren’t working.
- Tyson Chandler had a solid game, but Brook Lopez got the best of him today. Lopez had a very good game offensively, scoring 14 points, and grabbed 11 boards. Lopez also grabbed 5 big offensive boards. I hate Lopez and he’s a very dorky looking basketball player, but I think it’s a bit foolish to dismiss how good he’s been this year. He is a very gifted offensive scorer and he showed that today. Tyson is awesome and will continue to be awesome, but Lopez got the best of him today.
- I HATE REGGIE EVANS AND ALL HIS FLOPPING.
- Speaking of Lopez and Evans, the Knicks were out-rebounded quite badly today. Brooklyn grabbed 50 rebounds, 12 offensive, while the Knicks were only able to grab 37 and 7 offensive. While the Knicks aren’t a great rebounding team, there haven’t been a ton of games where their lack of rebounding has really killed them. This was one of those games. The Nets had 11 second chance points off their 12 offensive boards. 11 points seems modest, but when you think about that each Nets offensive board means one less Knicks possession, they make a difference in a three point game.
The Knicks and Nets finished their 4 game season record with a 2-2 split. I thought coming into the year that the teams would be pretty even, and that prediction looks pretty solid as the Nets are 25-16 and the Knicks are 25-14, although I do think the Knicks are better. This has been a fun little set of games we’ve had and I wouldn’t mind seeing a 7 game playoff series between these two.
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino