WOOOOOO! For the first time in 75 years, the Knicks won a game in Boston! New York’s 89-86 win over the Celtics wasn’t pretty, but some solid defense combined with some late game Celtic LOLZ helped the Knicks hang on. JR Smith played an abysmal 34 minutes, but his 35th minute (technically a minute fifteen) was magical. Smith buried New York’s last field goal, a three with 1:15 to go, and then forced a Paul Pierce turnover with seven seconds left in the game. Though hampered by foul trouble in the second half, Amar’e Stoudemire’s exceptional first half was absolutely critical to the Knicks victory. Carmelo Anthony had a rough game, but got it rolling a little bit in the second half and scored 28 points on 28 shots.
Here are my notes from the game:
- Let’s start with Amar’e Stoudmire. The man they call Standing Tall And Talented looked quite talented tonight. Though a non-factor in the second half due to foul trouble, Stoudemire played a fantastic first half. At halftime, Stoudemire had recorded 13 points on 5 shots and pulled down 7 key rebounds. He also hit 7 of his 8 free throw attempts. This was the Stoudemire we had envisioned coming off the bench. He was the focal point of a second unit offense that was mainly to credit for the Knicks 30 point second quarter. On defense, STAT showed really great effort. He goal-tended two shots, but I loved the effort he was giving on that end of the floor. As shown by his 9 rebounds in 20 minutes, which in Stoudemire terms is like 500 rebounds, the Knicks forward really fought down low on the glass. I love Stoudemire coming off the bench and this was his third solid game in a row doing it.
- Return of the defense? For the 5th time in their last 6 games, the Knicks held their opponent to under 90 points. Tonight, Boston was able to muster just a 94.5 O-RTG and a 42.5 eFG%. Granted, the sample size is small and the strength of schedule isn’t great, but it is encouraging to see the Knicks playing better defense.
- After struggling mightily in the first half, Carmelo Anthony played a much better in the second half and in the 4th quarter. Anthony was 7/15 shooting and scored 15 points in the third and fourth frames of the game. He looked to be pressing for much of the game. Anthony shot Boston back into the game in the second quarter as he took bad shot after bad shot after bad shot. However, he settled down in the second half and started to take better shots. However, Melo continued to show signs of maturity late in the game. Boston brought double teams his way throughout the fourth quarter and he did a good job of making the right passes to the right guys, although the Knicks didn’t always capitalize. I was impressed with how he was able to really keep his composure all night and especially in the fourth. Something worth noting, the last 5 games, Anthony’s three point shooting has been poor at 33%. He was 1/6 tonight. We knew he wouldn’t continue to shoot 45% from downtown and it looks like his regression to the mean is in full force.
- The Knicks really miss Raymond Felton. Jason Kidd at point guard is a disaster. At this point of his career, Kidd should be strictly a 2-guard at this point. With Kidd running the point, New York struggles to get looks that aren’t of the isolation variety. One of the hallmarks of New York’s dominant start was elite spot-up shooting, but there’s no spacing and no open shooters because Kidd can’t break down the defense in pick and roll situations like Felton can. Prigioni is better than Kidd in this regard, but Felton is head and shoulders above both of them. I think this is contributing to Mike Woodson’s poor late game offensive coaching. Every set he calls is a late developing isolation that resulted in some really terrible shots down the stretch. I’m not ready to say Woodson is a “bad” late game coach, but he’s been terrible as of late. We’ll see what happens when Felton comes back.
- HAHA TAKE IN SOME MORE PAUL PIERCE STRUGGLE FACE
- Steve Novak seemingly played 14 hapless minutes, but he was a +10 on the night. With him in the game the spacing is just better and it helps open up the offense.
- Last point for the night, the Knicks whipped out a great zone defense in the second quarter when they had poor defenders like Novak and Stoudemire in the game. I’ll take to the film to deliver more details about it at a later date, but it was quite effective. After giving up 24 first quarter points, the Knicks gave up just 20 points in the second quarter and forced 4 turnovers. I really love the idea of implementing a zone defense. Obviously a zone is designed to make your opponent beat you shooting the ball, which should be especially helpful for the Knicks who can’t keep anyone out of the paint. Rajon Rondo had a triple-double, but he didn’t dominate the Knicks like we’ve seen in the past. Again, I’ll break down the film on the zone and break it down more, but from first look I thought it was very effective.
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