That was a weird game. Playing the first game of a home and home, the Knicks were able to fend off a ridiculous Alan Anderson assault in the second half and hold on for a five point victory. The first half was an odd one. New York got out to a big first half lead with some good ball movement and quality three point shooting. At some point, Mike Woodson decided to go Iso-Melo and Toronto made a run to end the half. Melo did not have a good first half, shooting 5/15 from the floor with 4 turnovers. Non-coincidentally, Toronto made their run after Rudy Gay went to the locker room with a back injury. Gay was playing even worse than Anthony in 14 first half minutes before he got injured. The Raptors stormed out of the locker room and scored 34 points in the third quarter. Alan Anderson scored 20 of those points, as he shot 6/6 in the frame with three triples. Luckily for the Knicks, Anthony was able to compose himself somewhat in the third and scored 11 points of his own. The 4th quarter was an odd one, as the Knicks outplayed Toronto, but were unable to put the game away due to poor free throw shooting. New York shot 50% in the quarter, but lost it 23-22 because they could only get five of eleven free throw attempts to go. Anthony was big down the stretch, shedding his apparent inability to score on Landry Fields. In the final minutes, the Knicks missed 7000 free throws, but Toronto was unable to capitalize and the Knicks escaped with the win. It was a bizarre game, but it was a game the Knicks needed to win. They need to win tomorrow as well, as their schedule gets super hard after that.
Here are my notes from the game:
- I’m not a big fan of Mike Woodson’s minute allocation. Carmelo Anthony played 43 minutes tonight, his second game back from injury. Woodson said after the game that he couldn’t find a spot to sit Anthony, which is total BS. Anthony played the entire first quarter and the entire second half. Woodson couldn’t find him a minute or two to rest at the end of the 1st or at the beginning of the 4th? I don’t buy that for a minute. Anthony’s injury was a product of constant wear and tear, including heavy minutes this season. You would think Woodson would have learned from his mistake and made a concerted effort to rest Anthony more. Copeland and Novak played 5 and 6 minutes respectively and I think the Knicks would have been fine with either one of them playing a bit more to let Anthony get some rest. Raymond Felton also played 42 minutes tonight, which makes no sense. Prigioni gave the Knicks 10 quality minutes tonight and should’ve played about 8 more. With the Knicks playing tomorrow as well, you would think Woodson would rest his starting point guard a bit more, especially given Felton’s past history of being out of shape and wearing down in games. Felton also played like crap, minus a big three he hit late in the game. Kenyon Martin played 36 minutes tonight, almost by default, but Woodson could find more rest time for him as well. When Chandler returns, my hope is that Woodson cuts Martin’s minutes down to 20-22, or else he could suffer the same fate as Stoudemire, Thomas, Wallace, or to a lesser extent Camby, Anthony or Kidd.
- Speaking of Kenyon, he was great! I’ve been totally wrong about him, to this point at least. Given how hapless and shot he looked with the Clippers last season, I thought he’d be unproductive here. To the contrary of my genius projection of him, he has been fantastic and was so again tonight. Statistically he was efficient and productive, 9/10 shooting 19 points 11 rebounds, and he played excellent defense. Martin even pulled a Chandler impersonation late in the game, tipping out rebounds left and right. All in all, it was another great effort from him. Let’s just hope he doesn’t burn out come playoff time.
- This doesn’t really have anything to do with the Knicks, but Rudy Gay is terrible. A team low -15 in his 14 minutes played, Gay was horrible tonight. He found himself in a chucking contest with Anthony and his defense was lazy as well. For a front office so enthralled with analytics (see Zach Lowe at Grantland), it’s amazing to me the Raptors have chosen to build around DeRozan and Gay, two wildly inefficient and utterly frustrating players. It was no coincidence that the Raptors played much better tonight when Gay was out. They were better defensively, moved the ball more on offense and took better shots. I would not be happy if my favorite team built around Rudy Gay. Sorry, Raptors fans.
- I thought Marcus Camby’s minutes were pretty average. He was good on defense, but committed four really stupid fouls, two offensive, and brought back horrible flashbacks to Bill Walker doing similar things. Damn you, Camby…
- Kidd was pretty good tonight. His defense was average as usual, but offensively I liked how he played. Minus the play where he tried to take John Lucas off the dribble and shot the ball off the side of the backboard, Kidd was crisp tonight moving the ball and shooting the ball. We didn’t see any hesitancy to hoist up shots from the perimeter and as a result he hit 2/4 from beyond the arc. I don’t like Kidd playing 30 minutes (ARGH WOODSON!), but I thought he had a good game.
- Shumpert hit a corner three for the third straight game, which is awesome. Though Woodson doesn’t give him enough minutes, he played just 17 tonight, it’s good to see Shumpert productive in those minutes. Reasoning would suggest that we’ll see less Kidd and more Shumpert tomorrow night, but Woodson logic suggests Kidd probably plays 46 and Shumpert plays 2.
With tonight’s win, the Knicks clinched a playoff birth for the 3rd straight season. They’re frustrating as hell and take years off my life every time they play, but it’s fun to have at least a semi good basketball team. I’d rather the Knicks be in the playoffs each year in a crappy conference than be terrible for a decade in a crappy conference. Let’s hope they actually have a collective leg to stand on (pun intended) come playoff time.
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino