50 wins on the season. 12 wins in a row. This is fun.
ABC’s Sunday matinee featured a showdown of teams fighting for playoff position. The Knicks are trying to hold onto the 2 seed in the East, while the Thunder are trying to get the 1 seed in the West. It was a big game for both teams. Not surprisingly Carmelo Anthony led the way for the Knicks with 36 points and 12 rebounds. The Knicks were hapless defensively, allowing OKC to shoot 57.7% from the floor, but they took 15 more shots and hit 15 threes. Without Kenyon Martin in the fold due to injury, the bench stepped up for the Knicks, especially in the first half. Chris Copeland, Jason Kidd and Steve Novak all played well and JR hit a few huge shots down the stretch. All in all, this was a great team win for the team. It was easily the best win of the streak and probably the best win of the season. The Knicks now lead Indiana by 2.5 games in the standings. This was a fun Sunday.
Here are my notes from the game:
- What more is there to say about Carmelo Anthony’s latest stretch of play? Playing at the top of his game, Anthony is completely unstoppable right now. Not only is he hitting his jumpers, but he’s bullying his way into the paint and wrecking havoc. He recorded his second straight double digit rebound game, grabbing 9 offensive boards. In the much hyped battle for the scoring record with Kevin Durant, Anthony was easily the victor. Durant put in 27 points of his own, but he wasn’t able to take over the game like Anthony did. Durant hit just 1 of his 6 fourth quarter attempts, scoring just 5 points in the period.
- Raymond Felton’s offense was fantastic. Though he was eviscerated defensively, Felton’s offense was every bit as important as Anthony’s today. New York’s drive and kick game was great all day and Felton was no exception to that. He did a great job attacking off pick and rolls which was collapsing the Thunder defense and opening up the perimeter for the Knicks spot up shooters. In addition to his 8 assists, Felton scored 16 points. Good game for the duck.
- Chris Copeland gave the Knicks 19 very good minutes. As we’ve seen before, the Great White Cope can be a very dangerous scorer when he gets hot. He can handle the ball, break down defenses and shoot the three. He scored 13 points, but that wasn’t the most impressive part of his game. In addition to surprisingly not horrible defense, Copeland also dished 3 assists, which is like 8 more than he’s had all year. He was doing a great job in drive and kick situations, breaking down the defense and dishing to open spot up shooters. This is something we haven’t seen from Copeland this year, as he usually just puts his head down and tries to score every possession. That was fun to watch.
- The only semblance of defense the Knicks had today came from Tyson Chandler (what else is new?). Though he had a rough start to the game, he made a lot of solid rotations and bothered a good number of OKC shots at the rim. With the Knicks perimeter defense pretty much hopeless, the Thunder were getting into the paint left and right. Though Chandler certainly had a few plays he wish he could have back, he had a lot of good rotations as well. After playing 37 minutes on Friday against Milwaukee, he played 39 today. With the Knicks ridiculous amount of front court injuries, Woodson doesn’t have much of a choice, but to play Chandler. I’m worried that Tyson will either get hurt again or just wear down come playoff time, so hopefully K-Mart gets back soon.
- As they have during this streak, and as I pointed out last week, the Knicks won with offense. They haven’t been defending much better at all, but have been scoring at a ridiculous mark. According to the NBA.com stats database, the Knicks have been scoring 118 points per 100 possessions during the streak, which would be an NBA record if prorated throughout an entire season. They’ve given up 103 points per 100, which is basically what they’ve done all season. The question moving forward is A) will this hot shooting continue into the playoffs and B) will the Knicks be able to win in the playoffs with average defense. I’ll explore this in a post later this week.
This week, the Knicks have three winnable games before playing Indiana in a huge game Sunday. They’ve got the Wizards at MSG on Tuesday, then at the Bulls and at the Cavs.Knicks need to win 2/3 of these games, and could realistically win all three.
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino