Game Recap 3/31: Knicks vs. Celtics

Happy Easter!

It’s so much more fun to write a recap for win instead of a loss. And even more fun when it’s so much more fun to write a recap for win instead of a loss. And even more fun when it’against the Celtics.

The Knickerbockers won its eighth straight game on Sunday, defeating the Boston Celtics 108-89 at the World’s Most Famous Arena. They now have a 4 ½ game lead in the Atlantic Division, and the magic number to clinch the division is at 6.

With the win, the Knicks took the season series from the Celtics 3-1, and have all but ended Boston’s reign atop the division.

The Knicks dominated this game from about the second quarter on, and held a double-digit lead for the majority of the second half. Carmelo Anthony led the way with 24 points on 9-19 shooting, despite only taking a handful of shots in the second half. He was also a beast on the offensive glass and grabbed 10 rebounds in all, but really looked aggressive crashing the basket.

The key to the game was the bench. Chris Copelandia poured in 22 points the lead the second unit, a role usually designated to J.R. Smith. After three straight 30-point games, Smith scored 15 on 4-12 shooting. He didn’t have the great shooting nights he has had in the past week or so, but Smith did a lot of good things tonight. He continued his drive-first mentality and got to the free-throw line 10 times, as well as grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out four assists.

Copeland played a huge role with Kenyon Martin being sidelined due to a strained abdominal muscle, and played 20 important minutes. He was 6-10 from the field en route to his 22 points, and also grabbed five rebounds. He got to the line nine times himself, and as a unit the Knicks took 31 free-throws.

Overall, this was a fairly easy win for the Knicks, and they coasted for most of the contest. It was exactly the way they wanted, especially since they travel to Miami on Tuesday. Maybe Lebron, Wade and Chalmers won’t play again? No shot.

Here are a few other notes from the win:

  • The ball movement was excellent again tonight, and led to 14 three-pointers. The Knicks shot 52% from behind the arc and allowed them to build the lead and put the Celtics away. The Knicks have shot extremely well from 3 during this winning streak, and is coming from the crisp ball movement and spacing; the keys to an efficient Knick offense.
  • Raymond Felton had a solid game tonight, despite having only four assists. He hit 3 three pointers and scored 18 points in total. The addition of Pablo Prigioni to the starting lineup continued to be effective with the two point guards. Prigioni dished out five assists, and Kidd off the bench because of the change is doing a lot of little things for the second unit.
  • Steve Novak took more two point shots than three pointers tonight. That has to be the first time that’s happened.

 

Game Recap 3/27/13: Knicks vs. Grizzlies

I want to start this recap by expressing how much I dislike the jerseys the Grizzlies wore tonight. The light blueish unis are by far their ugliest, and probably has a lot to do with the way they played early on.

The Knicks defeated the Grizzlies tonight 108-101 at The Garden. It is their sixth straight victory and the most impressive one of this winning streak so far. With the Heat loss this evening, the Knicks now have the longest active winning streak in the NBA.

Besides the first couple buckets of the game, the Knicks led this one wire to wire, but made it very interesting towards the end in the fourth quarter.

Memphis came into the game second in the Association in points allowed, but the Knicks did whatever they wanted in the first half. Excellent ball movement freed up the three-point shooters and they rarely missed. The Knickerbockers shot 61% from the field and had an offensive efficiency rating of 153.3 en route to putting up 69 (haha) first half points. Shumpert got the scoring going early with 10 early first quarter points. His jumper has looked better and better with each game and he has been shooting over 42% from behind the arc in March. He also made a nice play in transition, showing some of his explosiveness and trust in that knee.

The Knicks had a 28-point halftime lead and led by as much as 30 in the third quarter. It looked like it was all over, but because of bad defense and constant foul calls, the Grizzlies got clawed their way back into it, and had the lead cut down to as little as four late in the fourth.

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Game Preview: Hawks at Knicks 1/27

 

Hawks (25-18)  at    Knicks (26-15)

The only real positives that could be taken out of the Knicks beating to the Sixers in Philly last night is that they have to have a short memory and bounce back today. The Knicks return home after a couple of Atlantic Division road games to take on the Hawks, who currently sit in sixth place in the East, two games behind the Knicks.

After a gutsy and much needed victory over the Celtics on Thursday night, the Knicks laid an egg in Philadelphia last night. They lost to the lowly Sixers 97-80 in a game where the ‘Bockers seemed to be indifferent. It was the return of Raymond Felton to the lineup but that didn’t spark much as the Knicks couldn’t knock down any open shots. It was the first time we caught a glimpse of the Felton-Kidd-Shump-Melo-Chandler lineup, but it looked rusty as expected with Felton and Shumpert still working themselves back.

A bright spot from the game in Philly was Amar’e Stoudemire’s play off the bench. After scoring 15 points against Brooklyn and then Boston, STAT dropped in 20 against the Sixers. Even though Melo outscored him as he poured in 25 points, Stoudemire was the Knicks lone bright spot offensively last night. His improvement from game to game, not only offensively but he has been been more aggressive on the glass and on defense, is something that is encouraging going forward for the Knicks.

One thing that isn’t encouraging is the shooting slump that J.R. Smith has found himself in. His field-goal percentage has dropped to under 40% on the season, and he seems to be lost offensively recently. Smith went 0-8 from the field last night and didn’t score a single point. That followed a 3-16 performance against the Celtics, a 7-19 performance against the Nets, a 6-15 shooting night in London against the Pistons, and a dismal 3-11 shooting against the Hornets. It has been a real tough stretch for Smith who many people believed should have been an all-star. J.R needs to regain his shooting stroke and stop forcing up awful shots in transition and the half court. I think he gets it going again today, starting on the defensive end to get himself an easy bucket.

Felton looked rusty last night, but at least we saw one Felton to Chandler alley-oop that we became so accustomed to seeing. The Knicks host the Hawks today who have won three straight games, including a 27-point comeback against the Celtics the other night. The Knicks have beaten the Hawks four of the past five meetings, and need to get back on track against them today. The key will be keeping the Hawks off the boards who are led by Al Horford, Josh Smith and ZaZa Pachulia. The Knicks have been improving their rebounding on the defensive end over the past few weeks, and as weird as it sounds, Stoudemire has helped provide some rebounding help.

The Hawks leading scorer is the versatile Josh Smith who averages 16.9 points per game, but the more important defensive matchup for the Knicks is Felton on Jeff Teague. Even before the injury the Knicks and Felton had trouble keeping the opposing point guard out of the point. Last night was a prime example as Jrue Holiday did whatever he wanted en route to scoring 35 points in the blowout. Teague is another extremely quick point guard who can get in the paint and cause havoc. Teague averages 13.4 points and 6.7 assists per game, and the Knicks need to keep him in check today.

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Game Recap: Celtics at Knicks 1/8

 

Celtics 102, Knicks 96

The Knicks lost their fourth game at the Garden this season in a 102-96 dogfight to the Celtics. And I just want to start this recap off by saying, FUCK THE CELTICS.

I wanted to just write a recap by repeating that over and over again, but that wouldn’t be very good writing.

Without Rajon Rondo, who was suspended for a game because of bumping an official yet again, the Celtics were able to come into Madison Square Garden and steal one for the Knicks. You knew coming in that the Celtics wanted this game bad. They were sick of all the talk about how the Atlantic Division belonged to the Knicks now (which, despite this game, is true), and seem to always show up when they need to. The Celtics defense along with a ton of forced shots held Carmelo Anthony to 6-26 shooting.

Melo lost his cool. He and KG were going at it for much of the fourth quarter, and as has been the case for most of the season, he wasn’t able to harness that emotion. Instead it boiled over into awful execution down the stretch by the Knicks, the exact opposite of the Celtics.

Pablo Prigioni had his worst game in this recent stretch tonight. He had two points and 0, yes 0, assists to go along with his four turnovers. He had a +/- of -19, an atrocious stat line. Since Felton’s injury, Prigioni has played well but fell short tonight. Amare had a -15 +/- despite his 13 points. He gave up a few easy rebounds to Sullinger and Bass, and his defense is obviously still an issue as he comes back into the rotation. I like what I have seen from him though in his first three games back from injury.

Paul Pierce hit a few huge jump shots, one coming directly after Spike Lee leaned over and looked up at him talking shit. I still hate that Spike does that to players, it backfires every time. Garnett had 19 and 10, but probably his biggest asset to this game was his riling up of Melo. While it was great to see Carmelo call KG a pussy multiple times, it didn’t turn out well for the ‘Bockers.  Melo didn’t talk to reporters after the game and allegedly went to the Celtics locker room to confront the lovely Garnett.

Despite the loss, there were a few positives. Tyson Chandler had another fantastic game and continues to be the anchor. He had 13 points to go along with his 17 rebounds, and as always had a few Tyson Tip-Outs. Eight offensive rebounds from Tyson gave the Knicks a bunch of second-chance opportunities, but they struggled to knock down the big jumpers they’ve been hitting all season. Jason Kidd was a +11 tonight and dished out six assists.

The Knicks let a game they should’ve won slip away from them. It’s their second loss in the division in the first try at the reigning champs of it. These two will get together again on Jan. 24, but will need to turn their attention to the Pacers who they play on Thursday night.

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Game Preview 12/18: Knicks at Kings

The New York Knickerbockers return to action tonight as they take on the Sacramento Kings (or Queens if you are Shaq) in Sacramento and continue their western swing. The Knicks are coming off a thrilling win in Phoenix on Wednesday night thanks to a J.R. Smith buzzer beater. Smith also hit the game tying shot moments before. The Knicks got 50 points combined from Smith and Jason Kidd on a night where they were without Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton. Felton is out 4-6 weeks with a broken pinkie and Anthony is still listed as day-to-day, and is unsure if he will give it a go tonight. Leave it to the Lakers to hurt Carmelo yet again.

The Knicks did get some solid minutes out of Marcus Camby, a good sign going forward as they need depth up front especially with the length of Rasheed Wallace’s absence being unknown. Pablo Prigioni will also need to see extended minutes with Felton out, and this is a good stretch to evaluate just how deep the Knicks are as a team.

Based on Carmelo’s comments and saying he was barely able to walk yesterday, I am going to assume he is going to sit out tonight. The Kings aren’t exactly the best team in the league and they were without Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans in their last game. The Kings have the second to worst record in the Western Conference and have been just a mess all year. Cousins was suspended indefinitely a week ago for conduct detrimental to the team, a.k.a whining and complaining over and over again. He was reinstated to the team but did not play in their previous game as clearly him and head coach Keith Smart do not see eye to eye.

So the Knicks head into Sacramento a little banged up with a record of 21-8, and should go in and take care of business. The Kings are just 3-7 in their last 10, and rank in the bottom of the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency. If the Kings are going to be without their top two players in Cousins and Evans then the Knicks should have no problem getting win number 22. If Cousins does play then Chandler and Camby will both have their hands full with the young big man as he is one of the top big guys in the game when keeping his head. It will be key for Chandler to stay out of foul trouble, and to work Marcus Camby into the rotation.

 

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Game Preview 12/17: Rockets at Knicks

It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for. Well, not really, but it is the long awaited return of Linsanity to the Mecca, the arena where Jeremy Lin became a house hold name practically overnight. Lin has struggled mightily this season though, averaging less than 11 points and 6 assists per game, to go along with his abysmal field-goal percentage (under 40%). The backcourt tandem of Lin and Harden has been questioned because of their styles of play and has left many wondering if they don’t click well. It hasn’t effected James Harden however, as he is averaging 25 points per game, the fifth most in the league.

This game is a lot bigger for the Knicks then Jeremy Lin’s return, as they should have some revenge on their mind. The last time these two teams got together the Knicks got ran out of the gym, giving up 131 points to the Rockets in Houston en route to a 28-point blowout, by far the Knicks worst defeat of the year. In that game Harden had 33 and Chandler Parsons added 31, and in the wise words of Bart Scott, the Knicks couldn’t stop a nose bleed. The Rockets knocked down 14 of 25 threes, something the Knicks cannot allow to happen again. The Knicks have gone 10-2 since that game, and have allowed 100 points in only four of those last 12 games. Their three-point shooting and lack of turnovers has been the catalyst all season, and could be tonight as well.

The Rockets allow opponents to shoot 38.9% from behind the arc, the fourth highest in the league according to HoopData.com. The Knicks shoot over 40% from downtown and lead the league in 3-point rate. The Rockets are just behind the Knicks in 3-point rate, so be prepared to see a lot of three-pointers tonight from both teams. With Carmelo Anthony questionable with a sprained ankle, the three-point shot will again be huge for the Knicks. Both Harden and Lin like to get out in transition, so the Knicks transition defense will be crucial tonight. The Rockets average 16.8 fast break points a game, and the Knicks need to make sure they get back on defense and force the Rockets to beat them in the half-court game. As we saw when he played in New York, Lin is susceptible to turnovers in the half court and could allow the Knicks to get out into their own fast breaks.

Keeping Omer Asik in check tonight will fall on Tyson Chandler. Asik killed the Knicks last meeting with 18 and 14, and is averaging over 11 boards a game on the season. With Rasheed Wallace likely out again, Chandler’s interior defense and rebounding will be essential to limiting Asik’s effectiveness.

Tonight will mark the return of another former Knick point guard, Toney Douglas. Douglas played well for a brief time a couple years ago and was the Knicks starting point guard against the Celtics in the playoff series, but seemed to regress significantly last season. Douglas was a part of the deal that brought Marcus Camby back to the Knicks, and has played pretty well for the Rockets this season.  He is averaging over 10 points per game over his last 10 games in 22+ minutes. The hard-working point guard was pretty much ran out of New York at the end of last season, and has found a decent fit with the Rockets.

This is a huge game for the Knicks even without the return of Jeremy Lin. That is the last thing on the Knicks’ minds as they want to avenge their worst loss of the season. Raymond Felton told reporters this morning that they owe the Rockets something, and I expect them to come out firing at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

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Knicks-Nets: What to Watch For

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The Knicks travel back to the Barclays Center tonight to take on the Nets in the second meeting of the NBA’s newest rivalry. The Nets won the first chapter of this saga in overtime, 96-89, back on Nov. 25 in Brooklyn where the Knicks were without Jason Kidd, but both teams have gone in different directions since that game. The Knickerbockers have won six of seven since the road loss to the Nets, while the Nets have dropped four straight games including three in a row at home. Tonight marks the end of a four-game home stand for the Nets, and the Knicks would love nothing more than to give them an 0-4 home trip at the Barclays.

Brook Lopez has missed the last five games for the Nets and  will miss tonight’s game as well. Lopez killed the Knicks in the first meeting with 22 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. On the flip side, Tyson Chandler has been on a tear recently, averaging 15 points, 10 rebounds and shooting over 75% from the field in his last 10 contests. He torched the Nets for 28 and 10 in the last meeting, and with no Lopez tonight, Chandler could be due for a huge game. He and Felton have developed a great chemistry and the high pick and roll, and even Felton’s drives to the basket that go for misses turn into assists for Chandler.

The Knicks and Nets currently sit atop the Atlantic Division standings, with the Knicks holding a 3 ½ game lead and the top seed in the Eastern Conference. It is the latest the Knicks have been first in the conference since the 1994 season when they went to the Finals. With the rest of the division struggling a bit it’s a great chance for the Knicks to really put a stranglehold on it. I still think the Knicks and Nets are the two best teams in the division, and tonight is a statement game for both teams.

The impact of this game goes deeper than just the standings, for obvious reasons. All clichés aside, the Nets want to be the dominant team in New York, and are still the only Eastern Conference team to beat the Knicks. A rivalry has started and the Knicks need to claim their first victory in the battle of New York.

Heres what to watch for: Continue reading

Knicks Need To Take Care of Business Before Showdown In Miami

 

Fresh off the 102-88 victory over the Bucks on Wednesday night, the Knicks return home to take on the newest members of the NBA’s win column, the Washington Wizards. The Wizards won their first game of the season Wednesday, defeating the Blazers 84-82. Tonight’s game is the first of three very winnable games for the Knicks before they travel to Miami and play the Heat in an Eastern Conference showdown. These three games are crucial for the Knicks to avoid those let down games we have come so accustomed to seeing from them over the years.

The stretch starts tonight as the Wizards travel to the Garden trying to establish their first winning streak in a decade (not a real stat). The Wizards are 1-12 and are at the bottom of the league in points scored, at just 89.4 per. They then play the Suns in another Sunday afternoon contest at the Garden, there fourth already this season. The Suns currently sit at 7-9 and are coming off of an embarrassing 40-point shellacking to the Detroit Pistons, after which prompted their head coach Alvin Gentry to say they couldn’t have beaten an NCAA team. These two are both winnable games for the Knicks in their home building where they have yet to lose a game this year. The Knicks need to continue to take care of business at home before they hit the road.

The final game of this mini-three game stretch before the showdown with the Heat is in Charlotte against the surprising Bobcats. The Bobcats have seven wins this season, matching their total from all of last year. The Bobcats beat the Knicks once last year thanks to their inability to defend Boris Diaw. They play the Bobcats the night before they play the Heat in Miami on TNT, and this one has all the makings of a letdown game. This Knick team feels a little different than in the past though. They took care of business against the Pistons at home in an afternoon game the day before they played the Nets in the much-anticipated New York battle.

The combined record of the next three opponents for the Knicks is 15-28, and I would love to see a 13-4 record heading into Thursday’s matchup. It is imperative the Knicks take care of business, especially at home, against the lesser teams in the league. Those are the first steps in becoming an elite team in this league, beating the teams that you are supposed to.

Game Preview 11/28: Knicks @ Bucks

        Two nights after the Knicks lost the first Battle of the Borough’s to the Nets they are back in action on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Knicks are in need of a win and have dropped three of the last four games since jumping out to a 6-0 start. After losing their third straight road contest to the Nets at the Barclays, the Knicks travel to Milwaukee. Jason Kidd will miss his second straight game and did not travel with the team to Milwaukee because of back spasms. They face a Bucks team that sits atop the Central Division in the Eastern Conference at 7-5 and can really score the ball, something teams have been doing with ease against the Knicks the past several games.  The Knicks did hold the Nets to 96 points in an overtime game on Monday night, but gave up 100+ points the three games prior. A bright spot that came out of the Nets game was the reemergence of Tyson Chandler, who poured in 28 points and grabbed ten rebounds, demonstrating some of the energy and intensity we become used to seeing with him.

The two teams enter the game under different circumstances. The Knicks have lost 3 of 4, while the Bucks are fresh off a 27-point comeback victory over the Bulls on Monday night. The Bucks are second in the league in field-goal percentage, and are led by their two star guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Ellis leads the Bucks in scoring with 19.1 per, and Jennings is second to him averaging 16.5 per but leads the NBA in steals at a little over three a game. Those two are the engine that makes the Bucks go, and the Knicks perimeter defense will be crucial tonight to avoid the Milwaukee guards from peculating (Clyde voice).  Here are a few keys/notes/things to look for:

Bench Scoring: The Bucks come into the game second in the league in bench scoring, getting 42 points from their reserves this season. On the flip side, the Knicks are only allowing 32 points per game from the opposition’s bench.  In Milwaukee’s comeback victory over the Bulls the other night, their bench outscored the Bulls 56-10, clearly turning out to be the difference in the contest. The Knicks will have their hands full with the two starting guards of the Bucks, so it will be crucial for them to win the battle of the second units tonight. J.R Smith could never get going offensively the other night against the Nets, and the Knicks offense struggled because of it. Chandler and Anthony scored a combined 63 points against the Nets and the Knicks scored 89 as a team; they need J.R. to add some scoring off the bench.

Play of Raymond Felton: We all know how poor Felton shot the ball the other night. He was 3 of 17 from the field and couldn’t find his jumper all night. He also seemed to be a little hesitant on some pick and rolls with Chandler, caught in between whether he wanted to drop in an eight-foot floater or throw Chandler a lob. He and Tyson connected on a few real pretty pick and rolls that led to easy Chandler dunks, but overall Felton played easily his worst game as a Knick. With Kidd out for the second straight game, the play of Felton will again be under a microscope, and they will without a doubt need a better shooting performance from him. I’d also like to see him and Tyson run that high pick and roll more often, and Felton improving on the decision-making. His defense will also be put to the test against the two electrifying guards, especially since Kidd will miss his second straight game and Ronnie Brewer ailing with a dislocated finger.

3-Point Shooting: The Knicks come into tonight averaging just fewer than 12 threes per game to lead the NBA. It has been a major part of their offense so far this season. They were able to knock down only six against the Nets on Monday night, and it is no coincidence they lost the game. Novak looked like he regained his stroke in the game prior against the Pistons, but barely showed up against the Nets as he attempted only three shots. Steve Novak is a key part of this offense when he is able to spread the floor, but he is obsolete on both ends of the floor when he isn’t hitting the three ball. I look for him to hit some big three’s tonight to help the second unit along with J.R. For the Bucks, they shoot under 30% as a team from behind the arc, so the Knicks will need to keep them around that number tonight.

The Bucks are also a pretty good rebounding team with Samuel Dalambert and Ersan Ilyasova who both attack the offensive glass. While the Knicks outrebounded the Nets in the fourth quarter on Monday night, they were outrebounded for the first three quarters, and got abused on the glass by Reggie Evans who grabbed 14 boards in 17 minutes. Rebounding continues to be an issue for the Knicks, so I would like to see Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby show up and help on the rebounds.

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