Let us rewind to Monday evening at around 8:00 P.M. The Knicks were getting BLOWN OUT by the Cleveland Cavaliers. We were witnessing one of the most embarrassing performances of the year in the NBA. The expletives that were flying around my head are words I would never dare say out loud. The Knicks looked like they were running in quick sand. They looked sluggish, and lazy, and they were playing uninspired basketball. During the 1st quarter, you saw the Knicks go from up 2 points to down 10. However, the 2nd quarter is where the flood gates opened. The Cavaliers led by Marreese Speights, simply couldn’t miss. Speights went a perfect 10 for 10 in the 1st half. This is a Cavaliers team who is ranked dead last in field goal percentage. Was it the Knicks poor defense that contributed to the Cavaliers offensive explosion, or was it simply a hot streak that couldn’t be stopped? I’d like to think it was a combination of both, but the Cavaliers were shooting 81% from the field and found themselves with a 22 point lead less than four and a half minutes into the 2nd quarter. Yes you read that right, the Cavaliers were beating the Knicks by 22 in the 2nd quarter. Then, in a blink of an eye, everything changed. With 6:48 left in the 1st half, Carmelo Anthony caught an outlet pass near half court. As he caught the pass he tripped over his own two feet and fell down. It looked awkward, it looked like it could have been slightly painful, but all in all it didn’t look too serious. Carmelo Anthony picked himself up and walked (not limped) his way to the locker room. Minutes later, we found out that he would not return to the game. Amar’e Stoudemire took Anthony’s place in the game, and sparked an immediate comeback. In just over one minute, the Knicks cut the lead from 22 to 15. The Cavaliers quickly took a timeout and tried to regroup. That did not help, as the Knicks cut the lead back to single digits. The Knicks accomplished this by attacking the basket and cutting down on their three point attempts (other than J.R. Smith). J.R. Smith added a much needed 18 points but went 1-7 from three-point range. Smith is very athletic and can pretty much get to the basket at will. He needs to concentrate more on that and spend less time jacking up countless three pointers. With a combination of Amar’e Stoudemire’s effective post game and efficient outside shooting by the rest of the team, the Knicks staged an epic comeback. The Knicks scratched and clawed their way back into this game and with four minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the score was knotted at 64. The Knicks turned up the heat on defense and held the Cavaliers to just 13 points in the 3rd quarter. These teams battled back and forth throughout the rest of the game, but in the end the Knicks proved to be too much for the Cavaliers to handle. They pulled out a tough (much needed) victory, 102-97.
When Carmelo Anthony went down for the count in the 1st half, the Knicks found a way to pull together and storm their way back into this game. It was truly a team effort led by Amar’e Stoudemire. Amar’e scored 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the field. Running the offense through Amar’e allowed the Knicks to play a nice inside out game. If Amar’e wasn’t able to take the ball to the hoop aggressively, he kicked the ball out to an open man. The Knicks found effective outside shooting from Jason Kidd and Steve Novak. Novak made four timely three pointers, while Kidd added three of his own. It’s nice to see Jason Kidd find his stroke, as he added 12 points off the bench. Mike Woodson still seems to have a problem with Iman Shumpert though because he seemed to find his stroke as well in the 1st quarter. He hit three of his first four shots but only racked up six total shots for the entire game (in 19 minutes). I really hope that Woodson is just being cautious with Shumpert’s knee because the Knicks are going to need his production on both ends of the floor if they have any plans of making a run in the playoffs. I find myself using the same expression over and over again, but ‘a win is a win’ no matter how it looks. For now that might work against the Cavaliers and the Wizards, but come playoff time that is not going to cut it against the Miami Heat (if they get that far). The Knicks have a much needed day off today, but will continue their road trip against the Detroit Pistons, Wednesday night at 7:30 P.M.
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