Phantom Injury Sparks Comeback

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.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well.  Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

It Wasn’t Pretty But It Got the Job Done

You know that saying a win is a win no matter how it looks? Well, that is certainly true in regards to Friday night’s Knicks game. Sure, Melo had 30 points but it took him 24 shots to do so (what else is new). Raymond Felton had a nice game, but the overall performance was mediocre. The final score was 96-88 in a much needed win for the Knicks. This was their first game in March, a March where the Knicks play 18 games and 10 of them are on the road. Not only are they going to play away from home a lot, but they are going to be playing high quality teams. The first obstacle in their gauntlet run is The Miami Heat. The Heat haven’t lost since 1971, and they’ll look to keep that winning streak going. The Knicks have a little 3-game winning streak going as well. The Knicks magically won the first two meetings of the year against the Heat, but the Heat are a different team than the one we saw last time these teams met. The Knicks do have Shumpert and Stoudemire in the lineup opposed to the first two meetings, but this certainly is the toughest game of the year for these Knicks (even if it is at home). What do the Knicks need to do to win this game? Besides pray, they need to play the way they played against Golden State. That might sound silly to some but hear me out. I doubt anyone from the Heat is going to hit 11 of 13 three pointers today, but assume that Lebron and Wade are going to get theirs. If the Knicks can make one stop when it matters most, they may have a chance to win this game. Offensively they’ll need to be firing on all cylinders, and that means leaving Jason Kidd on the bench and trusting Amar’e, Smith, and even Shumpert to provide quality minutes down the stretch. I’m hoping for a thriller today at the Garden. This game is going to carry playoff intensity, and you can expect the Garden to be rocking today. 101-99 Knicks. Book it.

Shooting Clinic at the Garden

Wednesday night, everyone had the privilege of witnessing the best game of the NBA season.  The New York Knicks took on the Golden State Warriors and Madison Square Garden once again proved why it is the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena’.  Anyone who visits the Garden brings their A game.  They want to showcase their skills on the brightest of stages.  Jordan used to get up for games at the Garden, Kobe always brings it at the Garden, and most recently Lebron has shown that the Garden is a venue made for stars to shine.  Last night, we were all witness to the greatest individual performance of the NBA season, so far.  Stephen Curry showcased his skills in last night’s game and showed the world that he is an emerging superstar.  In case you missed it, Curry’s night went a little something like this: 54 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals.  Curry also played all 48 minutes of last night’s game.  He was 7-7 from the free throw line and went 18-28 from the field, including AN AMAZING 11-13 from 3-point range.  He was launching shots from everywhere and they all kept finding the bottom of the net.  Granted the Knicks should have started doubling Curry the second he got hot, but I’ll get back to that.  Curry has one of the smoothest jumpers in the game today.  He also requires very little space to get a shot off, and his release is lightning quick.  Add that to an impressive handle, and you have yourself a nightmare match-up.  As for his impact on last night’s game, he single-handedly kept the Warriors in the game (why do you think he played all 48 minutes even though he was in foul trouble?).  Without his performance the Warriors would have been blown out.  This goes to show you just how well the Knicks executed last night.

The Knicks won the game 109-105 in an absolute thriller.  I thought the Knicks played a really good all around game.  They had a well balanced scoring attack with 5 players scoring in double figures, and I saw something I’ve been begging for all year.  As written in many of my previous articles, the Knicks have played their best basketball when Carmelo Anthony penetrates, attracts a double team, and finds the open man (most notably Amar’e wide open under the hoop for easy dunks).  Now Melo took 26 shots so he still got his, but he also had a season high 8 assists.  Everyone and their mama knows that when Melo gets the ball on the wing he is going to shoot it.  However, if he puts the ball on the floor and starts taking it to the rack more often, he will either score at the basket, draw a foul, or draw a double/triple team leaving someone WIDE open.  This is a recipe for success for this Knicks team.  Now if only Jason Kidd could shoot a basketball, the Knicks would have another offensive option.  At this point, you might as well bring John Starks out of retirement and put him in for Kidd.  See, with Kidd it is not a question of ability (he is 3rd all time in 3 point field goals), it is a mental thing.  Right now his confidence is shattered, and honestly he looks like a broken man.  A fan who called into the Michael Kaye show yesterday said it best, “Jason Kidd is out there looking like he’s playing hot potato with the basketball.”  Yeah, that about sums it up.   Hey, quick question, who told Kidd that he has to keep shooting 3’s?!?!?  Jason, here’s a wild thought: take 3 or 4 steps in and try making some 15 footers.  Maybe when you gain some confidence there, you can inch your way back outside and continue launching 25 footers at will.  As for last night, the player of the game on the Knicks was Tyson Chandler, hands down.  Chandler had 16 points to go along with his 28 rebounds!!  He brought everything to the floor that the Knicks desperately need to win; physical play, defense, and rebounding.  He set the tone early grabbing 13 rebounds in the first quarter, and the rest of the Knicks seemed to feed off of his energy.  Iman Shumpert found himself in foul trouble, but his intensity on the defensive end continues to improve night  by night.  Amar’e Stoudemire’s offensive efficiency continued as well, but his defense is still nothing to write home about.  The Knicks success often relies on the streaky shooting of J.R. Smith, and last night Smith was on target, adding 26 points on 10 of 19 shooting.  On the other hand, Raymond Felton’s shooting woes continued (as his poor shooting has been overshadowed by Jason Kidd’s efforts), but he came up with the big plays down the stretch to seal the game for the Knicks.  The Knicks were lit up by Stephen Curry and gave up 105 points, but it was their defense that made the difference in the game.  Down the stretch, they finally figured out that they should be double teaming Curry.  Once they did that, they forced other players on the Warriors to beat them, and let’s just say they weren’t up to the task.  Also, when the game was coming down to the wire, Felton forced a couple of key turnovers and came up with a HUGE steal off of a Warriors inbound pass that pretty much sealed the game.  Overall I think there are a lot of positive things to take away from this victory.  The Knicks stood up at the sign of adversity and were the last men standing when the final buzzer sounded.  You can catch the Knicks in their next game Friday night @ 7:00 P.M.  They will be in Washington as they take on the Wizards and look to start another winning streak as they have now won 2 games in a row.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well.  Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

In a word ——> Pathetic

Well, the New York Knicks blew a very winnable game last night.  They lost to the Washington Wizards by a score of 106-96.  As you can see from the title, I thought their performance was pathetic!!  This is their worst loss of the season.  If you look at their schedule so far, this is only their 2nd BAD loss of the season though, the other being a loss in Sacramento against the horrid Kings.  That loss was a one point game on the road, but the way the Knicks pummeled them at the Garden last week, they made that loss look even worse.  To the Wizards credit, they are a much better team with a healthy John wall and Nene on the floor.  However, it is the way the Knicks played that really has me fired up today.  I will elaborate on why they played so poorly but to sum up their problems in one word: DEFENSE(or lack there of).  They looked lazy and uninspired on the defensive end.  Guys were getting beat off the first step, and there was no help defense occurring in the paint.  Side-note: I did like Amare’s block on John Wall in the 2nd half.  I need to see a lot more of that when they’re getting broken down by opposing teams point guards.  Let me see that or knock a little guy on his ass once and they’ll stop coming down by the trees real fast(trust me, I was that little guy in high school).  However, at one point in the game it looked like John Wall was out there by himself doing lay-up lines.  One of the Knicks biggest weaknesses is their inability to contain quick point guards.  We saw it last night with Wall, we definitely saw it with Jrue Holliday two weeks ago, and even Jameer Nelson picked apart the Knicks last week(even though we won that game).  The Knicks have a very good record this year, but it’s the games where they play solid team defense from the opening tip until the final buzzer that they look impressive.  It’s in those wins that they look like a team that should compete for a championship.  Last night was not one of those nights.  They allowed Washington(the worst scoring offense in the NBA) to pretty much score at will.  Their 3-point defense was atrocious as well.  Now, I know they can’t win every game and it was just one game, but if they’re going to lose close games I’d like it to be against a formidable opponent.  We might have lost to the Washington Wizards(just as the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder did), but do you know who I really feel bad for??  The Minnesota Timberwolves.  I foresee a massacre in Minnesota, while the Knicks take out their frustration from a terrible loss.  Only time will tell.  Tune in to New York Knicks basketball as they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves, Friday night at 8:00 P.M.