The Knicks finally had a decent night offensively, and as we’ve been saying here, that made all the difference, giving them a much needed 113-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings. Yes, part of it is that they were helped by the fact that the Kings are a weak team, but the hope entering the season was that if we beat the bad teams and lose to the good ones, we’ll still be good enough to slip into the playoffs. No, we won’t be a team that can challenge for higher than a 7th seed as some deluded fans dreamed, but we just might not be as bad as we’ve seemed.
Looking back, our record isn’t nearly as awful as it seems. The truth is that Minnesota needed a historic night in order to beat us, so we easily could be 5-7 instead of 4-8, and that would have us just a half game outside of the playoffs. Right now, as is, we’re still only a game and a half out, which is pretty sweet considering how awful we’ve been. The loss to Houston also was tough to handle because of their poor record, but their record may be deceiving in that of their 8 losses, 7 of ‘em were against teams likely to end up over .500. The only inexcusable loss was against Philadelphia, and my feeling is that since we had a winning record at the time (3-2) and Phillie not only had looked bad but was also missing their top player (Andre Iguodala) that we entered the game a bit too confident and not with the desperation we needed.
Our next game is a rematch against Golden State, but they’ll be missing David Lee (they’ve gone 1-2 without him). The next night we go up against the one-win Los Angeles Clippers, so we’ve got two very winnable games. If we snag ‘em both, that’d leave us just half a game out. Then we have a home-and-away against Charlotte, one of the teams who we’ll be fighting against for the final spots. Hopefully we can at least split those. Then after that, two of our next three games are also very winnable (versus the Pistons and the Nets).
But back to last night’s game. Let’s talk about a few of the key factors that lead to the victory:
-More importantly than shooting really well from the three-point line (40%) was the fact that we took a far more reasonable amount of them (15) rather than the 25+ we’ve been putting up regularly. Just as if one lives by the sword then one dies by the sword, if ya live by the three you’re gonna die by it too. Wilson Chandler played 34 minutes and nicely only took one three (which he made, but happily that didn’t make him go trigger-happy).
-Mozgov only got six minutes of playing time and Anthony Randolph didn’t get on the court at all. Both of those guys may have tons of potential, but it’d be a compliment to say they’ve only played miserably. We need wins and can’t just give our young guys minutes to screw up in hopes that they’ll improve down the road. These guys need to be growing during practice time, and until they’re consistent there, they shouldn’t be playing.
-Along that line, it was also helpful that Ronny Turiaf didn’t get into foul trouble like he had the previous night in Denver, so he was able to log 30 minutes.
-Toney Douglas finally hit some shots, going 5-for-9 for 12 points in 21 minutes. He doesn’t need to be on fire like he was during that two-game stretch earlier in the season, but he can’t come in and be a total stinkfest on O. He’s Toney Tone, not Jared Jeffries.
-Of note is that we only had 14 assists, with Felton only getting 3. This, to me, further proves my point that our issue is not with the point guard position but rather that our perimeter players haven’t been consistently hitting their outside shots. We can survive if our shooters have a slightly sub-par night, but not if they have truly awful nights like they’ve been doing.
Hopefully we can use this win to help us sneak into Oakland on Friday and steal a victory back from the Warriors.