There were several reasons why the Knicks squeaked by Orlando last night: A few fortunate refereeing decisions (see Dwight Howard’s sixth foul and the Carmelo/Jason Richardson action movie tussle), the absolutely monstrous second half by Anthony, and functioning grit of Shelden Williams. Wait, hold up. What two words did my fingers just type? Shelden Williams? That’s right, Candace’s man, The Shelden Williams.
With Ronny Turiaf out and Dwight Howard in town, the Knicks were primed for some serious victimization courtesy of the league’s most valuable big man. Instead we were greeted by one of the most unexpected (and timely) breakout performances of the year.
Courtesy of Ian Begley:
“He was just banging and pounding him just as well as you can go against Dwight,” Mike D’Antoni said after Williams’ effort on Howard helped New York snap a six-game losing streak.
Williams finished with three rebounds and two steals in 15:51, fouling out with 1:05 to play in the fourth quarter. The stat line isn’t pretty. But Williams gave the Knicks an intangible toughness that had been mostly missing over the past two weeks.
“He played some pretty good defense at times,” Howard said of Williams. “He moved his feet and he didn’t foul.”
Shelden Williams isn’t the Knicks long term answer at the center position, but if he can serve as a serviceable plug for the team’s most glaring weakness over the next several weeks, he could find himself a long(er) term job in the Big Apple. Consider it an auditioning process. He’s an unrestricted free agent next year and even with his size and girth drawing a little attention, he won’t command much on the open market. If Williams approaches the last few weeks of the 2010-11 season as his last—a realistic possibility—then we as Knicks fans could be looking forward to much more (defensively!) out of him from here on out.