Before I get started on the game recap, I’d like to thank NBA and the NBA players association and NFL and the NFL players association for donating $1 million to the American Red Cross and other organizations, Madison Square Garden for donating $500,000 to the Red Cross, and Miami Heat shooting guard, Dwayne Wade for donating his paycheck for tonight’s game (roughly around $200,000) to the Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy disaster relief. This is a very tough time for New Yorkers and New Jersey, and this incredible support shows the great heart of our sports world.
Now onto the game - what a way to start off the season!!!
Here’s what I liked about the game:
1. What a difference an upgrade of point guards can do to the fluidity and cohesiveness of a team. Last year the point guard trio of Toney Douglas, Baron Davis, and Mike Bibby was probably one of the worst in the league. This year the point guard trio consisting of Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni could be one of the best. They contributed 15 of the 23 assists by driving and kicking, and more driving and kicking to the wide open shootoers of Novak and Carmelo. When they weren’t driving and kicking, they were swinging it around the 3 point-line till one of players were open. That’s basketball right there. No more Carmelo isolating or JR Smith doing these fancy moves with crazy pull-ups (although he did do that a couple of times tonight – but he’s learning) – this is the NEW New York Knicks.
Besides Marcus Camby and Tyson Chandler, everyone on the Knicks is flexible at many positions where they can all play on the wing and hit the jumper. With pass first point-guards, and players that could hit the a jump shot, you can’t get a better mix of players.
2. Due to the superb ball movement by the Knicks, they shot a whopping 52% on 19-34 shooting from beyond the arc. This was not surprisingly better than the overall FG% of 42% since most of the drives were often wild shots after passing up a wide open three. Novak hit five three points, Carmelo hit four and the point guards hit a combined six threes. This definitely can be the best weapon for the Knicks for the rest of the season.
3. I absolutely love the starting lineup. By having both Felton and Kidd in the game, it lets Felton have energy to do what hes best at, and let’s Kidd at age 38 have the energy to stay in the game longer and show off his strengths. Felton is the slasher, the guard with high intensity on both sides of the floor and willing to throw his body everywhere on the court. He takes off the pressure from Kidd by bringing up the ball on defenders that will get right in their faces. Felton also takes off the pressure from Kidd by guarding the quick and strong point-guards in the league such as Chalmers tonight. Felton can attack the rim and work his great pick and roles while Kidd will space the floor with his 3 point shooting and keen passing skills. It’s just such a good duo as they complement each other so well. It also works out so much better than having JR Smith at the shooting guard position because he comes off great from the benc,h and it’s not like the Knicks need additional scoring in the lineup with Carmelo there too.
4. The defense on the defending champions is what we need see every night this season. They had high intensity across the board and forced the Heat to commit 21 turnovers. Felton shut down Chalmers, limiting him to only three points and Smith and Anthony played great defese on Wade and James. When Carmelo plays well on both sides of the floor, he could be a top 5 player in the game.
Here’s what I didn’t like about the Game
1. Throughout the second quarter, it looked like the Knicks forgot that moving the ball around is the most efficient way of scoring. Carmelo starting coming down the court throwing shots up instead of relying on his teamates to get him the ball, which prove to work in the first quarter as he had 16 points. Felton started to get a little wild and Smith who was passing great and making good descisions starters in the first quarter started to do his one-on-one basketball. But after Woodson called a timeout, this style of play died, and the Knicks were back to the the right way of playing basketball for the rest of the game.
Carmelo Anthony finished with a game high 30 points and team high 10 rebounds. James finished with a team high 23 points and also added 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Rasheed Wallace and Chris Copeland made their debut in the garbage minutes. Wallace played for the first time in two years and hit a 3 pointer while Copeland took one shot while time was running out.