The Knicks have good reason to feel good about this victory following a disappointing loss at home to the Heat on Sunday afternoon. With not having won at Cleveland since 2006, flailing to a 22-point deficit in the first half, and Carmelo Anthony’s early exit were all reasons to doubt the Knicks would wind up winners, but all obstacles were overcome for an exciting comeback win on the road.
The shooting wasn’t really there tonight, but his 10 assists led the Knicks as he proved to be a valuable contributor tonight. He was an important factor in the Knicks comeback from the early deficit and was able to move the ball once Carmelo went down.
Kidd is showing signs of life again after being in a terrible shooting slump that cost him a starting spot. He’s getting the stroke back from downtown, going 3-5 tonight, and also added 8 boards and 3 steals to his line. The Knicks are a much better team when the outside shots are falling, something the team on a whole will have to do more consistently.
At points in the game, Smith looked like he started to shift towards driving the lane rather than taking ridiculous outside shots, which was working for him on layups and getting to the free throw line. At many other points, it was the same old J.R. who saw his pretty poor shooting continue with a 6-17 night (1-7 from 3PT). His 18-7-7 line was good and overall he did a solid job filling for Carmelo Anthony for the bulk of this game, but his perimeter shot selection has been absolutely terrible and will probably cost the Knicks a few points in some games.
Carmelo wasn’t looking too great with a 1-5 start from the field, but Carmelo gets the benefit of the doubt that his knee issues put a damper his performance until he had to leave the game.
Much of the talk about Amar’e playing much better without Carmelo on the floor will probably be revisited, but his performance was encouraging nonetheless, regardless of who else was playing. He was 10-15 shooting for 22 points and was looking very active in both creating his own shots and finishing easy looks. Amar’e reached the 30 minute mark for the first time since returning and once Mike Woodson is willing to use him to that extent nightly (compared to the 22 MPG average this season), it would be no surprise to see the big man perform at a high level once again.
Chandler was efficient tonight and his defensive presence was felt more than his modest 8-point, 9-rebound night. Though Marreese Speights started hot, the frontcourt for the Cavs quieted a bit in the second half as the Knicks started to make their run, with Chandler being a big part of that.
Steve Novak was on tonight, hitting 4-7 3-pointers, which is a major plus because when he’s a valuable contributor of any sort on a given night, the Knicks generally have more success. Even though Amar’e and J.R. aren’t really role players since starters like Shumpert and White logged far less minutes, they can be included again as part of the Knicks great bench performance in this case. With Carmelo going down in the middle of a pretty big deficit, everyone needed to add something and the Knicks looked great without him, moving the ball well and getting plenty of good opportunities. The defensive effort on a whole was much, much better in the second half as well.