On a day where it was hard to concentrate on basketball, quite frankly, the Knicks and the Bobcats didn’t do much to aid the waning interest. Given the events that took place at the Boston Marathon earlier this afternoon, basketball didn’t rank high in importance, never mind a game between a locked-in playoff team resting its stars and a lottery-bound team trying to reach its 20th win.
Nevertheless, the Knicks and the Bobcats completed a game. With New York resting Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, and Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin still inactive, the young, spry, mostly healthy Bobcats took advantage of a short-handed squad simply playing out the minutes. The Knicks only played seven players (more on that below), and from the get-go, their lack of offense, inability to stop Charlotte’s penetration, and general lack of motivation wasn’t enough to carry them to win number 54 on the season or a sweep of their season series with Charlotte.
Here’s a look at the individual performances with player report cards:
Chris Copeland – 47 minutes, 32 points, 12-25 FG, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
Without any other consistent shot-creators, Copeland’s hands got extra sticky tonight on his way to a new career-high in points. Copeland did his work in a variety of ways – inside on post-ups, off the dribble from all ranges, and deep (4-8 from beyond the arc). It still remains a mystery how much spin Cope will get in the playoffs (it probably depends on the health of New York’s other big men), but he’s filled in ably in recent games, and his scoring touch has been pleasant revelation this season.
Final Grade: A-
Steve Novak – 41 minutes, 17 points, 6-9 FG, 5-7 3FG, 7 rebounds
Novak’s well-groomed touch tonight helped erase a generally disheartening inability to stop any one of the Bobcats that came at him on defense. First it was John McRoberts and Gerald Henderson blowing by him to the rim, then it was Kemba Walker teasing him on some dribble-dribble-stepbacks that he’s oh-so-smooth at, and even getting posted up by Bismack Biyombo. But hey – 7 rebounds!
Final Grade: B
James White – 43 minutes, 15 points, 5-9 FG, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 1 block
Arguably the prettiest stat line of the night, and I’m guessing a career-high in minutes, cheers to James White looking like a competent basketball player! White’s baskets all seemed kind of difficult to come by, but when they did, there were nice. A side-step into a dunk in transition, a turn-around jumper on the baseline… very nice, James.
Final Grade: B
Iman Shumpert – 42 minutes, 14 points, 5-16 FG, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 3 TOs
With Felton sitting out and Pablo Prigioni starting at point guard, Shumpert saw a lot more time on the ball. At times, this led to some scintillating dribble drives – a double-crossover into a layup and another Dr. J-esque reverse come to mind – and other times it led to bad shots and ineffective kick-outs. It was a little disappointing not to see Shump take on a larger role as a scorer and passer given the Knicks’ short-handedness, but he, too, was in coast mode, knowing the game meant next to nothing, and he needs to conserve himself for the playoffs.
Final Grade: C+
Pablo Prigioni – 42 minutes, 9 points, 3-9 FG, 8 assists, 1 steal
Prigioni probably preferred to not play 42 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back – his body language kinda reflected it, to be honest – but here we are. Prigs struggled to stay in front of any Bobcat he switched onto, couldn’t much find the range on his jumper, and was even more hesistant than usual to bust into the paint for some dribble penetration. As the game wore on, however, he threw some lovely dimes, and once again I was left thinking about what it’d be like if he came to the NBA five years ago.
Final Grade: C+
Jason Kidd – 21 minutes, 6 points, 2-8 FG, 2 rebounds, 6 assists
A+ for his 30-foot banker to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter. The rest of his game was a bit listless, but if not for the Knicks’ dwindling available bodies, Kidd probably wouldn’t have played, either.
Final Grade: C
Rasheed Wallace – 4 minutes, 2 points, 1-3 FG
Rasheed Wallace was an assumed goner for the season, then all of the sudden, he popped up yesterday, and tonight he played… for almost four minutes. ‘Sheed hopped off the bench, promptly hit a deep turn-around jumper, and returned to the bench minutes later after air-balling a three-pointer, and getting blocked at the rim. He didn’t return because of a sore foot (the one he had operated on this year), and evidently didn’t speak to media. When we’ll see ‘Sheed again remains a mystery, but as Knicks fans, we can all cherish those first ten seconds tonight.
Final Grade: B-
Please excuse the general brevity and disinterest. Today’s events took the fun away from what could’ve been a relaxing, meaningless blowout, and it was a bit hard to get too into this game. I have friends and acquaintances in Boston, and thankfully, they’re all OK, but my heart goes out to anyone and everyone affected by the explosions today. These events serve to remind how lucky we are for our general safety and how quickly things can change in life. I wish everyone the best out there.
The Knicks end their regular season Wednesday night back in New York against Atlanta.