Coming into this game on the heels of last night’s egg, facing the NBA’s most dominant team was a frightening scenario for the 3-7 New York Knicks. Of course a loss is a loss, but losing against the Indiana Pacers isn’t startling given their tremendous start to the season. The Knicks actually put up a valiant effort that didn’t peter out until overtime, so in a roundabout sort of way, yes, I am attempting to cling onto the silver lining here. To be frank, I was expecting a full-blown debacle tonight, so perhaps by setting my expectations so low, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Knicks in control for most of the game.
Full disclosure, the thought of Roy Hibbert feasting in the paint of the Chandler-less Knicks was scary enough to even force me to start him on my fantasy team. (Obviously that worked out great for me as he was a non-factor the entire game). However it wasn’t Hibbert that did it for the Knicks, though. Paul George’s rising stock continued to climb to “superstar” status as his 35 points (9 in overtime) was too much for the Knicks to answer.
Before the game started, Mike Woodson reminded the Knicks that last season the Pacers were 4-8 around this time of year and still managed to ascend to the Eastern Conference Finals, but I can’t help feel that the Knicks’ current 3-8 record might be on pace to get a lot worse before it gets better when looking at the schedule. Regardless of what the season may hold in store for the Knicks, Mike Breen said it best: “If they played like this every night there’s no way they would be 3-7 right now.”
Carmelo Anthony – 42 minutes, 30 points, 10-28 FG, 10-10 FT, 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 4 TOs, -6
Terrific game for ‘Melo, but most impressive to me was his 18 rebounds (9 offensive ones!) and his 10-10 shooting from the charity stripe. In many NBA circles on the web, there is a lively debate between who the better player is between Paul George and Anthony, so games like tonight are a real treat for basketball junkies. However, it was Lance Stephenson that was guarding Melo for most of the game, so that debate will surely have to be continued. ISO-Melo did take form on many possessions and as per usual that can sometimes be to the detriment of the team.
Final Grade: A
Andrea Bargnani – 38 minutes, 10 points, 4-16 FG, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block, +2
Bargs had a good start to game on both ends of the floor- he even blocked Hibbert! However it was a rough shooting night for the rest of the game, and defensively he wasn’t any better as he fouled out late in the game. Anything more than 3 rebounds from Bargs makes me happy but it’s been awhile since he’s had a real, impactful game.
Final Grade: B-
Tim Hardaway Jr. – 4 minutes, 2 points, 1-1 FG, -5
With Raymond Felton out and rumors of Iman Shumpert’s departure running rampant, you’d think Tim JR would have gotten more minutes. Instead, Woodson shortened the rotation a bit and relied on Beno Udrih and Pablo Prigioni to man the backcourt duties.
Final Grade: INCOMPLETE
Kenyon Martin – 38 minutes, 6 points, 3-8 FG, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 block, 4 TOs +3
A solid defensive effort from K-Mart allowed him the minutes he’s been asking for. He’s probably taken whatever minutes Amar’e Stoudemire was allotted and rightfully so. With Chandler out, there aren’t too many Knicks there to give hard fouls and pose a real threat near the rim, and that’s where K-Mart fits in almost effortlessly.
Final Grade: B
Pablo Prigioni – 15 minutes, 2 points, 1-2 FG, 3 assists, 1 steals, 3 TOs -3
Not too many minutes given to Prigioni tonight, but anytime he’s in, Knicks fans can rest easy knowing that there is a floor general on the court. Most impressive to me was Prigs showing some leadership acumen by being visibly upset at the Knicks’ poor play. At one point, he yelled at J.R. Smith after an ugly turnover and slammed a Gatorade cup on the floor. Perhaps a Brooklyn coaching gig is on his mind?
Final Grade: C
Iman Shumpert – 36 minutes, 4 points, 1-6 FG, 4 rebounds, 2 assist, 5 steal, 1 TO, +6
His name is littering NBA Trade Machines all over the web and probably coming to terms that his Knicks days might be coming to an end, but he still plays as if nothing matters but getting a “W.” In 36 minutes of play Shumpert played a decent defensive game and contributed in many other ways aside from scoring. His foul on Paul George’s three-pointer late in the game was a blemish on a classic Shump defensive effort.
Final Grade: B-
J.R. Smith – 38 minutes, 21 points, 8-19 FG, 4-10 3FG, 5 rebound, 2 steals, 1 TOs, -11
Undoubtedly his best game of the season. J.R.’s natural role on this team is scoring in bunches off the bench, and it’s an area he finally thrived at tonight. His 38 minutes certainly aren’t ‘6th man’ typical of a bench player but his scoring bailed the Knicks out of a couple of lost possessions. Without him, the Knicks wouldn’t have kept pace with Indiana. Eh, sorry for the bad pun.
Final Grade: A-
Beno Udrih – 38 minutes, 19 points, 8-15 FG, 3-4 3FG, 8 rebound, 4 assists, 2 TOs, -1
Is it too early to cry Udrihsanity? Udrih had a hell of a game tonight and showed why he needs more minutes. Unlike Felton, he didn’t need to score to be effective, but his 8-15 shooting was what kept the Knicks in the game. He also notched 8 boards and hit a number of critical three-pointers that stopped Indiana from running away with the game at various points. Felton has played really poorly as of late so I’m really interested to see what else Udrih can do in starter minutes. The Knicks signed him in the off-season for a reason, and it wasn’t to sit on the bench. I, for one, hope Felton takes his time coming back because if tonight is any indication, the Knicks may have stumbled upon a really valuable piece.
Final Grade: A+
Metta World Peace – 16 minutes, 2 points, 1-5 FG, 1 assists, -12
Limited minutes for Metta tonight after a difficult week for him. A death in the family and his knee being drained should have kept him out of the game altogether but he’s the kind of player that always wants to be in the game, regardless of the circumstances and that’s commendable.
Final Grade: C
Cole Aldrich- a few seconds, -3
I’ll just put it this way: In the few seconds he was in the game, Hibbert sank a three-pointer in his face.
Final Grade: F