The New York Knicks let another one slip away Friday night in Houston as they watched an eight-point lead slip away as they were outscored by 10 in the fourth quarter in a 102-100 loss to the Houston Rockets.
One big problem is the fact that the Knicks couldn’t do anything to stop James Harden, who torched Knicks defenders for a game-high 37 points.
The other major problem is the Knicks own stupidity and lack of basketball IQ.
With 20 seconds left and in a tie game, Knicks’ center Tyson Chandler grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to J.R. Smith. With the shot clock off, the Knicks could have held for the last shot, but instead, Smith hoisted up an ill-advised three and missed.
The final result was Aaron Brooks getting fouled and knocking down two free throws to give Houston the win.
The Knicks could have built some momentum with two big road wins in a row, but like he always does, Smith shot them out of the game.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how the Knicks graded out in the loss.
Beno Udrih (10 points, 5-of-13 shooting, 7 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals)
Udrih had another solid outing as he moved the ball, racking up seven assists and contributed on the glass as well. He wasn’t that efficient from the floor, but ended up with a pretty solid stat line in the loss. More importantly, Udrih didn’t turn the ball over once. I will take that any day of the week. Grade: B+
Iman Shumpert (26 points, 9-of-14 shooting, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, 1 steal)
For the second consecutive game, Shumpert was outstanding. He had 23 points and had hit on all five of his three-point attempts heading into the fourth quarter. So let me ask you why did he only take one shot in the final 12 minutes? Instead we saw Smith jack up triple after triple and shoot the Rockets back into the game. Despite that though Shump was very good again. Since his name is continually involved in trade rumors, maybe he should force a trade to a team in Texas There must be something in the water there. Grade: A
Carmelo Anthony (25 points, 10-of-23 shooting, 8 rebounds, 2 assists)
Melo had a decent game and finished with 25 points but once again went quiet in the fourth quarter and was often schooled by Harden as he got stuck on the Rockets star several times and couldn’t contain him. The bottom line is that Smith’s boneheaded play cost the Knicks a game, but Anthony disappeared in the fourth quarter again, which has happened on plenty occasions this year. Had he stepped up in crunch time the Knicks may not have been in a tight spot?
More importantly, and this isn’t just on Melo, but the entire team, the Knicks got the Rockets into the penalty with 7:57 left. But instead of taking the ball to the basket to draw some fouls, the Knicks settled for perimeter jumpers throughout the entirety of the fourth quarter and were content to brick shot after shot down the stretch, going 5-for-20 over the final 12 minutes. Anthony is supposed to be a leader and that means understanding the situation. Put a lot of that on Mike Woodson as well, but your best player has to understand game situations better. Instead of being aggressive and possibly putting the game away from the free-throw line, the Knicks got passive and paid for it. Grade: B-
Andrea Bargnani (7 points, 3-of-10 shooting, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks)
Bargs was once again horrible as he shot only 30 percent from the floor. He did grab eight boards, but overall had very little impact on the game. He did at least show Smith how to take a boneheaded three late in the game, something JR imitated to perfection. Grade: C
Tyson Chandler (13 points, 4-of-5 shooting, 11 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block)
I liked the all-around effort Chandler gave. The Rockets did have 40 points in the pain, but much of that came attacking other Knicks bigs other than Chandler. He had a solid night offensively and grabbed 11 rebounds. Give me that every game and I’m happy. Grade: B
J.R. Smith (9 points, 3-of-13 shooting, 2 assists, 2 steals)
Are you kidding me? Smith continues to impact this team in a negative fashion, something that will likely continue for the next three years. Not only did he take the boneheaded three at the end of the game, but he went only 3-of-3 from the floor and a horrendous 1-of-8 from behind the arc. Seriously, 1-of-8? Not only is he atrocious with the ball in his hands, but he is just as bad defensively.
Even worse was his crappy excuse that he didn’t know the score. C’mon man, you can do better than that. An eighth grader knows the score and situation, especially coming out of a timeout. The excuses have as bad as his performances this season. Now someone answer this? Why in the hell is Smith getting 31 minutes and taking that many shots in the fourth quarter when he has been lousy all season long? Put most of this on Smith, but Woodson gets an F also for leaving him on the floor. I would give Smith a G if that was possible as he was even worse than the grade he gets. Grade: F
Amar’e Stoudemire (6 points, 2-of-6 shooting, 7 rebounds, 2 steals)
STAT really wasn’t much of a factor in this one. He was aggressive on the glass though, grabbing seven rebounds in only 19 minutes. Grade: C
Tim Hardaway Jr. (1 point, 0-of-1 shooting, 1 rebound)
It’s hard to accurately give the rookie a grade as he got only 11 minutes and took one shot while Smith somehow keeps getting 30-plus minutes to throw up brick after brick. But in those 11 minutes Hardaway didn’t do much, but honestly he didn’t get enough run to really get involved in the game. However it was a bit disturbing that he was a team worst minus-14 in those 11 minutes. Grade: D
Toure’ Murry (3 points, 1-of-4 shooting, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal)
Murry dished out four dimes in 14 minutes and looked average at best. However every game he shows some glimpses of possibly being able to become a decent No. 2 option at the point in the future. Grade: C
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