Now that’s more like it.
The New York Knicks made it three wins in a row and four out of five to open 2014 with a convincing 102-92 win over the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points, Andrea Bargnani had 19, and the Knicks beat the Heat with J.R. Smith taking a seat on the bench for the night.
It’s no coincidence that the Knicks played their best game of the season with Smith as far away from the action as possible.
It shouldn’t come as too much surprise as the Knicks have owned the Heat recently during the regular season, but at least for one night, this team gave out hope that they are back for the long haul.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how the Knicks graded out in their biggest win of the season.
Raymond Felton (13 points, 6-of-14 shooting, 14 assists, 5 rebounds, 1 steal)
I am often hard on Felton and for good reason, but he was spectacular as he may have turned in his best performance in a Knicks uniform. He was aggressive, got deep into the paint and found his teammates. You see what happens when the ball moves? He only tuned the ball over twice and his 14 assists are the most he’s had in a game since April 2011. Grade: A
Iman Shumpert (12 points, 4-of-8 shooting, 9 rebounds, 4 assists)
Shump was solid and finished the night a plus-14, second only to Amar’e Stoudemire. He came alive during the third quarter, knocking down three triples, and he finished the night with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from three. Shump also turned in a solid performance defensively. With Melo struggling and the Heat threatening to blow the doors off early in the third, Shump’s three’s proved to be the turning point. Grade: B+
Carmelo Anthony (29 points, 12-of-24 shooting, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals)
Anthony shook off some early rust and quietly put together perhaps his best all-around performance of the season: 29 points (12-of-24 shooting), eight rebounds and five assists. Melo jacked up an absurd 16 shots in the first half, hitting just six of them, but for a change had an efficient second half as he made seven of his final 11 attempts. Grade: A-
Andrea Bargnani (19 points, 9-of-13 shooting, 5 rebounds, 1 block)
There were some thoughts that Bargs wouldn’t play due to illness, but it is a good thing he did. He was Knicks’ most consistent offensive contributor in the first quarter, scoring 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting. And while his defense wasn’t solid again, he provided the Knicks with a much needed second scoring option. Overall it was a very nice and efficient night for Bargs. Grade: B+
Kenyon Martin (7 points, 3-of-6 shooting, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal)
K-Mart had a solid night defensively and managed to contribute a little offensively in 24 minutes. Overall it was a typical game from Martin, nothing spectacular but somewhat effective. Grade: C
Amar’e Stoudemire (14 points, 7-of-12 shooting, 11 rebounds, 1 steal)
The Knicks got a huge game from STAT, who gave the team a huge lift with 14 points and 11 boards off the bench. The Knicks had success scoring in the paint, largely in part because of Felton was looking to get his guys the ball. But STAT played a huge role and finished a plus-19 on the night. Grade: A
Toure’ Murry (3 points, 1 -of-1 shooting, 1 assist, 2 steals)
I like what I saw from Murry, even though only for 10 minutes. he scored three points, but more importantly when he and Shump share the backcourt, opposing guards can’t get to the basket any longer. Grade: C
Tim Hardaway Jr. (5 points, 2-of-4 shooting, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal)
Hardaway’s biggest contribution was a huge putback dunk after a Stoudemire miss. He got only 14 minutes and didn’t find a way to impact the game more than that. Grade: C-