Coming into this game, the hype wasn’t around the two biggest markets squaring off on a Sunday matinee; it wasn’t about two struggling teams trying to squabble for a win; it was about Carmelo Anthony. After Anthony’s 62-point, record-setting eruption Friday night vs. the Charlotte Bobcats, the focus was on his encore. What would ‘Melo provide the Garden on this afternoon? 30? 40? 50? 378?!
Well, he came away with 35 points, but unlike Friday’s spectacle, it wasn’t a one-man show. The New York Knicks overcame a sluggish first half, and, perhaps ignited by the fast-pace of the game, came alive in the second half to put on one of their most efficient, offensive displays of the season.
It wasn’t easy, though. The Los Angeles Lakers, despite fielding lineups with several borderline NBA talents, are feisty and competitive. Admirably, they held the Knicks in check for much of the game, and while they were totally disinterested in defending, they answered the Knicks in the second half with a multitude of baskets. Jodie Meeks began to look like Stephen Curry momentarily as he shot his way to 24 points, 6-8 from downtown. Pau Gasol gave Tyson Chandler trouble on the low block, and 10-day signee Manny Harris dropped in 18 points. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough as New York’s spread pick-and-roll attack was too much for a Lakers squad that couldn’t defend.
Here’s a look at the individual performances:
Cole Aldrich – 12 minutes, 2 points, 1-2 FG, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 blocks, -5
Cole got some burn as the first big off the bench, but his action was almost entirely in the first half. His three blocks were nice and helped the Knicks clean up some porous defense from the first quarter, but he’s non-factor on offense. Jeremy Tyler probably makes more sense off the bench.
Final Grade: C
Carmelo Anthony – 40 minutes, 35 points, 14-31 FG, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, 2 TOs, +8
‘Melo’s 35 points didn’t come in a blazing rhythm like they did Friday night. They came on a lot of shot attempts. Anthony did what many hoped he wouldn’t do for much of the game — he called for the ball on the wings, faced up his man, and held the ball, jab-stepping, and often forcing jumpers. Some of them were clean and smooth, but as evidenced by his 14 makes on 31 shots, a lot of them didn’t fall. He was, however, a willing passer, and several times he accepted the Laker’s double-teams and whipped the ball out to open shooters.
Final Grade: B
Tyson Chandler – 30 minutes, 13 points, 5-11 FG, 14 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 TO, +11
The Knicks’ small-ball lineup helped spread the floor and featured a lot of Chandler pick-and-roll action. Tonight, he thrived, particularly with Raymond Felton as his running partner. Chandler missed a few alley-oop smashes, but he converted a bunch of others, and was generally active around the basket. His defense on Pau Gasol and paint-bound drivers was… lacking.
Final Grade: B+
Raymond Felton – 36 minutes, 20 points, 8-10 FG, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 TO, +11
Felton has slowly started to find his offensive game and he was at peak performance in this one. He, too, operated heavily in the pick-and-roll, but generally found success diving to the basket and finishing floaters or lobbing it up to Tyson Chandler (in the action of the moment, it can be hard to tell which one he intends to do). He still can’t guard any players with functioning legs, but at least his returned offensive rhythm makes up for that.
Final Grade: A
Tim Hardaway Jr. – 26 minutes, 18 points, 7-12 FG, 4-5 3FG, 4 rebounds, 1 steal, -1
Timmy Jr. came off the bench and reignited the spark from December. He’s struggled in recent weeks, but in this one, Jr. benefited from late or non-existent rotations from the Lakers. He also managed to downplay his usual heat-checks, and instead of hoisting threes, took it to the basket. Of course, he also gave up the points he scored by getting blown by on defense.
Final Grade: A-
Pablo Prigioni – 22 minutes, 0-3 FG, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 TO, -3
Pablo has been getting run in two-PG lineups recently, but hasn’t produced much, most likely because of rust. Hopefully this turns around, though — it can be tough for 36-year olds to regain their traction after a fractured foot.
Final Grade: C+
Iman Shumpert – 27 minutes, 5 points, 2-7 FG, 1-5 3FG, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 3 TOs, +10
Despite a bunch of good, open looks from beyond the arc, Shump couldn’t splash many of his attempts. 7 field goals