The New York Knicks came into New Orleans tonight with a 5-16 record against the Western Conference. Make that 6-16 against the Western Conference with their win over the Pelicans.
Things were flowing nicely going into the 4th quarter. The Knicks had a 13-point cushion with the score at 83-70 and it seemed like the right time for the Knicks to not play with any pressure on them. But then, a cyclical trend from this season bit them in the butt, again…somewhat.
Similarly, like the game against the Grizzlies a couple of days ago (and in many more games prior to this game), the Pelicans surged back, making a 10-0 run, cutting the lead to 83-80 in the fourth quarter, due to poor perimeter defense (this is nothing new). Later on, with 3:58 left in the 4th, the Pelicans jumped back in front to take the lead 89-88.
A man named Carmelo Anthony took charge in the fourth quarter and decided that the 4th quarter was his. Hitting a clutch shot over Anthony Davis propelled the Knicks back into the lead. Thankfully, Eric Gordon, who had 27 points, scored none in the fourth quarter, due to Monty Williams being a good samaritan by not inserting them onto the floor, because he had an abundant of great looks from downtown. Ditto to an improved Austin Rivers, who did some damage, scoring 14.
Carmelo Anthony – 40 minutes, 42 points, 16-29 FG, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers, +5
‘Melo. Is. God. Another amazing, super efficient night. Late game heroics, including 13 fourth quarter points, hustle on the defensive end, his 3rd 40+ point game ended in style. ‘Melo took heavy advantage over very favorable match-ups, especially with Luke Babbitt guarding him and luring Anthony Davis out of his niche, the paint, hitting mid-range pull-up J’s at the right time. Besides going off in the 4th quarter, Melo’s highlight of the night was breaking Al Farouq-Aminu’s ankles early in the first quarter. He’s essentially doing everything to keep this team together, bar none.
Final Grade: A+
Iman Shumpert – 17 minutes, 1-7 FG, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 2 points, +2
As we all know, Shump’s name has been thrown around in several trade rumors. On deadline day, the Knicks stated that they would only trade Shump under one (hilarious) condition: If a first round pick from another team was included. Well, say goodbye to any more possible trade scenarios involving Shump. Shump sprained his left knee, the same one that he tore up against the Heat in the playoffs, early in the third quarter. Even prior to injuring his knee, Shump couldn’t get anything going when shooting. Hopefully, it’s nothing colossal.
Final Grade: D
Tyson Chandler – 36 minutes, 2-6 FG, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 turnovers, 4 points, +7
Tyson got into a little foul trouble, getting tagged with two fouls in the first quarter. He was persistent on the glass, though. Also had a couple of blocked shots. He saved a crucial possession that went into the hands of Carmelo Anthony to propel the Knicks into the lead 92-91 late in the fourth quarter. Wasn’t a bad game for him by any means.
Final Grade: B
Pablo Prigioni – 23 minutes, 2-4 FG, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 6 points, -9
Prigs acquired the hot hand in the first quarter, hitting a couple of threes to get the ball rolling. Just like his typical self, he harassed ball handlers like it was an ordinary night at the office. Per usual, ball movement was prevalent when he had his hands on the ball. However, as I said above, Eric Gordon caught fire when Prigs was inserted as the two guard. Nothing new, but what was expected of him defensively? Gotta work on that defense.
Final Grade: C
Raymond Felton – 33 minutes, 1-8 FG, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 block, 1 turnover, 5 points, +15
Harrowing shooting numbers: check. Being mostly a non-factor on offense: check. Ray had a Jason Kidd-esque game — more rebounds than points. Something unusual happened in the third quarter; Ray blocked Austin Rivers and threw an outlet pass to Tim Hardaway Jr. for a one-handed dunk. Thankfully, Ray did some glass cleaning and some passing, because it was insurmountable for him to get anything going on the shooting end (that’s been the case for awhile now), with the exception of his only points via an and-one.
Final Grade: D
J.R. Smith – 40 minutes, 7-13 FG, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 19 points, +8
Looking like a Carnival of Venice attendant for the third straight night, J.R must like the mask now (just kidding, he still has a disdain for it, after telling Tina Cervasio as much in a halftime interview). He took a big hit to his face after getting mashed by a Greg Stiemsma moving screen in the second quarter, but carried on afterwards and had no problem with his shooting stroke.
Final Grade: A
Tim Hardaway Jr. – 36 minutes, 6-13 FG, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 16 points, +9
THJ heat checks are always an epic sight to see. Defensively, like the Knicks as a collective, he wasn’t too good, a tremendous reason why he doesn’t start at the two. Austin Rivers fooled him on a nice spin fake in the second quarter and continued to get caught in screens, just like Ray Felton, but having him opening the floor up with his mammoth spacing always helps immensely. And in the open court, look out, because, as Spero Dedes said during the broadcast, “his strides are like a gazelle.” Great finishing at the rim, too.
Final Grade: B
Jeremy Tyler – 15 minutes, 2-4 FG, 2 rebounds, 1 block, 4 points, -2 With Amare Stoudemire resting his sore leg and Kenyon Martin still out, Jeremy Tyler played as the second center. Tonight wasn’t so bright for him. Was late on defensive help and displayed some defensive lapses individually.
Final Grade: C-
Orlando, here we come!