This game was pretty much over before it started. The New York Knicks came out and dominated the league-worst Milwaukee Bucks, which is only an accomplishment because they lost to these same Bucks a little over a month ago.
I procrastinated writing this recap – even though the Knicks were up 18 at halftime – waiting for the impeding collapse that never came. As Amar’e started cooking and the lead stretched into the 20s in the third quarter, I still wasn’t convinced. In fourth-quarter garbage time when the Bucks pulled within 15 points I was sure the collapse was coming.
But it never came, and the Knicks held on for their sixth straight win, pulling to within 3 games of the final seed in the Eastern Conference.
Here’s a look at the individual performances:
Carmelo Anthony – 33 minutes, 23 points, 8-16 FG, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocks, +19
I wonder if scorers like Carmelo ever try to put up points right before exiting a game to not hurt their averages. I could have sworn just before coming out of a game which was already out of hand, Carmelo forced three or four questionable shots that got him past the 20 point plateau. Regardless, Melo had an aggressive start to the game, attacking the hoop and getting to the free throw line six times in the first quarter. The strong start was really all that was needed.
Final Grade: B
J.R. Smith – 23 minutes, 15 points, 5-7 FG, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, +18
A solid all-around game for J.R., who is really returning to last years’ Sixth Man of the Year form. After a brutal start to the season, his field goal percentage finally eclipsed 40% with today’s performance.
Final Grade: A
Amar’e Stoudemire – 26 minutes, 15 points, 6-13 FG, 6 rebounds, 1 block, +14
After a rough start, Amar’e rounded into form in the third quarter with a couple hoop-and-harms and a vintage block off the backboard on Ersan Ilyasova. Overshadowed by his offense, Amar’e’s defensive rotations have been much more on point of late, which allows Mike Woodson to keep him on the court.
Final Grade: B+
Tyson Chandler – 25 minutes, 2 points, 1-2 FG, 5 rebounds, +18
It was good to see the big fella back. A quiet game for Chandler, for sure, but he remains a potential X-factor if the Knicks are to continue their push for a playoff spot.
Final Grade: B
Iman Shumpert – 27 minutes, 14 points, 5-12 FG, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, -2
Iman Shumpert had his first 10-point game in over a month, capped off by a bank-shot three from the corner that had the whole bench laughing. I swear I saw the Knicks run a few plays for Iman, which I’d never seen them do before, off elbow screens leading to a couple mid-range makes.
Final Grade: B
Tim Hardaway Jr. – 25 minutes, 20 points, 8-12 FG, +4
Boy, can Timmy shoot. Opposing teams’ scouting reports need only say one thing: “WILL SHOOT THE BALL WHENEVER
HE GETS IT”. I’m honesty amazed at how teams continue to neglect Hardaway on defense, but ecstatic that he continues to make them pay.
Final Grade: A-
The Knicks have a few days off, and after Tuesday’s Phil Jackson unveiling at Madison Square Garden will face the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. The combined record of teams the Knicks have beaten on this six-game winning streak is 130-263, so Wednesday’s game against the Pacers will be a good tell as to whether the Knicks’ improved play can be believed.