Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Portland Trail Blazers vs. New York Knicks Post Game Recap March 14th

Final Score: Portland Trail Blazers 79 New York Knicks 121 

Miracles do happen! The Knicks were able to end their losing streak at 6 games, defeating the hapless Portland Trail Blazers in blowout fashion. The Knicks led virtually the whole game, trailing only after Marcus Camby hit the opening basket of the game. Tonight was Mike Woodson’s first game as head coach, and the Knicks showed up for him. They brought effort and energy they had been lacking throughout the last few weeks and especially during the losing streak under Mike D’Antoni. 

The Trail Blazers looked like a team that was lost and did not want to be there tonight, but as a Knicks fan you are not only happy they broke the losing streak, but the fashion in which it was done. 

Mike Woodson said before the game that things were going to change, and at least for one game it looks as if he was right. For the first time in what seems like forever, the Knicks seemed to be having fun playing basketball; players smiling on the bench and celebrating all made baskets. 

-Bomb Squad 

The Knicks bench was firing on all cylinders tonight, led by 
J.R. Smith who finished with 25 points on 7-14 from 3 point land and sharpshooter Steve Novak who finished with 20 points on 6-10 from deep. Shumpert chipped in 16 points and his always stellar defense. Baron Davis did not score much, but led the teams with 10 assists, making the Knicks look like a well-oiled machine and having the offense run more cohesively than they have in weeks. 

It was nice to see Steven Novak continue his hot shooting, but even more encouraging to see J.R. Smith find his stroke. Since joining the Knicks, Smith has been struggling with his outside shot and game overall. He seems to have broken out of the shooting slump tonight, which was quite a thing to watch. Smith is the definition of a streak shooter, and when he’s hot, he’s hot and it is a thrill to watch. 
The bench played well together on the court, never relinquishing the lead the starters built and even extending it. The Blazers are not a good team right now, but it is nice to see, no matter the opponent, the team click on all cylinders and everyone enjoying themselves. 

-Effort and Energy From the Start 

The starters did not play much in the game, but when they did they were dominant. Carmelo Anthony came out firing, scoring 10 of his 16 points in the first quarter, knocking down 2 three pointers in the process. Anthony also added 7 assists, and looked like he was determined to show people firing D’Antoni instead of trading him was the right move. He also made an asserted effort on the defensive end, something he had been vilified for by fans and media personnel alike. 

Amar’e Stoudemire was also virtually unstoppable, scoring 17 points on 8-10 shooting, going 7-7 in the first half to help bury the Blazers. He also showed up more on the boards, grabbing 8 in the limited minutes he played. The starters were able to set the tone in the game tonight, and never looked back. 

The Knicks looked to be more into the game tonight, and made a more concentrated effort on both ends of the court. Given it was against a weak and demoralized Blazers team, but a win is a win and it was encouraging to see the Knicks play as well as they did. 

-Defense and Coaching Changes 

As stated before, Mike Woodson said there would be changes made, and he did not disappoint. One change that stood out was the substitution patterns. Under D’Antoni, the starters would play for most, if not all of the 1st quarter and sit for almost half the 2nd quarter. In my opinion this was poor decision making because it caused the starters to become cold sitting on the bench, and put too much pressure on the reserves. 

Under Woodson, the subs were more consistent. He shuttled in players one or 2 at a time, almost interweaving his reserves and starters for a more cohesive team. Players looked more rested and less cold coming into games, judging from the outstanding performance they put on. 
Another difference was Woodson seemed to be able to reach his players tonight. Granted, it was only one game, but it 1 game is still an improvement. The last few weeks under D’Antoni were tough to watch because players were bickering and not showing the effort NBA players need to have. 

Tonight, for at least one night, Woodson had the attention of his players and drew up a masterful game plan which was executed to perfection by the players, leading to what was the biggest win for a coach making his debut for a team. 

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