Thursday, April 5, 2012
Final Score: New York Knicks 96 Orlando Magic 80
The Knicks, at least for one night, learned their lesson after Tuesday night’s meltdown against the Pacers. Again tonight the Knicks held a 15 point lead going into the 4th quarter; just tonight they were able to hold it down, beating a dysfunctional Magic squad by 16 tonight. The Knicks only added to the problems in Orlando with the beat down they gave the Magic tonight. They increased their lead to 1 ½ games over the idle Milwaukee Bucks and improved to 4-2 without Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire. They have also won 10 of 14 games under Mike Woodson and have beaten the Magic in 2 consecutive meetings.
-J.R. Smith responding to Coach Woodson
Tuesday night could not have ended in worse fashion for J.R. Smith, who was ejected after tossing Leandro Barbosa with 4 seconds remaining. Mike Woodson took it upon himself to give Smith a talking to, reminding him that he needs to remain professional on the court even through the tough times.
Smith responded very positively tonight, scoring 15 points to go along with a career high 9 assists. He also shot 3-4 from behind the 3 point line, giving the Knicks the offensive punch they sorely need to go along with Carmelo Anthony, who finished the 19 points and resting the whole 4th quarter.
-Good Point Guard Play
The Knicks got great play from their Point Guards tonight, which is vital to their success. Baron Davis had a great floor game, scoring 5 points to go along with 5 assists and 3 rebounds. Also very important is that Davis got an extended rest tonight, playing only 19 minutes with the Knicks having such a big lead.
With Davis getting to sit so long, that in turn means someone else stepped for the Knicks. Tonight that guy was Toney Douglas who had his best game in what seems like forever. Douglas scored 15 points off the bench for the Knicks, adding 6 assists and 5 rebounds. It was a great coming out party for Douglas as the Knicks are going to need him to step up behind Davis with the injury to Jeremy Lin. Douglas showed great confidence tonight, something he had been lacking and ran the team well when on the court for Davis.
-Outstanding Defensive Effort
The Knicks dominated the Magic last week because they were able to control the paint containing Dwight Howard and limiting the Magic’s 3 point shooting. That again was the winning formula tonight. The Knicks out rebounded the Magic 41-35 and were able to contain the 3 point shooting of the Magic.
Tyson Chandler dominated Howard, holding him without a point until the final seconds of the 3rd quarter. Howard also was held to 8 rebounds and forced into 5 turnovers. Chandler being able to guard Howard 1-on-1 enabled the rest of the Knicks to stay home on their assignments, forcing the Magic into tough contested jump shots. The results were 37.5% from the 3 point line, 41% shooting overall and a total of 80 points.
The Knicks will get a much needed rest, not having another game until Sunday against the Chicago Bulls at 1:00 P.M. ET at the Garden. It is the first of a home and home series, which will conclude the following Tuesday in Chicago.
Thursday, April 5th 7:00 P.M. ET
New York Knicks vs. Orlando Magic
The Knicks look to bounce back tonight against a banged up Orlando Magic team after a disappointing loss on Tuesday against the Pacers. At 27-27 the Knicks are only 1 game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for 8th place in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks will need to forget about what happened in the 4th quarter Tuesday and just concentrate on the Magic tonight. This is the start of very important games in the next week for the Knicks, who after tonight play a home and home series with the Chicago Bulls and play the Milwaukee Bucks next Wednesday. The Knicks have struggled on the road throughout the season, but that has not deterred them much recently, having a record of 7-3 in their last 10 games.
For what seems like the first time all season, the Knicks will play against a team with their own injury problems mounting. The Knicks will again be without key pieces Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire for a few weeks, but Jared Jeffries could play as soon as this weekend. The Magic have their own problems, as Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson are both listed as questionable for tonight. (Update, Dwight Howard is expected to play against the Knicks tonight.) Doubtful for the Magic is starting Power Forward Ryan Anderson. If he is indeed unable to go, look for Glen “Big Baby” Davis to replace him in the starting lineup.
-Control the Paint
Last week in the man-handling of the Magic, the Knicks were able to control the paint and contain Dwight Howard. They will have to do so again tonight if they want to come out victorious. With Davis potentially starting for Anderson, the Knicks will have their hands full in the paint. Thus far this season the Knicks have been able to contain Howard because Tyson Chandler is able to guard him for stretches of the game 1-on-1, enabling the Knicks to stay home on the 3 point shooters of the Magic.
-Contest the 3 point Shots
The Magic lead the NBA in 3 pointers made and attempted. The Knicks will have to up on their rotations and keep their heads on a swivel to keep up with the Magic’s ball movement. The Knicks must race out and contest on the perimeter tonight if they want to hang with the Magic. Forcing the Magic into deep contested shots should enable the Knicks to get out in the open court and run on a Magic team that lacks explosiveness and athleticism for the most part.
-Keep up the Pressure
When the Knicks are able to get out to an early lead they are enable to force their will upon opponents. They play a much more ferocious defense, flying around causing turnovers and steals, getting teams out of their rhythm. Much like last week, the Knicks must capture the lead and maintain the pressure. They seemed to let up off the gas Tuesday against the Pacers and before they knew it they had lost their lead and the game.
-Take Advantage of the Mismatch
The Knicks have been employing a small lineup since Amar’e Stoudemire got hurt, moving Carmelo Anthony to the 4 and Landry Fields to the 3 with Iman Shumpert being inserted into the starting lineup.
This is both a blessing and a curse for the Knicks at times. It works in their favor because no Power Forward in the NBA can keep up with Anthony on the offensive end. The Knicks need to go to Anthony early and often and let him go to work on Glen Davis or Ryan Anderson whoever is starting. He has been playing outstanding the last few games on offense, which only makes it easier for the rest of his teammates.
The only negative is that the Knicks then have problem on defense, but Anthony has been more than willing to show up on that end of the court also. He has been battling against bigger stronger opponents, sometimes being outmatched, but more than making up for it on the offensive end.
Another positive is that the small lineup of the Knicks actually gets teams out of their game plan. Tuesday the Pacers were force feeding the post, going down low on 8 of their first 10 possessions, slowing down the game and not playing how they are used to. This caused the Pacers to get out of sync, and the Knicks took advantage for the first 3 quarters.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
This very well could be the most disappointing Knicks game of the season and what dooms the team heading down the stretch towards the end of the season and playoffs. For most the night the Knicks looked like a vastly superior team, going up 17 with 55 seconds left in the 3rd quarter after a Steve Novak 3 pointer. Then the 4th quarter started and it was a totally different story. The Knicks no longer could play offense and could no longer stop the Pacers, led by Danny Granger and his 14 4th quarter points. The loss drops the Knicks only 1 ½ games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for 8th place in the Eastern Conference and drops their overall record under Mike Woodson to 9-3.
Carmelo Anthony has responded well since Jeremy Lin and Amar’e Stoudemire went down with what is thought to be season ending injuries. Tonight was no different as he carried the Knicks offense on his back throughout the game to the tune of 39 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Anthony took advantage of the Knicks playing a small lineup, dominating anyone the Pacers threw at him.
The rest of the team at points stood around and watched Anthony play offense, but that did not mean there were no contributions from the rest of his teammates. Landry Fields, Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith all scored in double figures, scoring 15, 12, and 11 respectively. Steve Novak also continued his torrid shooting pace, going 3-4 from 3 point land totaling 9 points on the night.
As mentioned earlier, the Knicks collapsed in a big way Tuesday night in the 4th quarter, giving up 40 points compared to the 17 they scored. It was almost a fitting end the game with how it started. The Knicks defense couldn’t stop much in the 1st quarter, giving up 31 points and multiple second opportunities. The 2nd opportunities killed the Knicks all night, as they gave up 16 offensive rebounds and looked to be tiring towards the end of the game.
Sandwiched in between these two terrible showings of defense was a showing of the polar opposite. The 2nd and 3rd quarters the Knicks were able to lock down the Pacers. It came out to equaling 91 points per 100 possessions. That is the foundation for a great defense, and something the Knicks should look to build upon. The Knicks are ranked 4th on the season in defensive efficiency.
The Knicks bench was sorely outplayed tonight by the Pacers bench. Louis Amundson was a spark for the Pacers and no one on the Knicks bench could match his intensity. The Knicks at times also struggled in containing former 6th man of the year award winner Leandro Barbosa, failing to keep him in front of them on defense.
The bench as a whole did not provide the punch they have been recently and is still lacking a capable ball handler off the bench with Baron Davis being forced into the starting lineup.
Mike Bibby and Toney Douglas both played tonight and have to be more productive for the Knicks in the minutes given to them; the Knicks season is depending on it. Davis can not handle a full work load and the Knicks will need Bibby or Douglas to step up in order to make the playoffs and make some noise.
Another negative was the antics of J.R. Smith to finish the game. With seconds left Smith was ejected because he tossed Barbosa to the court after a Carmelo Anthony put back. It put a black eye on what was otherwise a very impressive and gritty performance for Smith, who finished with 11 point, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists, very possibly being his best all around performance as a Knick. Hopefully he does not face any suspensions because the Knicks already are without enough rotation players.
The next game for the Knicks comes Thursday, April 5th in Orlando at 7:00 P.M. ET against the same Magic team the Knicks ran out of the gym last week in the Garden.
Tuesday April 3rd, 7:00 P.M. ET
New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers
The Knicks begin a tough stretch of games tonight in Indiana against the Pacers. The Knicks will have to become road warriors with 4 of their 5 next games being played on the road, a place they have struggled throughout the season. It will be a tough road with the Knicks missing some pieces, but at 27-26 the Knicks sit 2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for 8th place in the Eastern Conference. This will be the 3rd meeting between the Knicks and Pacers this season, with the Knicks taking the first two as part of a back-to-back in March.
The Knicks start this tough stretch of games as one of the most banged up teams in the NBA. Jared Jeffries is set to start running this week but is not ready for game action. Jeremy Lin had successful knee surgery on Monday, and is expected to be out up to 6 weeks. Lin thinks he can be back in a shorter amount of time, but we will have to wait and see. Amar’e Stoudemire is also out for 1-3 more weeks, with Mike Woodson calling him day-to-day during shoot around this morning. Stoudemire is now traveling with the team for moral support as well. Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony, who have both been battling groin injuries, are a go for Tuesday’s game.
-Own the Paint
The Knicks will need a concerted effort in protecting the paint tonight against the Pacers. The Pacers have a big front line, led by All-Star Center Roy Hibbert and former All-Star David West. The Knicks will need a strong performance tonight in the paint. The previous two games this season against the Pacers the Knicks were able to control the paint, dominating rebounds and points in the paint which led to two blowout victories. If the Knicks can duplicate that another victory should be in the cards.
The Knicks have game changing players in Steve Novak and J.R. Smith. With the efficiency they shoot the 3 pointer, a game’s momentum can change at the snap of a finger. When they are successful from the 3 point line it also opens up more opportunities in the paint for easy baskets. When the Knicks are clicking from deep, Carmelo Anthony is able to roam freely in the paint, making even more open opportunities for the Knicks shooters.
The previous two games against the Pacers this season the Knicks were able to get big leads behind their stellar defense. In the first match-up Tyson Chandler dominated Roy Hibbert, taking it out on him it seemed for not being selected to the All-Star game. Also Carmelo Anthony played outstanding defense in both games against All-Star Danny Granger. Granger was held to 9 and 11 points in the two games, well below his season average of 18.2 points per game. The Knicks were also able to hold David West in check in games, scoring 8 and 3 in the games. If the Knicks can give a defensive effort like they did in the last 2 game against the Pacers another victory should be on the horizon.