Friday, November 9, 2012

Knicks Grind Out Win, Continue Hot Start

Friday, November 09, 2012
Post Game Recap
Final Score: Dallas Mavericks: 94 New York Knicks: 104
Knicks Grind Out Win to Continue Hot Start
The Knicks entered the fourth quarter in a close game for the first time this season and came out with the same end result; a double-digit victory.  The Knicks were able to win a tough fought, grind it out game against a much underrated Mavericks squad, winning 104-94.  The Knicks are 4-0 for the first time since the 1993-1994 season when they started 7-0.  According to ESPN’s Stats and Info, the last two times the Knicks started a season 4-0, they won at least 57 games and went to the NBA Finals. 

Tonight was an impressive win for the Knicks because they got it done when they were not at their best.  They did not light it up from downtown like the previous three games, but the effort on the defensive end never gave up and is the reason the Knicks pulled out he victory tonight.  They got baskets when they needed them and played off of their defense, forcing nine turnovers while turning over the ball only nine times. 

Many of those timely hoops came from Carmelo Anthony, who had another strong game even with the Mavericks throwing everything and everything at him.  Anthony scored 31 points on 10 of 22 shooting all while enduring a mugging throughout the night from the Mavericks.  Anthony added seven rebounds and another two blocks, showing intensity on the defensive end again.
Anthony did let the refs and Mavericks get into his head a little bit, evident from the technical foul that was called on him but he was able to put it behind him enough to carry the Knicks in a hard-earned victory.  He also was able to do all this while in foul trouble for most of the game, playing only 29 minutes tonight.

With Anthony in foul trouble, the Knicks needed someone to step up and J.R. Smith rose to the occasion.  Smith continued his great start to the season, scoring 22 points and really picking it up when Anthony was forced to the bench in foul trouble. 

Smith scored nine points on three of five shooting in the pivotal third quarter with Anthony on the bench.  He also was flawless from deep, knocking down all three of his three point attempts.
Where Smith made a big impact was on the defensive end; he didn’t give in to either O.J. Mayo or Vince Carter, the top guns for the Mavericks tonight.  Smith added four steals and one block to his stat line on the defensive end. 

The Knicks endured their worst defensive quarter in the 2nd, giving up 34 points and allowing the Mavericks to take control of the game.  They didn’t control the game long though, as the Knicks came out with a vengeance in the second half and clamped down on the Mavericks.  The Knicks held the Mavericks to 13 of 37 shooting in the second half and only 37 points in total. 

Mayo had a strong game for the Mavericks, leading the way with 23 points and five of 10 shooting from beyond the arc.  Darren Collison on the other hand was shut down by the Knicks after having a hot start to the season, going one of eight from the field tonight with eight assists and four turnovers.
Ronnie Brewer continued to validate Anthony when he said Brewer was the most underrated signing this offseason, giving the Knicks the defense they expected when they signed him but also giving help in the scoring column and on the boards.  Brewer stuffed the stat sheet, scoring 13 points while adding eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block and no turnovers.  No turnovers are the most impressive thing here, as Brewer is just another piece of the puzzle to the Knicks better ball security this season.

Marcus Camby made his season debut tonight for the Knicks and picked up right where he left off in grabbing rebounds at a high rate.  Camby grabbed four rebounds and scored two points in his eight minutes of play, as head coach Mike Woodson has decided to go with Camby and Rasheed Wallace as his big men off the bench, pushing Kurt Thomas to a reserve role.

Wallace was the first big man off the bench tonight and played 18 minutes as he is still getting into game shape after being retired for the past two seasons.  Wallace finished the game with six points and six rebounds as he looks to be in position to get meaningful minutes off the Knicks bench.

The Knicks will have three days off before embarking on a stretch of eight out of 10 games on the road, starting in Orlando against the Magic Tuesday night at 7:00 P.M. ET.

What to Watch For: Dallas Mavericks vs. New York Knicks November 9

Friday, November 09, 2012
Pre-Game News and Notes
Dallas Mavericks vs. New York Knicks
The Knicks look to continue their hot start to the season against a banged up Dallas Mavericks team that will be without stalwarts Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion.  This will be a good test for the Knicks, as the Mavericks are off to just as hot a start at 4-1 even without their star player.  The Knicks have had plenty of time to prepare for the Mavericks since they were off since Monday so they should come out ready to go.

-3 Point Shootout

The Knicks set a record for three pointers made through the first three games in a season, going 43 for 95, but the Mavericks are no slouches behind the arc.  The Mavericks are the hottest team in the NBA from behind the arc, going 50 for 103 thus far in the season.  O.J. Mayo leads the NBA with 21 makes on the season.

Darren Collison has been a big reason for the success from deep for the Mavericks, as he has excelled in the pick-and-roll game and has the ball movement at a premium in Dallas.  Collison was the response move to Jason Kidd joining the Knicks.

Another reason for the success from deep is the post play of Vince Carter, Chris Kaman and Elton Brand.  They are all willing passers and can find the open man on the perimeter when they are double teamed in the post.

-Defend the Paint

As stated, the Mavericks run a deep rotation up front with Kaman, Brand and Brandon Wright.  The Mavericks are dangerous team in the paint and the Knicks will need to lock that down for the victory tonight.
The Mavericks run their offense through pick-and-roll with deadly shooting from deep; taking out the big men would go a long way in winning tonight for the Knicks.  The Mavericks will be without top rebounder Marion, so the Knicks need to take advantage and control the boards.  Winning the battle on the boards is a formula to winning.

This should all be easier with the expected season debut of Marcus Camby.  Camby gives the Knicks a legitimate center on the second unit and someone to do everything that Tyson Chandler does in the starting unit.  Camby is an upgrade over any option the Knicks had last season and in recent memory.
Camby’s playing time will be dictated by how much Kaman is on the court, as the Mavericks have been using a small-ball lineup much like the Knicks recently, putting more of an emphasis on guard and wing play.

-O.J. Mayo vs. J.R. Smith

Mayo starts for the Mavericks and J.R. Smith is the Knicks sixth man, but they will undoubtedly be matched up throughout the game together.  Right now, Mayo and Smith are two of the most efficient players in the NBA and have numbers very similar, as Mayo is shooting 63.6 percent from deep and Smith is shooting 61.5 and both players are turning the ball over less than two times per game.

Smith has been getting at it on the defensive end this season, evident from the 1.7 steals he is averaging per game so this is the match-up to keep an eye on throughout the game.  It will be two electrifying players opposing each other.

-Get Off to Hot Start

The Knicks have had a long lay-off not playing since Monday night, so a lackluster start could be in the cards.  That is something the Knicks need to avoid though, as the crowd will be raucous and ready to watch their Knicks take the court again.  Slow starts was the norm last year for the Knicks, but so far this season they have led at the end of the first quarter in every game, a trend that would be a welcome site to see, especially at home; once you have the crowd going behind you it makes it that much more difficult for the road team.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Knicks Left Standing as Last Undefeated Team
The Knicks are off to their best start since the 1999-2000 season and setting records in the process.  They are the first team in franchise history to win the first three games of the season by 15+ points and set an NBA record by knocking down 43 three points in those games.  The Knicks are also the last standing undefeated team in the NBA, as the Clippers beat the Spurs and the Bulls beat the Magic earlier in the week.

What makes this start so impressive, even though it is still early in the season, is that the Knicks are playing without three key rotation players in Amar’e Stoudemire, Iman Shumpert and Marcus Camby.  Camby is expected to make his season debut Friday night against the Mavericks, but Stoudemire and Shumpert are out for multiple weeks.
One reason for the great play is because the Knicks have three seasoned veterans at the point guard position that have the respect of their teammates and can run an offense.  Raymond Felton, on his second go-round with the Knicks, Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni have been getting everyone involved in the offense and offer a calming influence when on the court.  The three players have combined for 42 assists compared to 17 turnovers, seemingly to always put their teammates in the easier position to score.

Kidd has been forced into the starting lineup with the injury to Stoudemire and ran with the role.  He starts at the 2 for the Knicks and the offense clicks with him on the court.  It’s another player willing to make an extra pass on the court in the starting lineup and the savvy-ness of Kidd cannot be measured as he is capable of hitting anyone cutting to the basket.  For at least one week, these three have combined to make Knick fans finally realize losing Jeremy Lin was not as bad as many people made it out to be.

Another positive to the three guards is that they can all handle the ball well as the lead guard or play off the ball.  Kidd has become an exceptional spot up shooter and Felton demands attention at the three point line; this enables the Knicks to play any three of the point guards on the guard together because they can adapt to different roles, something that is a vast improvement over the team from last season.  Last season, the Knicks were unable to even get one consistent ball handler on the court, leading to a bevy of turnovers and no cohesion on the offensive side of the ball. 

Another factor in the great start to the season is the play of J.R. Smith.  Throughout his career, Smith has been looked at as an enigma, someone with all the potential in the world but never mature enough to harness his ability.  Smith admittedly has said he has never missed a shot he has disliked, is known for outbursts and chucking up bad shots whenever he pleases, driving coaches nuts; thus far through this season none of those negatives are showing.
Smith seems to have been harnessed by head coach Mike Woodson, as Woodson allows Smith to be himself but is very hard on him at the same time.  Smith respects Woodson and plays hard for him every night.  Smith is more under control this season and it has shown, as he is the second most efficient player on the Knicks with a Player Efficiency Rating, a metric used by ESPN’s John Hollinger to measure players efficiency on a per-minute basis, with a 20.3 behind only Carmelo Anthony’s 24.0.

Anthony is another player who has set the tone for the Knicks, as he finally looks comfortable in his role with the team.  Anthony has always been looked at as a one-dimensional player, only showing up on the offensive end of the court, but thus far this season that is not true.  He leads the Knicks in scoring, like he should, but he also leads the team in rebounding and blocks.  He has also shown an improved effort on defense, going toe-to-toe with Lebron James in the first game of the season and guarding Thaddeus Young both nights against Philadelphia.
Anthony also looks more comfortable as the whole burden of leading the team no longer falls upon only his shoulders as the veteran presence of Kidd, Camby, Rasheed Wallace and Kurt Thomas has really helped Anthony.  All of those players bring loads of experience and a wealth of knowledge for not only Anthony but the rest of the team to benefit from. 

The Knicks cannot get full of themselves though, as they are still only three games into the season with a long way to go. Felton put it in perspective saying, “We can’t be satisfied right now.  We’re not going to lay it down like ‘We’ve got everything figured out.’ We still got a long way to go.  We still got to get better on defense, we still got to execute better on offense.  We still got a lot of things we got to do.  We’ve got to rebound better.”

Felton is 100 percent right with what he said; the Knicks cannot get comfortable because they have had a successful first week.  They have a great opportunity to build on this early success though, as a banged up Mavericks squad visits Madison Square Garden Friday night and a game in Orlando against an inferior Magic team next Tuesday. No one will remember this start if the Knicks begin to struggle or they have another early exit in the playoffs, so it is imperative to just keep building off of this and make this into something special.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 7,1943: Giants 0, Lions 0

The New York Giants and the Detroit Lions will forever be connected in NFL history.

On November 7, 1943 the New York Giants traveled to Detroit to take on the Lions. The Giants were 2-2 while the Lions were 3-4. The game itself was a defensive battle,and the offenses were almost non-existent combining for no points in the game.

There was a total of 214 yards in the game between both teams, with Detroit out gaining the Giants 130 yards to 84 yards. Detroit did rush for 102 yards and six first downs, while the Giants rushed for 81 yards and just three first downs.

The Giants would go onto win four of their next five games and finish the regular season 6-3-1 and finished first in the NFL East Division. The Giants would be shutout in the first round by the Washington Redskins 28-0. The Lions would not win another game in 1943 and finished with a 3-6-1 record, good enough for third in the NFL West Division.

Ever since this game, there has never been another scoreless tie in the NFL, and there will never be another scoreless tie. There have been a number of 3-0 games since the 1943 game, including a Monday night game in 2007 between the Steelers and the Dolphins, but that game was played in extreme conditions where the footing was terrible and the players were lucky to be able to run a route.

The evolution of the game of football will most likely prevent us from seeing another scoreless tie in the NFL. The offense's have become so much more advanced, and the introduction of domes prevents a lot of teams in bad weather areas to always play their home games in a friendly environment.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Giants Team Grades: Week 9 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday, November 4th, 2012
Final Score: Pittsburgh Steelers: 24 New York Giants: 20
Giants Team Grades

It was a lackluster performance for the Giants this past weekend against the Steelers, as they were unable to get anything going on the offensive side of the ball and the defense was unable to get timely stops, making for a 24-20 loss to a very good Steelers team. 

Passing Offense Grade: F
Since playing the San Francisco 49ers, the Giants passing attack has been ice cold.  Eli Manning is struggling and in the midst of a slump but couldn’t even conjure some of his late game magic against the Steelers. 

Manning completed 10 of 24 pass attempts for 125 yards, his lowest output since 2008 against the Minnesota Vikings when he threw for 124 yards but only in one half of play.  Manning also threw an interception and was off on multiple occasions deep to Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.

Cruz had a decent game, catching five passes for 67 yards but Nicks only managed one catch for 10 yards.  The Giants need to get the passing game back on track and get Nicks more involved in the offense, as he is finally practicing fully and seems to be getting over early season injuries.

The offensive line also surrendered two sacks and Manning was hit another five times on top of that.

Rushing Offense Grade: D
If not for an Andre Brown one-yard touchdown rush, this grade would be an F as well.  Brown finished the game with seven carries for only 20 yards and his touchdown.

Ahmad Bradshaw didn’t fare much better, managing only 48 yards on 15 carries.  In total, the Giants only ran for 68 yards on 22 attempts.

The Giants need to get the run game back on track, especially with Manning struggling.  It would be beneficial to the team to get the run game on track so the Giants can control the tempo of the game but also help Manning, as the play action pass is one of the Giants biggest weapons.

Pass Defense Grade: C+
Ben Roethlisberger didn’t have great stats, but he did just enough to lead the Steelers to a win. Roethlisberger finished the game with 216 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Mike Wallace was held in check most of the game until he ripped off a debilitating 51-yard catch and run where he ran across the field and just ran past the whole Giants defense.

The Giants three-headed monster at defensive end did cause problems for the Steelers, as Justin Tuck had two sacks. Jason Pierre-Paul had one and Osi Umenyiora added one of his own.  Umenyiora’s sack caused a fumble, which led to a 70-yard return for a touchdown by Michael Boley.

Rush Defense Grade: F
For as poorly as the Giants ran the ball, the Steelers did it well.  Isaac Redman was unstoppable, running all over the Giants for 147 yards and a touchdown.  The Giants were unable to get stops in the run game when they needed, as Redman put the game away with his runs inside the red zone in the fourth quarter.

The Giants were without Chase Blackburn, Keith Rivers and Jacquian Williams, but they cannot use that as an excuse; the Giants rush defense needs to improve. 

Special Teams Grade: C-
Lawrence Tynes continued his strong season, passing 100 total points with a 50 and 23 yard make. But he did miss a 51 yarder short, giving the Steelers a chance to cut into the lead before halftime, which they took advantage of.  Instead of going into halftime up 17-7 or 14-7 at worse, the Steelers got downfield and went into halftime down 14-10.

The coverage teams struggled also, as Steve Weatherford saved an Emmanuel Sanders punt return for a touchdown and Chris Rainey returned a kickoff for 68-yards also.  The usually reliable Giant coverage teams were shaky Sunday.

Coach Grade: D
The Giants actually went into the fourth quarter winning 20-10, but the problems that were evident throughout the game prior continued and the Steelers kicked it into gear.  The offense got nothing going, while the Steelers were on point even with the bizarre travel schedule they had to endure with the effects of Super Storm Sandy. 

As for the Giants, the play calling and efficiency need to improve.  The Giants went two for 10 on third down and could not get stops on defense when they needed. 

Knicks Sweep Home-and-Home in Blowout

Monday, November 6th, 2012
Post Game Recap
Final Score: New York Knicks: 110 Philadelphia 76ers: 88
Knicks Sweep Home-and-Home in Blowout
Another night, another win for the Knicks as they blew out the 76ers 110-88 in the second game of the home-and-home series between the teams.  The blowouts the Knicks handed the 76ers made them only the fourth team since the 2000-2001 season defeat the same team on back-to-back nights by 16+ points each time. 

In the process, the Knicks moved to 3-0 for the first time since 1999-2000 season and re-wrote the record book in the process.  It was the first time in franchise history that the Knicks started the season 3-0 by winning all of their games by double digits.  They also set NBA records but winning their first three games of the season by 15+ points each and also making the most three pointers in three games to start a season with 43, knocking down another 13 Monday night. 

The Knicks got off to a slow start, but quickly put it behind them and went on to dismantle Doug Collins’ squad.  It was a balanced effort from the Knicks, as seven players scored in double figures, led by 21 from Carmelo Anthony.  Anthony paired with Raymond Felton to bring the Knicks out of the hole they fell into at the start, going down 9-0 before scoring.

Anthony and Felton combined for 25 points in the first half, with Anthony doing most of his damage inside, as he struggled from behind the arc going one for six.  Felton, obviously motivated in his second stint with the Knicks, scored 16 points for the game and added eight assists with only two turnovers.  With Anthony on the court, the Knicks outscored the 76ers by 20 and Felton finished with a plus 12.

Felton was part of the three-pronged attack the Knicks use at point guard along with Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni.  Combined, the three combined for 16 assists and only four turnovers.  They are getting their teammates in position for easy baskets and running the offense fluidly; the ball is stopping less and ball movement has been outstanding thus far. 

J.R. Smith continued his spirited play to start the season, lighting up the 76ers for the second consecutive game.  Smith finished the game with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists.  He also had a thunderous dunk off a pass from Prigioni that no one was stopping.
Smith has been everything the Knicks wanted and more off the bench, providing the scoring punch they desperately need but also looking like a much more mature player than who ended last season.  If Smith keeps playing like this, the Knicks are that much more dangerous. 

Tyson Chandler also had a strong game even though he was hampered by flu-like symptoms that turned out to be strep throat.  Chandler played 29 minutes, scoring 14 points and grabbing six boards.  He also added a block to his stat sheet and was the usual presence in the paint for the Knicks.

The defense for the Knicks was once again stellar, as the 76ers shot only 33.7 percent for the game.  Jrue Holiday had another good game for the 76ers, scoring 17 points and handing out eight assists but was forced into four turnovers.  Evan Turner was once again shutdown by Ronnie Brewer, as Turner scored only 22 points in the two games combined.
Rasheed Wallace stepped out of his victory cigar role he held the first two games a little bit, getting extended minutes in his hometown of Philadelphia.  Wallace entered halfway through the third quarter, to the excitement of the crowd, and played 14 minutes total.  Wallace played well in his time on the court, knocking down two three pointers, the second of which was a buzzer beater that sent the Knicks bench and crowd into a frenzy.  Wallace finished with 10 points on four of nine shooting with three rebounds and two blocks.

The Knicks will have three days off before welcoming the Dallas Mavericks to Madison Square Garden Friday night.  The Knicks will most likely get Tuesday off and get back to practice Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for the Mavericks.  The Mavericks will be without Dirk Nowitzki, but they are still not a team to take lightly with Darren Collison playing the best basketball of his career and O.J. Mayo leading the NBA in three-pointers made.  Marcus Camby is also tentatively scheduled to make his season debut in his second run with the Knicks.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What to Watch For: New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers November 5

Monday, November 5, 2012
Pre-Game News and Notes
New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers

The New York Knicks are off to their best start since the 1999-2000 season and will look to move to 3-0 for the first time since then against the Philadelphia 76ers tonight.  Tonight is the second game of the home-and-home series and here are some things to keep an eye on and watch for.

-Keep up the Defense

The Knicks have played stellar defense thus far this season, giving up 84 points in both games this season.  That is quite an accomplishment for this team, as it is only the second time since the 1954-1955 season the Knicks first two opponents have scored 84 points or less. 

One reason for the Knicks success is that they have been forcing turnovers and converting off those miscues.  They need to continue this pressure and take the 76er crowd out of the game from the start by setting the tone in their favor.

The Knicks also need to slow down Jrue Holiday, who had a big game Sunday afternoon going for 27 points and seven assists.  The Knicks did force Holiday into six turnovers, but slowing him down would really hamper a 76er team which will be without two of their top guns offensively in Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson.

-Control the Paint

The 76ers are a small team without Bynum and the Knicks have to take advantage.  Throughout two games, the Knicks have been outscored in the paint because of lights out shooting from three point range.  The torrid shooting pace is unlikely to continue, so the Knicks should look to score from the post and paint more tonight against a team without an intimidating presence in the middle. 

Tyson Chandler has had a quiet start to the season with the Knicks not needing him in the fourth quarter of the games yet, but he has done a great job in his limited minutes.  Chandler has 15 rebounds and two blocks so far on the season, being a presence in the paint for the Knicks.  He has also changed a number of shots and done plenty of things for the Knicks that do not show up in box scores. 

-Melo Fellow

Carmelo Anthony has been outstanding thus far through two games, setting the tone early and often on the offensive end in both games with dominant first quarters.  Where Anthony has been even better is the defensive end, showing an improved effort on that side of the court, setting an example for his teammates to follow.

Anthony has led the defensive charge the first two games, playing physical defense against Lebron James Friday night and bringing high energy to the defensive end of the court Sunday afternoon. 
“It’s really contagious when you see your start player going out there, diving in the crowd, giving up open shots, going for loose balls,” said J.R. Smith.  “It really filters throughout the team, so as long as he keeps doing that, I think everybody won’t have a problem doing it.”

As the star goes, the rest of the team will follow and as a Knicks fan you have to really like what you have seen from Anthony.  He is following through on everything he said throughout the offseason thus far, albeit through only two games.  Anthony had a very efficient game Sunday afternoon against the 76ers; scoring 27 points on 18 shot attempts and if that continues the Knicks will be a very difficult team to beat.

-Coaching Adjustments

Beating a team on back-to-back nights is very difficult and Anthony understands that. 
“I mean, the X’s and O’s go out the window at this point.  We know what they’re going to do.  They know what we’re going to do,” said Anthony.  “Pretty sure (76ers) coach (Doug) Collins is going to make some adjustments, so it’s just a matter of us going out there and competing.”

The 76ers are going to come out fired up being home and trying to get some revenge from Sunday afternoon.  The Knicks will need to make the necessary adjustments and that falls on the coaching staff and head coach Mike Woodson.  Some added wrinkles to the Knicks sets should keep the 76ers on their toes, as the Knicks will have a chance in every game this season with the potential Anthony has of scoring 40 points in at the snap of fingers.

Giants Stifled by Steelers, Blow Late Lead

Sunday, November 4th 2012
Post Game Recap
Final Score: Pittsburgh Steelers: 24 New York Giants: 20
Giants Stifled By Steelers, Blow Late Lead

The Giants were unable to send their fans home happy Sunday afternoon after another lackluster performance led to a 24-20 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  This was the third match-up between 2004 first round draft picks Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger; with Roethlisberger taking a 2-1 lead in the series.  The loss ended the Giants four-game winning streak.
What is starting to become a troubling trend, Manning struggled for the third game in a row.   Manning completed only 10 of 24 passes for 125 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.  The interception was a killer, as the Manning threw into double coverage on Victor Cruz.  It was disappointing, as Manning had just completed a 26-yard pass to Cruz on the previous play.

Manning missed receivers all afternoon and just never got into a rhythm.  The Giants offensive line had some problems protecting Manning against the Steelers, as Manning got sacked twice and hit another five times.  This was also the first time in 27 games that the Giants were unable to score in the fourth quarter, ending what was the longest active streak in the NFL.
The Giants were unable to get anything resembling a run game going against the Steelers, whose defense was on point.  Ahmad Bradshaw managed only 48 yards on 15 carries and Andre Brown ran for only 20 yards on seven carries with a touchdown. 

For as poorly as the Giants run game was, the Steelers’ run game was great.  Isaac Redman ran all over the Giants defense to the tune of 147 yards on 26 carries and scored a touchdown.  Whenever the Steelers needed a play, they would hand the ball off to Redman and he would make it happen.  Redman continuously ran over Giant defenders and was hard to bring down all afternoon.
The Giants defense was able to contain Roethlisberger though, which was a point of emphasis coming into the game.  Roethlisberger is one of the toughest quarterbacks to get to the ground, routinely making plays because of avoided sacks and improvising.  The Giants got to Roethlisberger for four sacks and brought him down when they got to him.  Justin Tuck had two sacks, Osi Umenyiora had one of his patented strip sacks and Jason Pierre-Paul added one of his own.  Roethlisberger finished the game 21 of 30 for 216 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. 

One of Roethlisberger’s touchdowns was a backbreaker for the Giants, as it never should have occurred. Wide receiver Mike Wallace took a short pass 51 yards for a touchdown as he just out-ran the Giants defense, cutting across the field and up the sideline.  The score put the Steelers back in the game and the Giants were never able to recover, as they went three-and-out on every series the remainder of the game.
Next up for the Giants is a visit to Cincinnati to play against the Bengals as the Giants continue their trek through the AFC North.  The Giants could be getting some key players back for the game, as safety Kenny Phillips was close to playing this game against the Steelers and linebackers Chase Blackburn, Keith Rivers and Jacquian Williams will all have another week of recovery.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Knicks Take First in Home-and-Home in Rout

Sunday, November 4th 2012
Post Game Recap
Final Score: Philadelphia 76ers: 84 New York Knicks: 100
Knicks Take First of Home-and-Home in Rout 
The Knicks continued their strong start to the season, showing people that Friday night’s victory over the Heat was no fluke in dismantling the 76ers 100-84 Sunday afternoon.  Granted, Andrew Bynum was not playing because of a knee injury and Jason Richardson went down with a twisted ankle shortly after tip-off, but a win is a win especially against a divisional opponent.  The Knicks moved to 2-0 with the victory, giving them their first 2-0 start since the 1999-2000 season. 

Carmelo Anthony once again led the way for the Knicks on the offensive side of the court, scoring 27 points.  This 27 was more impressive than his 30 in the season opening win against the Heat in my opinion though, as it was a much more efficient game for Anthony, as he went 10 of 18 from the field in scoring his 27, compared to the 10 of 28 it took for the 30 Friday night. 

Break the numbers down even more, Anthony was even more efficient; inside the 3-point line, Anthony shot nine of 14.  Anthony also grabbed six rebounds and showed supreme effort on the defensive end of the court causing multiple turnovers, getting one steal and two blocks of his own.

For at least one game, Anthony had a sidekick in the scoring department without Amar’e Stoudemire in the lineup.  J.R. Smith lit the 76ers up from all over the court en route to scoring 20 points on eight of 15 shooting. Coming off the bench in his sixth man role, Smith was on fire from deep knocking down four of his five attempts.  Smith also made his presence felt on the boards, securing a team high nine rebounds in the game.

Smith will play an integral part for the Knicks until Stoudemire returns, as he will be relied on as the second scorer to Anthony most nights.  Even when Stoudemire returns, Smith will have to keep the scoring up as the top option off the bench.
Smith is an x-factor for the Knicks this season, as he can either play the Knicks into or out of games any night.  So far, it looks like he will play them into more games than out, as head coach Mike Woodson seems to finally be getting to Smith, something no other head coach has been able to do thus far throughout his career.

For a second straight game and against another potential power in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks played stellar defense.  The Knicks held the 76ers to 84 points, the same amount they surrendered to the Heat Friday night.  The 76ers shot only 43 percent from the field and were forced into 18 turnovers.  The Knicks were precise with their rotations and played great help defense, constantly talking on the defensive end.

One player the Knicks did have trouble containing was Jrue Holiday, who went for 27 points, seven assists and two rebounds.  Holiday made a killing from 3-point range, going five out of six and 11 of 18 overall.  Holiday was not immune to the Knicks stifling defense though, as he did commit six turnovers.

For how well the defense was, the offense was just as much in rhythm.  The ball movement was on point, with every player willing to make the extra pass to get the best shot possible.  Nothing looked forced this afternoon, as the Knicks seemed to always have good looks at the basket and rarely forced a shot.  The Knicks ended up with 18 assists on 39 shots made but does not tell the whole story on how well they shared the ball throughout the game.

For the second straight home game, the Knicks faithful chanted Rasheed Wallace’s name and again they were rewarded with seeing him play.  Woodson summoned Wallace from the bench with just less than four minutes left and the crowd went nuts.  When he scored his basket, the crowd exploded into a frenzy.  It only means good things for the Knicks if Wallace is seen more and more on the court.

Next up for the Knicks is a quick turnaround, as the second game of the home-and-home will be played in Philadelphia Monday night.  The Knicks will then have three days off until playing against the Dallas Mavericks Friday night, by which time Marcus Camby is expected to be healthy enough to crack the rotation.