Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Knicks 104, Nets 95 - Recap

Hey, well, I'm hoping to forget that I just watched a game of NBA basketball, but let's recap first. The Knicks, coming off of a big, adrenaline-fueled, emotional win over the Boston Celtics last night, traveled across the river to the urban paradise of Newark to play the lowly Nets for the last time ever in New Jersey. Hoping to avoid a trap game, the Knicks did just that, and were able to scrap together just enough positive minutes of Carmelo Anthony domination and overall competent basketball to come away with a win.
Photo by AP

And yes, if not for Carmelo Anthony's first quarter domination, this game might have actually been an tight contest. Continuing his red hot April, he started the game by scorching the Nets for 21 points in the opening 12 minutes and helped the Knicks open up a 21-point lead. After that, however, the Knicks began to get lax and careless and let the Nets hang around until late in the 4th quarter.

However it wasn't ever a truly riveting or nerve-racking game for the Knicks. Each time the Nets got too, too close, the Knicks pushed them off again, usually by rebuilding a double-digit lead and giving themselves some breathing room.

Eventually, the Knicks sealed the win and moved four games above .500 for the first time this season! That should be cause enough for you to jump!

That Was Great!
 - As mentioned, Carmelo Anthony started the game shooting like he was the only one in the gym. He did most of his work on spot-ups and catch-and-shoots, but a few times had success weaving his way to the rim. The Nets were surprisingly effective in doubling Melo for the rest of the game, as after his 21-point burst, he scored just 12 points the rest of the way. But that first quarter was just something else. As the game wore on, Melo was a little lackadaisical on the defensive end, rotating late or closing out slowly or generally giving guys too easy of looks. Regardless, his 33 points (11-21 FG) were a big reason why New York was able to sustain a lead. Add in 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block (of the trailing nature on Sundiata Gaines) it was another marvelous outing for Melo.

 - Another ho-hum night for Tyson Chandler too, who finished with a mere 18 points on 8-11 shooting, with 12 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. Chandler seemed to have trouble finishing quite a few dunks tonight (hopefully nothing with the wrist), but has also become very adept at setting those high pick-and-rolls and just galloping from the three-point line to the basket for big slams. He and Bibby in particular have nice chemistry on those high PnRs.

 - Despite the Nets fighting back to within five and six points on a few separate occasions, the Knicks never actually surrendered the lead, so that was good. Granted, the Nets (minus Deron Williams) didn't really have the fire power to make a big comeback, so the Knicks probably weren't ever too threatened, but it would have sucked to lose this game.

That Wasn't So Good
 - With that last point being made, the Knicks did let a 21-point lead get down to single-digits (single-digit?) multiple times, so that's not good. That game would have been ripe for the taking if they were playing a better team than the injury-ridden Nets.

 - Landry Fields just continues to be such a bummer on the floor. To quote Alan Hahn, "If confidence is a stain you can't wipe off, Landry is really, really clean right now." Fields blew layups of all kinds tonight, lost his assignment on defense, made ill-advised passes (one of which was an outlet to Mike Bibby surrounded by three Nets players. The pass was picked off, but really, Landry?), and continued to lay bricks like he was some kinda... uh.... a, a... brick-layer or something! It's a shame because I love Landry, I love his game, and he had really found his groove playing with Lin. But now he's pretty much playing himself out of the lineup, and potentially out of a contract this summer.

 - After 15-20 shooting from downtown last night, J.R. Smith and Steve Novak combined to hit 6-17 from long range tonight. That's to be expected; their shooting from last night had noooo chance of sustaining, but it was still disappointing. To their credit, however, both bench bros hit big threes in the 4th quarter to keep the Nets at bay.

Odds and Ends
 - Mike Bibby made his second start as a Knick tonight and posted 8 points, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, and 1 steal with only 1 turnover. But 3-10 shooting in 36 minutes, though. Way too many shots for Mike Bibby, way too much court time for Mike Bibby.

 - Part of the reason for that would be Toney Douglas's 8 horrific minutes, punctuated by driving to basket, tripping on his own feet, falling down, and throwing the ball away. I have a feeling this may have been the last we'll see of Toney Douglas.

 - Iman Shumpert limped around the court a bunch of times throughout the game, but for some reason was never taken to the bench for it. The limping came from turning his ankles during action, and one time landing on MarShon Brooks's foot, so perhaps he just dandy walking it off. He still finished with a nice, quiet line of 8 points on 4-6 shooting, with 5 assists, and 4 steals.

 - Bill Walker played and looked very beefy. He had an and-1 drive at the end of the game.

 - Anthony Morrow is the antithesis of the All-Star role players club that the Knicks have created over the years. A quick, nimble sharp-shooter, you'd think that Morrow would always go off against the Knicks a la Mike Dunleavy Jr. style, but Morrow has been pretty horrid against the Knicks this season. Tonight he was just 3-10.

Alright, so that will be the last we talk about this game. The Knicks got the win and that's all that matters. They play Cleveland Friday night and Amar'e Stoudemire is expected to return! The Knicks are 33-29 with a one-game lead over Philly for 7th place, and a 3.5 game lead over the Bucks, so we can finally quit worrying about them, it seems. Good vibrations, ya'll.

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