With drama swirling around the Orlando Magic franchise, the Knicks came into town at an opportune time and took advantage. Through fluid offense and tough defense, the Knicks were able to keep the Magic at arm's length and give their top guns some much-needed rest towards the end of the game.
As we saw in these teams' last matchup, the game began a little sluggish and streaky, but the 2nd and 3rd quarters proved to be the key for the Knicks as they got big contributions from Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Baron Davis, and Landry Fields to blow up the lead.
Of course, the defense played a huge part in only allowing 80 points and basically shutting Dwight Howard down entirely.
And just so much stuff to talk about! Take the jump!
That Was Great!
- I don't know if we can over-praise the defense from last night. Everyone suspected that the Magic would have trouble given the spat between Stan Van Gundy and Howard, but the Magic didn't look totally incompetent on offense. Moreover, this a bullet point for Tyson Chandler, who out-played Dwight Howard in almost every aspect. Howard, who albeit has had back spasms, just looked disinterested, and part of that was Tyson's defense, challenging everyone of Howard's shots, beating him to spots on post moves, and pushing him out of his comfort spots. Dwight finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 turnovers and didn't score a field goal until the end of the 3rd quarter. Chandler finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds. All in all, holding Orlando to just 41% FG shooting and 80 points is great.
- The 3-point shooting by the Knicks was abnormally accurate, but terrific nonetheless! It really got going in the 2nd quarter when J.R. Smith and Steve Novak started hitting from beyond the arc, some of them in transition. In the 3rd quarter, Landry Fields who appears to have regained his stroke, knocked down two 3s in the 3rd quarter. Shooting 52% from downtown is not a sustainable number, but if guys can regularly hit 3-pointers it will only open things up even more on offense.
- I think J.R. Smith deserves this point. Smith, who received a stern talking-to from Woodson after the meltdown in Indiana, came out and had his best game as a Knick. After coming off the bench and missing his first three shots, J.R. got rolling in the 2nd quarter, making a few of his signature stepbacks and going 3-3 from beyond the arc. Even better, Smith had a career high 9 assists! Hopefully this concentration isn't just a one-game thing, because the Knicks would love more nights like this from Smith who finished with 15 points on 50% shooting, 4 rebounds, and those 9 assists.
That Wasn't So Great
- Not a lot to say here. If I'm grasping for straws, perhaps letting Steve Novak get eaten alive by Glen Davis in single coverage during the 2nd quarter wasn't a good idea. Carmelo Anthony iso'd a little too much at times, but it wasn't that bad. I don't know. I got nothin'.
Odds and Ends
- Speaking of Carmelo Anthony, he was pretty good last night. He had a dominant first half, scoring 17 of his 19 points and grabbing 5 boards and dishing 3 assists. Matched up with either Glen Davis, Earl Clark, or Hedo Turkoglu (who was sent home because of Melo's inadvertent elbow to Hedo's eye and because Melo doesn't play nice), Anthony pretty much could do whatever he wanted on offense, but a little too often settled for jumpers. He finished the game shooting 6-16, with 8 rebounds in just 28 minutes.
- Baron Davis was quiet but orchestrated a lovely 3rd quarter where he racked up all 5 of his assists on beautiful finds to Chandler or Fields. But he only played 19 minutes becuase...
- Toney Douglas played and played well! Though his offense was shaky to start, TD was very aggressive on defense (including one sequence where he denied Chris Duhon the ball for like, 20 seconds and then forced him into a turnover), and ran the offense - and the pick-and-roll! - better than we'd seen pretty much all season. In the 4th quarter Toney got his shots up, making some nice floaters in the paint, a pull-up jumper from the FT line, and a 3-pointer. He finished with 15 points on 7-12 shooting, with 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and a steal in 25 minutes!
- Landry Fields managed to go 0-6 from the FT line. Ugh.
- Iman Shumpert did this at the end of the 1st quarter.
- When Glen Davis scored in the 4th quarter, the PA guy for the Magic played "Baby" by Justin Bieber, which I thought was pretty amusing.
- At the start of the 4th quarter vs. Indiana, Clyde made a remark about blowout time for the Knicks, who then went on to just blow the lead and the game. This time around, with the Knicks again up big in the 3rd quarter, Clyde recalled his previous blunder and said, "I'll keep my mouth shut this time".
But luckily, the Knicks didn't blow this lead or come anywhere close! And for their hardwork, they got Melo and Davis lots of rest during the game and have two days off before playing Chicago on Sunday afternoon. The Knicks are back above .500 at 28-27 and have a 1.5 game lead over the Milwaukee Bucks.