The New York Knicks were defeated by the Boston Celtics by a score of 90-86
Normally, I would try to remain objective, but I’m just going to say this to start: this one flat out hurt. The New York Knicks were up 73-68 heading into the fourth quarter, even eventually having a double digit lead over the rival Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston. But the Knicks offense eventually sputtered at the finish, including a two minute scoreless drought in the middle of the fourth quarter, and they eventually fell to the Celtics by a final score of 90-86. The score was close, the game was close, but in the end the team that worked harder and were more balanced on the floor pulled out the win. Let’s examine some keys from the game.
‘Melo Drama and the Fourth Quarter of Doom:
-Normally it’s the “third quarter of doom” for the 2013-2014 New York Knicks, but tonight it was the fourth. The Knicks were outscored 22-13 in the final quarter of the game. Carmelo Anthony couldn’t hit a basket toward the later portion of the game and was visibly tired from an all out effort on both ends of the court. He carried the Knicks on his back in the first half leading the comeback from a second quarter deficit.
It wasn’t an efficient night from Anthony as he shot 37.5% (9-24) from the field, which broke down to 26 points on 24 shot attempts. Most of the misses came from the perimeter on contested jump shots. The Celtics played Anthony tough all night no matter who was defending him and made him work hard defensively for stops as well. Anthony played nearly 42 minutes which can’t bode well for his health and longevity this season, something to keep an eye on moving forward.
Shooting guards that can’t shoot:
-Struggles continued from the shooting guard position as J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. shot a combined nine percent from the field. No, that’s not a typo, they finished a combined 1-11 shooting between the three of them. These are three guys the Knicks were really relying on to step up and take some pressure off of Carmelo Anthony and thusfar the most consistent offensive player has surprisingly been Tim Hardaway Jr. He has been among the best rookies in the league this year, yet somehow remains benched in favor of J.R. Smith.
Speaking of J.R. Smith, the most surprising stat of the night is that Smith attempted one shot the entire evening and that didn’t occur until the end of the fourth quarter. That has to be a major red flag. There has already been chatter about Smith feeling discomfort in his surgically repaired knee and that he might not be 100% all season long. The fact that Smith was ice cold before the past two games and now is hesitant to pull the trigger could mean there is a serious issue that the team is trying to keep under wraps. It might be better for everyone is Smith sat a little while, even if it meant getting relatively close to 100%, because right now his game stinks and his defense is atrocious at best.
Problems at the point:
The point guard position is one of major concern for the Knicks and will continue to be unless a move is made or some youth is injected at the position. Pablo Prigioni can run the point, so this is no disrespect toward him, but he is 36 years old and he can not be asked to play 38 minutes an evening. Prigioni started for the injured Raymond Felton vs the Celtics and posted 5 points and tallied 8 assists. It’s tough because the ball moves much better when him on the floor, but there has to be another way to get him playing 20-30 minutes a night. The other issue is that he’s actually too unselfish with the ball often passing up open looks.
Beno Udrih continues to struggle seemingly every time he’s on the floor. He had 2 points and 2 turnovers vs. the Celtics and played some horrible defense to go along with those numbers in 9 minutes of play. Mike Woodson continues to leave guys like Toure Murry on the bench only playing him during garbage time. Murry is an interesting young combo guard who is a bit taller than Udrih and might be able to defend better on the perimeter. How much worse could Murry play than Udrih and for Mike Woodson why not give the kid a shot?
Vintage Amare Stoudemire showed up against the Celtics scoring 18 points on 7-9 shooting from the field, he also grabbed 5 boards and blocked 1 shot. He did most of his damage in the paint, but even connected on a few perimeter jump shots. The more minutes Stoudemire plays, the better he seems to look as he get into a rhythm. Two downsides to the night thought, the first being that the Knicks opted to play isolation basketball down the stretch missing Stoudemire on a few good open looks in the paint. Second being that Stoudmire still posted a +/- of -15 due to some poor defense.
The injury bug strikes again:
Kenyon Martin went down in the second half of the game with a strained abdominal muscle. He was having a solid game in Boston as he scored 8 points, brought down 7 boards and recorded 4 steals before the injury. When he left it didn’t look good as he was in a great deal of pain and moving rather gingerly on his way to the locker room. Hopefully there will be some good news for the Knicks soon because without Tyson Chandler there isn’t anyone else who sets the tone for the Knicks besides Martin.
Help is on the way:
Speaking of Tyson Chandler he has been sitting courtside at the past few games and the cameras have been on him at Knicks practices. He took part in his first contact drills this week and is reportedly close to returning to the court. It has been 5 weeks since Chandler broke his leg vs. the Charlotte Bobcats and the injury was reportedly to keep him sidelined anywhere from 4-6 weeks. At half time of the game vs. the Celtics, Chandler stated he’s hoping to return either Monday vs. the Washinton Wizards or Wednesday vs. the Milwaukee Bucks. Help can’t come soon enough for the Knicks.