The New York Knicks won their fourth straight game by taking care of business at the Wells Fargo Center, handing the reeling Philadelphia 76ers their fourth straight loss. Some thoughts:
-Vintage S.T.A.T. made an appearance at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night to the tune of 21 points and 5 rebounds in 22 minutes of play. The most impressive part was Stoudemire’s efficiency, scoring his 21 on 8-10 shooting. A Carmelo Anthony/Amare Stoudemire pick and roll developed, a trend that I’m sure Knicks fans would like to see more of. If the Knicks could get S.T.A.T. playing like this every night it’d greatly help take some of the pressure off of Anthony.
-J.R. Smith saw his benching come to an end in Philly, however Tim Hardaway Jr. was the first guard off the bench. Smith came in and instantly made and impact on the game. He was driving to the basket and kicking out to open shooters. He finished the game with 14 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds. He had the highest +/- of any Knicks player with +20. He also finished the game 5-8, with a few of the misses coming from a last second shot clock heave, so he had a positive impact on the game as a whole. Shot selection is still mind-boggling at times, but if Smith can be a contributor to getting everyone involved he should be allowed to play again, lets see how long we get Good J.R. for.
-Kenyon Martin started again for the injured Tyson Chandler and had a very solid game. He finished with 8 points and 8 assists and brought some defensive tenacity to the court. I’m sure the Knicks hope they get Chandler back sooner rather than later, but Martin is doing a good job at filling in for the former Defensive Player of the Year.
-Andrea Bargnani is still showing inconsistency night in and night out, as he was the only Knicks player in the starting lineup that seemed to be struggling all night. His shooting wasn’t terrible, as he finished 4-9, but his defense was poor and he only tallied 4 rebounds on the night. He needs to consistently crash the boards like he did against the Miami Heat, because if he’s not and his shot isn’t falling he struggles to make an impact elsewhere.
-As a team the Knicks played well in this game, four players finished in double figures (Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Andrea Bargnani). They had 11 team steals, Shumpert had a game high 4, and they beat a team that they were supposed to which seems to have been a real obstacle all year. They have to continued to move the ball for an entire game, as at times the offense seems to stall around Carmelo Anthony and too many others standing and watching. Also the defense on the perimeter still needs to improve, as the 76ers are one of the worst shooting teams in the NBA and the Knicks still allowed them to shoot 46% from the field.
-The Knicks will need another valiant effort at home on Monday as the surging Phoenix Suns are coming to town. The Suns are without starting point guard Eric Bledsoe, but Goran Dragic is more than capable of filling in and putting up huge numbers. The Suns are a young athletic team that like to run & gun so to speak, so the Knicks will have to try and slow the tempo for the game to be in their favor. Also the Suns love the three ball, so the Knicks perimeter defense will have to be up to par, so Iman Shumpert and Raymond Felton have to be on top of shooters all night.