Coming off what might be the nail in the coffin/worst loss of the season against the lowly Los Angeles Lakers, the Knicks exacted some revenge on the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night to pull within two games of the Atlanta Hawks for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
- Carmelo Anthony once again led the way for the Knicks in a matchup vs. Rudy Gay. Anthony put up 36 points in 42 minutes of play and got some help from his supporting cast. J.R. Smith chipped in 29 points and the starting front-court of Tyson Chandler and Amare Stoudemire both combined for 22 points and 14 rebounds. It certainly was a balanced performance from a team that has been heavy in isolation “Melo-ball” all year long.
- Stat of the Night: The aforementioned J.R. Smith was on fire from three last night hitting on 9-12 shots from behind the arc. Smith has played much better during this stretch run and the Knicks will need his scoring punch if they have any hopes of sneaking into the playoffs. However, banking on Smith for any type of consistency is a shot in the dark.
- DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins. Sorry, it’s one of my favorite nicknames. Cousins almost had a triple-double, scoring 32 points, grabbing 15 rebounds and dishing out eight assists. Rookie shooting guard Ben Maclemore chipped in 16 points including four three point bombs, and Travis Outlaw came off the bench and put up 15 for the Kings.
- The Knicks really pushed the tempo all night in this game and after a close first quarter they had a great second quarter of offense. New York dropped 42 points in the second to the Kings, which really proved to be the turning point in the game. The Kings made a late run, but after going down by 15 at half it was too little, too late.
- It was a very quiet scoring night for Raymond Felton, as he only shot 2-7 scoring five points, but he did dish out 10 assists on the night in true point guard fashion. I’ve been hard on Felton all year, and granted he has had a rough season on and off the court, but the Knicks will need him to continue dishing out assists if they have any hope of a playoff spot. Felton’s offense has been terrible at best this year, but the defensive end has been a real struggle. Felton has never been a great defender, but now more than ever, opposing point guards are blowing by him for easy basket’s and when he sags off they easily knock down three’s. Felton’s time as a starter may come to a screeching halt after this dreadful season.
- Next up for the Knicks, as they continue this West Coast road trip, is a showdown in Phoenix with the Suns, a team which has had it’s ups and downs all year long. The Suns like to shoot the three and are a very athletic young team that can run the floor with anybody. Expect them to come out looking to push the tempo. Matchup of the night will be Raymond Felton against Goran Dragic/Eric Bledsoe, both of whom continue to play well. The Knicks biggest downfall is their perimeter defense so expect those two to take advantage.