The New York Knicks defeated the playoff bound Toronto Raptors to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Unfortunately the Brooklyn Nets did the Knicks no favors by losing at home to the Atlanta Hawks, who now hold a two game lead in the race for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
- Kudos to Carmelo Anthony for being on the floor right now for this stretch run. A much more selfish player with a serious shoulder injury, which seems way more serious than we are being told, would not be playing with his impending free agency looming ]closer. Tonight Anthony scored 30 points, grabbed eight boards and tallied three assists and three steals. Anthony also played some solid defense in the win and whether Anthony stays or goes, you have to admit he’s a true team-first player who cared more about a potential playoff birth than his own personal health.
-Vintage S.T.A.T. showed up in Toronto on Friday night. Amare Stoudemire played what might have been his best outing on the season and just in the “knick” of time. Stoudemire finished with 24 points, 11 boards and one block on the evening. After the game in Miami on Sunday, it was reported the S.T.A.T. complained about the team taking too many three pointers and not taking advantage his post game against a team that can be attacked down low. When he is getting to the rim like tonight, who could argue that he was wrong?
- The starting backcourt for the Toronto Raptors combined for 51 points as point guard Kyle Lowry (25 points) and shooting guard Demar Derozan (26 points) used their quickness and aggression to drive to the basket on the less than stellar Knicks defenders. Jonas Valanciunas chipped in 14 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, as Tyson Chandler was in foul trouble nearly the entire game. The Raptors continue to show they will be no easy out in this years playoffs as they battled with the Knicks the entire way, including a final 31 seconds that felt like 31 minutes as the Knicks couldn’t put them away sooner.
- Iman Shumpert had a terrific outing for the Knicks as well. While his stat line wasn’t impressive, 11 points, five rebounds and two steals, his impact went beyond the numbers, even though he did score eight of his 11 points in the fourth quarter. Shumpert harassed the Raptors on the perimeter causing multiple turnovers including two plays which led to the unraveling of Toronto on the offensive end down the stretch. The Raptors were cooking all night from deep, finishing with a season-high 15 three-pointers made. Shumpert fought over the screens in order to contest the deep ball and something so simple turned out to be a major difference for the Knicks.
Side Notes: J.R. Smith was quiet tonight after shooting lights out from three point land lately He finished with 15 points. Raymond Felton also played a solid game with 12 points and four assists. Terrance Ross had 13 points and John Salmons also scored 10 points for the Toronto Raptors.
- With the season drawing to a close, the Knicks are running out of time to try and sneak their way into the playoffs. Unfortunately the Atlanta Hawks only seem to pull off wins when the Knicks do, proving that neither is really worthy of a playoff spot. Next up for New York is a return to Madison Square Garden to take on the Chicago Bulls. With every game proving critical down the stretch, Knicks fans will also be keeping and eye on the Hawks as they will head home to face the Miami Heat. The Heat are also in a playoff battle, but for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference with the Indiana Pacers, so all teams will be playing for something.