New York took care of the Boston Celtics in a rare start-to-finish victory for the suddenly hot Knicks, who now sit just three games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks are officially undefeated when Cole Aldrich starts at center. His reign on top won’t last long, but the team was without Tyson Chandler again tonight, and again they didn’t miss a beat.
The offense stayed hot, particularly to start things out. New York set the tone early, making five of their first seven field goal attempts, including all of their first four threes. Personally, I declared the game over when Iman Shumpert made a rare first quarter bucket. The only one who played in the first, but didn’t score was Jeremy Tyler, who had nothing but two fouls to show for his time on the floor. As a team, they ended the first 12 minutes at 64 percent from the field and 80 percent from behind the arc.
New York followed that up by shooting 12-21 from the floor, including 4-4 from downtown in the second quarter. The ball was moving, and everyone joined in on the scoring party. I know that they didn’t exactly play the 1998 Chicago Bulls, but what the Knicks did was impressive. Even Earl Clark got in on the fun. We’ve done a lot of joking around about both him and Shannon Brown over the last couple weeks, but Clark actually played pretty well tonight. He ended the game with six points, six rebounds, a three, a steal, and two blocks, while finishing with a team-high plus/minus of +22. Clark will never have a major role on this team, but he brings some versatility to the table, and is clearly looking more comfortable.
The Knicks were led in scoring by Carmelo Anthony. That must be the thousandth time I typed that this season. He dropped in 34 points in 39 minutes and added in nine rebounds. The only player who did better on the glass was none other than Cole Aldrich, who double-doubled in his first career start. Tim Hardaway Jr. chipped in 22 points, making his first six shots until heaving a desperation three as time ran out in the first half. His second miss was a borderline breakaway/risky aggressive take that was sent away by the beloved Kris Humphries. As Boston home court advantage dictates, no foul was called, and both players hit the deck hard. THJ was slow to get up, but turned out to be just fine. It’s good to be young.
The Knicks went up by as many as 24 in the third, but Twitter was too busy stressing out over Darrelle Revis to realize when the Celtics had cut the lead in half. By the start of the fourth, it was just a 10-point game, but New York opened things back up with the peskiness of Pablo Prigioni and the inability of Boston to realize that Kelly Olynyk guarding Melo was a bad thing. In time, the lead ballooned back up to more than 20.
That makes it five in a row now for the Knicks, who gained a half of a game on the dormant Hawks. Tomorrow night, Atlanta plays home to Milwaukee. Let’s go Bucks!
New York will host those very Bucks for a Saturday matinee at The Garden. Until then, we’ll have our fingers crossed for Phil Jackson.