The New York Knicks won their fourth straight game, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers by 31 points at home on Thursday night. The Knicks jumped out to a 38-22 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. Aside from the offense bogging down a bit in the second and third quarters, the Knicks looked like the offensive juggernaut that they were during the 2012-2013 campaign.
- Carmelo Anthony continued his hot shooting of late shooting 8-17 (47 percent) from the field and 3-5 (60 percent) from behind the arc. He also added in five rebounds and a steal on the evening. Carmelo Anthony seems to thrive at the power forward position and one would hope that head coach Mike Woodson chooses to keep him in that spot for the long haul. Anthony is simply a matchup nightmare for opposing power forwards.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. had a career night at the midway point of his rookie year. While he didn’t get the starting nod, the rookie played a little over thirty minutes, scoring 29 points and grabbing five boards. Hardaway Jr. shot 6-12 (50 percent) from behind the arc and continues the show why he should receive extensive playing time. While his defense needs work, he is so composed and isn’t timid on the offensive end that he needs to be out there. It should be fun to watch him in the rookie showcase and see how he finishes his rookie campaign with the Knicks.
-J.R. Smith also seemed to have snapped out of whatever funk he was in as well. Smith scored 19 points on the evening to go along with four rebounds and a blocked shot. Outside of the numbers Smith left the MSG crowd in awe with two show stopping dunks on the evening, along with putting Cav’s big man Tristan Thompson on skates for a ridiculous step back two. Knicks fans have been waiting for Smith to show signs of life coming off the knee surgery in the off-season. It will be crucial for the Knicks that Smith play well down the stretch.
- Raymond Felton finally seems to have remembered that he is a point guard and that the position involves setting his teammates up with good open looks. Felton finished with 12 points, nine assists and five rebounds. By far one of his best outings of the year. Felton seems to play better when his teammates aren’t forcing him to take shots on the perimeter deep in the shot clock, so his down nights on assists kind of go against the entire team when they don’t move without the ball. Hopefully the Knicks will keep getting looks and Felton will keep feeding them the ball at the right spot for the rest of this season.
- The Knicks held the Cavaliers to 35.6% shooting from the field. The defense swarmed and while they still switched, they seemed to be communicating much better on the switches, which led to players actually taking contested shots. Kudos to Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni who held star point guard Kyrie Irving to 24 points, which might not seem impressive, but consider the fact that he shot 10-25 (40 percent) from the field and 1-5 (20 percent) from behind the arc. Also take into consideration that aside from Irving, the only other Cav’s starter in double figures was Luol Deng with 13 points. Now that’s good vexing defense.
-Next up for the Knicks will be the finale of their eight game homestand, and it will end in fitting fashion with a test against the defending champions. The Miami Heat make their way back to The Garden, where last time out they fell 102-92 to the Knicks in what might be the highlight of the Knicks season thus far. For the Knicks to emerge victorious once again, they will need Carmelo Anthony to show up in heroic fashion, but even more critical will be limiting the Heat in transition and allowing Raymond Felton to run the offense without taking a ton of poor shots. J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. will once again need to step up the scoring from outside in order to knock off the Heat for the second time. It should be another great game between these bitter rivals.