The Knicks kept pace with the 8th-seeded Hawks, pulling away late from the Sixers and landing a 123-110 victory. It was a game that was too close for too long, but the Knicks can’t be too orried about style points at this juncture. They’re streaking again–what a shocker–with 4-straight wins getting them somewhat back into the playoff race. They remain 3.5 games back of Atlanta. Some thoughts:
- The Knicks’ defense was, predictably, atrocious for most of the night. It was more concerning given that the opponent was coming in riding a 16-game losing streak and owns the least efficient offense in the league. But when you start Amare Stoudemire (in at center for Tyson Chandler, out due to personal reasons) and Carmelo Anthony on the front line, you’re going to struggle to defend the pain regardless of the opponent. And early on, the Sixers found some success near the rim. The Knicks allowed 61 points in the first half; Henry Sims had 10 of them.
- But the Knicks also scored 61 points in the opening half, and that was with Carmelo Anthony struggling from the field (4-of-12 to in the first half). But the Knicks overall had four players in double digits at the break, and they were taking and making a lot of threes. In the first half alone, the Knicks took 17 threes, making eight.
- Despite the poor defense, Amar’e Stoudemire continued to play some ball on the offensive end. That’s five straight games in double figures for STAT, where he’s shooting 61% from the field. I’m not sure why he needed to keep playing after things got out of hand, but the fact that we’re concerned about Stoudemire getting hurt says a lot about this season. And, to be fair, how he’s turned his game around nicely as the year has wore on.
- The Knicks had four players score over 20 points, led by Tim Hardaway, Jr’s 28. And in a bit of a paradigm shift, the rook only needed 13 shots to do it. Making 5-of-7 from deep and 5 free throws certainly helps. Overall, efficiency was the theme of the night for the Knicks. Stoudemire made 9 of his 10 field goal attempts, Raymond Felton took scored 13 points on just 5 field goal attempts. When that happens, Anthony can afford to get off to a slow start like he did. The opponent matters, of course, but the boys still have to make the shots.
- I thought the Knicks, offensively, looked very much like last year’s team. They moved the ball very well, spearheaded by a noticeably unselfish effort from Carmelo Anthony who co-led the way with 5 assists (all of which game in the first half). J.R. Smith also had 5 assists; I’m gonna go ahead and posit that if the Knicks get 10 combined assists out of Melo and J.R., they’re going to win more than they’re going to lose. In case you were wondering, this limb is very strong.
- So the Knicks are now 25-40 after a 4-game winning streak. I’m still wrapping my head around that. But either way, they have a lot of fellow non-playoff teams on the horizon, beginning with Boston on Wednesday. The Knicks under Mike Woodson have been incredibly streaky, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see this winning streak keep on keeping on.
- Adrian Wojnarowski poured some cold water on the Phil-Jackson-to-NY rumors yesterday, saying that nobody in Phil’s camp thinks a deal is close. Although it may be worth noting that Woj has written some virulently anti-Knicks pieces this year (not that they haven’t been totally warranted). I never know what to believe with dueling reports, so we’ll see. With the way the Knicks have courted huge names and whiffed in the past, one can’t be surprised if Phil turns the offer down.