The Sixers came close to pulling off the upset in Atlanta, but the Hawks eventually took control, making this a must-win for New York’s playoffs hopes. This Knicks team never makes things as easy on themselves as they should be, but eventually, they held up their end of the bargain, beating the Jazz 92-83.
- The Knicks gave up six first half threes to a team that only averages that many treys per game on the season. Despite letting the Jazz hang around for most of the night, the defense clamped down in the second half, surrendering just 34 points. New York made three straight threes to start the third quarter, but continued their unpredictability over the rest of the period, building a lead up to eight points before allowing Utah to tie it back up. Four minutes later, the Knicks had a 10-point lead that they would never give back.
- The big second half was inspired by this awesome buzzer beater to bring the Knicks within one as they headed into the locker room:
- New York had to do it without Amar’e Stoudemire tonight, who took off for a routine maintenance day. STAT has been a big part of this late-season turnaround and the Knicks are going to need him at full strength down the stretch, but since the team needs every win it can get, sitting him his rather risky. If he misses one game too many, the Knicks could be watching from home come playoff time.
- Woodson counteracted Stoudemire’s absence with a small ball starting lineup, starting Carmelo Anthony at the four and Iman Shumpert at the three. J.R. Smith saw some extra time, playing 40-plus minutes for the third time in four games. The Knicks are 3-1 over that stretch, but is that just a coincidence?
- Because missing Stoudemire wasn’t bad enough for New York’s already thin frontcourt, Tyson Chandler got himself into early foul trouble. Much to the delight of fans of the underdog, this brought on a Cole Aldrich sighting. He entered the game and got right the work, blocking a shot on his first defensive possession and then nearly forcing a steal on the next. Aldrich did nothing spectacular tonight, but that’s exactly what a fill-in should do. He finished with six points and six rebounds in 12:53 on the floor. Those numbers make for some ridiculous per 36′s.
- Jeremy Tyler didn’t get off the bench until there was 1:17 left in the game. Developing his game is important, but it’s hard to disagree with Woodson for going with the more experienced guys first.
- Carmelo Anthony unsurprisingly led the way with 34 points. Chandler had a team-high nine rebounds and plus/minus of +18. After the bench performed so well in last night’s comeback over the Warriors, they totaled just 16 points tonight – 10 from Tim Hardaway Jr., and 6 from Aldrich. Hardaway Jr. left the game with 17.7 seconds left after landing awkwardly without contact. I’ve never hoped for a sprained ankle so badly.
- Iman Shumpert played aggressively and took smart shots, but only made one of his five attempts. He looks as fluid and healthy as he’s been in weeks, but needs to capitalize better on his opportunities. Like it or not, Shump seems to be in Phil Jackson’s long term plans. I’m still holding out hope that he can turn things around, although it probably won’t be this season.
- Next for the Knicks is a Wednesday night matchup against their city rivals. It’ll be a tough game, but the Hawks will have their hands full too, hosting Chicago at 7:30 p.m. Tip-off for Knicks-Nets is slated for the same time. As always, TOK will have you covered.