Check the first goal off the list: the New York Knicks are 2012-13 Atlantic Division Champions. It’s not the ultimate goal or anything to go too crazy, but it’s a tangible basketball accomplishment for a franchise that has been devoid of them for far too long.
The Knicks needed a win or Brooklyn loss to clinch their first division title since 1994, and the Washington Wizards obliged. New York used a blitz of three-pointers that lasted all night – making a franchise-record-tying 20 in total – pummeling a largely disinterested opponent by a 120-99 score. That’s 13 wins in a row.
There were a couple of things the Knicks didn’t show a particular interest in early on: going to the basket and playing defense. Despite the Knicks’ lackluster D, the Wizards had trouble keeping up because the Knicks were taking and making a boatload of threes and the Wizards kept turning the ball over by themselves. In all, the Knicks made an absurd nine 3-pointers in the first quarter: Carmelo Anthony, Raymond Felton, Iman Shumpert and Chris Copeland made two apiece, while Jason Kidd added one.
It was an ugly start to the second quarter. With Anthony and Felton on the bench, the Knicks got pretty careless with the ball (J.R. Smith was the culprit, mostly), but the Wizards weren’t exactly taking advantage. So naturally, the Knicks decided to start launching deep shots again, with Steve Novak finally saying “Hey guys, I’M supposed to be the one doing this” and making three triples of his own. All the while the Knicks defended just okay; had the Wizards not been well, the Wizards, it probably would have been a lot closer of a game (perhaps resembling Sunday’s shootout with Oklahoma City).
The intensity and entertainment value of the second quarter can be summed up pretty well by the fact that Mike Breen and Clyde Frazier started talking about movies (“Crash” and “Searching for Sugar Man” specifically), and the conversation then somehow morphed into Breen asking Clyde if he’d ever been to the Playboy Mansion.
With seconds left in the half, Kidd and Felton did their Louisville impression, trapping and forcing John Wall into a turnover in the backcourt in the final seconds, with Felton making an easy, uncontested layup to bring the Knick lead to 15 at the break.
Nothing the Wizards tried (if you can call what they were doing out there “trying”) stopped the Knicks from scoring. Shumpert made two more threes before Anthony then took over. Melo decided to try his luck a bit more from inside the arc, getting to the offensive glass at times and also leaving Martell Webster and Chris Singleton in his wake on blow-bys. When he had open looks from the perimeter he canned them, when he didn’t have open looks he created them, then canned them. Melo dropped 21 in the 3rd quarter alone, capping things off with a few long bombs and a buzzer-beating layup that really blew the Wizards’ doors off, if they hadn’t been hanging on for dear life already. That gave Melo five-straight games with 35 or more points, tying new Hall-of-Famer Bernard King for the franchise record.
Things didn’t end all perfect and rosy though, as Kenyon Martin sprained his ankle in the fourth quarter. We’ll hopefully hear a time frame soon, but I wouldn’t expect to see him much in the rest of the regular season, if at all. Hopefully, he’s back for the playoffs, which the Knicks will enter as division champs and quite possibly the second seed.