This one’s wrapped up, folks. I’m writing this as Carmelo Anthony just got slapped in the head by Brandon Bass with three minutes to go in a 16-point game. It’s pretty much over.
The New York Knicks used an explosive first-half to essentially put this game away in the opening 24 minutes. Anthony began things by raining threes off the dribble on mismatches with big men; J.R. Smith followed suit with his own step-back jumper antics, and Tim Hardaway Jr. picked up where he left off from last Monday. Cole Aldrich, making the first start of his career, anchored the middle for the Knicks in the absence of Tyson Chandler (personal reasons) and Amar’e Stoudemire (rest). The Knicks’ offense wasn’t so much crisp or efficient as it was piping, unfairly hot. Nearly everything they put up went in.
In the second half, things slowed considerably. The Knicks’ shooting came back to Earth — as anyone could have predicted — and the Celtics got more balls to go their way while also getting ridiculous production from Jeff Green. As the Celtics cut the once-20-point lead to single digits, the Knicks responded with both timely buckets and an ability to execute better. And here the Knicks are: winners of five in a row, three games out of a playoff spot.
Here’s a look at the individual performances:
Carmelo Anthony – 39 minutes, 34 points, 11-25 FG, 4-7 3FG, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, +13
What started as an orgy of crossovers, hesitations, and sweet pull-up jumpers slowly evolved into something of a chuckfest as the game wore on. He rarely capitalized on open looks created for him by his teammates, instead opting to stop the ball, jab step, or dribble his way into his own, far less efficient looks. On defense, Brandon Bass simply out-muscled, out-slapped, elbowed, poked, plunked ‘Melo. Aside from some highlight reel buckets, Good ‘Melo didn’t really show up much tonight.
Final Grade: B-
J.R. Smith – 29 minutes, 13 points, 6-11 FG, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 block, +5
Like many of the Knicks, Smith’s hot start tempered as the game progressed. Early on, the stepback jumper was falling, and when matched with either bigger or slower defenders, J.R. swooped to the basket for some easy buckets. He failed to stop Jeff Green’s deluge in the third quarter, but what can you do when Jeff Green gets going?!
Final Grade: B+
Cole Aldrich – 25 minutes, 12 points, 4-5 FG, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, +19
What began as a bit of a joke turned into a quietly solid substitution performance from Aldrich. His baskets often look a bit like accidents, but who can complain about a double-double from a non-rotation player? He fumbles his passes often, misses some easy opportunities around the basket, and fouls too much, but, really, should the situation call on him, he’s a nice option to have off the bench.
Final Grade: A-
Raymond Felton – 27 minutes, 6 points, 3-7 FG, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 3 TOs, +7
What more is there to say about Felton at this point? He looks generally better playing up-tempo (which the Knicks have been later), he does a fairly commendable job running the offense, can’t defend even Phil Pressey, even though Pressey really couldn’t do much once he blew past Felton. Yeah, ho hum.
Final Grade: C
Iman Shumpert – 21 minutes, 7 points, 3-4, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, +20
Shumpert finally found some rhythm and confidence in this one. He nailed a corner three off of good ball movement for the first time since… January(?). He also drove the baseline once for a big slam, and later took Jared Sullinger off the dribble for an easy layup. Unfortunately, foul trouble kept him benched for most of the night.
Final Grade: B
Tim Hardaway Jr. – 38 minutes, 22 points, 7-11 FG, 3-5 3FG, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, +11
Hardaway Jr. came in with the oven already warm. After knocking down a few catch-and-shoots, he began showing the full arsenal — pull-ups, the transition game. At one point he got a bit over-zealous in transition, but nonetheless, Timmy’s a game-changer when he’s on.
Final Grade: A
Jeremy Tyler – 15 minutes, 4 points, 1-3 FG, 7 rebounds, 1 block, 1 steal, +1
Tyler just hasn’t shown the same pizzazz as earlier this year when he started to crack the rotation. The polished offensive game is gone, his defense no longer at least blends in, and holy moly, four fouls in 15 minutes. That ain’t gonna do, Jeremy. At this point, Aldrich is mostly a better rotation piece than Tyler, even with a healthy front-court.
Final Grade: C-
Pablo Prigioni – 19 minutes, 6 points, 2-3 FG, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, +12
Woodson ran with Felton on the court in that borderline disastrous third quarter — longer than I would have — when he should’ve gone with Pablo. Ever-present, Pablo made his usual impact on the game — a couple of nice steals, some pick-and-roll know-how, some tough boards, and most of all, a quicker trigger on his three, which benefits the Knicks’ offense.
Final Grade: A-
Earl Clark – 20 minutes, 6 points, 2-5 FG, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, 2 blocks, +22
Clark began the game on the wrong foot. Had an unsuccessful drive to the rim, then yelped for the ball on the offensive rebound and promptly bricked a corner three. Later, he just watched Pressey and Humphries run a fastbreak in front of him and get an open dunk. And just when it seemed he’d get the hook, he knocked down some shots, pulled down some tough rebounds in traffic, and played some solid on-ball defense. Thanks, Earl.
Final Grade: B
Shannon Brown, Toure’ Murry -
Incompletes. Sorry, guys.
The Knicks will now have a day of rest before hosting the Bucks tomorrow, for which you can find NYK tickets here.
Follow Scott Davis on Twitter.