I'm not sure I can remember another Knick win quite like this one. The Knicks and Hawks played three even quarters of sluggish, ineffective basketball laden with missed shots and offensive fouls. Then, in the fourth, New York just went bananas. Carmelo Anthony, who had been killing possessions all evening (more on that later), took to the bench and the rest of the Knicks promptly blew the game open. On defense, New York's active hands shut off Atlanta passing lanes and ruined their attempts to work the ball inside (12 steals in total). On offense, the Knicks relied on equal helpings of Amar'e Stoudemire and the corner three (the BJabs comment quoted in the headline is one of several dozen poop-laden exclamations from the second half thread) to dart ahead of Atlanta and never look back. Meanwhile, a large chunk of the Philips Arena crowd came out in favor of the Knicks to the point that it felt a little like a home game at times. Bros with flat-brim hats and #7 t-shirt jerseys are apparently not confined to New York and Miami!
Take the jump for some notes on the win.
- So...yeah. Carmelo Anthony sat down with 10:14 remaining in the fourth quarter and didn't return. The Knicks outscored the Hawks 30-20 from that point forward thanks to the aforementioned Amar'e 'n' poop platter. So what happened up to that point? Melo shot very poorly (6-18), had some defensive lapses, and turned the ball over five times, but also grabbed seven boards and threw seven assists. Early on, it seemed like Anthony was playing decent team ball but just couldn't get his shots down. Though he couldn't string together made shots or draw a foul, Melo had three assists in the game's first three minutes, responding to attention from multiple defenders by throwing crisp passes (often over long-ass distances) to open shooters. All was well. As the game progressed, though, Anthony's hands got stickier and he grew more and more prone to dribbling and standing and dribbling and standing and dribbling into traffic and taking hideous out-of-rhythm shots. It seriously fucked up New York's offensive continuity, which was already kind of precarious with Chauncey Billups still sidelined. A pretty nasty first quarter eye-poke by Al Horford appeared to bug Anthony for the rest of the evening, but it didn't seem like enough for Melo to be suddenly stricken with tunnel vision. Due in some part to solid defense from the Atlanta forwards, he didn't participate in much of the harmony with Amar'e we've seen in games prior (very few post-ups and catches off curls), and didn't sustain that distributing streak well enough to compensate for his poor shooting and inability to draw fouls. Carmelo Anthony has already shown how he can and will be a dynamic part of this team's offense, but that wasn't the case in this one. Tonight, it seemed like the Knicks won in spite of him and played best without him. Hopefully, spectating on that fourth quarter run gave Melo a little insight into how the D'Antoni offense thrives and the ways he which he can excel as a part of it.
- UPDATE: From Alan Hahn:
"The small forward said a Horford poke to his left eye in the first quarter gave him a migraine so severe that he was forced to toss his sweatband because of the pressure.
"I really couldn't see," said Anthony, who was subbed out with 10:14 left and the Knicks up 64-59. "The eye was blurry. I was seeing double almost the whole game. I was shooting the ball just trying to get it up to the basket, just trying to get the other guys going.''
So maybe you can disregard a lot of the above.
- Amar'e Stoudemire, on the other hand, was as solid as ever. That mid-range jumper is my rock, y'all. I love it. I want to marry it and move in to a three-bedroom apartment with it and raise a family with it.
- In Chauncey's stead, Toney Douglas finally struck a happy medium between spectacular and dreadful. He played a solid, effective outing, over-dribbling at times but putting up a decent 10 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds with just 2 turnovers. His best dish of the evening was a gorgeous feed to a cutting Landry Fields that ended in an easy flush down the middle.
- With all due respect to Toney, though, Anthony Carter was the point guard star of the evening. Carter was instrumental, particularly during a third quarter in which he ripped steals and rebound away from Hawks, made some useful passes, and dropped in 7 points, including a pull-up three-pointer just before the buzzer. I've become quite enamored with this plucky little pug. Anthony doesn't even need to hit jumpers to stay on the floor, but he's been doing that splendidly over the last few games. Excellent.
- It didn't look like it was going to be a very Landry evening when the Knick rookie missed his first two wide open threes to open the game, but a few splendid drives and some bangin' threes later, Landry Fields had himself a splendid line. 15 points on 6-11 shooting, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and, save for a handful of rough possessions, some pretty solid defense on Joe Johnson.
- Also contributing to that D on The Armadillo Cowboy was Jared Jeffries, who was typically absent from the boxscore but omnipresent on the court. He anchored a few zones (a throwback to the magical '09-'10 season) and rushed over to pester Johnson whenever he put the ball on the floor. Maybe I'm imagining things, but it seemed like Jared's frenetic defense inspired the rest of the blokes to keep their hands up and snaggle all them steals.
- Once again, the most smile-inducing aspect of the evening was Roger Mason's contribution off the bench. His defense came and went, but he canned two big jumpers during that fourth quarter mayhem. It's just a delight for this guy to finally show something when given another opportunity.
- In terms of interior defense, the Shawne Williams/Shelden williams frontcourt isn't D'Antoni's best bet. They'd make a good law firm, though.
- As he's wont to do, Shawne stepped in as the Knicks' most incontinent pooper. He hit four a'them bad boys, and I think most of them came from the corner. Vintage Extra E.
- I need to see it again for clarification, but Derrick Brown busted out some pretty marvelous dance moves after one of those threes.
- Chauncey Billups was seen chewin' a toothpick on the bench. Badass. Renaldo Balkman once again kept his dreadlocks tightly cornrowed. Not as badass. Let 'em flow, Humpty!
And that's it! It would have been interesting to see how the Knicks finished if it stayed a slow, defensive struggle, but I wouldn't trade that fourth quarter barrage for anything. Credit the Knicks for suddenly finding their offense while the Hawks stayed missing. They're back in action tomorrow against the Jazz.