Tonight's game in Orlando didn't feel all that much like the Knicks' previous game in Indiana, but it did present a similar circumstance. After starting the game poorly, the Knicks put together a handsome double-digit lead in the second and third quarters, then defended that lead in the fourth to blow out a tense bunch of Magic...ians. After their utter collapse in the previous game, it was, like DangerZone said in the thread, a relief to see them work through all four quarters and finish what they started.
New York shot brilliantly, took care of the ball, rebounded, got to the line, and made sure Dwight Howard didn't end his rather unseemly day on a high note. 'Twas a terrific bounce-back game, and an important win to keep the Knicks above .500 and compensate for Milwaukee's victory last night. New York hasn't lost consecutive games since Mike Woodson became coach, which is pretty excellent.
- Carmelo Anthony went quiet in the third and got to sit in the fourth, but got plenty of work done in the first half. He started missing, but nailed a couple jumpers off the catch toward the end of the first, then continued to shoot and drive well in the second. Melo's defense wasn't his best, but he did pull down eight rebounds. Solid outing, and he did almost all of it in the first half.
-Tyson Chandler, once again, just shut down Dwight Howard. Early on, it kind of seemed like Chandler was letting Howard set up too close to the basket, but Howard missed anyway. As the game progressed, Chandler put in work earlier in possessions and, to my eye, forced Howard toward the baselines to limit his mobility. The Knicks brought some help-- too often, I thought-- but Chandler's man defense was usually enough to contain Howard, and he did it mostly without fouling (Howard was just 0-3 at the line). Chandler held Howard to just eight points and eight rebounds while dropping 12 and 12 himself. He's pretty good at sports.
- Iman Shumpert and Landry Fields each had productive quarters. Shump scored seven of his nine points in the first, canning a three off the catch and plunging a putback dunk hiiiiigh above the rim in the final seconds of the period. Fields struggled in the first half, but came alive in the third quarter. He had all ten of his points in that quarter, lasering in a couple threes off the catch, scoring once at the rim after a nice cut up the middle, and driving away from a pick to cram a one handed slam jam in traffic. Both Shump and Fields had a couple lapses defensively (Shump's gotta pay better attention to backdoor cuts off the ball. He's a bit prone to tunnel vision), but were mostly solid on that end.
- Fields shot 0-6 from the line, just to make sure the Knicks stole all of Dwight's thunder.
- J.R. Smith's impact on the game was mostly of the non-scoring variety. He grabbed a couple nice rebounds in traffic, made a couple fine defensive plays (including a brilliant strip of Hedo Turkoglu at the rim), and dished out a career-high nine assists (one of which was an absolutely gorgeous extra pass from the perimeter into a Chandler dunk). In the second quarter, though, Earl was cookin' soup like only Earl can. He splashed all three of this three-pointers off the catch and also managed to drop two fairly ill-advised step-back attempts off the dribble. Very, very nice game.
- Baron Davis also took over a quarter. In the third, he just kept finding his way into the paint, drawing help, then making a slick pass in traffic to find somebody (usually Chandler) at the rim. I'm pretty sure he had all five of his assists in that period, the best of which was a kick-out to a Fields three off a silly (but actually useful) dribble through back-to-front through his legs. His shot creation was big during some stretches in which Knick possessions weren't their crispest.
- It should be noted that the Magic missed an absurd number of layups. They probably missed more than they attempted somehow. Hit a pretty solid helping of threes, though.
- Steve Novak hit three of six three-pointers, including one that felt like the dagger in the fourth quarter.
- Speaking of which: Toney Douglas! Not bad, Toney! Douglas entered the game when the Knicks were down eight in the first and had a very positive impact. He stayed in front of Jameer Nelson and annoyed the shit out of him, then pushed quickly in the other direction to get within the arc and hit trailers in transition. He was a big part of New York's 12-2 run to end the first quarter. After missing some good looks early, Toney found his jumper in the fourth quarter. They weren't exactly meaningful points, but Toney had 13 of his 15 in that period alone, and actually looked sharp and squared-up on his releases. If those makes got his confidence going, that's a big, big deal. It was soooo nice to see Toney Douglas do what Toney Douglas do. I haven't said that-- at least not kindly-- in a while.
- The Knicks really wanted Hedo Turkoglu out of this game. Shumpert knocked him off balance and caused him to fall and hurt his elbow in the first half, then Melo drove and elbowed inadvertently in the face to open a huge gash above his eye.
- As my friend Robert Silverman pointed out, Bill Walker inexplicably shows up on box scores (at least as of this moment) as having played zero minutes, yet somehow registering a -3. He didn't play. I swear.
- An adjustment I liked in the fourth quarter: Woodson has his guys-- Toney and Landry in particular-- play full-court press to mix things up at the beginning of the period. It actually forced an immediate turnover, but Fields got excited and blew the ensuing layup.
- MSG showed footage of Amar'e Stoudemire doing some sorta dance-y exercises to work on his back. Mike Breen suggested that the moves were reminiscent of the Hokey Pokey. Clyde questioned their effectiveness.
Huzzah! Well done, Knicks. I'll probably post some more notes, videos, and links from tonight's game in the morning. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful rest of your night.