Fun game! The Knicks really needed a win like that after a lot of adversity recently. They thoroughly dominated the (admittedly shorthanded) Suns, who are now 2-16 in their last 18 games, for pretty much the entire night. Here are a few numbers that should help illustrate that dominance: the Knicks dished 24 assists on 36 made field goals, turned the ball over only 9 times, and no starter had a +/- of less than +17. Yet they only won by 18, which is why LazaroSmithington made a good point in the game thread when he noted late in the fourth quarter "this really isn't a big enough lead."
With Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis back on the court (but not Jose Calderon), New York came out of the gate looking like their next opponents, the Golden State Warriors. They played suffocating defense and egalitarian offense, taking a 26-8 lead late in the first quarter. It helped, of course, that Phoenix looked like they had met each other about 30 seconds before tipoff. However, once the starters went to the bench, the Suns went on an 8-0 run to cut the Knicks' lead to 10 entering the second.
Arron Afflalo and Porzingis returned to the game early in the second, followed soon thereafter by Melo, and New York was able to open back up their lead. Some good transition offense from Langston Galloway (who started in place of Calderon) and Derrick Williams, along with some divine passing from Lang and Melo, sent the Knicks into the locker room with an 18 point lead. Probably should've been more, but that's hard to complain about.
It was more of the same in the third quarter. The team's solid play continued on both sides of the ball, and the lead ballooned to 25 with about 7 minutes remaining in the quarter. The Knicks probably took their foot off the gas a bit after that, but still held a 24-point lead at the end of the quarter. The fourth quarter also happened. The Knicks won by 18 points.
Look, considering the Knicks entered the fourth quarter with a greater than 20-point lead, it's probably unfair to say their lead should have been bigger since Melo didn't play a single second in the final frame. And I really don't have any complaints about how the team played tonight. But this was a game the Knicks should have won by 40, and I'm greedy enough to whine about their inability to do so. Oh well. Freakin' awesome win regardless. Here are my notes:
- The Knicks missed Carmelo Anthony very dearly. Shocking, I know. Melo has always made the offense go, but this year, he's been a defensive catalyst as well. It's really cool to see. Meanwhile, the guy put up a 19/10/8 line. He didn't play at all in the fourth quarter! Don't let anyone tell you Carmelo Anthony is overrated.
- Quiet game for Kris aside from the nightly putback dunk, this time off a Melo miss. He also got absolutely destroyed by an Archie Goodwin jam. I do want to say, however, that I find it very impressive that he has no qualms about getting posterized. Kristaps is an aggressive defender, and sometimes that will work out badly for him. No big deal.
- I don't have anything specific to point out, but I just want to say that Robin Lopez is a really good defender and he knows his offensive limitations and the Knicks would be totally screwed without him.
- The +/- numbers from all of the Knicks' starters, in case you're curious: Melo +33, Kristaps +19, Lopez +28, Afflalo +17, Lang +24. Good shit, fellas.
- Kyle O'Quinn made an amazing behind the back pass to Galloway. He shows flashes of really impressive skills. He also does really dumb stuff, like letting the shot clock expire on a dunk he attempted because he saw an open lane. There was no reason to do that, considering he had a wide-open jumper from the free throw line available. Watch the clock, Kyle!
- Sasha Vujacic kind of did some good stuff in the second quarter, punctuating it with a fall-down 29-footer as time expired in the half.
- Thanasis Antetokounmpo got to spin at the very end of the game and made a shot! I'm super happy Derek Fisher sent him out there because it seems like Thanasis works very hard at his craft, and now, even if he never plays in another game, he can tell his grandkids he was an NBA player. He deserves that.
Alright, I've taken up enough of your time. We have until 7:30 PM on Sunday to celebrate before the massacre begins. What I mean is that Knicks are going to shit all over the Warriors. That's definitely what I mean.