Life is quite difficult this season for the New York Knicks, but maybe not all is lost. Carmelo Anthony isn’t alone in the fray if Andrea Bargnani has more nights of 20 points and 11 rebounds, while J.R. Smith gets more and more comfortable with playing again, helping their team win on the road against the Atlanta Hawks 95-91.
After slow starts in too many games this season, Mike Woodson made a meaningful change by letting J.R. Smith start, something he hasn’t done since March 2012. Smith scored 12 points on 4-of-10 from the field, and even played a few minutes of what he’s supposed to according to the team’s trainer, but when you need to win a game, it’s hard keeping those things accurate.
Anthony led the team with 25 points and horrendous percentages (9-of-25 from the field), but for once this season, it didn’t stop the Knicks from winning. The Hawks did hold a 78-72 lead early in the fourth, but the Knicks, led by Anthony in the finest part of his game for the night, went on a 11-0 run, which included him making free throws, a dunk and a three pointer to begin the run, capped off by Andrea Bargnani hitting a three pointer.
In truth, if there’s one man to hold accountable for the win, it’s the Italian, playing as a center on a team that needs a different type of player to anchor its defense. Sometimes, it’s not about schemes or defensive tactics, but simply effort, which was there, as opposed to their embarrassing loss against the San Antonio Spurs. Bargnani wasn’t exactly impersonating Chandler, but not looking all soft and even frightened on defense was a huge change compared to what the Knicks usually get from one of the most overpaid players in the NBA.
The Hawks went too much to the outside, despite scoring 56 points in the paint. They finished with only 5-of-24 from beyond the arc, including a disappointing day for Kyle Korver on 2-of-6 from three. Al Horford finished with 11-of-14 and 23 points, and maybe the Hawks should have done a better job of giving him more touches, not to mention getting Paul Millsap out of a funk, scoring only 6 points on 3-of-9 from the field.
One of the problems for the Hawks, that unlike the Knicks, they don’t have someone to finish their games. Even if Anthony is having an awful day of 20-30% from the field, it won’t stop him from taking the final five or six deciding shots in a game. Great players have short memories, and there’s always the next shot for them. Even if it’s bad for efficiency, it’s excellent for teams who need someone to break deadlocks late in games without letting the pressure get to them.
Oh, man, it was a great way to kind of get back on track. Any time you can win on the road, that’s always a big win. Much better effort than we put forth in that San Antonio game. I’m glad to see that we responded in that fashion and put that game behind us.