While the New York Knicks have began to show some cracks in their armor of perfection, especially with Jason Kidd being unable to play, things are going well at home, for both the team and Carmelo Anthony, improving to 7-0 at the Madison Square Garden this season.
This home stand has been linked to the hip since Mike Woodson took over for the other Mike, currently suffering on the West Coast. Perfect this season, the Knicks won 18 of 19 games at MSG since Woodson replaced D’Antoni and allowed a league-low 87.9 points per game.
Carmelo Anthony is a bit of a different player at home than away, feeling more responsible with his shot selection playing away from the MSG. After his 34 point performance (11-27 from the field), Anthony is now averaging 28.1 points per game at home, nearly 3 points better than his away average, also attempting 2.3 field goals more than on his road trips.
The Phoenix Suns did score 99 points, but except for the Pistons (who lost by 21), no one has scored 100 points against the Knicks at home, who seem to be taking special pride in their ability to be much more consistent and aggressive in front of their home fans. As expected from playing a bad defensive teams like the Suns, three pointers were easy to come by at a very good success rate: 12-29. Anthony and Steve Novak had four tres each, Raymond Felton (23 points, 7 assist) hit three from beyond the arc.
His whole thing when he came in is we’re going to protect our home floor. We’re going to win every game at home, or we’re going to try to win every game at home, and we’re going to go out on the road and compete. So his whole thing is we’ve got to protect our house. Teams coming in got to feel like they’ve got to go somewhere else to get a win.
The Knicks’ defense and pressure was too much for the Suns, who turned the ball over 17 times (compared with 7 by the Knicks). Building around Tyson Chandler took some time to work, but I guess it needed the right kind of coach, with the Knicks ranking 9th in the NBA in points allowed per game. Chandler finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks, teaming up with Kurt Thomas in the front line while Anthony returns to his Small Forward position.
Rasheed Wallace was probably the main focus after the game for not managing to clock too many minutes before getting ejected. First for his foul on Luis Scola and then for shouting “Balls don’t lie” when Goran Dragic missed a free throw. What can I say, NBA referees make some of the dumbest decisions imaginable at times, and the most frightening thing about it is that someone from above is telling them to take out the fun of everything happening on the court.
The Knicks, now 12-4, leading the Nets by one game in the Atlantic division, aren’t at full power yet. Amare Stoudemire is set to return, and so is Iman Shumpert. For now, they’ll probably be coming off the bench, as Woodson will attempt to keep the chemistry going. Still, that’s some serious firepower being added to a team that looks much better than anyone expected, while Carmelo Anthony continues to look like an MVP in the making.