Two consecutive wins deserves opening champagne bottles for the New York Knicks, but no one should be fooled: The most recent 38-point win over the Orlando Magic, and the good form shown by Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and even J.R. Smith does nothing to suggest that the early season crisis is over.
How come? Because both their 30-point win over the Brooklyn Nets and now against the Orlando Magic came against either a broken team or one missing their most important player. The New York Knicks’ biggest flaw is their interior defense, but without Nikola Vucevic there was nothing to really disturb a team focused on ending a 7-game losing streak at home.
The Knicks came away with the 121-83 win, and suddenly look like a team that can make a nice little run in the very weak Eastern conference. After a slow start, highlighted by Victor Oladipo rejecting Carmelo Anthony, the Magic simply stopped scoring in the second half (only 29 points), as they fell to 1-8 on the road this season.
Carmelo Anthony all of a sudden seems like the prime example of cautious shooting. He finished with 20 points on only 6-of-10 from the field, grabbing 11 rebounds and adding 4 assists. Andrea Bargnani finished with 17 points, adding 8 rebounds, as the Knicks looked better than ever before (this season at least) on defense and in the paint, not to mention an effort and motivation to prevent baskets that simply wasn’t there only a few days ago.
Yeah, I knew it was going to eventually happen. I’m glad that it did. It was a good night to happen in Brooklyn, then we came back tonight and showed it wasn’t a fluke. That’s what a lot of people were trying to say. We came out tonight to really prove that. We got tired of losing. Whether we figured everything out in two games, that’s yet to come, but we’ll take these two wins. At some point it was going to get unleashed. Brooklyn was just the team that got the first wrath of it, so everybody else is going to have to feel it later on, too.
The question needed to be asked is not where was this ability before, but whether or not this is a short spurt of motivation or simply the Knicks finally realizing what needs to be done in order to get back in the playoff race – less selfishness on offense, much better ball movement than before and actually closing down the lane from time to time?
Seeing J.R. Smith finally getting hot for once was a pleasant change compared to his form since coming back from injury and suspension. He finished with 17 points on 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, while Tim Hardaway Jr. was excellent from the outside again, hitting five three-pointers as well. The Knicks hit 17-of-34 from beyond the arc.
Iman Shumpert might be the finest example of a player undergoing a great change in these last two games. He finished with 10 points, including having one impressive dunk to show in the highlight reel,, but his effort and especially the intelligence in his decision making on both ends of the floor seems to have been revamped. No longer on the trading block? Maybe that’s too soon to say, but certainly he looks ready to prove he needs to stay.