Making the playoffs isn’t just about the New York Knicks winning, but for now they’re playing their part, beating the Utah Jazz 92-83, getting a huge night from Carmelo Anthony who despite his murky future with the franchise is doing everything he can to make sure there’s some postseason basketball for his teammates this season.
Anthony scored 34 points as the Knicks overcame a shaky start to the game with strong second and third quarters. Anthony was joined by four more players in double figures, including Tyson Chandler with 15 points, J.R. Smith on a rough shooting night with 13, Raymond Felton scoring 12 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. who left the game limping in garbage time scoring 10 points, and suffering from a sprained ankle.
Amare Stoudemire, whose increased involvement was a big part of the Knicks finding themselves back in the playoff race, didn’t play. Mike Woodson said it was maintenance, which some would call recovery or simply resting. However, from what we’ve learned earlier this season from Stoudemire himself, he isn’t the one asking for these moments of rest and taking games off, and it’s more about the coaching staff worried about his knees.
The Jazz had a rough shooting game with 38.8% from the field, not to mention a terrible 29.5% on uncontested shots. They did crash the boards and grab 16 offensive rebounds, but their offense continues to look the opposite of flowing and smooth, as Trey Burke was only 2-of-8 from the field and guys like Diante Garrett come off the bench and allow themselves to shoot 0-of-8 in the 18 minutes he was in, most shots being wide open attempts he simply missed.
It’s always us to pay the Knicks a compliment for their defensive play but Tyson Chandler seemed very happy with what the guys on the perimeter were doing, with Iman Shumpert playing in the lineup. The Jazz were constantly forced into tough situation and weren’t really able to beat anyone off the dribble, with the Knicks making life quite easy for their big men, as Cole Aldrich was the one who mostly backed up Chandler.
The Knicks did reasonably well on their Western road trip and now head back for two home games against the Nets and the Wizards before a very tough finish which includes playing in Miami, Toronto and Brooklyn, while having two home games in between with Chicago and finishing the season at home against the Raptors.
As we’ve mentioned before: It’s not only up to them. They need the Atlanta Hawks, winning their most recent outing, to lose a bit more while they keep up the pace we’ve seen from them in March. There are also the Cavs to watch out for. An ugly season with plenty of ups and downs, but winning five of the next seven games should get them in the playoffs. In the East, maybe doing worse still won’t doom them.
We really got into them with our perimeter play. The guys did an excellent job tonight of closing off the dribble. Even when we did get beat, we would kind of stand on their hip and funnel them into a tough situation, which allowed myself, Cole and some other bigs to come over and help.