Despite the ‘spread the love’ feel from looking at the box score from the 123-110 win for the New York Knicks over the Philadelphia 76ers, it was more about awful shooting from Carmelo Anthony and excellent offense from Tim Hardaway Jr. which made it seem like it was all about sharing the ball and getting everyone involved.
The New York Knicks aren’t suddenly a great team. They have the longest winning streak in the Eastern conference with four in a row, scoring at least 107 points in each of these wins. Mike Woodson made the right call – the last card he had to draw, which was putting on a lineup with players in their true positions and betting it all on offense. It has been working.
Hardaway scored 28 points off the bench with 9-of-13 shooting against the joke that the 76ers have turned into since trading away Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes. It’s one thing to try and get many draft picks and improve your lottery chances, but looking this pathetic puts one big shaming mark on this franchise for a season that will go down in history as much more than embarassing.
Four Knicks players finished with 22 points or more, as Carmelo Anthony had 22 wth 9 rebounds and 5 assists but on a 9-of-24 shooting game. He was the only one who actually had trouble scoring. Amare Stoudemire finished with 23 points on 9-of-10 from the field and J.R. Smith scored 22 as well, hitting four times from beyond the arc. The Knicks shot 54.3% from the field and 40.6% from beyond the arc, being the next in line to make the most of the Sixers’ incredible tanking job.
But Adam Silver doesn’t want you to call it tanking. It’s rebuilding. No tanking going on round here. No sir. Just a team giving up everyone but their youngest of players, hoping it lands them in the top 3 of a very rich and deep draft. What about creating a winning culture? What about providing those actually going to games some value for their ticket? No one seems to care about that, or hushing those who do.
The Knicks aren’t a super team all of a sudden. Yes, it seems like with two wins the effort and enthusiasm are back, carrying over to the next two. The ball movement is better and there actually seems to be some thinking going into their plays from time to time. But a different team? Mostly a weak schedule that they’re making the most of.
There can still be some playoffs left for the Knicks this season, with more weak teams lined up for them and the new offense-only lineup probably working a lot better than Mike Woodson dreamed. He’s not likely to keep his job next season, especially if Phil Jackson does get appointed to the mysterious front office job designated for him.
No matter how this season ends, the Knicks failed this year, and no playoff berth is going to hide that. But if there’s a chance to leave a good taste in people’s mouths when it’s all said and done, it seems like this group is on the right path of achieving that.