After two lukewarm games at best, Carmelo Anthony finally zeroes in on making baskets and leading the New York Knicks to victory, this time over the Washington Wizards.
The Knicks improved to 2-1 following their slightly surprising 117-110 win over the Wizards, although this early in the season, you shouldn’t be too stunned by anything. Anthony couldn’t make a shot the first two nights of basketball, but was in the zone with 37 points on 11-of-18 from the field including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and 11-for-12 from the line. He had a run of eight consecutive field goals made at one point, coming after missing his first two attempts.
It felt good. It’s been a while since February. I keep saying it, but it’s been a while for me to kind of have this experience. t was just one of them days that — even this morning at shootaround things were just feeling good. I worked out a little bit after shootaround, things felt good; before the game, things felt good. So it was just one of those days. I’m never surprised, but I’ll take it. At this point, you build it, it’ll come.
The Knicks’ offseason work was about making this team more than just Anthony. On nights when he can’t miss like this one no one is going to complain, but it’s good having some scoring from surprising, other places as well. Langston Galloway scored 14 points, playing the kind of role and minutes he should be instead of doing it too much last season. Lance Thomas finished with 12 and Kyle O’Quinn added 10 from the bench, just like Jose Calderon.
Kristaps Porzingis finished with 8 points in 21 minutes. While he’s not wowing anyone with his ability, it’s nice that he’s not overwhelmed by the NBA experience. Derek Fisher is still trying to find the right rotation and combinations in the frontcourt. Derrick Williams got just 15 minutes, scoring 7 points. Robin Lopez, this time facing a much more difficult frontcourt than the one in the previous game, was just 3-of-10 from the field, finishing with 8 points and 8 rebounds.
The Wizards failed to have their first 3-0 start in 10 years, struggling defensively. Be it Otto Porter who tried guarding Anthony or the team as a whole defending a Knicks team that’s getting more and more comfortable with what last season seemed like rocket science to them, the defense just wasn’t there. As Randy Wittman said: It’s all about his rhythm. Once he gets his rhythm, he’s hard to defend. He’s a different player this year. The commitment to defend is not there. I’ve got to change that.
An interesting difference between the Knicks this season and the past (last year) is the willing to get physical and not being deterred by strong teams. The Wizards are far from soft, and it looked like the extra physicality brought out the best of Anthony and helped make the Knicks become more focused. They shot 47.7% from the field, 47.4% from beyond the arc and although they committed 18 turnovers, the decision making was overall good. This team is still missing useful pieces in Arron Afflalo and Kevin Seraphin, so things can certainly be even better.