The whole East – West disparity has gotten a little crazy this season, but maybe things are starting to even out. The New York Knicks got a career night out of Iman Shumpert and a similar dose from Carmelo Anthony as they beat the San Antonio Spurs 105-101, their first win against a Western conference team this season.
Shumpert scored 27 points, adding 6 rebounds, 3 steals and a whole lot of big defense. He scored a huge three pointer of a J.R. Smith assist (weird, right?) in the fourth, but his biggest points came as he elevated high above everyone else to do a mid-air put-back, one handed, off the glass, to give the Knicks a 103-101 lead. The Spurs went to their clutch guy, Marco Belinelli, but he couldn’t get a good shot and missed, allowing the Knicks to grab the rebound and win the game. A minute earlier Belinelli tied the game at 101 with a huge 3.
Those are all winning plays. I keep harping on last year. There were a lot of times last year when somebody would step up and do something amazing to help you win games. We just haven’t been able to experience much of that this season. Tonight we came together as a group. Iman was big tonight. Probably the best game in a Knicks uniform. Not because he scored points, but the fact that he defended, had to guard Parker pretty much the whole night. I thought he did a hell of a job on him.
This was a weird experience for those who have been following the Knicks this season. Defense,, finding the open man, smart ball movement, not being selfish. These are all things that have rarely been showcased through their 10-21 start. However, something clicked in San Antonio, a team that usually embodies all those “basketball values” on their good days, but succumbed to a team that shockingly executed it better than them.
Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker combined to score only 32 points on 37.5% from the field. Belinelli had himself a huge shooting night with 32 points, but things just didn’t look normal for the Spurs, who were very soft on defense whenever Anthony or Shumpert saw an opening, while the offense seemed stunned by guys like Andrea Bargnani actually putting a full-game effort.
Just like the Nets (the New York teams win on the same night for the first time this season), the Knicks have a chance to turn things around from this point on. There’s enough talent, especially now that Chandler is back, to get themselves into the weird Eastern conference playoff race. It’s going to take the smart basketball and sacrifice we saw in the win over the Spurs to get the Knicks there, especially from guys like Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, Andrea Bargnani and even Beno Udrih (10 points, 7 asssits), and not the kind of selfish hero-ball we’ve been seeing from the Knicks, accompanied with 0 effort on defense, for most of this season.
I just try and play hard. That’s the one thing — even if everything is going wrong, you can still run hard, chase somebody down, get a block, get a steal … get an offensive rebound. Those are things you can do whether you’re having a good night or a bad night.