The ending to this season for the New York Knicks is one weird roller coaster ride that goes from losing to winning streak. So what now? Well, a great shooting night for both Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith led them to a 107-99 win over the Sacramento Kings, but it really doesn’t mean anything.
Because the New York Knicks are impossible to read or predict this season. Anthony is going to get his points, and sometimes the players on the court might surprise everyone and seem to give a damn on defense. Other games, like in the loss to the Lakers the day before, it’ll seem like a group that hasn’t been coached a single day of the year and has no idea what to do except give the ball to Anthony and hope for the best.
Offensively, with no apparent system to go by, dumping the ball to the hot hand seems to be the general idea. Anthony scored 36 points, getting plenty of help from J.R. Smith who finished with 29, including nine 3-pointers. The two combined to shoot 14-of-20 from beyond the arc, making both Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni look like assist kings with their combined 17.
As always, the defense wasn’t there. DeMarcus Cousins had no problem scoring in the paint with 32 points. The rotation on the perimeter is incredibly careless, which keeps forcing Tyson Chandler to move away from the rim. Over there, when Amare Stoudemire is on the court, anyone can score, as Stoudemire continues to baffle everyone with his inability to be even the slightest deterrent under the basket.
What changed from the embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Lakers? A little bit more effort, and simply the balls dropping. The Kings don’t make teams run like the Lakers do, and for a lazy and slow-to-react defense like the Knicks, that makes all the difference, especially when Anthony and Smith are having such a hot day from pretty much anywhere on the floor.
But it this going to bring the Knicks into the playoffs? It’s really impossible to say. Not just because of them, but because Eastern conference teams are quite unreliable in predicting their results. You can never tell if the Hawks are going to go on a 10 game losing streak to end the season or suddenly win five. The same can happen to the Knicks and no one is going to be surprised.
They’re now only two games behind the Hawks, but have played two more games than them. The big problem for the Knicks is being underdogs in all their remaining games this season: On the road against Phoenix, Golden State and Utah before heading back East, playing the Nets, Wizards, Heat, Raptors, Bulls, Nets and finishing the season with the Raptors. Except for Utah, these are all playoff teams, and this has the potential to be a killer stretch for the Knicks, who haven’t dealt with the rough parts of their season all too well. Unless Mike Woodson can conjure up defense from somewhere, it’s hard to see the Knicks surviving this schedule and making the playoffs unless Anthony and someone else have these kind of shooting nights almost every game.