While the Houston Rockets continue to provide high scoring, entertaining games, the New York Knicks remain a constant source of disappointment to those expecting great things from them, as even 45 points from Carmelo Anthony aren’t enough when it comes to beating teams with similar or bigger aspirations.
It was the fourth home loss for the Knicks (3-5) this season, losing 109-106 to the visiting Houston Rockets, who have the same defensive problems as the Knicks – a combination of laziness and a wide open perimeter, but with a bit more talent on offense to counter those issues, even as Jeremy Lin continues to come off the bench. Getting James Harden back from a short injury rest wasn’t too bad either.
Anthony was involved in two of the biggest calls of the game, as he made the mistake of fouling Dwight Howard away from the ball with under two minutes to go. Hack-a-Dwight didn’t work for him (the Knicks were down by two at that point), and it gave James Harden the shot and the Rockets the ball after Harden, finishing with 36 points and 16-of-18 from the line, made the shot.
Harden also fouled Anthony with the Rockets leading 107-104. The ball was inbounded to Anthony, and Harden fouled him before Anthony began his throwing motion. That didn’t stop him from making the three pointer after the call, but the basket was cancelled, which caused a big uproar for a minute or two, although it was the right call.
Anthony, finishing with 45 points and 10 rebounds on a rare 17-of-30 shooting night for him is the first Knicks player with at least a 45-10 stat line since Patrick Ewing pulled it off in 1995. Andrea Bargnani for a second straight time was there to help him, scoring 24 points, but his paint defense and rebounding (only 4) were awful. J.R. Smith didn’t really help with a 4-of-16 night from the field, returning to normal after some thought he’d take it easy upon his return from suspension and injury.
The Rockets got their trio from last year to perform, while Dwight Howard didn’t see too much of the ball. He took only five shots (1-of-5) and finished with 7 points and 15 rebounds, 4 blocks, 5 turnovers and a very pleasing 5-of-8 from the line, including two big shots with 1:15 left that gave Houston a five-point lead.
Harden led the way with his best game this season, thanks to the easily breached Knicks defense. He didn’t share the ball too much (two assists), but he wasn’t forcing too many bad shots. Chandler Parsons scored 22 points, doing a little bit of everything while Jeremy Lin, coming off the bench once more scored 21 points, having what just might be his best three-game stretch for the Rockets since joining the team.
Madison Square Garden has always been kind to Lin, and this wasn’t any different. The Rockets, without Omer Asik, trying to push his way out of the team, found a team that defends more poorly than they do, making it back to two games over .500. For the Knicks, it was yet more proof that while Tyson Chandler is out, they aren’t really close to competing with playoff-caliber teams from around the league, no matter how good Anthony can be.