What stands out most from this win is how Amar’e Stoudemire seems to have put any worry Knick fans had about him hurting team chemistry to rest. Stat was a perfect 7 of 7 from the field, continuing to show the 50k he paid Hakeem was well worth it. Amar’e also seems to be very accepting of his bench role and played agressive defense (2 blocks in 21 minutes).
Stoudemire wasn’t the only Knick doing some scoring tonight. Of course there was Carmelo, who actually didn’t score his first points until well into the 1st quarter, set the record for most consecutive 20+ point games by a Knick (scoring exactly 20 tonight). Melo also contributed 7 boards and 5 assits, as he was consistently being doubled team. Felton added 15 points (3-6 from long range), most of which came in the first period when he had to step up for Carmelo. What impressed me how Felt remained a facilitator the rest of the game, racking up 9 assists. This was especially crucial with Kidd missing this game due to his lingering back injury. JR ended a poor shooting month with a surprisingly efficient night. He shot 50% from the field (although he only took 8 shots), hit both his 3’s, and showed his versatility by grabbing 5 boards and getting 4 dimes.
The Knicks had six players score in double figures, and these last 2 may come as a shock: Pablo Prigioni and Tyson Chandler. For Tyson, I don’t know what’s more impressive: that he scored 21 points or that he did it while shooting over 90% from the field. If Chandler can do that even only a little bit more frequently (especially in the playoffs) then I have no idea how any team can stop this offense. Like Felton, Chandler stepped up in the 1st as Melo had yet to get hot. It was just lops and put backs for Tyson this game—we saw him aggressively post-up, as well as take a jump shot (although it was a miss).
The final score may give off the impression that the Knicks coasted to a 16 point victory; but this game was dead even at halftime. In fact, for a while it looked like Jameer Nelson and J.J Redick were Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Orlando’s starting back court combined for 36 points on 14-for-20 shooting in the first half. Woodson, who was clearly furious at this, will be sure to sit Iman Shumpert down and let “rook” know how that kind of perimeter defense is simply unacceptable.
The guy in our rotation who really has been struggling was Steve Novak. And those struggles continued for most of tonight’s game. Novak missed the first 4 threes he attempted and continued looking afraid on the court. Finally, as the Knicks were pulling away, the Knicks started looking to get Novak some open looks so he could regain some of that shooter’s confidence—and boy did it work. The funk (hopefully) is over as his last 3 attempts from long range were good. Novak had made just 1 three-pointer in the previous 4 games.
Hopefully the strong second half performance is a sign of things to come. With no game tomorrow I’m sure the team will look to focus on perimeter defense and rest up some of their lingering injuries. After the day off, the Knicks have back-to-back home games Friday and Saturday, against Milwaukee and Sacramento respectively.
Aside from hosting the Clippers on February 10th, the schedule looks relatively easy heading into the All-Star break. The Knicks better take care of business the next 14 days before some much needed time off.