Harris DeckerOn the season’s final night, in what was likely Mike Woodson’s final game coaching the New York Knicks, the team had a very different look. With Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler on the bench, and with Carmelo Anthony beginning rehab on his torn labrum, the starting lineup was looking more like the new White Plains D-League team than that of the defending Atlantic Division champs.
Against this years Atlantic champions, that group put up a great battle and actually won.
J.R. Smith put the cherry on top of an excellent second half, leading the Knicks with 30 points. Another regular, Tim Hardaway Jr., turned in 18 points. The real stars of the game were Toure’ Murry and Cole Aldrich, two players who played a very limited role this year saw season highs in minutes and many statistical categories. Murry put up a career high 15 points and Aldrich pulled down a season high 16 boards. Aldrich also added 13 points, matching his season high.
It was nice to see a group of players that haven’t seen much time this year come out and truly fight to be a part of this teams future. The game itself might not have mattered to the Knicks but it definitely did to a handful of players. After the game Aldrich echoed that sentiment.
“We came out and we fought. We ended strong,” he said.
For Woodson this was likely his final game in New York. The Knicks coach failed to make the playoffs a season after winning 54 games and the Atlantic. After the game, he was somber.
“Is it fair to let me go? I don’t think so, but I don’t make that decision. That’s gotta come from the top,” Woodson said.
It’s been a tough season and no one knows that better than Woodson. With Anthony, Chandler and Felton on the shelf, it was a great way to end a disappointing season. We watched guys battle for a future in New York and now we can turn our attention to an offseason that is sure to be very, very interesting.