Harris DeckerThe Knicks are back and playing the best basketball we’ve seen this year. Against the Brooklyn Nets we saw them go nuts from behind the arc and that trend continued last night against the Magic. In both games, they shot over 50% from 3-point range and hit 33 3′s in those games. That recipe is what led to the Knicks winning the Atlantic Division one year ago and that style of play has returned to New York.
Hitting 3′s is a summation of passing. Playing isolation basketball with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith only gets you so far. Against the Nets we saw the extra pass. We saw them moving the ball around the outside to the open man and we saw guys like Iman Shumpert and Andrea Bargnani driving to the basket instead of settling for tough outside shots.
Shumpert has been very impressive over the last two games. He’s back to playing aggressive basketball and hitting outside shots at a very high percentage. Against the Nets he hit 5 of 7 from behind the arc and last night he absolutely posterized the Magic’s Maurice Harkless. He’s being more aggressive and also speeding up the pace for the Knicks. Multiple times over the last few games he pulled down a rebound (he’s had 10 over those 2 games) and then raced up the court, leaving everyone else in his tracks before either finishing it himself or passing it off to a wide open man behind the arc.
Bargnani has also been impressive. He’s playing better defense and is showing that he can be an absolute sharp shooter from behind the arc. He’s scoring 3 more points per game than last year and has increased his per game stats in almost every category. As the Knicks learn how to get him more involved, that trade is going to continue to look better and better. As Ben said yesterday, a lot of Knicks fans owe Bargnani an apology. He’s playing hard and hitting shots. What more could we ask for?
Now we look ahead. In the next week, the Knicks face the Cavaliers, Bulls, Hawks and the Celtics twice. By December 13th (one week from last night), the Knicks very well could be playing for 1st place in the Atlantic Division. Isn’t that a long way from the feeling after the 3-13 start, that had us ready to liquidate the team? Things feel good and are finally heading in the right direction in New York.