Harris DeckerIt’s become pretty clear to most Knicks fans this year that when the team is settling for long range, outside shots, they struggle. On the flip side, when they are aggressive and getting to the rim, they thrive. Last night the Knicks defeated the 76ers in a game that was much closer than it should have been.
The Knicks built a big lead in this game by getting inside and finishing at the rim. Amare Stoudemire finished the game with a game high 22 points, missing just a single shot in the paint. Tyson Chandler was also able to push the 76ers around with 17 points on 7 of 10 from the field. Chandler and Stoudemire had to pick Carmelo Anthony up. Anthony shot just 5 of 16 from the field. While he did reach 21 points, it was one of his least effective shooting nights of 2014. He shot just 31% from the field on Friday night.
In what was a low scoring game, Iman Shumpert was able to contribute 10 or more points for only the third time since February 1st. He finished with 11 points include three 3’s.
With the lead at 17 with just over 5 minutes to go in the 4th, this game seemed well at hand. That is until the 76ers went on a big run that saw the lead shrink to just 2 points after Thaddeus Young hit a big 3 with 42.5 seconds left. While the Knicks held on by the narrowest of margins, it wasn’t a pretty sight. After the game, Tyson Chandler said that “a win is a win…” Not exactly a ringing endorsement after winning eight in a row.
What plagued the Knicks late was the drift out of the paint. In the 4th quarter, the Knicks shot just 1 of 9 from outside the paint. We’ve seen this happen before. When they get a big lead, they stop trying to move the ball inside, instead settling for deep, often wild outside shots. The lesson to be learned from last night is that even with a lead, it’s important to continue to do what works. In last nights case that was getting the ball to the big men inside and letting them finish at the rim.
The Knicks take on the Cleveland Cavaliers tomorrow and will have to play a more consistent game. The Cavs are coming off three straight losses to three of the toughest teams in the NBA. You know they are going to try to rebound after straight losses to the Clippers, Heat and Thunder.