Josh NewmanIman Shumpert is mad. He’s mad at the Knicks’ recent nine-game losing streak and he’s mad at his team getting laughed at it sits near the bottom of the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
“Everything, you too,” a standoffish Shumpert directed at a reporter who asked him what he was mad at.
That anger the third-year guard is playing with is apparently serving him well. After scoring a season-high 17 points in a blowout win at the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday evening, Shumpert followed it up with 10 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds in a 121-83 win over the Orlando Magic on Friday night.
The win marks the Knicks’ first two-game winning streak of the season, and just the third time that Shumpert has scored in double-figures in consecutive games this season.
“I don’t like losing, I feel like people were laughing at my teammates, I don’t like it,”Shumpert said. “It feels good to win, but we’ll win by any means necessary.”
Arguably the highlight of Shumpert’s season to this point came late in the third quarter with the Knicks up 14. He received a pass on the right wing, took two dribbles to the hoop, rose and after Jameer Nelson got out of the way, Shumpert dunked on a late-arriving Moe Harkless as the Madison Square Garden crowd went ballistic.
That dunk and the overall steady play on both ends in the last two games has left the Knicks with hope that a longer winning streak and contending in the Atlantic Division are not out of reach. With the win, the Knicks are just 2.5 games out of first-place in the Atlantic, which amazingly has no one above .500.
First-year head coach Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics lead the division at 9-12, one game better in the loss column than the 6-11 Toronto Raptors.
“We’re trying to win every game right now,” Shumpert said. “We know we’ve dug ourselves a hole, but now we’re trying to dig our way out.”