Harris DeckerDuring the Knicks routing of the Boston Celtics, it looked like the Knicks were finally having fun. It’s been a tough year for the Knicks, made worse by injuries around every corner. But last night felt great. The team played hard, loose and fast, creating offense through stellar defense.
The aggressiveness was impressive as well. Time and time again we saw guys getting to the basket, breaking down the defense and passing out of double teams. In particular, J.R. Smith did this at will. He would use his side-to-side speed to beat slower defenders like Gerald Wallace and then either finish at the rim or dish to a teammate. Smith was the summation of a fun, well-played basketball game.
One guy that Knicks fans got to really get to know last night was Jeremy Tyler. He scored 17 points and was highly effective. Although he played much of his time in garbage time against a team that is playing like they belong in the D-league, it is still nice to see the Knicks working on developing a guy like Tyler.
Carmelo Anthony had another great night, leading the team in scoring but sitting out much of the second half with the game well in hand. As I wrote earlier in the week, it all starts with how Anthony opens the game. If he’s hitting his shot, defenses immediately adjust, opening the floor for the rest of the team. Smith capitalizes on this as well as anyone.
One final note. Did you notice who was on the court during the final few minutes against the Lakers? It wasn’t Iman Shumpert, but Tim Hardaway Jr. Head coach Mike Woodson is finally starting to ride the hot hand and that hand is not Shumpert. Against the Lakers, we saw Raymond Felton in addition to Hardaway Jr. and Smith as the game came to a close.
With Shumpert now battling a shoulder injury, Hardaway Jr. will likely see an even more of an increased role as he continues to be one of the better rookies in a relatively weak rookie class.
Fun basketball has finally returned to New York and they’ll need to keep it up with some tough matchups ahead.