Tonight at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks (24-13) defeated the New Orleans Hornets 11-26) by the score of 100-87. Box Score
After a 1-for-10 start, Carmelo Anthony rebounded to lead the Knicks with 27 points 9-of-25 shooting to go with seven rebounds, three assists, a block and a steal. Despite the tough first quarter it was a nice overall effort from Melo.
Chris Copeland used three first quarter three-pointers to score 11 first-quarter points, keeping the Knicks in the game after a slow start. Copeland finished with 22 points on the night after getting the start.
Amar’e Stoudemire played 23 minutes, scoring 12 points and grabbing three rebounds.
He struggled from the field, shooting just 3-of-11 for six points, but J.R. Smith did some other things to help the team, finishing with six assists and a pair of steals.
He didn’t get much action on the offensive end, but Tyson Chandler still had a nice game, grabbing 14 rebounds and rejecting three New Orleans attempts.
The Knicks got off to a terrible start on defense, with the Hornets making 10 of their first 15 attempts, but New York tightened up after that to hold New Orleans to .40% shooting for the game.
New York snapped a three-game losing streak, the longest with Mike Woodson as head coach and matched conference-leading Miami with 24 wins.
Now no one’s going to proclaim “The Knicks are Back!” after a somewhat hum-drum win over a bad Hornets team at the Garden, but make no mistake, the Knicks really needed that. On the heels of a three-game losing streak, New York badly needed to just beat up on someone, and a youthful New Orleans was happy to oblige.
Curiously enough, about six minutes into the game, thing were looking positively alarming. New York’s defense was getting roasted, and were it not for 11 first quarter points from Chris Copeland, including a trio of three-pointers, the Knicks might have found themselves in a desperate predicament. As it were, they weathered the early storm, then corralled the Hornets for the rest of the game, aided a bit by just some pretty poor shooting.
Copeland’s performance was actually pretty key throughout. Inserted into the starting lineup, Copeland responded with 22 points overall, with key buckets in the second half along with his first-quarter outburst, and his ability to hit the outside shot has helped the Knicks spread the floor and likely means he’s going to continue to be a healthy part of the team’s rotation (In the name of full disclosure, I literally heard Alan Hahn saying the same thing as I was writing that. I’m not sure if it was more my observation or his, but the point still stands).
The Knicks really established themselves in the second quarter when Carmelo Anthony finally got going after a 1-for-10 start from the field, but they still couldn’t quite shake New Orleans until a run at the start of the fourth quarter finally put the game away. Relying on the bench to start the fourth, a lineup of Prigioni, Smith, Novak, Copeland and Stoudemire used some pretty ball movement and three-point shooting to pretty much put the game away. The Hornets wouldn’t quite go away — something that was an irritant, to be sure — but they never again threatened to actually steal the game.
For those hanging on Amar’e’s every move, there was a little bit for everyone. He did some good things in his 23 minutes, scoring 12 points, though only grabbing three boards, but again he didn’t do quite enough to get anyone all that excited either. Stoudemire does seem to be slowly finding his role within the second unit, and that presence will definitely be helpful going forward, but he’s yet to really progress to a point where you can see his role expanding beyond that.
All in all, it wasn’t the most inspiring performance, and this team still suffers from periods of lethargy that don’t feel entirely earned. This isn’t some perennial contender fighting through the dog days of a long season, it’s one that still has a TON left to prove. If we’re being honest, we don’t really even know if this team is any good yet, so it’s disconcerting at times to see them seem so sure of it.
And yet, it was a win, a badly needed win and a reasonably impressive performance to boot.
So despite the nits that could be easily picked, it was nonetheless a nice way to end a miserable week, as the team gets ready for a few days off before heading out to merry old England for a game against the Pistons on Thursday. See you fellas on the other side of the pond — not literally, of course, none of us will be there, but through the TV and stuff.