At this point in the Knicks’ sluggish start to the season, a win is a win is a win.
At least, that’s what the box score says. In truth, New York (3-4) was extremely fortunate last night to have escaped the nation’s capital without an “L,” as the now 0-7 Wizards came within a play or two of sending Gothamites into a full-blown “D’Antoni Watch.”
Carmelo Anthony scored 37 points, highlighted by a game-winning 3-pointer with 15.9 seconds to play, Amar’e Stoudmire added 23 points and 12 rebounds to continue his emergence from an early-season offensive-funk, and rookie-phenom Iman Shumpert restated his case for insertion into the starting lineup.
As has been their 2011-2012 modus operandi thus far, the Knicks once again fell behind early in the contest, trailing Washington by as many as 16 points. This despite numerous Knick player-acknowledgements after the loss to Charlotte on Wednesday that the team’s sluggish starts must be corrected. Considering that New York has not yet been tested by the condensed schedule, their inability to play with a high energy level early in games is an ominous sign.
Oh, and after the conclusion of tonight’s back-to-back in Detroit, the Knicks just so happen to play four games in six days, starting with Monday’s rematch at home against the Bobcats.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- The phrase “I do this” may be heading for a permanent slot in this section of the blog. ‘Melo was once again unstoppable, going 16-for-33 from the floor, and scoring 10 straight points to close out the game – capped-off by the long-range game-winner. The only negative surrounding Anthony was the post-game revelation that he had tweaked his right hip – and was in considerable pain – during the fourth quarter. He vows to play tonight. I had initially tweeted that ‘Melo’s decision to fire up that 3PA was a bad decision (with a good result), but the fact that he was injured helps explains things. “I was hurt. I was just praying it went in. I wasn’t going to try to drive at all. I knew I didn’t have any push off on my right leg,” said Anthony.
- Tyson Chandler (12 points, 15 rebounds) is going to be a double-double machine during his tenure in New York, assuming he stays healthy. Critics of the Knick-acquisition have pointed to the center’s less-than-overwhelming career averages, but once the team develops chemistry on both ends of the floor, Chandler will assuredly reap the statistical rewards.
- It appears that the rumors of Mike Bibby‘s death were unfounded. Drinking from the fountain of…middle age, Bibby (11 points) turned back the clock – for one night, anyway – and drained three second-half 3-pointers. It cannot be overstated how huge those shots were for the Knicks, and if Mike D’Antoni can figure out a way to get Bibby open looks, he certainly still has the ability knock ’em down. The downside is that the PG cannot cover anyone on defense, so his deployment needs to be managed strategically.
- “SHUMPALUMP!” It’s getting ridiculous already – and by ridiculous, I mean well-deserved – but the hype surrounding Iman Shumpert (10 points, 7 assists, 5 steals) is reaching a fever pitch. D’Antoni replaced a floundering Toney Douglas with Shumpert to start the second half for the Knicks, and the move paid immediate dividends. Iman was +20 against the Wizards, and even those seated in the nosebleeds saw what a profound effect his presence on the court has on the team. I’d be extremely surprised if Shumpert does not start tonight in Detroit.
- The Knicks out-rebounded the Wizards 49-44, the second-straight game in which their output has exceed that of their opponents. I remain shocked and awed.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Toney Douglas is perilously close to becoming Knicks’ fans Enemy Number One. Mercifully yanked off the floor last night after a woeful 0-for-5 with three turnovers in just 11 minutes of play, Douglas may have lost his starting spot for good. Ultimately, coming off the bench is the right role for him – certainly when Baron Davis returns – but shattering his confidence is of significant concern. New York needs TD’s scoring and defense for the long haul, so D’Antoni must carefully navigate what is surely the first time in the second-year player’s life that he has had to deal with on-court adversity.
- If Douglas is to be the Garden-faithful’s wrath-designee this season, Landry Fields is making his case to be Toney’s understudy. Fields was once again dreadful, contributing just 2 points on 1-for-2 shooting with a rebound and an assist. Yuck. Maybe he misses his bestie, Andy Rautins, or maybe he’s spending too much time at the barber shop getting that tapered-fade just right, but something has to give. The Knicks cannot continue to absorb zero production from their starting SG.
- “D-FENCE!” The Knicks allowed John Wall and Nick Young to collectively shoot 10-for-14 in the first quarter, and the Wizards led 32-18 early. “It caught us by surprise — how fast they were playing early in the game,” ‘Melo later said, but in fairness to the Knicks, Wall is impossible to guard in transition. At this stage of his career, though, Wall is more of a novelty-act, failing to get teammates involved, and not understanding when to take his foot off the gas. Make no mistake, he possesses unworldly talent, but playing for a losing franchise with marginal talent around him will surely impede his progress.
- Remember when everyone was up in arms that the Knicks selected Shumpert over Washington F Chris Singleton in the NBA draft? Yeah, so… about that.
- Washington rookie F Jan Vesely (sore right hip) was active for the first time this season but he did not play. Also, he has a girlfriend, and they like to smooch.
- JaVale McGee (13 points on 6-of-9 shooting, 10 rebounds and 4 blocks) was really impressive last night. If he can ever learn to shoot free throws, and develop consistency with his baby-hook, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in the NBA for a long time.
- Wizards coach Flip Saunders has a terrible hairdo. I didn’t realize there was such a thing as the feathered-mullet, but I was ill-informed, apparently.
- Toney Douglas will be at Met Life Stadium tomorrow, rooting on his brother, Harry, a wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, as they battle the Giants in the first round of the NFL Playoffs. Just another reason for New Yorkers to hate Douglas, it seems.
- Next up for the ‘Bockers: @ DET tonight, 7:30 EST.
Don’t forget to follow @LoHudKnicks on Twitter.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images