Tuesday, November 20, 2012



Carmelo was on fire from the get-go like he was playing against Nigeria in the Olympics.  He put up 19 points on 8/9 shooting and outscored New Orleans 19-17 by himself in the first quarter.  The Knicks started the game with no ball movement and were lucky that Melo was able to light it up from all over the floor.  Give Hornets' coach Monty Williams credit because he had a great game-plan to stop the Knicks in the first half; they took away the pick-and-roll and forced the Knicks to make plays out of isolation.  New Orleans suffered the fate that any NBA team without a top 10 player does when Melo gets hot; they could not keep up with his torrid pace with the likes of Ryan Anderson and Austin Rivers as their best offensive options.

Ray Felton had another oustanding game; he was +30 in 30 minutes, shot 5/6 from deep, and distributed the ball at the right times.  The eye test tells me that Felton knows when to shoot and when to give the ball up; the entire offense obviously flows through Anthony, but Felton has been successful getting to the rim off the dribble and knocking down jumpers when he's wide open.

Woodson gave Melo a breather to start the 2nd quarter and it kept the Hornets in the game.  When Anthony is on the floor the Knicks can run the fast-break or slow it down and let Melo carry the load.  The problem is that when he is on the bench the Knicks have zero continuity and cannot generate any offense when JR Smith isn't on his A game.  The Knicks need to find another option on offense because it's imperative that they manage Melo's minutes early in the season.

Even more frustrating than their lackluster offense is that the Knicks allowed 31 points (39% of NO's total points) in the 2nd quarter, largely due to the fact that the Hornets were 7 for 13 on mostly uncontested 3 pointers.  Who is Brian Roberts?  Since when is Ryan Anderson  the focal point of an effective offense?  The Knicks turned up the intensity after halftime but they cannot overlook the fact that they got torched for a significant stretch of this game by a bunch of scrubs.  To keep things in perspective, the Knicks won by 22 and it bodes well for them that they can play so awfully for an entire eight or nine minute stretch and still dominate a game.

The biggest positive coming out of tonight's win is that the Knicks allowed 32 points in the second half.  Granted, the Hornets were without Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon, but New York was absolutely superb defending the shooters that could not miss earlier in the game.  If the Knicks want to make a deep run in the playoffs, they will have to play this type of defense consistently because they will be jockeying for playoff position against a deep Eastern Conference all season long and they will need every win they can get.

The Knicks continue their Western Conference trip tomorrow night in Dallas.  Jason Kidd and Tyson Chandler face off against their former team with extra motivation after Mav's owner Mark Cuban proclaimed he would not retire Kidd's jersey, despite Kidd quarterbacking Dallas to the 2010-11 championship.  After Kidd signed with NY, Cuban went on a rant that the Knicks will surely use as bulletin board motivation.  Look for the Knicks to get to 9-1 against a Mavs team without Dirk Nowitzki.  

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