After a spirited first-half effort and then lackadaisical second-half ,where soft play and turnovers were the theme, the New York Knicks were lucky to escape with a 90-83 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night in their first game of the 2013-14 season.
Although it wasn’t pretty—see the 22 turnovers committed—the Knicks made the plays down the stretch to secure the victory. Up by as much as 25 points in the second game, the Knicks might have fallen into the complacency trap. It was not a banner night at Madison Square Garden, but at the end a W is a W.
In any event, let’s examine what we learned from this game:
- While a little lethargic, Anthony saved his best for last and fueled the Knicks past the finish line in this contest. Anthony paced the team with 19 points and 10 rebounds and showed some leadership to close out the game.
- The starting lineup of Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert and Carmelo Anthony thrived right off the bat and when this unit was inserted back into the game late, they made the necessary plays and withstood the Bucks charge. This unit was very crisp and in unison. This lineup may stick.
- Chandler looked great on the defensive end and his play in the fourth quarter charged the team. Chandler blocked five shots on the night and was the recipient of some nice alley-oop passes and monster put backs.
- All three point guards looked great on the night, as Felton, Prigioni and newcomer Beno Udrih all made nice contributions in the win—especially Felton and Prigioni. Combined, the three scored 25 points (11-19 from the field) while compiling 10 assists and six steals.
- The Knicks took a conservative approach to shooting threes on this night. This is in complete contrast to last year. The Knicks did not hoist too many three pointers in this affair, only attempting a modest 13 on the night (only making three of them). Then again, J.R. Smith sitting out with a suspension explains a lot. It was nice to see the Knicks move the ball and look for the best shot and not just settling from deep.
- Iman Shumpert did his part again. While not overly efficient (5-13 from the field, 1-5 from three-point range), Shumpert was all over the court, scoring 16 points and displaying his trademark defensive fundamentals.
- Andrea Bargnani failed to impress on this night. Bargnani struggled in his official debut at Madison Square Garden, scoring just six points on 3-9 shooting while misfiring on his three three-point attempts. Bargnani had more turnovers (three) than rebounds (two) and even heard a few jeers from the MSG faithful.
- Although he played in the last preseason game against the Bobcats, Amar’e Stoudemire was not ready to contribute in the season opener as he was a DNP. Perhaps, if the Knicks had kept on cruising after halftime we would have seen Stoudemire. Given how competitive the Bucks made the game, there was no room for Stoudemire to get any minutes this night.
- Metta World Peace did little in his Knick debut, scoring only four points to go with four rebounds in just 18 minutes played. Again, the circumstances of the game and the Bucks making a late run kept World Peace glued to the bench in the second half. This should not be concern going forward though.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. did well in his limited minutes vs. the Bucks. Although he only received 15 minutes, Hardaway nailed down both of his field-goal attempts (including a three pointer), and gave the team some scoring punch off the bench. The Knicks might need that with Smith sitting out the next four games.
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