Once again the Knicks made a mental mistake that, in this instance, cost them dearly in their 102-100 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
With just over 24 seconds to go and the game tied, Tyson Chandler rebounded Beno Udrih’s miss at winning the game and he passed it back to Udrih who passed it to J.R. Smith, who with practically the whole 24-second shot clock to work with, hoisted up a three pointer with about 21 seconds left (when the Knicks should have salted the clock and play for the last shot). He missed and Houston’s Aaron Brooks secured the rebound and was subsequently fouled by Udrih, which was another mistake.
This was very similar to what Andrea Bargnani did in Milwaukee a few weeks ago, but luckily the Knicks won that time. This time they were not so lucky.
After Brooks knocked down both free throws the Knicks had a shot to tie or take the lead, but two shot attempts (one by the hot hand of Iman Shumpert and one by Udrih) rattled out and the Knicks wasted another good performance by the lack of basketball IQ. This is especially painful considering how well they played in San Antonio the night before and the whole game in Houston prior to the closing seconds.
Here are five initial observations from the game:
Shumpert is coming alive
Enough cannot be said just how good Shumpert is playing of late. Coming off the Spurs’ game in which he scored 27 points, Shumpert followed it up by scoring a team-high 26 points (9-14 from the field and a blistering 6-6 from three-point territory). He also added four rebounds and five assists. Shumpert has simply been in the zone and his play has propelled the Knicks of late. Here’s hoping it lasts.
Anthony plays well-rounded game
While rumors surround about his long-term commitment to the Knicks, Anthony is playing well ever since returning from injury and played good team ball all night, even deferring to teammates in the final moments. He put up 25 points (10-23 from the floor) to go with eight rebounds and two assists. With rumors about his future with the Knicks—with a proposed trade between the Clippers and Blake Griffin making the rounds—swirling, Anthony is still going about business.
Bargnani goes missing
Although he hasn’t been horrible of late, Bargnani hasn’t exactly been lighting it up for the Knicks lately either. He scored just seven points on 3-10 shooting (including 0-3 from three-point land) in 30 minutes on Friday night. His inconsistency is certainly hurting the Knicks at this moment.
No time for Tim Hardaway Jr.?
After averaging 16 points while Anthony was out for three games, Hardaway Jr. has only received a combined 23 minutes on the Texas road swing so far. Against the Rockets, Hardaway only scored one point while missing his only attempt from the field. While, of course, it’s understandable he shouldn't take any minutes away from Anthony, he should still be getting more minutes than Smith. This leads me to my next point.
The bad always outweighs the good with J.R. Smith
Knicks’ fans patience with Smith is reaching a boiling point. Between his immaturity and boneheaded play, he is simply not deserving of so much playing time. In Friday’s game, he received 31 minutes and promptly went on to score just nine points (3-13 from the field), including making just one of his eight three-point attempts. I get that Mike Woodson wants to get him through his slump, but for whatever reason it is, Woodson continues to play him despite his shoddy play. Smith’s play this year has been a major buzz kill for the Knicks. Even though they have a lot invested in Smith, they can’t continue to coddle him. He’s been bad way more times than good.
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