In what could amount to a season-defining win, the New York Knicks took down the two-time defending NBA champions Miami Heat, 102-92, on Thursday night. It also marked the Knicks third-straight win, which is the first time this year they accomplished that feat. The Knicks also have now won four out of their last five games.
The story of the night was Mike Woodson—while perhaps finally coming to his senses—sitting J.R. Smith for the whole game and not having to deal with his antics. It’s probably no coincidence that the Knicks played one of its sharpest games of the year with Smith glued to the bench for the entire game. After “lacegate”, Woodson said Smith had to grow up and, obviously, Woodson was sending a message here.
As for the game itself, many Knicks had some of their best performances of the season in this game. That said, let’s examine five initial observations from the game:
Of course, the benching of J.R. Smith
The message that was sent by Woodson should be loud and clear: Get your #$%# together and get with the program J.R. Hopefully this message gets through to Smith and he gets with the program. Although he can be a pain in the rear, he still is a good ballplayer despite all his shortcomings. Hopefully we see a new J.R. the next time. Fingers crossed.
J.R. claims he never spoke to Mike Woodson. He fully expected to play.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) January 10, 2014
Raymond Felton has, perhaps, his best game of the year
On Thursday night, Felton came to play. Plain and simple. Felton looked spry and ready to roll and racked up a double-double while scoring 13 points (6-14 from the field) and dropping 14 dimes. His steady play was crucial in the Knicks win.
Amar’e Stoudemire also has finest outing of season
Stoudemire made it two Knicks with double-doubles, as he looked like his 2010 self while putting up 14 points (7-12 from the field) and corralling a team-high 11 rebounds. It was Stoudemire’s first double-double since April of 2012. With the Knicks missing Tyson Chandler, Stoudemire came up huge in this affair. If the Knicks can get that type of play going forward they can get right back in the mix of things.
Carmelo Anthony plays another well-rounded game
Sometimes Anthony’s play can be overshadowed. Last night was a perfect example of why given the nights Felton and Stoudemire enjoyed. Once again, though, Anthony was the engine behind the Knicks success this night. He had a team-high 29 points on a healthy 12-24 shooting from the field (including 3-8 from three-point territory), while also chipping in with eight rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Andrea Bargnani and Iman Shumpert play perfect complimentary role
Although the lights shined brightest for Anthony, Stoudemire and Felton on Thursday night, the play of Bargnani and Shumpert was just as vital since Woodson only went with an eight-man rotation against the Heat. Bargnani and Shumpert combined to score 31 points (on a very efficient 13-21 shooting from the field). Shumpert also hit the boards hard, collecting nine rebounds on the night, which was good for second most on the team. Shumpert’s four three pointers were also very instrumental in the victory.
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