The New York Knicks (1-0) got their season underway against the Milwaukee Bucks (0-1), at the legendary Madison Square Garden last night.
Metta World Peace addressed the crowd before the game and the Knicks introduced their full roster to the fans before the game started.
In the locker room, Coach Mike Woodson speaking to the team before the game said that they are capable of scoring 110 points per game and how he wants them to force turnovers and run. While they accomplished the latter, forcing the Bucks into 23 turnovers and scoring 27 points off turnovers, Knicks had 22 turnovers of their own and made the game closer than it should have been.
Carmelo Anthony scored the 1st points of the Knicks season, but he had to leave the game early due to picking up two quick fouls. Despite not being on the court for the last 7 minutes of the 1st quarter, the Knicks were able to end the 1st quarter with a 6 point lead, 24-18. The Knicks shot 52% from the field and forced the Bucks into 7 turnovers.
In the 2nd quarter, the Knicks began to bust the game wide open. More than halfway through the quarter, the Knicks outscored the Bucks by 7 to take a 42-29 lead. From that point, the Knicks finished the quarter on a 14-2 run to take a 25 point lead at halftime, 56-31.
The Knicks outscored the Bucks 32-13 and force the Bucks into 9 turnovers in the quarter. For the 1st half, the Knicks forced the Bucks into 16 turnovers and scored 22 points off turnovers. Iman Shumpert, Tyson Chandler, and Carmelo Anthony led the way with 12 points each.
At this point, it seemed like the Knicks would run away with the game but that wasn’t the case. Sloppy play on offense led to the Bucks making a run and getting back into the game.
The Bucks began to cut into the lead little by little in the 3rd quarter. Midway through the 3rd quarter, the Bucks were able to cut the lead to 17, 61-44. Raymond Felton had to leave the game due to re-aggravating his hamstring injury and without their starting PG in the game, the Bucks were able to cut further into the lead. Rookie PG Nate Wolters cut the lead to single digits (67-58) hitting two free throws with a little over 2 minutes to go. The Knicks were able to hold the Bucks off enough and went into the 4th with a 74-64 lead.
A sloppy 4th quarter led to the Bucks almost coming back to winning the game. The Bucks cut the lead to 3 (74-71) within the first 3 minutes of the quarter. On the next possession, Tim Hardaway Jr. was able to hit a jumper to push the lead back up to 5 points. The Knicks began to get really sloppy with the ball, turning it over 5 times up to that point in the quarter. The Bucks were able to feed off those turnovers and trailed the Knicks by 1 (76-75) at the midpoint. Knicks pushed the lead back up to 5 points with a Chandler put back off of a Anthony miss, then on the following possession Pablo Prigioni stole the ball off of Gary Neal in the back court which lead to a Shumpert layup and free throw off the foul.
The Bucks finally took their first lead of the game with about 3 minutes to go, 81-80, off of a John Henson free throw. From that point on, the Knicks had a sense of urgency and were able to retake the lead and win the game.
Knicks retook the lead with a Chandler follow off of a Anthony missed layup. On the following possession, Anthony was able to tip in a Shumpert missed 3 to increase the lead to 3. Anthony continued his takeover on the offensive end by going into the post on the next possession and scoring in the paint to increase the lead to 5, 86-81.
O.J. Mayo responded with a mid range jumper to cut the lead to 3 and on the next possession, Felton threw a alley-oop to Chandler off the pick and roll to put the lead back to 5 (88-83). Wolters tried to respond with a layup, but he was blocked by Chandler which sparked a fast break. Felton was able to finish at the rim and the Knicks hung on to win 90-83.
Carmelo Anthony had a double-double and led the team with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Tyson Chandler, who in my opinion was the player of the game, was an absolute beast on defense. He ended the game with 10 points, 5 blocks, and 6 rebounds. Raymond Felton also contributed with 18 points. Andrea Bargnani had a bad debut only scoring 6 points off of 3 of 9 shooting from the field.
Gary Neal led all Bucks scorers with 16 points off the bench. Caron Butler scored 14 points while also turning over the ball 7 times. O.J. Mayo also contributed with 13 points.
The next game for the Knicks is against the Chicago Bulls on the road. Even though it’s very early in the season, this game is of importance. The Bulls swept the Knicks last season and they can’t allow that to happen again. The Knicks need to send a message to the Bulls that things will be different this season and it will also do a lot to boost their own confidence.