New York fans, the Knicks (31-43) are coming!
Despite the mixed results on the current West Coast trip, the Knicks find themselves trailing the Atlanta Hawks by only one game for the 8th spot. The Hawks have been struggling as of late, losing their last six games, and the Knicks have been able to gain ground steadily.
New York travels to Utah on Monday night to face the Jazz, and afterwards, their remaining games are all against playoff teams -- the Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, Washington Wizards, Miami Heat, and the Chicago Bulls.
If the Knicks are to make the playoffs, they have to earn it. This is the time of the season where teams have to put their big boy pants on and take what’s rightfully theirs. Hopefully, the Knicks will do enough to pip the Hawks for that final playoff spot.
Here’s a recap of this past weekend’s action:
On Friday night, the Knicks traveled to Phoenix to take on the red-hot Suns (44-30). Unfortunately, the Suns remained hot and ran the Knicks off the court with a comprehensive 112-88 victory. The Knicks showed a lack of effort, and the Suns punished them because of it.
“They didn’t play good defense,” Goran Dragic said, “so tonight we could get everything that we want. We swing the ball two and three times, I’m sure we get an open guy.”
That quote from Dragic summed up the Knicks’ effort on defense.
“We just weren’t ready for them,” Carmelo Anthony said. “We weren’t prepared for them, and they ran us out of the gym.”
It’s disappointing to hear the star player say that his team wasn’t ready. What makes this quote even more disappointing is the fact that the Knicks are fighting to make the playoffs. There’s no excuse for not being ready for a game.
By halftime, the Suns took a 62-40 lead. They ended the 2nd half on an extended 24-6 run.
The Suns, who are the smaller team, out-rebounded the Knicks 26-17 at the half and 56-37 for the game. They also knocked down twice as many threes than the Knicks in the first half -- the Suns shot 8-20, the Knicks shot 4-13.
In the 3rd quarter, the Suns ran out to a 32-point lead, their largest lead of the game. Two Dragic 3-pointers and one by Eric Bledsoe put the Suns up 78-47, and Mason Plumlee’s alley-oop reverse dunk, midway through the 3rd, gave the Suns an 82-50 lead.
With this win, Phoenix increased their win streak to a season-high six games -- their highest win streak in four years.
Key Stats: Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Amar’e Stoudemire contributed with 19 points and 6 rebounds. J.R. Smith finished with 15 points.
Goran Dragic led the Suns with 32 points. Eric Bledsoe had 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. Mason Plumlee finished with a double-double, 11 points and 12 rebounds. Markieff Morris finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds off the bench.
Key Notes: Andrea Bargnani and Kenyon Martin remain out for the Knicks. This game is only the second time Stoudemire returned to Phoenix to face his former team.
New York redeemed themselves with a hard fought 89-84 win over the Golden State Warriors (45-28).
Golden State started the game brightly, ending the 1st quarter with a 32-22 lead, but New York outscored them 34-12 in the 2nd -- including a 15-0 run, with Anthony on the bench, to end the quarter -- and took a 56-44 lead at halftime.
In the 4th quarter, the Knicks held off a spirited comeback from Stephen Curry and the Warriors to get a much needed win on the road.
Early in the quarter, Curry hit consecutive threes to cut the Knicks lead to two, 74-72. Afterwards, the Knicks went on a short 7-3 run to push the score to 81-75, then the Warriors responded with six straight points to tie the game with 2:42 remaining -- Curry hit a corner 3-pointer to tie the game.
Curry had a chance to take the lead, but missed his 3-point attempt. He chased the rebound off of his miss, and threw up a wild shot to try and draw the foul on Anthony. Stoudemire was able to grab the rebound and was fouled by Jermaine O’Neal -- he made both free throws.
After an Andre Iguodala miss, Anthony hit a midrange pull-up jumper to give the Knicks a four-point lead. On the next possession, Klay Thompson responded with a three to pull the Warriors within one of the Knicks.
Anthony pushed the lead back up to three with a pair of free throws with 45.4 seconds remaining.
Curry had an opportunity afterwards to tie the game, but his 3-pointer rimmed in-and-out. The Knicks were able to grab the rebound, but was called for a shot-clock violation -- Iguodala was able to knock the ball out of Anthony’s hand as Anthony was going up for the shot.
Curry caught the ball off the inbound, but was unable to get the shot off due to Raymond Felton’s defense. He ended up throwing an errant pass, which was stolen by Shannon Brown. Brown hit two free throws and sealed the game for the Knicks.
Key Stats: J.R. Smith led the Knicks with 21 points and 5 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds. Amar’e Stoudemire had a double-double, 15 points and 13 rebounds. Tim Hardaway Jr. had a major contribution with 15 points off the bench.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 32 points. Klay Thompson finished with 15 points and 9 rebounds. Andre Iguodala had 12 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Key Notes: Kenyon Martin and Andrea Bargnani are still out due to injury. David Lee didn’t play due to a strained right hamstring. Andrew Bogut didn’t play due to a Pelvis injury. The Knicks solid effort on defense is the reason why they won the game.