Rapid Reaction: Knicks 114, Magic 106
January, 5, 2013
By Jared Zwerling | ESPNNewYork.com
WHAT IT MEANS: The defensive-minded Mike Woodson didn't get what he wanted Saturday night in Orlando, as the Knicks allowed more than 100 points once again.
But that's OK sometimes when you have Carmelo Anthony on your side.
Melo continued his MVP campaign by scoring at least 40 points for the third time this season. He -- and the Knicks -- saved the best for last. While he scored 16 of his game-high 40 points in the fourth quarter, the team held the Magic to 17 points to grab the win.
THE KNICKS' GAME BALL GOES TO: Anthony matched his first-quarter points average (10), helping the Knicks stay in the hunt after going down 14-2. Then in the fourth quarter, he took advantage of his defensive mismatch against Josh McRoberts. His hot shooting got the crowd to chant "M-V-P" in the first half, and the chants returned late in the final period. He also had a season-high six assists and six rebounds.
PIECES TO THE PUZZLE: Keeping to one of Woodson's favorite phrases, here's how three Knicks role players helped (and could improve):
1. Amar'e Stoudemire's free throws. The Knicks have needed more free throw appearances, as they have ranked near the bottom of the NBA all season. Tonight, while Anthony was 8-for-9, Stoudemire (11 points) also had a good number of attempts -- and was perfect from the line (5-for-5). He was aggressive with his post moves, but he needs to finish better and step up his court awareness on defense.
2. Jason Kidd's playmaking and 3-point shooting. With Jameer Nelson shooting 5-for-9 from downtown, the Knicks needed a scoring boost from their starting point guard and got it. Kidd (15 points) finished 5-for-8 from 3-point range. He also had seven assists, and the team had 24 total with only eight turnovers.
One issue the Knicks have with Kidd and Pablo Prigioni is at their age -- 39 and 35, respectively -- they can't keep up with speedy point guards who can shoot, like Nelson (29 points). That forced the Knicks into many awkward switches tonight. In addition, shooting guard Arron Afflalo had 29 points. What does that mean? Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert are needed back.
3. Marcus Camby's passing. Get this: He had three alley-oop passes to Tyson Chandler (14 points and 12 rebounds). Two of them came at the top of the third quarter. Camby, in fact, had more assists (four) than rebounds (one). Camby and Chandler's interior defense -- starting together for the second straight game -- was poor, as they allowed 14 points in the paint in the first quarter.
STREAK ENDED: J.R. Smith failed to reach 20 points for the first time in six games. He finished with 18 points on 8-for-18 shooting to go along with six rebounds and two steals.
WHAT'S NEXT: For the first time this season, the Knicks go head-to-head with their longtime Atlantic Division rival, the Celtics, on Monday night at 7:30. Before the season, more people predicted the Celtics to be better than the Knicks, but the teams have almost flip-flopped their positioning in the standings.
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