WHAT IT MEANS: No matter how many 3-pointers the Knicks miss in a game or how poorly they execute defensively, which they've been doing lately, they sometimes need only one man to bail them out at the end: Carmelo Anthony.
The Knicks All-Star scored 12 points in the fourth quarter en route to a game-high 36 points on 13-for-26 shooting. His scoring sidekick, J.R. Smith, also was big down the stretch, scoring eight points, including an and-1 fast-break layup with 19.9 seconds remaining to put the Knicks up 98-94.
NOT RAY'S DAY: Starting point guard Raymond Felton had 11 points and one assist, whereas his counterpart Ricky Rubio nearly had a perfect game. He finished with 18 points, 11 assists and only one turnover. He also attempted a poor shot in the closing seconds that was blocked by Tyson Chandler -- the biggest Knicks defensive play of the game.
CLANK! Entering Friday night, the Knicks had shot 85-for-201 (42.3 percent) from 3-point range during their recent 5-1 stretch. No other team came close. But against the Timberwolves, the Knicks were 8-for-26 (30.8 percent) from downtown. They had only 19 assists for the game.
FILM SESSION FOCUS: For starters, the Knicks still have a major issue not only getting back on defense, but then setting up quickly and picking up their individual assignments. Too many times in the game, Rubio pushed the ball right by the Knicks and made something happen. In addition, they made Luke Ridnour (20 points) look like one of the top shooting guards in the league, as he broke down the Knicks' half-court defense, and scored with layups and jump shots over Smith.
The Knicks' perimeter rotations were off. Once again, like in Washington on Wednesday night, there were too many times the Knicks' guards or big men had to pick up a player too big or quick. Their lack of effort fighting through screens led to constant switching, and sometimes Chandler was forced to stick on a perimeter player, and the Knicks were undersized inside. Smith, Felton and Iman Shumpert need to improve defensively to prevent that from happening. Shumpert was a nonfactor in only 12 minutes.
Speaking of which, it's clear the Knicks need to shore up their depleted frontcourt. While Mike Woodson's small ball philosophy works well offensively, the Knicks don't have enough post defense. While you might say a zone set was needed Friday night, the returns of Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace are more important long term. It comes down to personnel, especially when considering two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference -- the Bulls and Pacers -- have a ton of formidable size. The Knicks will have to go through them to get to the biggest stage.
NO. 50 FOR WOODY: Mike Woodson is the fastest coach to 50 wins in Knicks history.
WHAT'S NEXT: A highly anticipated showdown with the Clippers, the third-best team in the West. And in case you're wondering, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin returned from injuries Friday night in a loss to the Heat. It all goes down Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ABC, barring a postponement from the Northeast blizzard.
"We’re always monitoring the weather," an NBA spokesperson said.
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