Saturday, November 3, 2012
Knicks have right recipe for 3-point success
By Jared Zwerling
The Heat had never given up 19 3-pointers in a game ... until Friday night.
Carmelo Anthony carried over his shooting touch from the Olympics, heating up in the first quarter with three 3-pointers, including one to beat the buzzer. Then, Steve Novak lit up the Heat in the second half, finishing 5-for-8 from beyond the arc. He had four 3s in the third quarter alone, helping the Knicks build a 23-point lead.
"I just want to give him the ball all the time," Pablo Prigioni told ESPNNewYork.com after the game. "He's a great shooter and he's very dangerous for the other teams. They cannot leave him alone for one second, so we must use him in our offense."
For the game, the Knicks shot 19-for-36 from downtown in their 104-84 blowout win over the Heat. Afterward, the players credited three main things for their shooting onslaught: the rotation of Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Prigioni, ball movement and Steve Novak's presence on the court.
First, regarding the backcourt, Mike Woodson has never had the flexibility to rotate three seasoned point guards, as he did Friday night.
"It's great for me," Woodson said postgame. "These three guys have been in enough systems where it makes it easy for me as a head coach to be able to throw things at them and getting guys to respond around them."
Woodson started Felton at point and Kidd at shooting guard, allowing the Knicks to have two floor generals on the court. While Felton ripped through the Heat's pick-and-roll defense in the first period, accounting for five of his 14 points and two of his nine assists, Kidd added even more playmaking, recording a stat in all major categories except for blocks. Tyson Chandler, who played with Kidd during the Mavericks' championship run in 2011, discussed his contributions after the game.
"He brings so much," the center said. "He is such an intelligent basketball player. He's a coach on the floor, getting guys in the right places. He makes sure shots come from where we want them to come from. He does so much."
Even when Prigioni entered the game, Kidd or Felton played in the backcourt. The combo initiated more ball movement, which Kidd said the team had been preaching all throughout training camp. Novak believes the two-point guard lineup will be key to the Knicks' success.
"I think the team that we have right now, it's hard to take things away because we're so unselfish and so many guys can do so many different things," he said. "And there are lineups out there -- Raymond and Jason, big guys who can pass the ball and Melo at the four -- I just think it's hard to decide what you're going to take away. So it gives us good opportunities."
Tonight, those opportunities led to 27 assists and only 12 turnovers.
"I think we talk a lot about sharing the ball, to make the extra pass," Prigioni said. "On this team, we have many players that like to share the ball, to pass the ball, to find the teammate open. We showed that on the court today because we moved the ball a lot. For me, a team who moves the ball, who shares the ball, plays better. I think we set the example tonight.
Carmelo Anthony also recognized how Felton and the other point guards facilitated great team basketball, which helped dismantle the defending champs.
"The way we shared the ball, the way everybody touched the ball, everybody felt involved in the game," he said. "Raymond coming off the pick-and-roll, attacking, guys spacing the floor, guys made shots tonight. When you're making shots, that kind of opens up the court."
Novak also spread open the court more for the Knicks' offense. The Heat had to be aware of Novak's location at all times, giving them the more difficult task of guarding him and then covering more ground to defend the other Knicks players.
"I think the beauty of this offense is that when someone makes a cut, it opens up someone," Kidd said. "Novak has one of the best, if not best, shots in basketball. I mean, he shoots it so pure. He definitely helps other guys get open, too, when he's out there on the floor."
The Knicks proved tonight that even with all of their preseason injuries, the team already has chemistry on the court -- from their execution to their excitement on the bench. The roster features veteran players who came to New York willing to sacrifice. There isn't competition for minutes; only a collective drive to succeed, which showed on the court through their trust in each other.
"I hope we can keep this way of how we played tonight," Prigioni said. "I know we're going to do good because we have smart people on the team who can look and recognize how the defense is playing."