Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Knicks [Print without images]

Friday, November 15, 2013
Opening Tip: New opinion of Bargnani?

By Ian Begley

It would be silly to look for a silver lining in the Knicks' loss to the Rockets. The team is 3-5 and has lost four straight at home. Nothing about that is good.

But, if Knicks fans are searching for a glimmer of optimism after a rough night for the Knicks at the Garden, they should look no further than Andrea Bargnani.

Andrea Bargnani, Dwight Howard
Andrea Bargnani outplayed Dwight Howard on Thursday.
Seriously, raise your hand if you thought Bargnani would outplay Dwight Howard on Thursday? Didn't think so.

But that's exactly how it played out at the Garden.

Bargnani finished with 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting and went toe-to-toe with Howard on defense.

"I thought he played his butt off," Mike Woodson said. "I thought he was solid."

Solid isn't a word normally used to describe Bargnani's defense. But he wasn't afraid to mix it up with Howard on Thursday.

Bargnani and Kenyon Martin held Howard to one shot attempt in the first half. The Rockets center finished with seven points and 15 rebounds, a nondescript night at the office. Bargnani blocked his shot twice in the second half and drew a couple charges from the 265-pound center.

"He's very physical so I just tried to play the best defense I could. That's all you can do against Dwight," Bargnani said.

At one point in the second half, Bargnani fouled Howard fairly hard.

Howard took umbrage and started to jaw at Bargnani but Anthony came to his teammate's defense. Both Anthony and Howard where issued technical fouls for trash talking.

After the game, Anthony praised Bargnani for standing in against Howard.

"I thought he did a hell of a job tonight. Defensively, staying in front of him, taking a couple of charges, making it tough for him, keeping him off the offensive glass. I thought he did a great job," Anthony said.

All of this brings us to our question: did Bargnani's performance against Howard change your perception of him at all? Are you optimistic that the Knicks can tread water with Tyson Chandler out after watching Bargnani bang with Howard?

Up now: Linsanity may be dead, but Jeremy Lin still owns Madison Square Garden. With Thursday's win, Lin improved to 2-0 at MSG since skipping town for Houston in the summer of 2012.

Anthony did all he could on Thursday, scoring a season-high 45 points. But it wasn't enough. Ohm Youngmisuk has the details.

Some may have been upset over the foul call that waived off what looked like a game-tying three from Anthony with five seconds left, but crew chief Scott Foster said he got the call right.

Anthony didn't have much to say about that call, but he did complain about how the refs officiated the rest of the game.

What's next? The Knicks will have Friday off to prepare for Saturday's game against the Hawks.

Question: Did Bargnani's performance against Howard change your perception of him at all?

You can follow Ian Begley on Twitter.