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Monday, January 6, 2014
Opening Tip: Shumpert reborn?

By Ian Begley

New year, new Iman Shumpert?

It certainly looks that way.

Shumpert seems to have awoken from a season-long shooting slump over the past three games. In the first two games of the Texas road trip, he led the Knicks with 26 and 27 points against the Spurs and Rockets. In the final game of the trip, Shumpert had five key fourth-quarter points to seal a win over the Mavericks.

Iman Shumpert
Iman Shumpert is coming on strong -- a great sign for Knicks fans.
Is it a coincidence that the Knicks are a different team when Shumpert is active and effective? Probably not.

The Knicks have outscored their opponents by 29 points with Shumpert on the floor the past three games, suggesting his play affected the game on both ends of the floor.

Shumpert was asked to guard two dangerous scorers in James Harden and Monta Ellis the past two games. And he was fairly effective, even though Harden had a big night.

The defense from Shumpert is nothing new. The offensive explosion almost came out of nowhere. Entering the Knicks' three-game Texas trip, Shumpert was shooting 35.9 percent from the floor and 30 percent from beyond the arc. But he hit 13 of his 17 3-point attempts in Texas and shot 65 percent from the floor overall.

The former first-round pick finished with nine points in 30 minutes against Dallas, and made his presence felt with a big reverse layup and 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to finish off the win.

Shumpert poured in a combined 53 points against the Rockets and Spurs. In the 12 games prior to that, he'd scored a total of 42 points.

If Shumpert continues to produce at this clip, and the Knicks build off their success in Texas, maybe they can start to change the narrative on this so far forgettable season?

Up now: Carmelo Anthony said any trade rumors involving his name are just noise right now.

The Knicks went 2-1 in the always difficult Texas Triangle by beating the Mavericks. And their bench played a major role.

But the Knicks couldn't get out of Texas without a little drama. J.R. Smith was caught by television cameras untying a Maverick's shoe.

What's next: The Knicks will use Monday to prepare for Tuesday's home game against Detroit.

Question: Does Shumpert's improved play give you a renewed optimism about this season?

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