Despite trailing for nearly the entire afternoon, the New York Knicks erased an 11-point deficit to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 94-91, Sunday at the Madison Square Garden.
Minnesota went on a 9-0 run early on in the first quarter, but the Knicks answered with a 6-0 run of their own. The Timberwolves held a seven-point advantage at the conclusion of the first quarter and a nine-point lead at the half.
Minnesota big man Nikola Pekovic had an incredible first half, recording a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds. New York All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony had nine points in the first quarter, but went completely cold in the second, going without a made basket.
New York would pull within one point of Minnesota midway through the fourth quarter, but a loose-ball foul called on Anthony and then a technical foul called on head coach Mike Woodson gave Minnesota a four-point lead and the ball.
The Knicks made the most of their opportunities down the stretch and were able to take the lead with the help of Anthony. Anthony would finish the fourth quarter with 19 points, totaling 33 in the victory.
The Knicks will now travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers on Christmas Day, while the Timberwolves return home and host the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
Here are the final grades for each key player Sunday night.
Luke Ridnour, PG, Timberwolves: B-
The first half was a productive one for Luke Ridnour, finishing the opening 24 minutes with nine points and three assists. Ridnour hit a couple of mid-range shots as well as a three-pointer with under one minute remaining in the second quarter.
Ridnour didn't have the best second half, however, as he only scored five additional points, finishing the afternoon with 14. He did have five assists without committing a turnover.
Raymond Felton, PG, Knicks: B-
Raymond Felton started with a bang, drawing a foul after nailing a shot to open the game and finished the first half with nine points and three turnovers.
Felton, though, got himself into foul trouble and wasn't able to do much late in the game. He finished the game with 15 points and just two assists.
J.J. Barea, SG, Timberwolves: C+
The basket wasn't very friendly to J.J. Barea early on, as he missed all four shots he attempted in the first quarter.
He hit a deep, contested three-pointer and made a pair of free throws to end the first half with five points on 1-of-6 from the field.
Barea would score seven points in the second half to finish the game with 12 points. He shot 20 percent from beyond the arc and was 4-of-14 from the field.
Jason Kidd, SG, Knicks: F
Jason Kidd was a disaster in the first quarter, as he missed the first two shots he took and was quickly yanked in favor of J.R. Smith.
Kidd failed to score in 34 minutes of action and was held scoreless for the first time since Dec. 2 against the Phoenix Suns. He also contributed just one assist.
Alexey Shved, SF, Timberwolves: B-
All nine of Alexey Shved's first-half points came via the three ball. Shved didn't play very well in the second half but did hit a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter after missing one badly a few moments earlier. In 39 minutes, Shved had 18 points with five rebounds and four assists.
Ronnie Brewer, SF, Knicks: F
Ronnie Brewer was a non-factor in the first half for the Knicks, as he didn't record a shot attempt in the 10 minutes he was on the floor.
Brewer only played the first three minutes of the second half and was benched for the duration shortly thereafter.
Andre Kirilenko, PF, Timberwolves: F
Andre Kirilenko was limited to just 20 minutes, as he got into foul trouble early on, and Kirilenko fouled out late in the fourth quarter as the Timberwolves looked to make a comeback, never contributing much on offense. The veteran finished with four points and three rebounds.
Carmelo Anthony, PF, Knicks: A
It was the Carmelo Anthony show in the first quarter, as he was great on both sides of the ball. He committed a sloppy turnover, but quickly made up for it with a steal and dunk. He then hit a three-pointer later in the opening 12 minutes to end the quarter with nine points.
The second quarter, however, was a completely different story, as Anthony went cold from the field. He missed all seven shots he took.
Anthony would find his rhythm in the second half and was a major factor in bringing the Knicks back into the game. Anthony, however, committed his fifth foul late in the fourth quarter, which led to a technical foul on head coach Mike Woodson.
That didn't matter, though, as Anthony drained a three-pointer and then drew a foul after a made free throw to give the Knicks the lead. Anthony would hit several crucial free throws as Minnesota tried to come back. Anthony finished the quarter with 19 points, totaling 33 in the contest.
Nikola Pekovic, C, Timberwolves: A-
Nikola Pekovic looked like a Hall of Famer in the first half. Pekovic was hitting easy and difficult shots, drawing fouls and grabbing rebound after rebound. He finished the half with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Pekovic would finish with 21 points, and he set a new career high with 17 boards.
Tyson Chandler, C, Knicks: C+
Tyson Chandler had a couple of nice plays in the opening quarter that led to four points, but he found himself in foul trouble that limited his first-quarter minutes. He would finish the first half with six points and three fouls.
Chandler would play much better in the second half, as he scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds on the night.
Ricky Rubio, PG, Timberwolves: C
Coming off the bench in his fifth game of the season, Ricky Rubio had an average first half. Rubio was a little wild with his passes later in the game and finished with five turnovers that truly hurt Minnesota's chances to win.
He wasn't very effective in his 18 minutes of game time on Sunday.
J.R. Smith, SG, Knicks: B
J.R. Smith is the main reason that the Knicks weren't down more than nine points at the conclusion of the first half.
He was great on both sides of the ball and finished the half with 13 points and five assists. He also had an emphatic dunk over Minnesota forward Greg Stiemsma.
He helped bring New York all the way back and ended up playing 39 minutes due to Ronnie Brewer's ineffectiveness ineffective. Smith ended with 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He also added seven assists.
Minnesota Timberwolves: C+
Dante Cunningham was a force off the Timberwolves bench, recording a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes.
Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio both finished the afternoon with five points. Williams grabbed five boards in 12 minutes, while Rubio was on the floor for 18 minutes.
Greg Stiemsma wasn't on the court for Minnesota long, but he did have a steal and two blocks in eight minutes.
New York Knicks: B
The play of J.R. Smith kept New York in the game long enough so that Carmelo Anthony could pick up the slack late.
Kurt Thomas had four points and two rebounds, while Steve Novak was just 1-of-3 from the floor in 19 minutes.
Pablo Prigioni was only on the floor for four minutes, finishing with three points.