Despite a strong effort from the young New Orleans Hornets (11-26), the New York Knicks (24-13) were able to hold on for a 100-87 win Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks remain in second place in the Eastern Conference, just one point ahead of the Indiana Pacers in third place and just one game behind the Miami Heat in first place.
New York didn’t shoot particularly well in this game—shooting 43.2 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from behind the three-point line—but this was the kind of game that proved head coach Mike Woodson’s blue-collar mindset is in full effect.
Instead of folding when the shooting wasn’t there, the team buttoned down on defense and ensured a win by taking the Hornets’ shooters out of the equation.
With power forward Amar'e Stoudemire starting to round into shape and Tyson Chandler dominating the low post, the Knicks were the clearly superior team Sunday and will only get better as injured stars like Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert continue to get healthy.
New Orleans deserves credit after a game like this, though, as they played valiantly.
Rookie Anthony Davis has continued to emerge as an intimidating low-post presence for the Hornets, and the return of guard Eric Gordon to the lineup makes the team much more dangerous than its regular-season record indicates.
While it was clear that New York was the far superior team in this matchup, there is a bright future for New Orleans with the bounty of talent on that roster.
Player of the Game: Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks
The amazing season for Carmelo Anthony continued Sunday with a big game against the New Orleans Hornets. While Anthony didn’t have his best shooting day—9-of-25 from the field and 2-of-8 from three-point range—his 40 minutes on the court were all productive.
Anthony managed to score 27 points, snag seven rebounds and dish out three assists, but it was his willingness and ability to play hard on the defensive end of the court that makes him a real MVP candidate this season.
Up Next for New York Knicks
The New York Knicks started the season on a torrid pace, but eight losses in their last 13 games coming into Sunday has brought the team back to reality.
With a tough stretch of games ahead—four of the team’s next five games are nationally televised—the Knicks must figure out their issues on the court and get back to the fundamental basketball they were playing to start the season.
Add in the continued return-to-form for veteran Amar’e Stoudemire and the news that young star Iman Shumpert would also make his re-debut (h/t Jared Zwerling) into the lineup after dealing with a knee injury, and New York is ready to get back on the right track.
Up Next for New Orleans Hornets
There is little hope that the New Orleans Hornets will make it to the postseason this year, but the amount of raw talent they have with this young team in undeniable.
As much as this may not be the team’s chance to make a postseason run, this is a great learning experience.
The emergence of potential stars like Ryan Anderson, Robin Lopez and Greivis Vasquez has complemented No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis in the lineup, and the return of Eric Gordon makes the Hornets a very deep and dangerous team in the second half of the season.
New Orleans won four straight games coming into Sunday, and the less pressure the team faces, the better it can play against the NBA's powerhouses. The Hornets will play spoiler to many playoff teams to close the year.