Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks: Postgame Grades and Analysis for NYC

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 31, 2013

Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks: Postgame Grades and Analysis for NYC

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    Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks turned a tight game with the Orlando Magic into a blowout down the stretch, ultimately prevailing by a final score of 113-97 Wednesday night at the Garden.

    Anthony broke Richie Guerin's franchise record by scoring at least 20 points in 30 straight games. He hit the number on the nose midway through the fourth quarter and promptly headed to the bench with the game well in hand.

    Melo wasn't alone in this one, though, as three Knick reserves scored in double figures, and Tyson Chandler turned in his most complete offensive performance of the season.

    On the other end, things were a little bit dicier, particularly in the early going.

    Orlando's backcourt looked unstoppable during the first quarter, as J.J. Redick started the game by making six straight shots, and Jameer Nelson seemed able to get into the lane at will. On the strength of their guard play alone, the Magic headed into halftime in a 51-51 tie. As a matter of fact, the Magic guards didn't really slow down after that, as Redick finished with 29 points on 14 shots (nine three-point attempts).

    All's well that ends well, though. And this game concluded with the Knicks' fifth consecutive win over the Magic. Unlike the last two meetings between the two teams, both of which required fourth-quarter comebacks by the Knicks, this one was decided by the early stages of the final period.

    Going forward, Mike Woodson's club still needs to show a greater aptitude for containing opposing point guards and limiting easy buckets. Orlando, despite losing by double figures, still shot 49.4 percent from the field.

    New York moved to 28-15 with the win, while Orlando fell to 14-31 in defeat.

    This was a nice win for the Knicks, but it wasn't without a few flaws. The grades will, therefore, reflect those mixed-bag results.

Point Guard

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    Raymond Felton: B

    Raymond Felton got the job done offensively, as he was able to penetrate the Orlando Magic's soft perimeter defense with consistent ease. If ever there ever was an example of his importance to the New York Knicks offense, this game was it.

    Felton finished with 15 points, nine assists and zero turnovers on 6-of-13 shooting. He even knocked down three triples to complement his work in the lane.

    At the same time he was showcasing his offensive prowess, Felton also displayed one of his most troubling flaws: He basically forgot to play defense until well into the second quarter. As a result, Jameer Nelson got going early, putting up the bulk of his 21 points and nine assists before halftime.

    Felton eventually sorted out his defensive issues, but based on the way he played D in this one, it's no wonder that opposing point guards have been feasting on the Knicks lately. Because he basically played one-way basketball for a good chunk of the game, we're docking him a bit. Offensively, he was great though.

Shooting Guard

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    Iman Shumpert: D

    Maybe Iman Shumpert was unclear about the scouting report on J.J. Redick.

    What else could explain his perplexing inability to stay close to the Magic gunner? Reddick started the game by making over a handful of consecutive shots, as Shumpert either got lost around screens (excusable) or totally lost track of his man when doubling Glen Davis on a couple of early post-ups (beyond inexcusable).

    Shumpert wasn't scoring himself, so it might have been for the best that he picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter. By that point, Redick had already scored 17 points.

    Overall, the Knicks' second-year man totaled just seven points and four rebounds in 22 minutes. He also committed five fouls and shot just 3-of-7 from the floor.

    Clearly, it just wasn't Shump's night; he even had a particularly odd turnover as he flipped the ball underhand at Carmelo Anthony's back after a made basket. The ball simply rolled out of bounds as Shumpert shook his head in disgust.

    Redick finished the game with 29 points, which is just two shy of his career high, and we can't help but penalize Shumpert with the harsh grade.

Small Forward

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    James White: Incomplete

    Depending on how fast you can read, it's entirely possible that you'll spend more time perusing this slide than James White spent on the floor for the Knicks in this one.

    White got the starting nod because of Jason Kidd's cranky back, but he didn't exactly get an opportunity to wow anyone in the 10 minutes he spent on the floor.

    In that time, the small forward scored two points and grabbed one rebound. Clearly, Mike Woodson is not interested in revisiting the notion of J.R. Smith as a starter.

Power Forward

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    Carmelo Anthony: B+

    For a while there, it seemed as though Anthony had forgotten just how hot he was in his last game. New York's de facto power forward made a franchise record nine threes against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday en route to 42 points.

    It took him nearly 12 minutes to fire off (and make, by the way) his first triple against the Magic. Usually, it's tough to get Melo to stop shooting. So credit him for not forcing things in the early going.

    Relatively speaking, Anthony turned in a quiet effort. His 20 points, five assists and seven rebounds on 8-of-17 shooting was solid, but hardly spectacular. In a way, that might be a good thing for Melo.

    Hey, we've seen how Kobe Bryant has made the L.A. Lakers so much better by embracing more of an all-around game. Maybe Melo's trying to follow suit.


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    Tyson Chandler: A+

    I'm not sure when it happened, but Tyson Chandler has turned into an offensive dynamo over the last couple of days.

    The New York Knicks center put up 21 points, five assists and seven boards on an astounding 10-of-11 shooting. The five assists were just one short of Chandler's career best.

    Chandler scored the ball in a variety of ways in this one. He caught his usual share of lobs, ran the floor for easy transition hoops and even scored in isolation a couple of times.

    Naturally, he also brought his typical defensive excellence and trademark "back tap" offensive boards to the party, but the offensive game was the real story.

    If he could have also found a way to slow down the Magic's backcourt duo on offense, we would have had to invent a grade higher than an A-plus.

Sixth Man

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    J.R. Smith: B+

    If such a thing exists, I think we saw a subdued version of J.R. Smith on the night. After failing to make even half of his shots in any game since Jan. 3, the New York Knicks sixth man scored a solid 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting.

    In addition to forcing fewer shots than usual, Smith also found ways to contribute without scoring. His four assists and five rebounds helped him accumulate the Knicks' highest plus/minus figure on the night. His plus-21 narrowly edged out Carmelo Anthony's plus-20.

    There may not be many more games this year in which Smith plays 35 minutes and shoots the ball just eight times, and really, the Knicks probably want him to be aggressive. That's what he's made a career out of, after all.

    If there's some kind of middle ground between his usual 5-of-18 performances and what he did against Orlando, Smith could become a much more consistent threat. As it is, the Knicks will take the somewhat reserved performance Smith gave in this one.


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    Bench Grade: A-

    Lately, this space has been reserved for criticism of Amar'e Stoudemire's selfish offensive approach and the total disappearance of anyone else on the Knicks bench.

    In this case, there's actually a lot more to talk about.

    Stoudemire still failed to provide much help on defense, but it's hard to knock his 7-of-7 effort on the other end. STAT looked especially good in the pick-and-roll, something he's executing particularly well with Pablo Prigioni. On the night, the Knicks' bespectacled forward scored 14 points and pulled down four rebounds in 21 minutes.

    And before anyone mentions his blocked shots (one of which is pictured above at left), let's not forget that one came against Jameer Nelson, who's small enough to fit in most overhead compartments on commercial airplanes.

    Getting back to Prigioni, the reserve point guard had himself a nice little game as well. In addition to a sweet dish that led to an Amar'e dunk, Prigioni tied for the Knicks lead with three made triples. A 38 percent shooter from long distance, there's a pretty good argument that he ought to be looking for his shot a bit more than he does.

    Finally, Steve Novak shook off an 0-of-4 start to knock down a couple of threes and tally eight points on the night. To be fair, his buckets came late in the fourth quarter when the Magic had all but given up hope.

    The Knicks reserves were pretty darn good in this one.