New York Knicks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Postgame Grades and Analysis for NYC
In the first half, the Knicks got dominated on the interior despite leading 52-45. The Timberwolves out-rebounded them before a surge on the glass late in the second quarter, and the disparity of points in the paint was staggering (24-10 at the half).
The Knicks were able to even that gap after coach Mike Woodson surely made it a point of emphasis at halftime.
The Knicks were yet again victimized by an opponent's strong backcourt play, this time from Luke Ridnour and Ricky Rubio, who combined for 38 points.
It was a very uneven effort from the Knicks, but they turned it on at the right time, outscoring Minnesota 30-18 in the fourth quarter, including 24-7 in the final seven minutes.
Carmelo Anthony finished with 36 points and essentially carried the Knicks to a sorely needed victory.
The two teams began the night heading in opposite directions.
The Knicks came into the game at 31-16, one-and-a-half games behind the Miami Heat in the East. They had also won seven of their last 10 games.
Minnesota, on the other hand, has been sinking in the Western Conference playoff picture, especially since losing Kevin Love again to a hand injury.
The T-Wolves had dropped eight of their last 10 contests coming into Friday. They had been 18-28 and in 12th place, 19 games out of first and six-and-a-half games away from the eighth seed.
It was a close shave for the Knicks, who barely pulled out the win. Now let's put on our tweed jacket with leather patches and hand out some grades.
Raymond Felton, PG: B-
Ray Felton got off to a slow start but chipped in all across the stat sheet. In the first half, he had three points along with a rebound, a steal and a block. Strangely, he did not have a first-half assist.
But for the second game in a row, Felton got thoroughly outplayed by the other team's point guard. After Felton got lit up by John Wall on Wednesday night, Ricky Rubio had his way with the Knicks on Friday, going for double-digit points and assists.
Felton finished with 11 points and four rebounds, but only one assist to go with three turnovers in his 37 minutes.
Jason Kidd, SG: B-
After struggling to score lately (11 points over his past six games), Kidd got off to a good start early. He scored five of the Knicks' first 10 points.
At one point in the fourth quarter, with the Knicks trailing by seven, Pablo Prigioni found Kidd for a three-pointer that he sank, but it was just as the shot clock ran out. That encapsulated much of the Knicks' frustrating evening.
Kidd finished with seven points, four assists, four rebounds, a steal and a block. He played more than 30 minutes in this one and provided a key presence down the stretch as the Knicks battled out this close game.
Iman Shumpert, SF: C-
Shumpert picked up a pair of fouls early and went to the bench with four minutes left in the first quarter. He again saw his minutes limited in this one as he continues to progress in his recovery from offseason knee surgery.
Shumpert's defense has been a step slow as he tries to regain his form from last season. He's still an active defender, but he can only play in bursts and lacks the shutdown ability that became his signature last season.
He finished this one with three boards, two dimes and zero points.
Carmelo Anthony, PF: A
With Minnesota missing one of its best stoppers in Andrei Kirilenko (strained right quad), Carmelo Anthony figured to be in store for a big night against the likes of Mickael Gelabale.
And that's just how it played out, with Anthony scoring 16 in the first half.
'Melo carried the Knicks through the game and as they limped along behind the T-Wolves in the second half. He also allowed a very strong offensive performance from Derrick Williams. Wait, who? Williams ended the night with 19 points, his second-highest total of the season.
'Melo did succeed in frustrating Williams into late foul trouble, however. And Anthony's scoring was huge in this one, especially in the fourth quarter. He finished with 36 points in more than 40 minutes and single-handedly kept the Knicks in the game.
He also had nine rebounds and played some strong defense down the stretch. That came after getting chewed out by coach Mike Woodson at one point in the second half for exhibiting poor defensive effort.
Tyson Chandler, C: B-
Chandler got off to a slow start and looked tentative after picking up a very early foul. He got his first rebound with a little more than five minutes left in the second quarter.
But he came alive as the first half wound down, even though he was clutching his left elbow in pain at one stage. By the end of the second quarter, he had pulled down five boards and had three points. He would've had more, but he shot just 1-of-4 from the free-throw line.
Chandler also yielded far too many offensive rebounds (six) to Nikola Pekovic, many of which cost the Knicks dearly. Chandler finished the game with seven boards, which is a far cry from his three straight games with 20 or more rebounds.
Chandler converted a crucial alley-oop inside the final two minutes which gave the Knicks a one-point lead. It was only his second field goal, but it was timely hooping.
Tyson also knocked the ball away from Luke Ridnour with the Knicks up one and only 23 ticks remaining. That led to a J.R. Smith and-one, which sealed the deal. Chandler also had a huge block on Ricky Rubio in the waning seconds to protect the four-point lead.
Getting two blocks in the final 30 seconds just goes to show why Chandler is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
J.R. Smith, SG: B+
Surprisingly, Smith had pulled down four boards through less than nine minutes of court time.
He finished off an all-around-strong first half with seven points, five boards, three dimes, a steal and a block.
But Smith struggled to find his shot for a stretch again in this one. Midway through the fourth quarter, Smith found himself just 3-of-10 from the field.
But as Minnesota sought to double-team Carmelo, J.R. began to percolate at just the right time. Smith finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
His three-point play on a breakaway in the final minute put the game out of reach and delivered the Knicks a nerve-racking victory.
Rest of Bench
Rest of Bench: B
Amar'e Stoudemire began strong on the glass, grabbing a pair of early offensive rebounds. He also threw down a vicious slam over Greg Stiemsma early in the second quarter.
But Amar'e also picked up a very ill-advised technical foul in the fourth quarter when he had just pulled the Knicks to within four of the T-Wolves. He appeared to be shouting at the ref over a noncall, and this was just another example of one of New York's veterans losing his composure late in a game.
STAT still finished with 11 points and five boards, though he did commit a pair of turnovers.
Steve Novak, who had been struggling to get shots of late, drained his first two attempts from behind the arc and had nine points by halftime. But he struggled to hit from long range as the game progressed, finishing 2-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Still, his 11 points in 14 minutes were a key boost to the offense.
Kurt Thomas also saw time in this game after being a DNP in Wednesday's loss to the Washington Wizards. Thomas chipped in four points in his five minutes with Minnesota conceding the elbow jumper to him.
Pablo Prigioni wasn't a huge factor, but he did have four dimes and a steal in 10 minutes. That has been his trademark so far, reserving his scoring to wide-open shots only, but running the offense efficiently and playing solid defense.
This was a hard-fought victory for the Knicks as they came away with the W in a nail-biter.