After a great start to the season, the New York Knicks entered Wednesday night’s matchup against Golden State having split their last 30 games. Perhaps Wednesday night is the start of something new.
Carmelo Anthony was nearly unstoppable Wednesday night in the Garden, finishing with 35 points and eight assists. The Warriors were unable to match up with Melo all night long, and he continually made them pay.
Additionally, Tyson Chandler did his part of controlling the boards against an undersized Warriors front line. Chandler finished with a career-high 28 rebounds, 10 of them on offense, and 16 points.
Despite Curry’s impressive performance, which also included him setting a new franchise record with 11 threes, he received little help from his teammates.
Jason Kidd: F
The perimeter defense was stellar early in the game, and Kidd was part of the reason why. He was able to stick to Curry and not allow him to see any open looks, which definitely made an impact early, as Curry went 2-of-6 with two turnovers to start the game.
With Kidd out of the game, Curry began to heat up and scored 15 straight points in the second quarter, finishing the first half with 27 points.
Kidd played sparingly in the second half and overall played a disappointing game, finishing with zero points on four shot attempts. Kidd’s defense was needed in the second half, but he stayed planted on the bench in favor of J.R. Smith, who was on fire from three.
Raymond Felton: C-
Felton’s play was minimal in the first half. He did a good job of attacking the lane and forcing the Golden State defense to collapse, but did not score much and could not guard Steph Curry.
No matter if it was in the pick-and-roll, spot-up situations or off the dribble, Curry absolutely had his was with Felton the entire night. At one point, it looked like Steph Curry was being guarded by a wooden chair because Felton was getting broken down every trip down the floor.
Felton finished with 10 points and four rebounds, assists and steals. Mike Woodson trusted Felton down the stretch and it paid off. He came up with a huge block on Curry with under two minutes to play. He was also able to secure a rebound off his missed free throw with under a minute left to essentially seal the game.
Iman Shumpert: C-
Watching Shumpert play defense is quite amazing. His lateral quickness is elite, and his wingspan allows him to guard three positions. While his offense is still in the developmental stage, his defense earns him minutes.
For example, Shumpert went from guarding Harrison Barnes to start the game to Steph Curry to close out the first half. In addition, Iman had five of his six steals in the first half.
Unfortunately, Shumpert barely saw any time in the second half. His defense could have been put to use on Steph Curry, but Mike Woodson decided to keep a better offensive unit on the floor most of the second half to keep up with the Warriors.
Carmelo Anthony: B+
Mark Jackson decided to start Draymond Green on Carmelo Anthony and then began throwing the entire kitchen sink at him. However, Melo was simply too quick or too strong for his opposition. Early on, Melo’s jumper was not falling, so he began to work his defenders on the block, scoring nine first-quarter points.
Overall, Golden State just did not have anyone who could check Melo. Once the Warriors defense began to load up on him in the post, Melo began attacking from the perimeter. Draymond Green was far too slow to stay in front of Anthony.
Melo finished with 35 points, but more importantly got to the free-throw line 15 times, connecting on 13. He also embraced his role as a facilitator, finishing with eight assists and finally playing well with Amar’e Stoudemire in the lineup with him.
Tyson Chandler: A+
Golden State’s weak frontcourt, due to Andrew Bogut and David Lee being out, was no match for Tyson Chandler all game long. Chandler finished the first quarter with a mystifying 13 rebounds, four of which came on offense.
The second quarter was more of the same, with Chandler finishing the half with 12 points and 17 rebounds. Marc Jackson was sending double-teams at Carmelo Anthony, which freed up Chandler to go one-on-one for rebounds against players like Harrison Barnes and Carl Landry.
Overall, Tyson Chandler played one of the best games of his career, finishing with a personal best 28 rebounds. While he was not much of an offensive threat, his ability to control the glass undoubtedly led to the Knicks pulling out a close win.
J.R. Smith: B+
One guy who came out of the gates firing was J.R. Smith. His athleticism and quickness allowed him to beat the Golden State guards off the dribble. In addition, Carmelo Anthony’s post-ups freed Smith up for multiple open looks from three.
Smith continued to provide some much needed firepower in the second half, finishing the game with 26 points.
Despite the Warriors’ three-guard lineup, none of them were able to slide and defend Smith. Furthermore, the Golden State defense was consistently collapsing on Anthony all game long. Smith stretched the floor and connected on six of 11 three pointers.
Outside of Amar’e Stoudemire, the New York bench was nonexistent. Amar’e looked comfortable playing extended minutes in the lineup with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler and finished 6-of-7 from the field for 14 points.
Kenyon Martin, Steve Novak and Pablo Prigioni combined to go 1-of-6 from the floor. Martin played solid defense in limited minutes, but Prigioni was torched by Steph Curry, much like Raymond Felton.
The New York bench desperately needs to step up down the stretch because the Knicks cannot continue to count on Carmelo and J.R. Smith to dominate on offense in order to win games.