New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers: Postgame Grades and Analysis for NYK
Luckily, the Knicks didn't let that keep them from beating the Cleveland Cavaliers to the tune of 102-97.
It wasn't pretty for the Knicks, but they came back from down 22 points in the second quarter, and they did so with impressive production from their second unit.
The bench dropped 70 of the Knicks' 102 points on 50-percent shooting from the floor. Amar'e Stoudemire led bench scorers with 22 points, and J.R. Smith posted a well-balanced stat line of 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Getting a win without 'Melo in the lineup is big for the Knicks. Not only does it help them stay amongst the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference, but it also helps them build confidence, which is pivotal to establish as we move toward the playoffs.
Beating a resilient Cavaliers team might not seem like a big deal, but after a heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat, the Knicks needed this one bad.
Point Guard: Raymond Felton
Raymond Felton didn't have an awful game, but he didn't have a good one, either.
Unfortunately, that is becoming the new norm for Felton, as he's moving more and more toward the "average" range of point guards in the league.
He ended the night with eight points, 10 assists, three rebounds and three turnovers, and he shot the ball rather inefficiently (33.3 percent from the field and 25 percent from three-point land).
While Felton didn't do a terrible job on Kyrie Irving, there were quite a few times when he looked a step and a half behind the sophomore point guard.
I don't want to say that Felton looks out of shape, because he played 33 minutes strong. But it's clear that his conditioning hurts him late in games.
Overall Grade: C-
Final Stat Line: 8 points, 10 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 33.3 FG%
Shooting Guard: James White
It's a shame that James "Flight" White gets the spotlight in the starter slide here, because in all honesty, he was just a filler until J.R. Smith entered the game.
With just four minutes of action, considering Carmelo Anthony was out for the majority of the second quarter and entire second half, it's clear that the Knicks have no intention of giving White more court time.
The Knicks have good reason for that, evidenced by the two points he scored in his time on the court.
It's time for the Knicks to just bench White and give Smith the starting gig because having White in the game is nothing more than annoying now.
Overall Grade: D-
Final Stat Line: 2 points, 1 rebound, 50 FG%, 4 minutes
Small Forward: Iman Shumpert
Iman Shumpert really didn't know what kind of player to be against the Cavaliers.
There were times when his aggressive play helped cut into a double-digit Cavaliers lead and then there were times when it seemed like he didn't care about what was going on out on the hardwood.
Shumpert totalled just 19 minutes, thanks to Jason Kidd and J.R. Smith, and in that time, he accounted for just eight points, one steal and one personal foul.
It wasn't an extremely productive night for Shumpert, but he did shoot efficiently from beyond the arc—66.7 percent on the night.
Defensively speaking, Shumpert had an uncharacteristic night, failing to truly make an impact on that side of the ball. To be fair, he didn't have much of a chance to do so, with sporadic minutes throughout the game.
Overall Grade: B-
Final Stat Line: 8 points, 1 steal, 50 FG%
Power Forward: Carmelo Anthony
With 6:41 remaining in the first half, New York Knick fans held their collective breath when Carmelo Anthony went down without contact.
Unfortunately, 'Melo didn't return against the Cavaliers and the jury is still out on what exactly is wrong with his right knee.
In the 14 minutes of action 'Melo saw Monday night, he accounted for six points on 1-of-5 shooting, and he turned the ball over three times.
It wasn't a pretty night for 'Melo, and his poor production could be chalked up to the apparent rib injury he suffered against the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon.
A banged-up 'Melo as the playoff races heat up is the Knicks' worst nightmare. Let's hope that there's nothing structurally wrong with his right knee, because if there is something wrong, the Knicks are in serious trouble.
Overall Grade: Incomplete
Final State Line: 6 points, 1 rebound, 3 turnovers, 20 FG%
Center: Tyson Chandler
For the first time in quite a while, Tyson Chandler was actually putting up mid-range shots. Well, his mid-range is actually about five-to-eight feet from the rim, but still, for Chandler, that's impressive.
The problem is that he hit just 50 percent of his shots, as compared to the 65.4-percent shooting he's averaged this season.
It's also somewhat shocking that Chandler ended with single-digit rebounds against a somewhat undersized Cavaliers team without its center, Tyler Zeller.
Ending the night with just nine rebounds is inexcusable for the Knicks' seven-footer, especially when you consider that he had just three offensive boards.
It wasn't an awful night for Chandler, but he let Tristan Thompson and Marreese Speights push him around a bit too much.
He did come up with a clutch block on Kyrie Irving with the Cavs down just three and under 10 seconds left in the game, which solidified his always-reliable defensive effort.
Overall Grade: B-
Final Stat Line: 8 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 50 FG%
Sixth Man: J.R. Smith
Oh, J.R. Smith, what would the Knicks do without you?
With their primary scorer in the locker room, the Knicks turned to Smith for their offensive production in the second half.
Well, actually, Smith probably would've put up just as many shots if Carmelo was on the floor, but either way, he ended the night with an impressive line of 18 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
Aside from his atrocious three-point shooting, which isn't all that shocking, Smith actually had a pretty stellar game.
I mean, he committed just one turnover all game long. Smith should get an A+ for that alone.
Smith was aggressive with his play and yet he protected the ball, which is a rarity, and that was a major difference-maker for the Knicks. If Smith can continue playing at this rate, minus the 1-of-7 three-point shooting and 6-of-17 shooting from the field, the Knicks will have a chance to hold on to the third seed in the East.
Overall Grade: A-
Final Stat Line: 18 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 35.3 FG%
Without their bench, the Knicks would've been "upstream without a paddle" against the Cavaliers.
Four bench players ended the night in double digits—Jason Kidd, Steve Novak, J.R. Smith and Amar'e Stoudemire—and the entire second unit accounted for 70 of the Knicks' 102 total points. For all you mathematicians out there, that's 68.3 percent of the points.
Stoudemire exploded with his best game of the season, scoring 22 points and hitting a huge contested shot in the paint with 44.4 seconds left in the game. That put the Knicks up four and extended the lead for good.
Steve Novak finally put together a game worthy of the hefty paycheck the Knicks gave him with 15 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the three-point line.
To put the second unit's production into perspective, no Knicks starter ended the night with more than eight points.
It was an impressive night for the Knicks' bench, and if this kind of production becomes the norm, the Knicks can hold on to their upper-echelon seeding in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Overall Grade: A+
Final Stat Line: 70 points, 26 rebounds, 11 assists, 50.0 FG%