No Carmelo Anthony? No Amar'e Stoudemire? No problem.
In their first game without both STAT and 'Melo, the New York Knicks decimated the Utah Jazz by a score of 113-84. J.R. Smith led all scorers with 24 points, while the Knicks made a combined 13 three-point field goals.
If that's not impressive, try the fact that the Knicks' second unit accounted for 75 points—just nine less than the entire Utah team.
Prior to the game, it was announced that Stoudemire would miss six weeks due to his second knee debridement surgery of the season (via ESPN New York). After receiving it on his left knee during the preseason, STAT will now have surgery on his right knee.
Fortunately, the Knicks got off to a hot start without him, as they won by 29 points.
Overall Grade: B+
Minutes Played: 24
15 points, 4 assists, 1 rebound, 3 turnovers, 6/10 FG, 1/3 3PT
With Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire both sidelined by injuries, point guard Raymond Felton took it upon himself to lead the first-half charge.
Felton scored 13 points in the first half and finished with 15 for the game. He took the initiative as J.R. Smith struggled early, thus enabling the Knicks to combat a fierce first quarter by Utah.
Felton's three-pointer with 5:41 remaining in the second quarter also created a double-digit lead that Utah would never erase.
Much like his fellow starters, Felton's numbers were limited by the fact that this was a blowout. Even still, Felton managed to key the run that ended up deciding the outcome of this game.
For that, his grade reflects such quality efforts.
Overall Grade: C
Minutes Played: 17
3 points, 2 assists, 1 rebound, 1/3 FG, 1/2 3PT
Slowly but surely, James "Flight" White is developing into much more than New York City's resident dunk artist.
White didn't contribute much on the stat sheet, but he matched up well against both Randy Foye and DeMarre Carroll.
White's size and athleticism helped space the floor in transition, thus forcing Carroll—a defensive stopper—to move out to the perimeter. The same transpired with Foye on White, thus enabling the Knicks to pound it inside.
As for how he fared when given the ball, White drained one of the Knicks' 13 three-point field goals.
Overall Grade: A-
Minutes Played: 27
10 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals, 1/3 FG, 8/10 FT
Say what you will about his field-goal percentage, but Iman Shumpert got to the line like there was no tomorrow.
In all, Shumpert drew seven fouls during the game. This helped place key contributors such as Mo Williams and Derrick Favors in foul trouble and limit their efforts.
If that's not enough, note just how much of a pest Shumpert is defensively—you know, a 6'5" pest.
New York forced Utah into committing 19 turnovers for the game. Shumpert was a major part of that, as he played the passing lanes and provided active hands during on-ball sets.
For the game, Shump finished with four steals. This was the key to New York's video, as they eliminated Gordon Hayward by way of Shumpert's defensive pressure.
A dominant defensive performance by the second-year whatever-position-Woodson-says-is-best-tonight.
Overall Grade: C+
Minutes Played: 9
4 points, 1 assist, 2/4 FG
Who said the old man can't cut it?
Kurt Thomas only played nine minutes, but he certainly made an impact. During a first quarter in which Utah came out firing, it was Thomas who stepped up to provide the counterattack.
Thomas drained a deep two and scored in close roughly two minutes later.
That may be what you call limited production, but they were both key shots for the sake of momentum. On a night without their stars, the Knicks needed an early form of momentum.
Thomas provided just that.
Overall Grade: A-
Minutes Played: 25
6 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks
Tyson Chandler may not have posted a dazzling stat line, but he executed a difficult task—he shut down Al Jefferson.
Chandler played Big Al with physicality and poise, taking the nightly 20 and 10 threat completely out of his rhythm. Jefferson finished with seven points and four rebounds on 3-of-9 shooting.
Chandler's highlight came during a 33-second span during the second quarter.
One possession after Jefferson had found the bottom of the net, Chandler stepped up and swatted his shot in the opposite direction. The Knicks got out in transition, and Raymond Felton found Steve Novak for a three-pointer.
Mere seconds later, Mo Williams tested Chandler—same result.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year blocked Williams' shot and came up with the rebound. An example of pure and utter dominance.
Beyond the stat sheet was an excellent performance.
Overall Grade: A+
Minutes Played: 28
24 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 10/18 FG, 4/8 3PT
Every time Carmelo Anthony is absent, J.R. Smith always seems to play like a superstar—buyers take note.
Smith was exceptional, dropping 24 points, six rebounds and three assists on 10-of-19 shooting. He also shot 4-of-8 from beyond the arc.
That includes a third quarter in which Smith scored seven consecutive points.
As great as he was in the third, however, Smith truly put this game to rest during the fourth quarter. That's becoming a theme that Knicks fans are welcoming as Smith becomes Mr. Clutch.
The sharpshooter scored eight points in the span of 1:15 to make it a 98-69 lead for New York. Call it kicking the opponent when they're down or padding a win, but labels are irrelevant. Smith was outstanding—again.
Smith is now averaging 19.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.0 steals over the past eight games.
Overall Grade: A+
Average +/-: +9.3
Collective Stat Line
75 points, 23 rebounds, 13 assists, 7 steals, 1 block, 11/27 3PT
With 'Melo and STAT out, we knew that the New York Knicks would need scoring contributions from other players.
The reserves took it upon themselves to light up the scoreboard.
Steve Novak came out firing, finishing with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor and 5-of-10 from beyond the arc. That includes a third quarter in which Novak busted this game open with three three-pointers. All of which came from virtually the same spot on the floor.
Believe it or not, Novak was one of four reserves in double figures. Joining him were some familiar faces and surprising successes.
J.R. Smith had 24, Chris Copeland had 12 in seven minutes and Kenyon Martin finished with 10 on 4-of-6 shooting in 22 minutes. Martin also had six rebounds and two steals.
Together, the Knicks' second unit scored 75 points.
Not to be outdone by the scorers, Pablo Prigioni tallied seven points, five assists and five rebounds in 24 minutes.
What more can you say about the Knicks bench? They were phenomenal.