On Sunday, the Knicks left Madison Square Garden after a heartbreaking loss to the Miami Heat. It was a game that the Knicks probably should have won (at least after half time), but weren’t able to close out. Monday night in Cleveland, they showed the basketball world a hell of a lot about their team.
Monday night’s game was extremely important for the Knicks. They had to respond after a tough home loss to a great team, something they are, sans a miracle playoff run, going to have to do in the postseason. They had to keep their chins up and just keep fighting, and bounce back with a big win. When the game started and as it progressed, the Knicks found themselves down by 22 points, and seemed to really be feeling a hangover from a loss the day before. They didn’t come out with much energy, they lost Carmelo Anthony early in the game to a knee injury, and Marreese Speights looked like Larry Bird going 10 for his first 10. Once Melo had to leave the game, it seemed to ignite a fire under this team, and they responded in a big way.
There were a few reasons the Knicks were able to come back from a 22-point deficit and win this one. For one thing, they weren’t just jacking up a bunch of three-point shots. They took their fair share, but J.R. Smith took a good amount of two-point jumpers, and drove in the lane, which lead to more trips to the free throw line. Additionally, Amar’e Stoudemire was huge for the Knicks yesterday. Without him, they would have been dead in the water. Before last night’s game, I said I wanted to see STAT in there to close out games. Even if it was because Melo was hurt, that’s exactly what we saw yesterday, and it led to a Knicks victory. Finally, defense. It wasn’t spectacular, but the Knicks showed some signs of improvement. I still don’t understand how a team can switch so much, but it seems to be their philosophy, so let’s see if they can make it work.
On a side note, it came out today that Melo had asked Coach Woodson to come out of the game because his knee was bothering him, before he fell down and had to leave the game for good. While Melo can seem to act a bit childish at times out there, he would never ask to come out of a game unless it was pretty serious. Woodson kept him in there, and looking back on it, says it was a bad decision and that he was just being a “stubborn coach”. This seems similar to the RG3 situation in Washington with the Redskins, but luckily the Knicks were able to get away with a day-to-day status for Melo.
Great win for the Knicks in Cleveland. Now they’re gonna have to keep it going against the Pistons on Wednesday, before hosting one of the best teams in the league in the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. Should be a fun rest of the week.