For a night, everything looked right again.
All week, there have been murmurs suggesting that Knicks' coach Mike Woodson could be fired following a potential loss to the Nets on Thursday night. With such a suggestion finally brought to the forefront by the media once and for all in full force, his team finally looked as though they were fighting for his job.
New York undoubtedly displayed an extra pep in their collective step at the Barclays Center, but it certainly didn't hurt that the just as equally down in the dumps Nets didn't exactly fight with the same type of urgency for former Knickerbocker guard Jason Kidd. The Knicks surprisingly blew by the future Hall of Famer's squad by a score of 113-83.
As poorly as Broolyn played throughout the thirty-point loss, it was subsequently just as easy to see how well the Knicks were playing instead. The "away" team played with aggression, grit, physicality, and perhaps most importantly of all, they moved the ball.
Everything seemed to click for New York on a night during which they needed it the most. Interestingly enough, superstar Carmelo Anthony (he scored an efficient 19 points, 10 rebounds, and led his team with 6 assists) didn't have to carry his squad on his back in order to come away with the victory. Instead, he received much of the help he's desperately needed as of late.
To boot, the Brooklyn native got it in many forms, too. J.R. Smith only scored 8 points, but his (just) six shot attempts likely gave way to other players to step up and hit their marks. Raymond Felton and Tim Hardaway Jr. each pitched in with double-digit performances, but it was another trio of players who surprisingly led the way.
First up was Iman Shumpert, who is arguably under as much pressure as Coach Woodson to succeed. The young hit a surprising stride from behind the three-point line, hitting a career-high five daggers from deep on his way to 17 points. He was as efficient as they come, and it showed. He looked confident and comfortable.
Also stepping up for the Knicks was the Italian Stallion, Andrea Bargnani. The big man scored 16 efficient points in the win, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise. What was a surprise, however, was how well the big played against Kevin Garnett. Bargnani proved that he wasn't going to back down against the veteran. The seven-footer's extra bark may have earned him an ejection, but likely also earned him much respect and kudos in his team's locker room.
Despite the handful of Knickerbockers who found success against the Nets, the most subtle of games balls probably deserves to go to Amar'e Stoudemire. The man (still?) known as STAT had one of his better games of the season. Shooting 5 of 6 from the field, the big man tallied 11 points, grabbed 4 rebounds (good for third on the team) and blocked one shot. Most importantly of all, however, Stoudemire's plus/minus rating stood at a respectable +12.
New York has been known to lose leads when STAT enters games this season, but the fact of the matter is he's looking more polished with extra confidence the more he plays. He's playing physical again and asserting himself well on both ends of the court. The coaching staff should continue to explore how to help Stoudemire stay in his groove, so that he only continues to benefit the team as the season progresses.
If one thing's for sure, it's that Stoudemire's performance (like many of his teammates' performances at that) signaled that this team needs to cooperate more offensively and utilize each other's strengths if they want to win games.
If playing as if though Coach Woodson's job brings that out of them the most, then so be it.no comments