Monday, December 31, 2012
Though the Knicks' front court has been depleted one way or another (with the likes of Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Marcus Camby, and Rasheed Wallace all previously or currently sidelined), the team will likely receive quite the injection of life to begin 2013, as STAT and Melo are both expected to be in uniform.
Camby will also be hitting the hardwood when the Knicks take on the Blazers to start off the new year, but he already had a chance to close out 2012 in a big way, unlike his fellow front court mates. The center managed to average 3 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks per contest in the month of December as he made his return from a bevy of previous injuries that kept him off the court.
But while Camby and company were down for the count, the Knicks received quite the unexpected boost from their fifteen man, Chris Copeland. In the year's final month, the 28 year old averaged just a shade under 13 points per game, all the while shooting 57% from the field, including 50% from down town. The big man has begun to catch defenders off guard with a quick shot release. His bold shot selection, attempting to let the bombs fly from wherever he is on the court, makes him quite the fearless option to come off the bench. Needless to say, he stepped up in a big way, and may have even done enough to secure a spot in New York's regular rotation come 2013.
Though Copeland was the man who helped pace the Knicks' front court's efforts this past month, who will emerge as a hero for the back court in January? With Raymond Felton expected to sit out virtually the entire month, the team is in need of a clutch floor general. With elder statesman Jason Kidd already expected to take on a bulk of extra minutes, there's only one man who can help the future Hall of Famer lead the way.
Of course, that's the one and only Pablo Prigioni, International Man of (Not So Much) Mystery. While he's served as the Knicks' third string point guard up until this point, the Argentine has shown flashes of brilliance over the course of the still young season.
Prigioni's style of play makes him an absolute fireball on the court. On the defensive end, the 35 year old likes to chase down opponents with his sights set on taking the ball away. Able to catch a bevy of inbounds passes, Prigioni can run away with the ball, taking away the opponent's possession, all the while creating another potential opportunity for the Knickerbockers on the offensive end.
Though such an attack serves as the Argentine's signature move, Prigioni isn't simply a one trick pony. After dishing out a regular season-high of 9 assists, the floor general further proved he knows how to get his teammates involved. His fellow players appreciate the energy he brings along with him each time he hits the hardwood, and it's obvious they feed off of it.
As fate would have it Prigioni's international flavor helps him mesh quite well with Copeland, who has some overseas experience of his own. The pair play off one another nicely, and clearly have a sound understanding of one another after playing in similar systems over the years.
Prigioni is also in a unique situation when it comes to his conditioning, much like Kidd. After playing the role of starting point guard during his time in Europe, he came to the NBA, fully ready to embrace a larger role for the Knicks, only at a time like this. Not forced to log too many minutes in the season's first two plus months, Prigioni is now poised to shoot out of the Knicks' canon of secret weapons, certainly all rested up and ready to go.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
The Knicks have impressed Big Apple fans and media alike with their level of resilience all season long.
Of course, the team's defensive effort has been an elevated one since the day Mike Woodson took over as head coach. New York is now led by a determined as ever Carmelo Anthony, who has emerged as a surefire M.V.P. candidate. The team has lockdown and pestering defenders across the roster, and on the flip side, has offensive weapons who can come up in the clutch at the drop of a hat. What's more, a big difference from the team's run last season has been the consistent play out of the point guard position over the last couple of months.
It's safe to say the Knickerbockers have made vast improvements this season, dating back to last season's campaign.
Despite all that may be going the team's way, the Knicks' level of potential for this season's forthcoming postseason always continue to come back to that same level of resiliency. This year's Knicks squad is full of fighters, all hungry for more and determined to prove they all have what it takes to compete at a higher level that expected.
Such an attitude and mentality was present in the second half of New York's matchup against the Kings in Sacramento on Friday night. In the first half, the Kings nearly ran the Knicks out of the building, connecting on ten three-point fields, and furthermore, went into the locker room with a 21-point lead. The contest was shaping up to be one where the Knicks just headed back home, hanging their heads, but all the while focusing on the next one and never looking back. Every team has a bad night every now and then.
But New York made sure the bad outing was limited to just one half. After giving up 71 first-half points, the Knicks hit the ground running in the second-half, anxious to narrow the gap.
The visiting team wasn't going to go down easy. Despite being without Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton (among others), the Knicks' charge was once again led by Jason Kidd and J.R. Smith as the team clawed its way back.
Get a stop, then cash in for a shot. That was the gritty strategy Coach Woodson and his staff wanted his team to carry out during the game's latter half. And that they did.
Starting alongside the team's first unit in the third quarter, Chris Copeland played well offensively and ended up pouring in 23 points. The 28 year old rookie is catching opposing teams off guard with his bold shot selection, and the Knicks are reaping the benefits.
Without Anthony leading the way, J.R. Smith has had to step up as New York's go to guy in his absence. Such a role is one that the swingman has welcomed with open arms. He's aimed to carry the Knicks to victory, much like his buddy does oh so often. The fact of the matter is, as he proves doubters wrong, Smith is filling a massive void while playing the best basketball of his career. He scored a season-high 28 points against the Kings, while also grabbing 7 boards and dishing out 5 assists.
Tyson Chandler joined J.R. and Cope in the twenty-point plus club on Saturday, scoring 21 points next to his career-high tying 18 boards. Kidd also played well as he controlled the tempo, scoring 16 points and dishing out 7 dimes.
In addition to these notable contributions, other players continued to step up in time of need for the Knicks. Steve Novak broke out of a mini slump to score double-digits off the bench. Pablo Prigioni had a plus/minus of +17 as he dropped 9 assists and helped propel his team's comeback. Marcus Camby also hit the hardwood with some extra defensive intensity, blocking four shots in just 11 minutes.
There were strong performances to be found all across the Knicks' roster on Friday, but despite actually pulling away with as much of a five-point lead late, it just simply wasn't New York's night.
A hectic offensive possession by New York in the game's final seconds resulted in a turnover, giving the Kings the ball down two. The Knicks subsequently faced an even more crazed last defensive possession, and in a state of panic, the team saw Sacramento's James Johnson connect on his first three-point field goal of the season, giving his team a 106-105 victory.
As he sank the clutch shot, Johnson has also sank the Knicks' hope of completing one of the better comebacks in team history.
Coach Woodson will undoubtedly go over an immense amount of tape in practice to show his team exactly what they did wrong to be put into a position where their backs were all but against the wall. Such a feeble effort cannot be put forth again.
That said, one has to respect the fight the Knicks displayed in making the contest a competition one again. They may have lost the game, but such a gritty effort is the type of necessary that will prove New York to be a major competitor come playoff time. It's just a point of starting out strong, in addition to finishing off that way as well.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Raymond Felton won't need surgery on the pinky finger that has recently kept him from hitting the hardwood, but the injury will still force him to be sidelined for 4-6 more weeks.
The Knicks have preached their point guard depth as a key to the team's continued success all season long, but with Felton down for the count, elder statesman Jason Kidd will likely be looked upon to log heavy minutes for the next month plus. In addition, Pablo Prigioni, who has shown promise in sporadic minutes, will also be thrust into a top reserve role as well.
Kidd's value, prior to the start of the season, was ranked highly because of the situation he was slated to be in as a Knickerbocker. As a backup, Kidd would have been able to play limited minutes and preserve himself for the postseason. That plan instantly changed when the veteran was thrust into a staring role due to the team's various injuries. The latest one to Felton will allow Kidd to strut his stuff as a more natural floor general and truly run the squad's offense.
On the flip side, Prigioni's high energy defensive prowess was beneficial to New York because he could hop off the bench and catch opponents off guard in bunches. Now, he'll be asked to display a similar skill set on a more consistent basis.
With both older floor generals expected to take on expanded roles and play more serious minutes, many wonder if the duo can do enough to pace the Knicks' efforts on both sides of the court in Felton's absence.
We'll have to wait and see, but the fact is, New York is better off coping with the cards they've been dealt right now, regardless of the situation.
From free agent NBA veterans to promising D-League prospects, there are certainly plenty of floor general options to be had by the Knicks. Signing one could enable the team to more effectively fill the void and make sure the squad doesn't miss a beat while charging ahead into the new year.
But what happens after that? In order to bring a player in, the Knicks would also be faced with cutting one of their own. Rasheed Wallace and Chris Copeland are the team's only two non-guaranteed contracts. Athletic but lesser used swingman James White signed for the league's minimum guaranteed contract this past summer.
None of those players should be cut. Given the chemistry, camaraderie, and potential the Knicks have shown to be able to bounce back in the face of hardship this season, the team should do nothing but roll with the bunches. Not only have Wallace, Copeland, and White all shown signs of positivity in limited minutes, but they've all accepted their respective roles with open arms. They fit in well with the team's makeup, and removing one of them would only shake things up even further.
What's more, the better point guard options available (like Derek Fisher, Mike James, and Johnny Flynn) all consist of otherwise established NBA players. When Felton (not to mention, Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert) returns to action, it will prove difficult to get the new addition(s) time on the court as the months go on. Filling a void for a such a short period of time is not worth thrusting somebody new in the mix, while taking away a piece that has undoubtedly contributed to the Knicks' early success.
Instead, New York should search in house to find floor general alternatives. In addition to Kidd and Prigioni, the bold and fearless J.R. Smith will surely have no problem taking on expanded responsibilities. He has shown an impressive knack for ball-handling as of late, and has been racking up the assists off the bench. He knows how to look and find the open man.
Furthermore, in Coach Woodson's isolation heavy offense, his premier scorers often are asked to control the tempo. In addition to Smith, expect to see Carmelo Anthony run the floor and bring the ball up and down the court as well, simply because he's going to be the man with the ball in his hands at the end of possessions anyway.
The Knicks undoubtedly face a challenge in moving ahead without Raymond Felton helping them run the show. But if the last two months are any indication, this team is gritty, tough, and determined as ever to conquer any hardship that stands in the way of their success.
If I were a Nets fan, I'm not sure I'd be too thrilled about the firing of head coach Avery Johnson. Brooklyn made NBA history by becoming the first team to fire its coach just a month after the guy won "Coach of the Month" honors.
Despite Deron Williams' recent comments that he preferred playing in Jerry Sloan's system in Utah, he still never came out to say he disliked playing for Johnson, necessarily. Though the Nets have struggled and hobbled through the final month of 2012, it's hard to believe The Little General had completely lost control of his team.
Of course, players like to often save face in times of crucial public comment like this, but the tweets of praise for Johnson from the likes of Reggie Evans, Andray Blatche, and Anthony Morrow following the coach's ousting appeared to be legitimate and sincere. Some expressed surprise while saying they managed to learn a lot from the coach. Opposing players like LeBron James and Kendall Marshall also took to Twitter to express their shock over the decision to let Johnson go as well.
Able to only lead the Nets to a 3-10 record thus far this month, it was clear Johnson and his team were in a complete state of free fall following the initial strong start. Brooklyn's campaign, of course, has been clouded by an array of injuries to key players and an immense amount of pressure to succeed with a high payroll during their first Big Apple season.
Perhaps more time to help the team at full health gel on the court would have been enough for Johnson to get the Nets to turn around. Unfortunately, he won't get that chance. General Manager Billy King asserted that the organization believed the coach was unable to properly get the players on his side anymore.
The question at hand now becomes not only will the Nets succeed without Johnson, but who will be the coach that gets the chance to help them bounce back?
For now, it's P.J. Carlesimo, who was named interim head coach in wake of Johnson's dismissal. Will keeping the former coach's entire staff to move on without him be the best move? The group is sure to have Johnson's strategies and teachings imbedded within. If a change in culture is truly desired, the new voice needs to be someone different than simply Johnson's former second in command.
With determined ownership and management, that's exactly what the Nets should aim to do: bring in somebody completely new. The fact of the matter is, Johnson is an extremely highly-regarded basketball mind, and a former "Coach of the Year." By cutting his rope and removing him from office completely, Brooklyn undoubtedly has to have higher standards when it comes to reeling in whoever they deem worthy enough to take over.
The Pistons made similar headlines when in 2003, when they fired Rick Carlisle following back to back fifty win seasons and a "Coach of the Year" award to call his own. What else could a franchise want from its coach? What more could he possibly do?
Lead his team to a championship, apparently. The Pistons famously hired Larry Brown, who did indeed, coach Detroit to the 2004 NBA title. The initial decision to let Carlisle go paid off.
With that example in mind, it's clear the Nets need to make a lot of noise with their next hire. The likes of Phil Jackson, Larry Brown, and Jerry Sloan need to be front and center in Brooklyn's search to fill the new vacancy.
Such big names shouldn't be highlighted because the Nets' roster warrants such attention. In fact, it may be difficult to believe these same notable coaches are interested in taking on such a challenge. Instead, making each of them a potential target is especially essential, simply because of nothing more than the need to snag someone better than the man he will be replacing.
In order to justify dismissing a coach like Johnson, a championship caliber new head coach will need to be ushered in to Brooklyn next.
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Without Amar'e Stoudemire this season, Carmelo Anthony has carried the Knicks on his back to their strongest start in years.
Anthony has gotten help from a cast of characters that included defensive anchor Tyson Chandler and playmaking extraordinaire Jason Kidd---both of whom are major contributions, but neither stand tall as a dominating force on offense.
The Brooklyn native has looked to Raymond Felton as number two in command throughout the year, but even Felton still lacks that clutch gene and the ice in his veins. When Anthony is sidelined, who else can the Knicks turn to in order to help carry them to victory?
Against the Suns on Wednesday tonight, New York was forced to find out. With Anthony and Felton both down for the count, it was a certainty the team needed unlikely sources to step up if they stood a chance to win.
Kidd served as one of those unlikely sources of offensive production, as the floor general played big minutes and scored a season-high 23 points. With Felton expected to be out for a prolonged period of time, he's likely to have that burden again and again as time goes on.
Chris Copeland poured in 14 points of his own off the bench. After watching players like Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak rise from obscurity last season, the 28 year old is quickly becoming a surprise in a similar sense. A bold and fearless shot-taker, Copeland's quick release is making it difficult for defenders to react in time to stop him. And he's becoming a fan-favorite because of it.
The importance and contributions of the likes of Chandler, Kidd, and Copeland has been mentioned, but who, in Anthony's absence, serves as Mr. Clutch?
In order to win without the star forward, we've said repeatedly here at KnicksJournal.com that the Knicks simply need to do one thing: Make J.R. Smith their Melo.
Smith has always been bold, and has always been the type of guy who wants the ball in his hands at the end of games. But in the past, his immaturity, coupled with an inconsistent jumper that would make everyone else in view cringe, such a role wasn't yet in the cards.
But with a new coach's confidence (Mike Woodson) and guidance helped Smith zone in, act more more mature, and accept more responsibility. With these off-the-court things taken care of, Smith has risen up as a totally different player.
And make no mistake, it's been for the better. Smith's heroics on Wednesday night, not only to hit a shot with a defender draped all over him to tie the game, but also another dagger to sink the Suns, only prove it.
The guard poured in a 27 point performance overall to lead the Knickerbockers to a 99-97 win. The team will travel to Sacramento, to face the Kings on Friday night.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
In the spirit of the holiday season, this post is going to have a bit of a personal note sprinkled in, with of course, some heavy Knicks analysis to follow.
Dedicated to concentrating on and spending time with my family for Christmas Day, I didn't have the opportunity to watch much of the Knicks-Lakers afternoon contest live. That's the bad news.
The good news is, however, that in a house that was otherwise filled with diehard hockey fans, there has no NHL action to be seen. The Knickerbockers and their dreadful bleeding orange jerseys came onto the TV, because of the simple desire to watch some form of competition on the holiday.
With family, I caught a good part of the fourth quarter, including the game's final minutes. Though I've since watched the rest of the game back, a simple decision by Coach Mike Woodson with the game on the line still stands out in my mind today.
That decision was not to foul, with the Knicks down three points, and 29.5 seconds still remaining on the clock. With the game still being determined by one possession, it would make sense that New York would want to keep the game as close as possible. While that's clearly understandable, the cards weren't exactly stacking up in the team's favor.
By allowing the Lakers to run the clock down, the Knicks sold themselves short on the other side of the ball. With less time on the clock to score, any lead at all by Los Angeles in the final seconds would become insurmountable.
With a full 24-second shot clock at their disposal, the Lakers were undeniably in control. The best the Knicks could have been hoping for, in that situation, was to play lockdown defense and pester Los Angeles into failing to score. Hesitant to foul, New York's plan clearly wasn't to steal the ball, but rather simply defend it.
Even so, by allowing the clock to run down and only 29.5 seconds left to begin with, the Knicks weren't leaving themselves with much time to score anyway. With approximately five seconds left to score a three-ball, New York's simply couldn't allow their opponent to score, or the game would have been over.
But unfortunately for the visiting team, the worst occurred. After allowing the Lakers to run the clock down, the Knicks put up little fight as Paul Gasol drove inside and powered the ball home for a slam dunk. With a five-point lead and little time left to recover, that was all she wrote for the Knicks.
Play sound defense, then look to score on the other end. That's certainly a steady strategy not many would argue with on its surface. But with the momentum clearly not in their favor, and defensive anchor Tyson Chandler fouled out of the game, such a strategy proved to be difficult for the Knicks.
With Chandler out and the confidence in the team's defense dwindling in the final minutes, why not just foul? In addition to giving themselves more time, Woodson and the Knicks would ultimately be forcing the Lakers to make their free throws, rather than just granting them a simple and utterly easy slam dunk.
The strategy Woodson implemented can't really be argued with on paper, but given the circumstances, things could have and should have played out very differently. His decision not to foul, and the team's failure to execute defensively, collectively let the game slip out of reach.
Nevertheless, it's just one game. The Knicks will look to put it behind them as they charge into Phoenix later Wednesday evening to take on the Suns.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Merry Knicksmas to all fans and KnicksJournal.com readers! We wish you and your families a happy and healthy holiday season.
The Knicks are set to take on the Lakers this afternoon in Los Angeles for Christmas Day matinee. Though New York is fresh off an exhilarating come from behind victory against the Timberwolves, the Mike D'Antoni and the Lakers now stand in their opponent's way of a second straight win.
A year ago today, D'Antoni coached the Knickerbockers to what was an opening day victory over the Boston Celtics, despite an injury to Iman Shumpert.
That was then, and this is now. The likes of Kobe Bryant and the newly-healthy Steve Nash will look to help D'Antoni avenge a loss suffered to his old team just less than two weeks ago. And this time, they'll have the hometown crowd behind them as they look to do so.
But despite an intense matchup coming up soon, the Knicks still deserve to have a Christmas celebration just as much as everyone else. Though many members of the team are forced to be away from their families during such joyous occasions, at least they have each other while on the road.
Marcus Camby (who is scheduled to return from a long injury absence against the Lakers) hosted just about the entire squad over his place in Houston last month for Thanksgiving. The Knicks were in town to take on the Rockets, and after previously playing for the Rockets, Camby has a home to call his own in H-Town.
With the Knicks in Los Angeles for Christmas, who would be hosting the team this time?
In an exclusive interview with KnicksJournal.com earlier this month, sharpshooter Steve Novak told us Tyson Chandler had apparently stepped up to help spread some holiday cheer. The big man, who otherwise resides in Los Angeles with his family, offered to host the team for some sort of holiday get together, said Novak.
No word on whether such a celebration took place last night in honor of Christmas Eve, or if the Knicks plan on basking in the glory of a potential victory over the Lakers later Tuesday evening.
New York did not hold practice on Monday, and will be playing the Suns in Phoenix on Wednesday night. One would have to believe the team celebrated Christmas with one another a day early, if Chandler did in fact take on the task of hosting the group.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Last season, the Knicks struggled with their consistency (or lack there of) virtually all season long. Though they teased fans with fun and exciting victories over some of the league's various powerhouses, New York simply couldn't prove steady enough to put away the weaker ones on a nightly basis.
But that was the Knicks of old. The Knicks of old not only lacked a killer instinct on the court, but also any respectful form and/or amount of resiliency when they otherwise appeared down for the count.
On Sunday night, the 2012-13 Knickerbockers took on a Kevin Love-less Timberwolves squad. Despite such an absence arguably stacking the deck in New York's favor, there's a good chance the Knicks of old would have lost anyway, failing to take advantage of an opportunity at hand.
Throughout the early evening contest, the new Knicks showed signs of the Knicks of old. The 290 pound Nikola Pekovic muscled his way inside as he bumped and evaded any defender New York threw his way. The big man not only finished with 21 points and a career-high 17 rebounds, but he paced his team's efforts well enough to give them a lead for much of the game.
Pekovic may have been his team's star on offense, but a collective effort defensively was what helped Minnesota keep Carmelo Anthony down through the middle courters of the contest. The star Knickerbocker missed all seven of his shot attempts in the second quarter, and because of that, his team continued to falter.
The Timberwolves' defense went on to neutralize an array of the Knicks' offensive weapons, and though the score may not have been completely insurmountable, New York looked utterly depleted. Ball movement was stagnant, the defensive effort was less than intense, and frustration was building.
The Knicks of old would have just laid down and allowed this contest to get away from them, fully accepting a losing effort.
But with a new season, has surprisingly and refreshingly enough, come a brand new Knicks team with an even better mentality. This season is different, and so was the team's effort through the rest of the game.
J.R. Smith helped pace New York with stellar play off the bench as his team attempted to claw its way back. Chipping away at what was an 11-point Timberwolves' lead, the Knicks began to get stops on the defensive end and shots to fall on offense towards late in the third quarter into the game's final period. Smith not only added 19 points off the pine, but also set the tone and helped controlled his team's offensive tempo with 7 assists.
The highly-regarded swingman undoubtedly helped the Knickerbockers stay afloat and come within striking distance of Minnesota's ever shrinking lead. It was then when the ever so obvious M.V.P. candidate Carmelo Anthony emerged as a hero.
Anthony got hot, pouring in just under 20 points during the game's final period. What's more, as the momentum swing in the Knicks' favor, the forward scored 11 points during the game's final minute and 54 seconds. He helped his team come away with a 94-91 win.
Just in time for Christmas, Melo, Smith, and the Knicks have an exhilarating accomplishment to celebrate. The comeback win itself was as exciting as they come, but really, such a victory is simply an example of what this entire season has been about for New York.
Coach Mike Woodson has not only instilled a winning mentality in his team, but also a sense of urgency. The players walk onto the court with a killer instinct inside them, and as demonstrated on Sunday night, Woodson doesn't allow them to let go of that until the buzzer sounds. More often than not, victories will continue to come the Knicks' way if they keep bouncing back with this same level of resiliency.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Fresh off an exhilarating victory against the Nets, the Knicks will take on yet another tougher rival at home in the Bulls. After losing to the Rockets for the second time this season earlier in the week, New York made sure to bounce back and defeat Brooklyn, a team with which the Knickerbockers have already gone through gritty contests with to start off the year.
And now it's time to avenge yet another one of the Knicks' six losses this year. Just like against the Rockets earlier this week, New York lost to the Bulls all but two weeks ago, due to their feeble effort on offense without Carmelo Anthony. Despite the team's array of offensive weapons, no one has consistently stepped up in Anthony's absence to fill his shoes when he sits.
Luckily for the Knicks, Anthony will be donning orange and blue later Friday evening, ready to go as his team looks to get the better of the Bulls.
As we wait for the Knickerbockers to hit the MSG hardwood, let's take a look at what everyone has been saying over the last day or so about some of the team's biggest names.
Though the Knicks are thriving, Coach Mike Woodson has a dilemma on his hands (albeit it a good or a bad one) with regard to fitting Amar'e Stoudemire back into the lineup without disrupting the team's rhythm. Our old friend Howard Beck examines the issue, further asserting that the Knicks tried to move the forward elsewhere this past summer, before the going even got good.
As Stoudemire aims to claw his way back into the lineup, he's been working out with New York's D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. But he's not the only one. James White and Chris Copeland have also gone through two practices with Erie. Though the still rehabbing Iman Shumpert hasn't gone through any contact drills and has yet to be cleared for full practice, he still went through initial conditioning drills alongside the BayHawks and their staff at the MSG training center on Thursday. My friend Jared Zwerling provides the latest update on that.
Could the young gun eventually don a BayHawks uniform as part of his rehab before re-joining the Knicks? I ponder that very question over at RidiculousUpside.com right here.
For even more on Shumpert, who released a revived new Knicks anthem for the Knickstape generation earlier this season, fans can give a listen to his entire mixtape right here. The young gun released it earlier Friday morning.
When you're done listening, and ready to read some more great content, make sure to head over to DraftExpress for this great interview with Knicks' forward Chris Copeland. The forward gives an in-depth look at his journey to the NBA, complete with stops overseas and the D-League, before he finally achieved success in The Association.
And for those who missed it, you can check on Tyson Chandler's appearance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon below. He explains why he roars into the crowd after his ferocious slam dunks, and talks about other things too.
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
After a disheartening defeat to Jeremy Lin, Toney Douglas, and the new-look Houston Rockets, the Knicks will look to avenge their first home court loss, against the Nets on Wednesday.
The two teams have already begun to have a heated inner-city rivalry, so far splitting the season series at one a piece. While Brooklyn shocked New York with a commanding loss earlier in the year, Jason Kidd's heroics helped his new team deflate the Nets on their home court during the two teams' second meeting of the year.
Just as the Knicks showed a bit of resiliency in their latter efforts against Brooklyn, the Nets once again stand in New York's way of helping fans forget all about another demoralizing loss.
New York's feeble effort on offense against Houston was largely in part due to the absence of Carmelo Anthony, who missed his second straight game on Monday. With a bevy of other games scheduled for this week, Coach Mike Woodson's squad will be taking it light on the practice side of things. Still taking things slowly as of Tuesday morning, Carmelo Anthony told reporters he was he playing it "smart," but still had hopes of competing against Brooklyn.
With Anthony sidelined, the likes of Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith need to step up on the offensive end, and embrace their roles/abilities as dominant scorers. The Knicks undoubtedly need a go-to-guy against an opponent like the Nets. With no sure starring attraction, New York needs to allow Felton to pour in the points, while also embracing Smith as the squad's temporary Melo.
As the Knicks continue to crave an offensive boost from any which direction, it's well-worth noting that Amar'e Stoudemire hit the hardwood with New York's D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. The NBADL squad was in town to use the Knickerbockers' training facility, and while they were, it provided STAT a chance to participate in a full practice.
While I don't normally like to cross-promote, as many of you may know, I also serve as Managing Editor at RidiculousUpside.com on SB Nation. With the blog's focus all about minor league basketball, our thoughts regarding Stoudemire's NBADL stint are certainly worth a look.
In addition to the six-time all-star, Chris Copeland and James White also participated in practice with the BayHawks. But with the likes of Rasheed Wallace and Marcus Camby still out until potentially next week with respective foot injuries, expect the younger pair to still be ready to go against Brooklyn.
Hopefully the Knicks can come out with some extra energy to start the contest in order to take control early. I'll be a guest-host during KnicksNow.com's live game coverage, so be sure to head over there to join in on the chatter!
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
On Monday night, Jeremy Lin returned to the very stomping grounds of where "Linsanity" was first unleashed. Unfortunately for the Knicks, the point guard's return was just as successful as his initial case of "Linsanity" first was.
Treated to loud cheers from the Madison Square Garden crowd before the game began, Lin wasted no time building on such momentum. The floor general hit the ground running as he penetrated to the basket, driving in such a way that made Knicks fans remember what made him so successful in the Big Apple.
With Lin's help, the Rockets pulled ahead early, but somehow the Knicks managed to keep pace in the first quarter. But after even coming up with a two-point lead heading into the second, New York failed to display that killer instinct necessary to put away an opponent.
Clearly sensing a lack of drive from the Knickerbockers, the Rockets pounced, going on a 27-11 run in the second quarter. As part of his Big Apple encore, Lin continued to lead the charge for his team.
Eclipsing his 11 point per game average by pouring in 16 through the first half alone, Lin undeniably did a good job of toying with his new opponent's defense. What was more, the Harvard grad also worked his way inside as he found teammates in the right spots.
New York struggled all game long, but it wasn't quite all Lin who ultimately sunk the Knicks. As fate would have it, the team seemingly sunk themselves. Without Carmelo Anthony for the second straight contest, the team appeared desperate for someone to step up on the offensive end. Unfortunately for them, no one did until it was too late.
Both Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith played well in spurts during the early goings of the game, but little support could be found elsewhere. In addition, if the pair was to be the Knicks' main source of scoring for the evening, they should have been heavily highlighted and featured as such. Neither player was given the opportunity to dominate with the ball in their hands. Because of this, New York struggled without a clear number one option to lead the way.
Regardless of how much longer Anthony will be out for this current stretch, Coach Mike Woodson and the Knicks need to realize, recongize, and embrace one simple strategy, should the team be left gasping for air on offense like this ever again: Make J.R. Smith your Melo.
Of course, Smith has proven over the years to be as streaky as they come with regard to catching hot or cold. That said, his ability to make it rain from any spot on the floor makes him that much more versatile. He has the ability to take over a game and dominate a defense, should his shooting stroke be on point. Should the Knicks choose to embrace Smith as a starring attraction in the absence of Anthony, the team's fate hangs solely in his hands. While that's risky, it may be a worthwhile move when the team is unable to turn to anyone else anyway.
As New York continued to free-fall towards its first loss at home in the young season, Lin began to ease up on his former team in the second half. Unfortunately for them, however, that's exactly when the second-half of Houston's one-two punch took over. While Lin finished with 22 points and 8 assists (marking one of his better outings thus far), it was James Harden who led the Rockets in scoring. He totaled 28 points and grabbed 10 rebounds on the way to helping his team keep the Knicks down for good.
Felton added 14 points and Smith poured in 17 off the bench as well, but it wasn't until later in the game when the Knicks found their surprising number one option. Though Woodson has been hesitant to give Chris Copeland major minutes because of his tentative nature on the court, the forward impressed late in the game. As New York hoped to earn a bit more respect as they attempted to narrow the ever so insurmountable Rockets' lead, the first-year NBA forward stole the show.
Copeland fooled Houston's defense, soaring to the hoop in a number of flashy ways. Not afraid to shoot the basketball with pressure all but off, Copeland converted on field goals again and again. Giving the Knicks the smallest bit of life, the 28 year old led his team with an eye-popping 29 points.
There's no denying the Knicks struggled in this one. Despite losing by a score of 109-96, it wasn't quite the team's defense that led to New York's downfall. Instead, it was that lack of a reliable scorer when the team needed it most.
There's no need to freak out after one game, as the Knicks have shown an abundance of resiliency and promise thus far. That said, a scorer capable of taking over the game and pacing New York's offensive contributions will be necessary if the team desires to resume its winning ways.
Monday, December 17, 2012
All eyes will be on the New York Knicks and Jeremy Lin (now as two separate entities) in the Big Apple later this evening when the Rockets come to town.
Will Lin receive an abundance of cheers or jeers from the packed crowd at Madison Square Garden tonight?
The fans will undoubtedly be heard when the ball first hits the hardwood during competition, but in the meantime, our funny friends at "The NOC" are at it again.
While counting down the minutes until "Linsanity" returns to its original stomping ground, check out the fellas' latest hilarious hit (of course, in honor of Lin himself), entitled "Linderful Tonight," down below.
Though the Knicks are off and running towards new winning ways at 18-5, the team will welcome an old familiar face back to the Big Apple on Monday night.
Jeremy Lin will return to Madison Square Garden (the same spot where Linsanity was born), as a member of the Houston Rockets.
With the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire saddled with respective injuries, and the Knicks looking down its bench for an eventual boost, the undrafted Lin got his shot last season.
Unleashing Linsanity, Lin helped swing the momentum back in his team's favor as they looked towards the playoffs. Starting in a string of games for New York, Lin's successful stint as resident floor general included double-doubles, game-winning shots, flashy passes, and exciting penetration to the basket.
The excitement surrounding Lin, coupled with his ability to find players in the right spots, helped also elevate the play of his teammates. Landry Fields got his groove back offensively, and Steve Novak emerged as a hero off the bench. Both players' special efforts on the hardwood were largely in part due to Lin, and it's safe to say the pair wasn't alone in benefitting from Linsanity.
In addition to rising up a national phenomenon, Lin represented one of the more promising prospects to don a Knicks uniform in quite some time. His presence pointed in the direction of fun and exciting things ahead for the Knickerbockers.
But that wasn't enough for New York to retain him for the future. The team let Lin sign with and return to the Rockets. After allowing him to flock back to Houston, the Knicks re-tooled at point guard with the likes of Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, and Pablo Prigioni.
The floor general trio has played a huge role in the team's strongest start in years, clearly proving (surprisingly enough) that the Knicks could overcome the loss of Lin.
While New York chose to build its team around notable veterans, the Harvard graduate is amongst a promising youth movement in Houston. Currently sitting at 11-12, the Rockets have some nice depth, highlighted by Lin and one of the league's strongest rising offensive stars, James Harden.
Lin's popularity hasn't faded all that much, though he's no longer in the Big Apple spotlight. The guard is currently ranked third in All-Star voting among Western Conference backcourt stars.
After struggling a bit to start the season, Lin has begun to find his rhythm somewhat as the month progresses. In addition to owning averages of 11 points, 6.1 assists, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game on the year, the young stud has also notably played better in the team's last ten games. Lin is certainly back on his way up.
Finally coming into his own and playing within his means some more, Lin returns to the place where his successful outbreak all started. Will he receive an eruption of cheers or jeers when he hits that MSG hardwood?
The answer to that question will undoubtedly come later Monday evening. But with the bright lights no longer on Lin, he can simply adjust to being a key cog in his new team's engine, while his old team continues to do everything it can to prove they're much better off without him anyway.
Friday, December 14, 2012
During his tenure with the New York Knicks, Coach Mike D'Antoni's philosophy was always that if a team does its best to simply outscore an opponent, they'll be fine.
Unfortunately, that same philosophy worked better for the Knicks of new Thursday night, than it ever did for the Knicks of old.
After soaring out the gates with all guns blazing, New York outscored the D'Antoni-led Lakers by a score of 41-27 in the first quarter alone. From there, the Knicks never appeared to look back.
Not once losing the lead in the highly-hyped contest, Coach Mike Woodson's boys went on to win the game by a final score of 116-107.
Clearly jumping in front from the word go, the Knicks were led by Carmelo Anthony's 30 points. The forward added 20 of those points in the game's first period. The dynamic duo of Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler also came through in the clutch, fooling Los Angeles' defense again and again with the pick and roll. The pair connected on an array of alley-oops and other high-flying dunks, as Felton continued to draw Dwight Howard outside, only to dish the ball back inside to Chandler. The floor general had 18 points and 8 assists, and the big man added 19 points of his own.
Collectively, the trio of notable Knickerbockers toyed with the Lakers' players throughout the contest. But the momentum wasn't quite in their favor for the whole thing.
As he attacked the basket in hope of an easy bucket in the third quarter, Anthony was victim to a hard foul, and hit the floor even harder. In visible pain after the falter, it was later determined that the Knicks' star sprained his left ankle. While his status for the team's next contest is currently in question, Anthony took precaution and didn't return against the Lakers.
The Lakers pounced on offense, just when the Knicks were struggling to once again get a rhythm going (this time without Anthony). The opponent outscored New York in both of the game's final quarters. New York was struggling to hit its stride, and in the process, allowed the Lakers to close the gap to single-digits.
But with the pressure to hold onto the lead as serious as ever, a couple of players came through when the Knicks needed them most. Clearly a player who can swing the momentum in his team's favor in quite a hurry, Steve Novak sunk a few shots from long range to expand the lead once more. He finished with 12 points off the bench.
From there, J.R. Smith was the one who did his best Carmelo Anthony impression late in the game. With his team feeding him the ball with time going down, Smith poured in the points during the contest's final quarter. He finished with 18 points, ultimately being most helpful in his team securing the victory.
The Knicks are now 17-5, including 9-0 at home. While putting the beat down on weaker teams is always fun to watch, defeating a team like the Lakers is more of a statement game. The Knicks proved that not only can they play well against a talented team, but they also now have a killer instinct to put them away.
Though it almost came down to the wire, New York knew they needed to keep their foot down on the Lakers' neck. Without a thorough instinct and that same type of effort, such a victory would have escaped New York like it used to.
Clearly, this season is different. The Knickerbockers have a different "Mike' (no longer D'Antoni) to thank for instilling such a mentality.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
As the Knicks headed into Brooklyn on Tuesday night, there were certainly plenty of things on the line.
Having fallen to the Nets last month, the Knicks undoubtedly let a division-rival take them down. But this rival wasn't quite like the Celtics or 76ers. In fact, it wasn't even similar to the Nets' squads that called New Jersey home in past years.
The Brooklyn Nets is a completely different animal, whether it be one that you conquer, or one that you allow to rip you apart instead. With the Nets now also calling the Big Apple home, bragging rights are at stake. Which team can truly be considered the king of New York City? Could the Knicks burst out the gates running and gunning quick enough to make the Barclays Center their house for the evening?
As the game began, the answer to that question appeared to be no. The Knicks allowed the Nets to begin running away as they soared on offense. What's more, Brooklyn also kept at bay the most successful alley-oop connection in the NBA, Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler. Unable to find any rhythm in the pick and roll, Felton struggles from the field (3 for 12) against the Nets continued, and Chandler remained quiet.
But slowly but surely, other members of the Knicks realized it was necessary for them to awake if the team had any chance at making a later comeback. After scoring 22 points in the first half alone, Carmelo Anthony made sure to carry that same momentum with him into the game's final two quarters.
Tying James Harden's NBA-wide season-high of 45 points, Anthony dominated on offense, completely toying with the Nets' defense all game long. Brooklyn may have known how to contain Felton and Chandler, but it was Anthony who simply could not be stopped. Successful in all aspects of scoring the basketball, the forward hit 15 of his 24 shots, knocking down 5 bombs from deep in the process. What's more, he also drove to the basket and attacked defenders inside. Getting to the line effectively, Anthony shot 11 free throws, sinking 10 of them.
Luckily for the Red Hook native, he didn't necessarily need to carry his team all the way to victory (as remarkable as he was). Anthony received help from two of his teammates that have been keys to the Knicks' success all season long.
And of course, Tuesday night was certainly no different.
J.R. Smith got his offensive groove back, making a couple of clutch shots in the third quarter. Such a boost allowed the Knicks to not only close in on the Nets, but also move forth to take a commanding lead. The swingman finished with 16 points on 7 for 15 from the field, which happened to also be one of his most positive performances in well over a week.
Anthony was dominant. Smith was clutch. But as fate would have it, it was none other than former Nets point guard Jason Kidd who emerged as the hero for his new squad.
Playing in Brooklyn for the first time after missing the initial contest between the two teams, Kidd clearly strolled into town with an objective or two. His strong and steady play throughout the game elicited some roaring chants for the Knicks fans on both sides of the floor, even in their opponent's building.
Kidd filled up the stat-sheet, grabbing 6 boards and dishing out 6 assists. While he also happened to knock down six daggers from deep, none were bigger than the one long bomb that ended up sinking the Nets.
Getting fouled on the Knicks' last offensive possession of the game, Kidd hit a three-point field goal that put his team up 100-97. New York never looked back.
Such a play was as heroic of a play as the NBA has seen all season long. With ice in his veins, Kidd showed no fear. A future Hall of Fame veteran and past NBA champion, the floor general simply lives for moments like that. With the pressure on, Kidd proved he was completely and utterly fearless. Not to mention, he was also merciless in the way he sunk the hopes of his former squad.
The newly revitalized Knicks/Nets rivalry is unquestionably heating up, and we've only reached the second month of the still young season. With things surely to get more and more interesting with each further contest, Knickerbocker fans can be thrilled (and relieved, to say the least) that Kidd is donning orange and blue this time around.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
First, it was Carmelo Anthony's turn to give his former team everything he's got in an effort to lead his team to victory. The forward returned from a two-game absence as the Knicks took on the Nuggets at the Garden on Sunday.
With 34 points, Anthony did not disappoint as New York blasted past Denver for a 112-106 win.
Anthony may have been up first, but now it's Jason Kidd's turn to scorch his former team. The floor general will face the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday for the first time as a Knickerbocker.
Such a rivalry has had its ups and downs over the years, but it's also undoubtedly at its most heated point with the Nets now in the Big Apple.
With Kidd sidelined, the Knicks fell hard to the Nets last month, giving the opponent bragging rights ever since.
The Nets have been one of the more surprising teams in the NBA this season, but refreshingly so, so have the Knicks.
And the team largely has Kidd to thank for its recent success.
Kidd hasn't been much of a stat man this season, though he is currently averaging 8.6 points, 3.4 assists, and 1.9 steals per game. Instead, his effectiveness has been all about the impact he makes when he hits the hardwood.
As the point guard continues to make key plays, it's important he helps the Knicks take a stand in Brooklyn later Tuesday night.
In addition to defeating times like the Heat and the Spurs this season, the Knicks have also put forth gritty efforts to put away many of the rest of their opponents too.
The Nets will be no different, because in addition to also being a strong opponent, this game is also about pride. The Knicks need to prove they won't be pushed around.
The key to a win for the Knicks tonight will be protecting home court.
You heard that right: HOME....court.
There may be chants of "Broooooooklyn!" at the Barclays Center, but Anthony needs to make sure he carries a certain homecoming momentum with him and allows the chants to be in his favor.
The Knicks are the Big Apple's team, and they need to take advantage of that. With the game in Brooklyn being a small little blip off of New York's otherwise long home stand to end 2012, they need to assert themselves as though they never left The Garden.
Allowing the Nets to get into their heads will knock the Knicks down for the count early on. Are talks of a heated rivalry too premature?
With many Knickerbocker fans sure to be in Brooklyn later this evening, the Knicks need to give them something to cheer about instead, and never look back.
Sunday, December 9, 2012
Defense might win championships in the long run, but it's certainly not solely enough for a team to win each and every ball game.
Coach Mike Woodson can preach defense as the key to the Knicks' success this season all he wants. The fact is, with proven results as of late, he's completely justified to think that way.
But on Saturday evening, a solid defensive effort wasn't all it took to put away the Bulls in Chicago.
The Knicks only allowed 93 points in their 93-85 loss to the Derrick Rose-less Bulls, but while they worked hard to keep the game close, the team's fluidity on offense was nowhere to be found.
What's been different about the Knicks this season is that they've been seen shutting down the weaker teams in the league with ease. Even if they struggle to put forth a dominant effort, New York always seems to be within striking distance of its opponent. The team is in position to win every game.
And Saturday night was no different. The Knicks kept up with Chicago well into the fourth quarter, but in the end, the shots simply weren't falling.
For a team that let the bombs fly (successfully) to help them sink the Heat on Thursday, New York simply couldn't catch a break on offense in Chicago.
Without Carmelo Anthony for a second straight contest, the Knicks struggled to find someone who could carry the load offensively. Raymond Felton led his squad with 27 points, but shot just 9 of 30 from the field. While he did attack the basket and get to the line efficiently (having made 8 of 9 free throws), it was clear the floor general needed some help.
It was that same necessary assistance Felton never received. J.R. Smith's struggles from the field continued, as the swingman made just 4 of his 14 shots. His shooting percentage dropped a hair below 40% for the season.
Aside from Felton and Smith, scorers were even rarer to find on the court for the Knickerbockers. Steve Novak was completely shut down by the Bulls' defense, as the opponent covered him perfectly while limiting the forward to just four shots.
This game eerily reminded me of one of those contests right before Jeremy Lin burst out with a case of "Linsanity." With Carmelo Anthony or Amar'e Stoudemire both sidelined, the Knicks had been struggling to score the basketball. There was little to no ball movement, and no one was stepping up to emerge as the hero. Until Lin came along.
Lin not only attacked the basket to score with ease last season, but also worked hard to get his teammates involved and elevate each one's own respective offensive contribution.
With the Knicks obviously now Lin-less, someone else will eventually need to step up to help pace the team's efforts on offense. Felton simply cannot do it on his own.
It will be interesting to see if a hero will sooner or later emerge, or if Carmelo Anthony will indeed return to fill the void when the Knicks take on his former team, the Nuggets, later tonight at The Garden.
Friday, December 7, 2012
When the Knicks blew past the Heat at home on what became opening night, many attributed the team's early season victory to New York's desire to win for its fans. Following Hurricane Sandy, the momentum was in the Knicks' favor as they looked to give New Yorkers something to cheer about.
That was the first game of a long season in which the Knicks undoubtedly have a lot to prove. Their roster filled with older players as they have already been forced to overcome injuries to key contributors, there's been a lot of doubt surrounding the team's potential for the long campaign.
Though the Knicks look good now, the question remains, will they be around come the later months of the season? Can this team do enough to stay competitive with the better teams in the league?
After steady wins against teams like Miami and the Spurs to start off the season, it certainly seems like they can. But following a game in which the Knickerbockers struggled to keep up with the Bobcats on Wednesday night, almost letting a victory slip out of reach, it's obvious consistently will be the key. Are the Knicks for real?
If one win over the Heat wasn't already enough to convince anyone of that, how about two victories in dominating fashion, instead?
No Carmelo Anthony on Thursday evening proved to be no problem for the Knicks, who jumped out on Miami early and never looked back. New York came away with a 112-92 win.
After shooting 41 shots from downtown against the Bobcats, the Knicks continued to let the bombs fly in South Beach. New York threw up 44 shots from long range, connecting on an ever impressive 41% of their attempts.
And the beauty of this one was that everyone seemed to join in on the fun. Without Anthony, Raymond Felton emerged as the leader for his squad and set the tone. The floor general drained six shots from deep and worked the pick and roll well enough to find his teammates inside for easier buckets, too. He finished with a team-high 27 points and 7 assists.
The rest of Felton's teammates followed suit, as Steve Novak continued to make sure he gets revenge against Miami this season following a less than stellar playoff series last spring. The forward added 18 points off the bench for what was his second-highest points total of the season.
A strong effort by Felton usually means an elevated one from Tyson Chandler as well, and Thursday's game was no different. The big man continued to cash in on easy opportunities inside, cleaning up on the glass not only to keep possessions alive, but to also shut down Miami. He finished with 13 points and 9 boards.
The Knicks' received a balanced effort from the entire squad throughout the contest. J.R. Smith, Jason Kidd, and Rasheed Wallace all also scored in double-figures. James White and Pablo Prigioni added 7 points a piece off the bench, simply pouring in the points in the flow of their team's offense.
The team's offense was phenomenal, but in the end, the Knicks also happened to thrive on what Coach Woodson continues to preach will be key to their success: defense.
In addition to out-rebounding Miami, the Knicks completely shut down Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who missed 10 and 9 shots, respectively. LeBron James' play was stellar as usual, but without much help, the Knicks cooled down the Heat.
The ongoing question this season will remain, are the Knicks for real? Even now with a 14-4 record, the Knicks may still have some more convincing to do as the long campaign progresses. There's still a long way to go before the postseason comes.
But at the very least, perhaps the Heat have become believers by now. On to the next one.
Thursday, December 6, 2012
To start off the year, the Knicks began dominating the competition as they came away with command victories.
The team's strong start has seen its bumps along the road, but the fact of the matter is New York has been more consistent than they have been in past seasons.
The victories may not be coming as easy as of late, but the key has been the team's ability to keep the pace and stay within striking distance in just about every contest.
And that's exactly what the team did on Wednesday night. Originally, the Knicks had looked at the evening's matchup with the Bobcats as nothing more than a tune-up for Thursday's battle with the Heat. If New York was able to put Charlotte away early, Coach Mike Woodson could rest his key players enough in time for the game in Miami the following night.
But the Bobcats had other plans. The young, gritty team that has shown tremendous promise under new coach Mike Dunlap gave the Knicks a run for their money. Charlotte's high energy on the defensive end frustrated New York early through the contest, causing the Knicks to fire bombs away from all cylinders as they hoped a few would eventually fall. This never happened enough for New York to pull away with a steady enough lead.
Instead, the Bobcats kept double-teamming Carmelo Anthony and kept the Knicks at bay. New York came slowly surging back in the game's final period, led largely by the returning Jason Kidd. The veteran's impact was immediate and evident as he helped his team maintain a certain tempo on offense with the game nearing a close.
With Kidd helping turn the momentum in the Knicks' favor, the team hustled and gunned to take over the lead. Elevating his own effort, Anthony leaped over New York's bench for a loose ball. The forward cut his finger and later required stitches, furthermore making him questionable for the Knickerbockers' battle with the Heat.
But even with Anthony back in the locker room, the Knicks still had a game to win. Inspired by Anthony's heroic leap to keep a possession alive, the rest of his teammates followed suit. Putting the pressure on Charlotte, the Knicks forced a five-second violation and got the ball back in time for one final possession.
With Anthony out, the team was in need of someone to rise up as the hero. Though J.R. Smith struggled to knock down shots all game long, his fearlessness (no matter the situation or scenario) warranted Coach Woodson to call on him one more time.
And that's when he delivered. Sinking an eighteen-foot jumper with a hand in his face, Smith subsequently also sunk the Bobcats' chances of winning the game. The Knicks improved to 13-4 on the season.
On Thursday night, the Knicks will stroll into Miami a bit exhausted, but nevertheless with the momentum clearly in their favor after an exciting win. It'll be interesting to see Anthony is in uniform to join them, but should he not be, it'll undoubtedly be the team's ongoing resilience that will help them keep the pace against the Heat without him.
Monday, December 3, 2012
With another double-digit scoring performance on Sunday afternoon in the Knicks’ 106-99 win over the Suns, Steve Novak is getting back into his old ways again. Over the last five games, the sharpshooter has helped his team to a 4-1 record, averaging 12 points on 55% from deep over the stretch.
Currently sitting at 12-4, New York is quickly emerging as one of the stronger teams in the league, and there’s no doubt Novak plays a big role in the way they hit opponents with a balanced attack each and every night.
After becoming an instant fan-favorite last season due to the boost he provided the Knicks with off the bench, the forward is happy to have stuck around for the long haul.
He, along with swingman J.R. Smith and Knickerbocker legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier all took part in a meet and greet event for the fans this past weekend through Steiner Sports.
The celebrated memorabilia company provides basketball fans with great exclusives each and every season, but with New York rising atop of its division in the early goings, the players and their fans can interact with something ever so positive in common to smile about.
What have been the keys to Novak’s recent resurgence? How has he been able to stay motivated as he gets back on track, pouring in the points off the bench once again?
The forward sat down with KnicksJournal.com to chat about his early impact, the team’s strong winning ways, and more.
With the holiday season upon us, who will be hosting the entire Knickerbocker bunch for Christmas this year? Continue reading on for all that and more, exclusively from Novak himself.
Q: After struggling to hit your stride in the early part of the season, you’ve really thrived as of late with a mini-comeback of sorts. What has sparked the change recently?
A: I wouldn’t call anything a mini-comeback yet. It’s a long season. We’ve had a few ups and downs already, but I feel like we’re in our groove and have really come together in the first few games.
Q: I know you’ve said in the past that your game is elevated when you’re able to play with a good floor general. How much has hitting the hardwood alongside Pablo Prigioni played into your own success thus far?
A: Since Pablo has gotten here, everyone has been impressed with the way he plays and the way he moves the ball. He’s definitely a guy who came here to win, you know? There’s nothing else to it. People love playing with him because he’s smart and knows how to get you the ball.
Q: Last season it took a while for the Knicks to get into their groove because a steady point guard wasn’t really present until later in the season. Would you say having such quality players at the position now has been the key to the team’s early winning ways?
A: Absolutely. I don’t think there’s a team in the league that’s deeper at the point guard position than we are with Raymond, Jason, and Pablo. Everyone around them just benefits from the way they play.
Q: You’ve become a notable figure in the Big Apple dating back to last season. With the team doing so well, are you gunning for a spot in the Sprite Three-Point Contest this season?
A: You know, I’m not gunning for it so much. I understand the way the participants are picked, and I’d be honored to be a part of it. We’re just taking one game at a time and I’m trying to win, but if the Three-Point Contest is something that happens because of it, I’m going to be the happiest guy in the world.
Q: Prior to the start of this season, you acknowledged that an elevated defensive effort would be what essentially keeps you on the court. Even when you’re not seen scoring, a stronger effort has been visible so far, whether it be through help or man-to-man defense. Was this something that Coach Woodson wanted you to work on, or was it something you recognized on your own?
A: To be honest, I’d probably say this goes back to my college days at Marquette. My coach would always tell me that. When my shot’s not falling, I want to be able to stay on the floor. I’ve got to be valuable in other ways. As I came into my own here in New York, I understood there just couldn’t be nights that I couldn’t stay on the floor. There has to be more than one reason why I’m there. I have to defend, rebound, and do all those little things. Doing all that is what’s going to allow me to stay on the floor.
Q: The Knicks recently defeated the Wizards in dominating fashion. Obviously you guys want to go out and get a victory, but is it important to also win big and send a message against a weaker team like that?
A: Yes, absolutely. First and foremost, if it’s a game at the Garden, we have to have a certain way about us. We feel as though we should set the tone, because it’s our home court. We don’t really feel like we should lose any games there. We have the greatest home court advantage in the league. More than anything, no matter who the opponent is out there, we’ve got to go out and get wins.
Q: One holiday related question to close things out: I know many members of the team celebrated Thanksgiving at Marcus Camby’s house in Houston while you were on the road. You’ll be in Los Angeles to take on the Lakers on Christmas Day. Has anyone stepped up so far to say they’ll host the group yet?
A: You know, we don’t want to put pressure on anybody, but Tyson Chandler already has offered I think. He said that if we want to, he’d set something up at his place out there. Hosting an entire basketball team is never light duty though, so we’ll see!
Saturday, December 1, 2012
The hype and excitement surrounding Jeremy Lin and his Knickerbocker tenure was unlike any other the NBA has seen in quite a while.
Becoming a national phenomenon due to his rise from obscurity, Lin was engulfed and overwhelmed (for better or worse) by what became "Linsanity."
The fame and (subsequent) fortune Lin has received to date has not only been because of his contributions on the court, but also his popularity, personality, marketability, and unique backstory.
But what did Lin do for the Knicks on the hardwood? He responsibly made the right plays, finding teammates like Steve Novak and Landry Fields, elevating their level of play throughout the season. With the fans feeding off his every move, players undoubtedly enjoyed playing amongst all of the electricity surrounding the young point guard.
What was perhaps more impressive about Lin was that he always knew his role. He recognized when to penetrate to the basket, knowing full well his team needed a scorer to emerge in the clutch and carry them to a victory. Other times, he ran the floor with the vision necessary to dish and swish, helping his teammates pour in the points.
What should be most important to the Knicks is what a player can offer on the court to help the team win. If that's the case, the team may have a smaller case of "Linsanity" upon them as Pablo Prigioni steps in to help pace their efforts.
Christmas has come early this year, and "Prigsanity" may have already begun. Similarly to the way Lin got his chance, Prigioni too has received minutes due to the absence of point guard Jason Kidd.
Rewarding his team for the given opportunity, Prigioni has thrived with extended minutes. In the Knicks' last two commanding wins, the Argentine rookie has averaged 9.5 points and 6 assists off the bench.
But it's not all about the stats. With Raymond Felton looking to assert himself more as a scorer, it's been Prigioni who has been the true floor general visionary on the court. He may not be able to run and gun towards the basket on his own, but the 35 year old knows exactly where his teammates are without having to take a second look.
A rookie in the NBA, but a veteran basketball presence in reality, Prigioni has terrific instincts. Whereas efficient scorers sometimes like to catch and shoot, the guard likes to catch and pass, furthering the team's ball movement efficiently. What's more, he chases down his defender (and not to mention, loose balls) to come up with a steal. Needless to say, Prigioni loves sparking fast breaks and helping his teammates finish on offense after coming up with a key stop on defense.
Prigioni may not be Jeremy Lin. He won't be getting voted into any All-Star games, and he probably won't be a late addition to any festivities either. But what he provides the Knicks with can still have the same effect. After struggling a bit to start the season, the boost in Novak's game with the Argentine on the court has been evident. With a savvy playmaker now making moves and running the show, the pressure is also off sixth man J.R. Smith to handle the ball.
"Linsanity" was big, bold, and explosive. Pablo Prigioni certainly doesn't represent those types of things. Instead, "Prigsanity" has been delivered to The World's Most Famous Arena in a small little package that still packs quite the punch of energy.
If the Knicks want to continue receiving such an injection of life on a nightly basis, it'll be important to keep Prigioni in the lineup for the long haul.
What's perhaps been more frustrating than the Knicks' level (or lack) of talent over the last decade has been the team's level of consistency.
Despite still putting promising players with evident upside on the court in recent years (David Lee, Jamal Crawford, Danilo Gallinari, etc.), none of these players represented winners. The Knicks of old could be seen beating a big-time team like the Celtics or Lakers one night, only to falter against a weaker team like the Bobcats the following night.
There's been no consistency at all. To be a contender, one not only has to learn how to compete against the better teams in the league, but also how to put away the worse-off ones with ease on a nightly basis.
If there was any reason as to why this season can and/or will be different than the frustrating ones of the past, perhaps the Knicks' consistency will be the key.
With that in mind, New York took on the lowly 1-12 Wizards at the Garden on Friday night. Coming off their first win of the season, Washington may have been looking to build some momentum to help them bounce back from a demoralizing start.
The Knicks didn't allow that to happen.
New York's balanced effort (paced by five scorers in double-figures) proved to be too much for Washington to handle, as the Knicks won by a score of 108-87.
Coach Mike Woodson has continuously preached defense as the key to winning games during his tenure in New York, and with good reason. But now, with a higher defensive mentality and intensity embedded into each of the Knickerbockers' brains, it's interesting to see them also thriving on the offensive end for different reasons.
Fifteen games into the season, the Knicks are beginning to learn each other's strengths on the offensive end. Each member of the squad seems to put forth an effort to make the rest of his teammates better.
Though Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith continue to be the true scoring stars for New York (each added 20 points on Friday night), it's interesting to now see Tyson Chandler being asserted inside as well. The team is featuring the big man on offense a bit more, getting him the ball in all the right spots. They're setting him up for easy buckets, and he's also making the effort to clean up his squad's missed shots to slam them back in. Such a combination has helped Chandler pour in the points as of late. He added 12 in the win.
With Melo and Smith representing the only "dominant" type scorers on the squad, it's important the Knicks find balanced contributions from others to help pace them. That's undoubtedly what Chandler is looking to do, as is Raymond Felton. Despite being a point guard, Felton is someone who likes to score the basketball....most of the time, he does it pretty well, and last night was no different. He too hit double-digits in points, adding 11 of his own.
As Felton looks to score, the Knicks need someone else to formally organize the offense with Jason Kidd still sidelined with back spasms. So far, Pablo Prigioni has risen to the challenge.
The Argentine rookie is an exciting and fun player to watch, so it's easy to understand why his teammates love playing with him too. In addition to dishing out 5 assists, Prigioni is also looking a bit more aggressive in terms of his scoring progress. He's pulling up to sink long range shots, and they're going down. He's been unable to do any wrong in the team's last two games.
After a hot start to the season, the Knicks struggled, dropping 3 of 4 games last week. Knickerbocker teams of years past would have let such a small slump get them down in the dumps. But this year is different. Displaying a different level of consistency, New York has instead followed through, looking to carry a certain of momentum with them throughout different contests, no matter who the opponent may be. Here's to hoping they keep it up.