Friday, January 4, 2013
Knicks Cure Coffee Addiction With Commanding Win Over Spurs?
During MSG Network's broadcast of the Spurs/Knicks matchup on Thursday night, post-game floor general Al Trautwig stepped out following the fourth quarter to get a cup of coffee.
If the Knicks' late game surge was any indication, Trautwig may never want to step out again, for fear of what he'll miss.
New York pulled ahead as much as 17 points in the fourth quarter during what was an otherwise slow and steady content between the two teams.
But that was just the way the Knickerbockers liked it. The home team paced themselves on offense, as they still, all the while, were able to hold the Spurs down relatively well. Sparked by a defensive-minded starting front-court that featured both Tyson Chandler and Marcus Camby, New York cut off the Spurs' spacing and pestered the visitors inside as well. It was clear San Antonio was unable to really get into a rhythm offensively.
It was just one of those luxurious games where everything seemed to go right for the Knicks. As New York began to build upon what was becoming a commanding lead, Spurs' head coach Greg Popovich must have sensed what was coming. The Hall of Fame worthy coach pulled his better players out with over nine minutes left in the final period.
With San Antonio playing their fourth game in five nights, the Knicks' game-plan must have been to pounce while attempting to apply as much pressure as possible, both offensively and defensively. Despite only leading by two points heading into halftime, the home team turned up the intensity in the second half.
Carmelo Anthony poured in double-digit points early as he helped his team acquire a lead, but although he did end up finishing with 23 points (and 8 rebounds & 3 assists), the forward was still met by San Antonio double-teams pretty efficiently throughout the evening. The Spurs didn't allow the offensive superstar to explode.
Lucky for him, however, his teammates were prepared to fill in the gaps, much like this season's earlier meeting between the two teams.
With Raymond Felton sidelined, J.R. Smith has emerged as a key offensive option in the Knicks' blueprint for victories. Though he couldn't keep his 25 points plus streak alive, the swingman still asserted himself against the opponent, hitting his stride yet again for 20 points. His impact on the game was undoubtedly felt, complete with a plus/minus of +27.
Smith may have helped his team cruise to an easy win, but he got a bit of help from a teammate when it came to providing fans with some excitement for the evening. One of Pablo Prigioni's (receiving more burn to help rest elder statesman Jason Kidd) season-high tying 9 assists came on a bit of an erratic pass that the athletic Smith reached down to still snag and manage to convert into an electrifying alley-oop. The crowd went wild, players on the bench danced their hearts out, but most of all, the pair played key roles in securing the W.
With a final score of 100-83, the Knicks' saw half of their points come from the second unit. In addition to his delicious dimes, Prigioni added 6 points too. More importantly, however, a player like Steve Novak could be found breaking out of his slump. Appearing tentative over the team's last few games, the sharpshooting forward put on display the sweet shooting stroke that has him made a fan-favorite as he added 15 points of his own.
And then there was Amar'e Stoudemire. No longer simply providing just an inspiration, the big man displayed a bit more zip in his offensive step during his second contest of the year. STAT was more aggressive going to the basket, and added 10 points while finishing with a plus/minus of +9 because of it. Not much of a liability on the defensive-side either, Stoudemire still lacked a bit of fluidity in his jump shot through 21 minutes of play. With time, more progress is certain to be made by the returning Knickerbocker.
Complemented by Camby (who grabbed 6 boards in just 16 minutes), Tyson Chandler appeared more comfortable and also added 10 points and 14 rebounds. The center was efficient offensively, getting good looks and working his way to the free-throw line pretty well.
Because of all the impressive efforts they received from various sources on Thursday night, the Knicks continued to prove they have what it takes to overcome the challenge teams like the Spurs often present.
For Al Trautwig, however, the contest also proved stepping out for coffee during regulation may not be the best idea. Have no fear, sir, for the ongoing excitement surrounding the Knicks will keep you up late into the night instead!