The Knicks may not be in the immediate conscience of the NBA media anymore (they were essentially getting Lakers coverage for all of two months), but they still stand at a record of 30-15. And they’re still doing it with some unorthodox basketball.
If someone-hell, an alien-were to watch basketball for the very first time, and their first game happened to be Saturday’s Knicks vs. Kings match up, they would have had a good look at the New York Knicks and all of their weird glory.
It should be noted that not only was Melo off his regularly scintillating pace, but the Knicks actually out-rebounded their opponents. With that being said…
Sacramento was out of this game when it stepped in the arena. They had no defensive answer to the Knicks’ combo of Anthony, JR, and Stoudemire. But, they would only need a stopper against Stoudemire, as Melo shot himself out of this one early on.
If the Knicks want any sort of play-off success, Melo blowing up for 30+ is going to need to be supplanted by the effort the Knicks showed Saturday.
The guard play was interestingly unimpressive. They combined for just 18 points. But between all three guards, there were just 5 turnovers. Felton, Kidd, and Shumpert spearheaded some fluid offensive movement. Two of the Knicks’ most volatile options on the wing-Smith and Novak-were immediate beneficiaries of that offensive flow. Novak finished on 15 points, acquired through 5 three’s while Smith led all Knicks scorers with 25. Perhaps the most impressive performance came in the form of Stoudemire’s 10-10 field goals leading to 21.
Stoudemire’s shots were simple and momentum-fueled. “Stat” made his cuts, found his open spots, and was supplied the ball early and often. While we’re on the topic of Knicks’ bigs, they accumulated 52 total rebounds this time around, an irregularly high count for the Knickerbockers, led by Chandler’s 20 boards.
Much like the Knicks for the most part of the season so far, they didn’t swat too many shots (just one block). At 8 steals, the Knicks had the same amount of swipes as Sacramento. But combine their grounded guard-play, a streaking Stoudemire, a board-cleaning Wilson, secondary wing options draining easy shots, and you have a Knicks team that can actually win a play-off game or two with Anthony largely deferring.
The East’s top echelon consists of teams that will likely crush any sort of pattern-orientated system, like, say, a certain isolation offense. The Heat, Pacers, Bulls, and Bucks (to name a few) are not having it. That’s why the Knicks’ performance on Saturday (though against the Kings) was a working example of perhaps the only way the Knicks are going to advance not just back into the conscience of NBA media, but into a play-off round that doesn’t end in May.
Mohamed Abdihakim is a journalism student at Florida Atlantic University. He is a Phoenix Suns fan, who is not prepared for the possibility of Nash winning a title in a Lakers jersey. Mohamed is also an editor at Hoops Nation and contributes to Les Snobs. Interests include International basketball, Mad Men, and blues music. Nearly all stats are credited to Hoopdata or Basketball-Reference.
Twitter handle: @Abdi_hakim.