Post Game Recap
Final Score: Knicks: 99 Suns: 97
Without Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton the Knicks did everything they could to lose the game tonight. But when it came down to it, J.R. Smith would not allow that to happen as he knocked down a game winning jump shot to give the Knicks a 99-97 win over the Suns. It was the second time this season Smith won a game for the Knicks at the buzzer, giving him as many as the rest of the NBA combined. The win moves the Knicks to 21-8 on the season, running their road record to 9-6 on the season.
Smith knocked down the game winner and stepped up with Anthony being forced out of the game with a hyper-extended knee. His shooting percentage wasn’t great, as he went 11 for 27 from the field, including for four from the three point line, but he knocked down the shots that mattered. In addition to the game winner, he knocked down an improbable shot with P.J. Tucker draped on him the prior possession. In addition to a team high 27 points, Smith added six rebounds, five assists, five steals and one block.
Jason Kidd has arguably been the Knicks’ MVP thus far this season and proved again why tonight. He came up huge on the offensive end, scoring a season high 23 points, knocking down five three pointers. He ran the offense masterfully while on the court as well, putting everyone in great position to score while handing out a team high eight assists. When he sat in the third quarter for his rest, the Suns reeled off a 22-8 run to get back into the game. Kidd would add six rebounds and a steal, as well as the defensive play of the game when he deflected Sebastian Telfair’s pass on the Suns last possession, causing Telfair to step out of bounds. Kidd was also the inbound passer on Smith’s game winner.
The role players were going to be needed tonight for the Knicks to pull out a victory and they stepped up. Chris Copeland was big off the bench, scoring 14 points in 30 minutes after not even playing in the first quarter. Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby again gave big minutes, combining for nine points, 13 rebounds, two assists and one block.
The Knicks actually outrebounded the Suns tonight also, a rare feat for them this season. Tyson Chandler grabbed 12 of his own to go with the nine from Camby to lead the team. With Camby back playing and Amar’e Stoudemire nearing his return, this is something that should be more commonplace for the Knicks.
Steve Novak was again nowhere to be found for large stretches of the game. He took only three shots, grabbing only one rebound and one assist in 28 minutes of play. Novak will have to step up his game on the defensive end of the court and on the glass or he will see his playing time diminish more and more. Once Stoudemire returns, someone’s minutes will have to start going to him and it is looking like Novak is a prime candidate for a cut in playing time.
The hot start to the season for the Knicks had a lot to do with their effort on the defensive end, specifically on perimeter rotations. That effort seems to be dwindling some, as the Knicks have started to slip a little on defense, with tonight being no better. Jared Dudley set a career high in scoring 36 points on 11 of 17 shooting, including five of eight from deep.
The biggest negative from this game had nothing to do with the play on the court, but instead some news received post game. It has been reviled that Felton has actually fractured his pinky finger on his right hand and will be returning to New York tomorrow for more testing and to figure out the next step to be taken. In a post game interview, Felton said he could possibly be out four-six weeks. That is nothing the Knicks want to hear but Kidd and Prigioni are proven veterans who should be able to hold down the ship in his absence.