New York Knicks vs. Houston Rockets
Post Game Recap
The Knicks played hard but once again were their own worst enemy as they dropped a heartbreaking thriller 102-100 to the Rockets. The Knicks outplayed the Rockets for three quarters tonight but fell apart down the stretch. Mental mistakes and poor execution doomed the Knicks as they once again showed that they are the lowest basketball IQ team in the NBA. With the loss their struggles against the Rockets and in Houston specifically continued; they have now lost 17 of 18 to the Rockets and nine straight in Houston. As Carmelo Anthony said in his post game interview, the Knicks gave the Rockets the game tonight. They will look to get back in the win column and wrap up the Texas Triangle Road trip on a positive note Sunday night in Dallas against the Mavericks.
Player of the Game: Iman Shumpert
For the second consecutive night Shumpert was on fire from beyond the arc. After going through the worst shooting stretch of his career that saw him go 6-42 from the field, Shumpert has found his stroke again in the new year. Against the Spurs and Rockets Shumpert has gone 19-27 from the field (12-14 3pt, 3-3 FT) to rebound from that rough stretch. Shumpert was one point shy of his career high that he set Thursday against the Spurs. The back-to-back 20 point scoring games is the first time Shumpert has accomplished that since March 28th & 30th, 2012. Against the Rockets Shumpert also added four rebounds, five assists and one steal. His defense one-on-one against James Harden was also outstanding throughout the night. Harden, who gets to the foul line as much as anyone in the NBA, did not attempt his first free throw until two minutes remaining in the first half. Shumpert playing smart defense against him was a big reason why. Shumpert looks to have turned the corner on his season, which can only be a positive thing for the Knicks, especially with how poorly Tim Hardaway Jr. and JR Smith have performed recently.
Tyson Chandler logged only 27 minutes but he made the most of them, registering a double-double. Chandler finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds on the night. He started the game off strong with five points in the opening quarter to get the Knicks going. Chandler also did a formidable job on Dwight Howard throughout the night, a tall task.
Anthony did not have as efficient a night as he did in San Antonio but he had a good game nonetheless. Anthony ended the game with 25 points and eight rebounds. He also added two assists and did a fine job defending Chandler Parsons throughout the night. Parsons shot 6-13 from the field for 17 points but did lead his team in rebounding with 11.
Amar’e Stoudemire did not have the big scoring night for the Knicks but he was able to help out on the glass and in help defense. Stoudemire pulled down seven rebounds and had two steals on the night as his play provided Mike Woodson a chance to give Andrea Bargnani, Chandler and Anthony some rest at points in the game. Stoudemire has obviously lost some because of all the injuries but you can count on him to give your team everything he has as long as he is on the court.
Toure’ Murry was inserted into a game as early as he has been in his NBA career and he made the most of it. Murry entered the game with barely five minutes gone in the first quarter and the Knicks went on a run right when he entered. The Knicks reeled off a 12-2 run as the Knicks turned a seven point deficit into a four point lead. When Murry plays in the backcourt with Shumpert or Hardaway Jr. it is a fun thing to watch, as the athleticism is something the Knicks have lacked. Murry replaced Udrih in the first quarter and Udrih looked none too happy about it, but he bounced back nicely later in the game. Udrih finished strong and ended the game with 10 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. What is making Udrih and Murry successful is that both are able to attack and get into the paint to put pressure on the defense.
JR Smith is hurting the Knicks more than he is helping. He augmented a poor game with a boneheaded play in the last 24 seconds of the game. Chandler was able to gain the Knicks another possession with the shot clock off and the ball was worked out to Smith. Smith inexplicably attempted a three pointer, almost a carbon copy of what Bargnani did against the Bucks a couple of weeks ago. Udrih compounded the miss by fouling Aaron Brooks in the corner but Smith never should have attempted the shot, especially since Chandler is in his line of view telling him to slow it down and Udrih is doing the same. It was a icing on the cake for a poor game for Smith who is having more negatives than positives for the Knicks. Smith finished the game 3-13 (1-8 3pt, 2-2 FT), zero rebounds, two assists and two steals. It will be hard even for Woodson to show trust in Smith now with how he has been playing and the lack of basketball IQ and awareness he shows on the court. After the game he admitted to not knowing what the score and situation of the game was, just another reason he should be off the court in big situations.
With Shumpert starting to play well and round into shape it is disappointing to see Smith crater and give the Knicks negative minutes. He is not the only one doing so as Hardaway Jr. has joined Smith in giving the Knicks poor production. Hardaway has seen his minutes decrease with Shumpert playing well and has done nothing to show the coach he deserves those minutes back that he is losing. For the second consecutive game Hardaway was mostly invisible, playing 11 minutes and scoring only one point. He also added one rebound but finished with a game worst -14 +/- ratio.
Bargnani had been dealing with a stiff neck recently and it seems to be effecting his shooting. The injury has been affecting him for the past 8-10 days and over that span he has been shooting the ball at a 38.9 percent clip. He has shot even worse from the three point line, hitting only 25 percent of his deep shots. He did nothing to help those numbers against the Rockets, shooting 3-10 overall and 0-3 from the three point line. The Knicks need Bargnani to get back in a groove and shoulder more of the scoring load with Smith and Hardaway giving them ineffective minutes off the bench. He did a good job once again defending Howard and battled on the boards, pulling down eight rebounds.
After having Shumpert guard Harden for the better part of first half he went off in the second half with Shumpert no longer shadowing him. Harden scored 27 of his 37 in the second half, with 11 coming in the decisive fourth quarter that saw the Rockets outscored the Knicks 29-19. Harden missed only three shots the whole second half, finishing the game with 37 points (5-10 3pt, 10-10 FT), seven rebounds and six assists.