In what was one of the strangest games of the year, the Knicks came out on top by the score of 87-77. The game started well, as the Knicks opened up a 15-point lead due to Amar’e Stoudemire’s early dominance in the paint. However, once STAT came out of the game, Detroit ended the second quarter on a 13-4 run. Unfortunately for New York, the struggles continued in the third, as the Pistons, who opened up the third on a 22-8 run, took a ten-point lead. After the Knicks regrouped, they finally brought their ‘A’ game, and outscored Detroit 35-15 and never looked back. During the game, you could really see the Knicks flaws in their scoring droughts and strengths in their runs.
First off, the Knicks have had trouble all year protecting the paint. This game was supposed to be a relatively easy game to control in the post. However, the alternate happened as the Pistons, who were without their leading scorer Greg Monroe, dominated the Knicks small line-up at times in the paint. In addition to that, they were able to spread the floor, leaving guards open from beyond the arc, which extended their lead. Furthermore, the turnovers in the first half were unacceptable. Raymond Felton said after the game that he was upset with himself due to his 7 turnovers. The Knicks who average the least turnovers per game had 15 in the first half.
However, to counter that, the Knicks did show signs of improvement, as they only had 5 turnovers in the second half. Not only was this due to better ball handling, but also smarter passes that led to open shots. New York looked great at times during their runs, which makes you scratch your head. Led by their small rotation of Felton, Kidd, Prigioni, Smith, and Stoudemire, the Knicks looked very quick. The Knicks ended with 11 steals, most of them coming in the 4th. While they held the Pistons to 12 points in the 4th, their offense was doing work as well. J.R Smith was 0-5 from three-point land, but ended up hitting 4 of his last 6 attempts. Even Jason Kidd, who struggled with his shot, hit 2 clutch threes.
The Knicks are a team that will live and die by the three-ball. While most people see that as a problem, I do not. One can look at the stat sheet and point out that they only shot 37% from downtown, but they took 35 threes, way more then any other team in the league. I like the way this team is designed. Even if their shots don’t fall every time, especially like they weren’t early in this game, the three can help them catch up and take the lead, like they did in the fourth. When people say “J.R, stop shooting,” I understand where they are coming from, but he helps this team, as eventually, his shots will fall.
I noticed a few other things from this game. First, Iman Shumpert started off 3-3 (all of his field goals were threes) but after playing the entire 1st quarter, he only played 7 minutes the rest of the game. This may have been due to his early fouls or early turnovers.
Secondly, I am not a fan of the starting line-up Coach Mike Woodson has for this team. Not playing Kenyon Martin is a questionable decision, but to start James White and Kurt Thomas over Amar’e Stoudemire and Kidd is ridiculous… at least to me.
Looking forward, New York has to heal up quickly and prepare for a primetime game against Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last time the Knicks played on national television, they blew the lead to the Miami Heat, so this team should be motivated to knock off one of the best teams in the NBA in front of the world.
Overall, this game showed the flaws and strengths of the New York Knicks and at times showed why they have potential like never before.