NYK Weekly Report: Big road win, big road loss, and JR stuffing stat sheets
I'll give the Knicks a "B+" for their performance over the past week - they went 3-1 with an exceptional road win over the Spurs, but couldn't get going on the back end of a back-to-back and suffered a tough loss to the Grizzlies. Here are some key notes from the Knicks games that took place last week:
Carmelo Anthony struggled to score against the Spurs, but the Knicks still won. Carmelo was just terribly off on his shot, making only three of his 12 shot attempts. Old Carmelo probably would have fired up 15 more shots, trying to get into a rhythm, but what does new Carmelo do? He dials back the shooting and focuses on other aspects of the game, pulling down 12 rebounds and putting up a season-high three assists (I know that's far from impressive, but he was obviously looking to pass more than usual). Before the season, Carmelo insisted that he no longer cared how many points he scored and simply wanted to win. Thursday night's game against the Spurs seemed to prove that he was telling the truth.
Zach Randolph was too much for the Knicks to handle on Friday night. Though the Knicks were only out-rebounded by one, Randolph was dominant in the paint, scoring 20 points on only 11 shot attempts and racking up 15 rebounds. Tyson Chandler ended up with five fouls, and the Knicks don't seem to have anyone to deal with a player like Randolph when Chandler leaves the game. Marcus Camby seems like he'd be a solid option, but he was a healthy DNP against the Grizzlies due to head coach Mike Woodson's concern with his conditioning. Low post defense and rebounding will probably continue to be a problem for the Knicks, and they'll need Camby to get in shape and Chandler to stay out of foul trouble to address it.
Knicks fans are finally seeing the JR Smith that they thought they signed last year. Actually, they're seeing an even better version of what they expected. I have never seen Smith be so tenacious on defense, so aggressive on the boards, and so willing to pass the basketball. Even when his shot isn't falling, he's been a game changer on the defensive end. His rebounding is very much appreciated on a team that struggles so severely in that department - Smith averaged 5.8 rebounds per game last week. I know it's only eight games into the season, but Smith is putting up career highs in points, field goal percentage, three point percentage, free throw percentage, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. You can't really ask for much more than that.
Other notes: The Knicks have cooled down their on-fire three point shooting, making only 34.4% from behind the arc last week, but still were able to win three of four games... Kurt Thomas played only nine minutes all week, and it was in the blowout loss to the Grizzlies; he seems to be at the bottom of the frontcourt rotation with rookie Chris Copeland... Ronnie Brewer continues to impress with tough, smart basketball and knows his role - shot 52.2% from field with .5 turnovers per game last week... Steve Novak made only six of his 18 three point attempts last week, but there's no reason shouldn't be able to get hot soon... Raymond Felton has been shooting a lot - maybe too much - averaged 18.5 shots per game last week... In three out of the four games last week, no Knicks player had double-digit rebounds.
This week's Knicks games: Tuesday @ NO, Wednesday @ DAL, Friday @ HOU, Sunday vs. DET.