By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
Post Game Recap
The Knicks have no one to blame but themselves after losing to the Atlantic Division-leading Toronto Raptors tonight at Madison Square Garden 95-83. The Knicks let a 12-point third quarter lead slip through their hands as the offense crumbled without Carmelo Anthony leading the way. James Dolan told the players and coaching staff that no moves were going to be made; a move that should have calmed some people with trade rumors swirling; all it did was make them as complacent as ever on the court. Mike Woodson said yesterday he still expects this team to repeat as Atlantic Division champs and did nothing to back him up. The struggles the Knicks went through in the fourth quarter is where they can point for the poor ending. With or without Anthony this was a game there for the taking and the Knicks could not take advantage, something that has become commonplace this season. The Knicks will look to bounce back tomorrow night against this same Raptors team in
They will have to do it without Anthony again, who is not making the trip to Toronto
with the team.
With the Knicks so short-handed in the backcourt Udrih was forced to play big minutes and he responded in a positive way again. Udrih was not happy that Woodson picked him out for poor performance. After calling out Woodson for his comments made after the Christmas Day debacle against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Udrih came out and played a good game tonight. Udrih was a scoring threat, stepping up without leading scorer Anthony on the court by pouring in 15 points. He also added 10 assists, giving him his first double-double as a Knick and highest assist total of the season. He was also aggressive and a pest on the defensive end, tallying four steals. Udrih has run this team to the best of his ability and the lack of offensive fire power cannot and should not be placed on his shoulders.
The Knicks, for all their short comings on the offensive end, were able to get it going from beyond the three-point line. The Knicks knocked down 10-19 from long range, good for 52.6 percent. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way for the Knicks, knocking down 4-5 and ending the game with 15 points. JR Smith added 3 of his own and Andrea Bargnani added two as well.
Speaking of Bargnani, he looked engaged and aggressive early on, seeming to be motivated by playing against his old team. He finished with 18 points and a season-high 12 rebounds. He also added two blocks to his stat line for the night. Bargnani did not play as well as he could have though given the opportunity he had with Anthony sidelined.
For at least one half the Knicks were able to keep the Raptors under control on the offensive end. The Knicks held the Raptors to only 40 points in the first half as they went into halftime with a nine point lead.
For what seems like the first time all season the Knicks were able to hold opposing point guards to less than outstanding games. Trade target Kyle Lowry did not score much, totaling only 10 points for the game but he did hand out 11 assists. His backup fared even worse, shooting 1-7 and scoring only four points while compiling four assists.
Tyson Chandler, in his fourth game back from injury, was dominated by Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas has been having a coming out party since Rudy Gay was traded to the Sacramento Kings and the Knicks did nothing to stop it. Valanciunas finished the game with 16 points and a career high 18 rebounds as he dominated the paint throughout the night. Valanciunas very active front court mates, Amir Johnson and Tyler Hansbrough, gave the Knicks some problems as well as the two combined for 12 rebounds and the constant movement and activity the Knicks do not get night in and night out from their bigs.
The perimeter defense for the Knicks was improved but once again not well enough. While the point guards did not fare as well, the other wing players did just fine. DeMar DeRozan led the way with a game-high 25 points on 7-13 shooting. He was a frequent visitor to the foul line, taking 14 free throws and making nine. Terrence Ross made the Knicks pay from the perimeter as well, knocking down 3-6 from deep and finishing with 11 points. Reserve wing John Salmons hit the go ahead three-pointer with remaining to give the Raptors the lead for good. Salmons finished the night 3-7 from three point land and 11 points as well.
Whatever Iman Shumpert is doing he needs to change because it is not working for him. The starting shooting guard is in a rut like no other as he played only 12 minutes tonight because of a combination of foul trouble and unproductive minutes. Shumpert virtually goose-egged the box score, grabbing only one rebound and getting one steal. Shumpert will continue losing minutes to Hardaway Jr. (possibly not a bad thing) and Smith (probably not a good thing) if he continues to play so poorly. It is disappointing that Shumpert is not taking advantage of all of the chances presented to him as the Knicks could really use a boost from the third year shooting guard. Being the player brought up most frequently in trade rumors, being told he would not be traded was thought of as something to calm Shumpert down. Instead he looks as if he has checked out and is ready to move on from the Knicks.