The Knicks won their fourth consecutive game and did so with some rare clutch shooting and actual defense down the stretch in Tuesday's 110-107 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
New York [7-8] did what good teams do, and that’s vanquish another team they should beat, as they held off a late Charlotte [5-9] surge. New York withstood a manic Bobcats’ run, as they knocked down all eight of its free throw attempts and played solid defense in the paint – including a blocked shot from Ronny Turiaf in the waning seconds.
The real story was how well the Knicks’ bench played – particularly Toney Douglas, who had a team-high 22 points off the bench. Douglas, who had 13 points in 12 first-half minutes, also added five 3-pointers and three steals. He led all scorers of a Knicks team that featured six players in double figures scoring. All five starters reached double digits, as Amare Stoudemire chipped in with 17 points and seven rebounds.
The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, Stoudemire also had a game-high three blocks, and helped New York expand its lead to as many as 14 points. Also notching a stellar night for the Knicks were Danilo Gallinari [15 points, six rebounds, and four assists], Raymond Felton [16 points and nine assists], Ronny Turiaf [12 points and two blocks], and rookie Landry Fields [14 points, including seven in the first quarter].
The turning point of the game came in a frenzied final two minutes, as the Bobcats rode a 14-2 run to cut it to a three-point deficit with 1:01 remaining. But a Stoudemire layup with 40 seconds remaining and two clutch free throws by Felton with 2.5 seconds left finally dashed Charlotte’s dreams.
New York had control for most of the game but allowed a lesser team sneak back into it. If it wants to be taken seriously, however, now is the time to pounce and take advantage of a doable schedule – starting with the completion of a home-and-home with the Bobcats tomorrow night.
3 THINGS THAT WENT RIGHT:
1. Toney Douglas was the best Knick on the floor all night and he didn’t even start. The second-year player notched a team-high 22 points off the bench. Douglas had 13 points in 12 first-half minutes and continually hit big shots in the opening half, as the Knicks built a double-digit lead. He recorded five three-pointers and three steals and spearheaded a Knicks team that featured six players in double figures scoring, including all five starters in double digits.
2. Danilo Gallinari has continued his ascending play, off the strength of his solid West Coast swing, as he had 15 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Gallo didn’t match his recent road trip numbers of 25 points per game, 45 percent from the field – including 46 percent from three – and an amazing 95 percent from the foul line. Gallo knocked down all eight of his free throws, including four down the stretch, to improve his streak to 43-straight made freebies. He’s now one made free throw short of tying Chris Duhon’s franchise mark set two seasons ago.
3. New York’s perimeter defense harassed Stephen Jackson all night, as one of the elite scorers in the league shot a porous 7-of-21 from the field, including two-of-six from beyond the arc. Jackson was mostly defended by Gallinari but was also blanketed by Wilson Chandler and rookie Landry Fields. For the game, Jackson was a minus-16 in point differential, showing that the Knicks actually showed some wares on the defensive end.
3 THINGS THAT WENT WRONG:
1. The Knicks nearly blew a double-digit fourth quarter lead, showing that one of the league’s youngest rosters still doesn’t know how to put away teams. Thankfully, they showed their mettle by knocking down clutch free throws but good teams don’t even allow lesser opponents get that close in the first place.
2. D.J. Augustin, who has now taken the reigns of the offense with the departure of Raymond Felton, played a stellar game. He posted a game-high 24 points on 10-of-18 shooting, five rebounds, seven assists, and a game-high four steals. Augustin showed exactly why Bobcats head coach Larry Brown had no problem with allowing Felton to flee to New York, as he constantly got into the paint and either set up teammates or scored himself.
3. The bottom third of the Knicks’ active roster once again was non-existent. Although it didn’t come back to haunt them this time, New York will need more out of the bench combination of Timofey Mozgov [two points and one rebound in 10 minutes], Bill Walker [five points in only 11 minutes], and Anthony Randolph, who didn’t even get into the game after suffering from the dreaded DNP-CD [did not play, coach’s decision] tag.
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