March 02, 2024

Lawrence Frank Grinds On

February 01, 2012

Lawrence Frank, head coach of the Detroit Pistons has seen better days. The first year has not started kindly for the guy who as an assistant coach under Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics. Frank helped the Celtics give up the fewest points in the NBA. However, that hasn't been the case in the first 22 games this year, his first with the Pistons.

They came into Madison Square Garden having lost 18 of those games. It hasn't helped that his key player, Ben Gordon from Yonkers, has been out the last 5 games with a shoulder injury. In the 15 games he's played, Gordon averaged 33 minutes and 15 points. Will Bynum (strained right foot) and Charlie Villanueva (sore right ankle) have missed significant time as well. It's life in a league that had to start the year with a shortened training camp and an abbreviated pre-season schedule. Those facts have not been lost on Frank.

"It is what it is," Frank said after watching his team get romped by the Knicks 113-86 on a night where they allowed New York to shoot 60% from the floor and 50% from 3-point land. "There's no excuse. We have to do better with what we have."

For more than 7 years, Frank was the head coach of the New Jersey Nets taking over after then head coach Byron Scott was fired at the end of January during the 2004 season. He quickly made news by winning his first 13 games. No other coach in the four major professional sports began their career in such fashion. Six of those games came on the road, setting another record. When he was let go at the end of the 2009-10 season, Frank was the Nets all-time leader in coaching victories. Under his guidance, Frank's team made the playoffs 4 years in a row, including winning the Atlantic Division twice and advancing to the Conference Semi-Finals three times. Taking over a Detroit franchise that has seen better days may be Frank's most daunting task.

The Detroit Pistons championships years has been well documented. Led by Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars they won back-to-back NBA Titles in 1989 and 1990 against the Lakers and Portland respectfully. Those teams were led by legendary head coach Chuck Daly and the Bad Boys moniker was established by their hardcore defensive players, Dennis Rodman, Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer.

"When I was in New Jersey they (the Pistons) had to go through us in the eastern conference semi-finals. They were a hard-nosed, blue-collar defense first. Share the basketball, team first, grind it out team. Very tough-minded," said Frank.

It would take them 14 years (2004) to win their next championship, with a team that was built more on finesse and athleticism. Larry Brown was at the helm coaching Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Tashuan Prince and Ben Wallace. They defeated a heavily favored Lakers team that included Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O' Neal. Prince and Wallace are still with the Pistons and although they lost the following year to San Antonio, neither has been close to another final. Prince, who finished with 10 points on 5 of 10 shooting, believes the core is there to build another winner. Prince knows he and Wallace can guide the rest of the team in the right direction.

"At some point, we have to build a foundation to where we're going to get to that."

It would help if they could get Gordon, Bynum and Villanueva back and healthy, as soon as possible.

Knicks Cage Bobcats

March 30, 2013

New York Knicks Keep Winning Streak Alive Beating Charlotte Bobcats 111-102

Riding the current longest NBA winning streak (6 games) after the Heat streak was broken at 27 by the Chicago Bulls this past Wednesday, the New York Knicks faced a Charlotte Bobcats team that had only won 17 games when they stepped on the Madison Square Garden hardwood floor Friday night. Head coach Mike Woodson was not concerned about getting his team up against a club that had lost 54 games up to this point.

"They're next in line," Woodson said prior to tip-off. "It doesn't matter who we play. It's all about what we do as a team. We've been playing some pretty good basketball as of late. We're trying to stay at the top of our division. This is an important game. Every game from here on out is important for our ball club."

Right from the start, New York treated Charlotte like the team with the worst record (Orlando started the night with 18 wins) in the league. Like they did Wednesday night against Memphis, the Knicks jumped out to a huge first-period lead (38-20) behind 13 Carmelo Anthony points. J.R. Smith continued his scorching play. He chipped in 9 points (4-6 shooting) looking to score more than 30 points for the third straight game. Iman Shumpert, who hit his first 3-pointers against Memphis, picked up right where he left off. Eight of his points came from behind the three-point arc. Shumpert has converted 6 of 8 three-pointers in the last two games.

By halftime, the contest (if that's what you want to call it) resembled the latest NBA video game, as the Knicks lead ballooned to as many as 30 points (58-28) with Smith adding 14 more points. As a team, New York shot a blistering 62% from the floor including an eye-opening 75% from 3 point land. The Bobcats never had a chance as they were in the crosshairs of the Knicks all night.

Unlike the Grizzlies game, when the Knicks saw its 30 point lead dwindle to five, Charlotte really never made it a game even though they did outscore the Knicks 31-22 in the final period. The Bobcats managed to close the gap to 7 (104-97) but Smith did it on the defensive end with a steal, leading to free throws by Anthony sealing the game.

The streak extends to seven games with Smith scoring 37 points and pretty much locking up the NBA's 6th man award. Something his head coach said was a reasonable goal at the start of the year. His teammates have been impressed.

"He (Smith) is focused," said Anthony. "He is dialed in, locked in. His confidence is sky high. We are following his lead."

Knicks guard Jason Kidd, who began the year starting but now is coming off the bench, compared Smith to a golfer saying "he's putting well. He hasn't hit a bad drive. He's playing as well as anybody right now."

It's been a long time in the memory of Smith since he can recall playing this well.

"I haven't been on a streak like this since high school," he said.

The New York Knicks went on their customary west coast drought (1-4) dealing with injuries and could have easily fallen off the top of the division. Smith found his game at the right time becoming only the second player since 1990 to score more than 30 points in 3 straight games coming off the bench. The Knicks winning streak extends to seven games when they host the Boston Celtics Sunday night.

Brandon Jennings scored a game and season-high 36 points for the Bucks, and Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 35 points for the New York Knicks

With the New York Knicks offense struggling and the team on a 5-game losing streak, head coach Mike D 'Antoni can't wait until Baron Davis gets healthy enough to bring stability and veteran leadership to the backcourt. It may not happen for a couple of more weeks, but it's not because of a lack of effort on Davis' part.

Prior to the game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night, Davis talked about his health and the state of the team. It hasn't been easy watching the team go through the offensive funk that has them averaging only 88 points in their 8 losses. They have scored over 100 points only 3 times, winning 2 of those games. Defensively they have been better than in the past under D 'Antoni giving up 100 points or more in 4 out of the 14 games they've played. With Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the floor, points should not be hard to come by. Both have been in a funk evidenced by their poor performance in the Wednesday night loss to Phoenix. They combined for 35 points but needed 44 shots to do so. Only Stoudemire's free throws (9 out of 10) made his final line look respectable. Granted, Anthony has been hampered by a sore wrist and ankle and Stoudemire may still be dealing with a sore back, but as a team, they have not moved the ball well enough to give their teammates open looks and uncontested shots. That's where Davis is hoping to contribute when he's ready to play.

"I can shoot, dribble and a lot of spot shooting," said Davis sitting in front of his locker.

He basically does this alone with the help of the assistant coaches and watched closely by the training staff. He's doing things in moderation while working on conditioning drills.

"It's a process," he continued. "It's strength, it's conditioning, it's balance. It's being able to do that on a consistent basis day in and day out and wake up the next day and be ready to progress forward. I'm making leaps and bounds and huge strides to get myself on the court."

In the meantime, when the ball goes up in the air, Davis is relegated to being a cheerleader and teacher. When Toney Douglas' poor early season play forced D 'Antoni to bench him in favor of first-year guard Iman Shumpert, Davis had already been mentoring him while he was waiting to come off the bench. He was giving Shumpert advice and making sure he never lost confidence. Shumpert isn't his only pupil.

"We have a lot of young guys on the team," Davis continued. "If I see a weakness in a defender on the floor I will talk with Toney or Shumpert about it. I try and work with the younger guys to get them to hone in on the fundamentals. As we proceed thru the season, those are the things that are going to push us over the top."

As he watches his team from the bench, dressed to the nines, Baron Davis is learning the offense he will be running as soon as his back can handle the everyday pounding. As easy as it may look from his vantage point, putting it into action with a new group won't be easy. He doesn't think it will take that long to pick things up.

"I'm the type of person that I pick up things very, very quickly when I'm out there."

He will do that with a starting line-up that is still trying to develop offensive cohesiveness.

"Any time you have these many new faces in a system, it takes everyone to really catch a rhythm and to get on a roll. You have to be patient. Offensively I know that will come around."

It didn't come around against the Bucks as New York fell behind early in the fourth quarter by as many as 17 points in their 100-86 loss. Brandon Jennings, who torched the Knicks the last time he touched the Madison Square Garden floor for 37 points, scored a game and season-high 36 points. Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 35 points but his frustration showed after with 1:33 left in the game as he was hit with his second technical foul resulting in his ejection. The Knicks lost for the 5th straight time and their 3rd straight at home. D 'Antoni said the team was in "crisis" after Wednesday's loss. You can add turmoil as well.

"It's the whole team," he said afterward. "We are just not sharp. It looks like they are running circles around us. It is not just one guy. We wouldn't be this bad. Again, we have to dig deeper and get through this."

Getting Baron Davis on the floor would be a good start.

New York Knicks Defeat Charlotte Bobcats 91-87

It wasn't pretty. In fact, it almost turned out to be worse than the last time these two teams played each other. In the end, it was the New York Knicks making 30 of 40 free throws in escaping with a 91-87 over the Charlotte Bobcats in their second meeting in less than a week at Madison Square Garden.

When they met last Wednesday, the Bobcats totally embarrassed the Knicks. This was after the Toronto Raptors did the exact same thing 2 nights earlier. Blame the early schedule, lack of a regular training camp and missing players due to injury. Still, New York had no excuse losing to two teams that didn't even qualify for the playoffs last year. The Knicks did regroup the last two games on the road defeating Washington and Detroit on the road to get their record back to .500 sitting in second place behind Philadelphia. Now it was time to get revenge against a Bobcat team that hadn't won a game since they left the World's Most Famous Arena.

Said head coach Mike D' Antoni before they faced Charlotte "the Bobcats played extremely well last game and we didn't. We didn't bring the defense like I hoped we would have."

With rookie Iman Shumpert (16 points, 4 assist) starting his second game in a row, the Knicks looked to get off to a strong start. Before you could say "Ground Hog Day" the Bobcats raced out to a 10-0 lead. With the "boo birds" out early, the Knicks regained their composure and with the help of 3 alley-oops, outscored Charlotte 24-11to take a 24-21 1st quarter lead.

"They responded well," said D' Antoni. "

The defense failed to play in the first game and at the start of Monday night's game quickly changed as New York contested more shots, limited second-chance opportunities and they did not give Charlotte carte blanche from 3 point land. Amar'e Stoudamire, (25 points, 11-13 free throws) who was torched by Boris Diaw for 27 points last Wednesday, scored 15 first-half points. Diaw did score 12 but no other starter hit the double figure mark. Shumpert contributed 12 points and 3 assists giving the Knicks a 5-point (50-45) halftime lead.

Tyson Chandler (20 points, 13 rebounds) led all scorers with 10 third-quarter points as New York took an 11-point lead (72-61) with less than a minute to play. Charlotte would not go away, as they battled back after falling behind by 8 points (79-71), the largest deficit of the quarter after watching Stoudemire hit a running hook shot. With 4:49 left, D.J. Augustin brought them within 1 (80-79) after nailing a jumper. He wasn't done, tying the game at 82 sinking a long 3-pointer, as the shot clock was expiring. D' Antoni then decided to put the ball in Carmelo Anthony's hands. It paid off as he scores 8 of the last 10 points leading to the 4 point victory. Melo was on shaky ground in the waning minutes as he played with 5 fouls down the stretch.

"I just didn't feel like anybody else could produce any points," said D' Antoni.

It wasn't pretty but the New York Knicks came away with a victory against the same team they lost to last week giving up 118 points.

"We seem not to shoot the ball well against them," said Anthony. "Tonight we won the game on the defensive end."

Knicks Defeat Raptors 106-87 and Stay Perfect Under Mike Woodson 

The three-game winning-streak followed the six-game losing streak cost the New York Knicks head coach Mike D' Antoni his job. The winning-streak has breathed life back into the team's NBA playoff life. It has given interim head coach Mike Woodson a platform to instill in his players how much is at stake as the season winds down.

There were 21 games when the Knicks hosted the Toronto Raptors Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden. They will face each other for the last time this year in three days in Toronto after splitting their previous two games both teams winning on the road. Except for pride, Toronto has nothing to play for with their 15-30 record. That may have been the only reason they gave the Knicks a hard time.

Led by DeMar DeRozan (6 points) Toronto and the Knicks were tied 3 times in the first period, with no team leading by more than 1 point after the first Raptors basket gave them a 2-0 lead. Down by one, the Knicks go on 7-0 run to take a 21-15 lead. Toronto closed the gap to three to end the period (27-24) after a Linas Kleiza three-pointer at the buzzer.

With New York sensing that the longer they allowed Toronto to feel they belonged, the harder it would be to put them away, Woodson once again called on his bench to slow the Raptors down. With the game tied once again at 29, Steve Novak hit his customary three-pointer, extending the lead to 7 again 36-29. Toronto clawed back to two (36-34) after a Gary Forbes lay-up. It's as close as the Raptors would get the rest of the period as the Knicks outscored them 13-4 over the next 5-plus minutes for the biggest lead of the half (49-38). J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Jared Jeffries and Steve Novak contributed 17 points off the pine.

Except for an early lapse at the start of the third period, the Knicks defense stiffened when the Raptors dwindled the lead to 7 (57-50) after an Andrea Bargnani running hook shot. Thirteen must have been the lucky number for the Knicks as they once again rattled off those points allowing Toronto only four, taking a 16-point lead (70-54) and never looked back in the 106-87 victory.

Said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey, "they turned up the juice and we didn't meet the challenge. Anytime you give up 16 offensive boards, our turnovers are the two things that hurt us."

When the New York Knicks lost to the Chicago Bulls last week, they gave up 22 offensive rebounds leading to 24 points in the five-point loss. It was an eye-opener for the team.

Said Woodson, "that's been a big problem all season," he started. "Us putting bodies on bodies to secure the rebound. I stress that every game before every game. Five guys are going to block out and rebound the basketball. Then we go and play offense. We've done a better job as of late."

Although Jeremy Lin and the "Linsanity" have quieted down, his numbers are starting to reflect what put him on the map in the first place. He finished his night with his seventh double-double of the year scoring 18 points and 10 assists.

"We just moved the ball and try to pick apart the defense and took whatever the defense gave us. I thought we were patient as a team," he said.

Amar'e Stoudemire led all scorers with 22 points with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler adding 17 each.

The New York Knicks traveled by Amtrak right after the game to face the division-leading Philadelphia 76ers. They are looking to avenge the March 11th home loss.

Landry Fields knows how important the game is: "We have already talked about it. We're trying to rise in the standings. It's an important game for us."

New York Knicks defeat the Philadelphia 76ers with the final score of 85-79

One of the hottest teams in the NBA came into Madison Square Garden Wednesday night riding a 6-game winning streak. With a 7-2 record and leading the Atlantic division, the Philadelphia 76ers had not given up more than 100 points during the streak. The New York Knicks meanwhile was riding a modest 3-game winning streak of their own after Monday's win against the Charlotte Bobcats. They began the night two games behind the Sixers and looked to close the gap before starting a two-game road trip against Memphis and Oklahoma City.

They faced each other four times last year splitting the series. Prior to the game, Knicks head coach Mike D' Antoni stressed the importance of limiting Philadelphia's fast break.

"We have to get back in transition," he started. "We can't feed their fast break."

New York caught a break when Sixers center Spencer Hawes, one of 7 players to average more than 9 points a game, did not play due to a strained lower back.

For the first time all year, New York came out with a purpose. They ended the 1st quarter on a 13-0 run and a 28-15 lead. Carmelo Anthony scored 9 points and rookie Josh Harrellson (7 points) came off the bench and hit his first two jumpers, the second a 3-pointer.

Tony Douglas continued the long-range assault burying his first jumper, another 3-pointer to extend the lead to 31-15. Defensively they limited Philadelphia to only 32% from the floor, as they missed 6 of 7 three-pointers.

Where Anthony left off in the initial quarter, teammate Amar'e Stoudemire took over in the second. He scored 9 points to lead both teams as the Knicks took a 10 point (45-35) halftime lead. The Sixers did not attempt a 3-point shot in the quarter but their overall shooting rose to a respectable 42%. When the Knicks defeated Charlotte two nights ago, they attempted 40 free throws making 30 of them. They only saw the free stripe 3 times in the first half converting all of them.

Philadelphia began the third quarter outscoring New York 10-4 narrowing the lead to 4 (49-45). Anthony extended the score to 8 (58-50) after two straight baskets. After the first basket (a driving lay-up), he got tangled underneath with Andre Iguodala and both are hit with technical fouls. It seemed to light a fire under Anthony as he hit his next two jumpers giving them a 62-56 lead. After two more Anthony free throws, that man Harrellson burns the Sixers again hitting his third 3-pointer of the game taking an 11-point (67-56) lead into the final quarter.

Said D' Antoni of Harrellson's play so far this year, "Josh played well a lot. Some of the things you don't see. He's very strong, very smart defensively. I just think he's going to keep getting better if he can consistently make that outside shot."

The Sixers dug themselves into a deeper hole at the start of the final quarter as the Knicks opened up a 17 point lead (78-61). The hot shooting that propelled New York suddenly went cold and the Sixers took advantage going on a 10-0 run to close the gap to 7 points (78-71). From that point, neither team could find the basket for the rest of the game. No field goals were scored in the final 5:51. In that span, Anthony missed 5 shots and turned the ball over 3 times. It caught the attention of the head coach, as he witnessed the offensive woes that kept the Sixers in the game.

"We'll talk about it," a giggling D'Antoni said. "Carmelo is very effective at what he does. You got to be careful about talking too much. He's a competitor and he knows how to play. We just got to get things straight with the whole team."

Philly wasn't much better as they missed their 6 shot attempts. New York hit 7 free throws, Philly hit 8 down the stretch, but could not get any closer than the final score of 85-79.

The New York Knicks have now played two division games and have won both of them. They have struggled offensively more than they would like to. Defensively, they seem to be improving.

"We added two really good pieces in Shumpert and Tyson (Chandler) when you have that, then they feel even more engaged. It's just contagious."

Lin-Mania Streak Hits 7

February 16, 2012

When Jeremy Lin came out of the game he sat next to Carmelo Anthony. Both had Cheshire Cat smiles on their faces

It was his first game back at Madison Square Garden since he torched Kobe Bryant and the Lakers last Friday to the tune of a game, season, and career-high 38 points. Add to that two come-from-behind road wins (including the game-winner against Toronto) and you knew why the sold-out crowd erupted when Jeremy Lin was introduced prior to the game against the Sacramento Kings. Given how the Knicks have fared against teams with losing records at home, the Kings and their 10-18 mark were no easy target. That was before Lin was propelled into the starting line-up.

Jeremy Lin rebounded from his 8 turnover night against the Raptors recording six assists to go along with five points and zero turnovers all in the first period alone as New York jumped out to a 12-point lead (25-13). They converted on 10 of their first 12 shots before Lin sat down late in the first quarter.

"I just thought we played really exceptionally well in the first quarter," said head coach Mike D 'Antoni.

The team didn't skip a beat while Lin rested. After a 3-pointer by Jimmer Fredette cut the lead to 5 (25-20) Iman Shumpert, Bill Walker and Jared Jeffries scored the next 9 points to extend the lead to 13 (35-22) before Lin returned with 7:38 in the second. Steve Novak, who has stepped up his game during the winning streak, hit his only basket of the half. After a Landry Fields rebound, he finds Novak in the corner who promptly steps up and drains a 3-pointer, getting fouled in the process. He calmly sinks the free throw giving the Knicks a 15 point (49-34) lead.

As well as New York did well offensively shooting 51% for the first half, they did better on the defensive end. The Kings shot only 33% and missed on 9 of 11 3-point attempts.

"Any time you play with good offense, you get excited, D 'Antoni continued. "Tyson (Chandler) anchors the whole thing. Then you have Shumpert who comes off the bench that you can put him on the point guard. With those two guys it's contagious. If you want to win, you play that way."

The Knicks began the third period up by 18 (54-36) and did not let up. At one point, they extended the lead to 25 points after a Fields layup. Walker added 8 more points, Fields 4 while Lin chipped in with 4 more assists. As a team, they increased their shooting percentage to 56 while the Kings dropped a point from the first half to 32%. It gave D 'Antoni a chance to rest not only Lin but Chandler as well. Neither played a minute in the last period. Lin had averaged 38 minutes in the last 6 games. Because of their lead from beginning to end, he only played 26 minutes. Important in that they will play 3 games in the next 4 nights. The scheduled amount of games and minutes do not concern D 'Antoni when it comes to Lin. "He's 23 years old. He should be able to go forever."

When Jeremy Lin came out of the game he sat next to Carmelo Anthony. Both had Cheshire Cat smiles on their faces, while they chatted and giggled as the reserves continued piling on points.

"We were just having fun talking about how we will be excited when he comes back," said Lin. He's looking forward to the first time they will play together. "He (Anthony) is a lethal scorer. Coming off the pick and roll, he can come off the pick and rolls too. We should be more dangerous offensively."

It's been 7th heaven for Lin and the Knicks since he came off the bench to score 25 points against the Nets in a win that may have just saved his head coach's job. The ride continues Friday night when they face a New Orleans Hornets team that had only 5 wins at the start of the evening.

Can anyone say the 8th Wonder?

In the win against the Orlando Magic, Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points in 26 minutes for the New York Knicks

For the second straight game, the New York Knicks took the floor without Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin. They were able to get a win against Milwaukee Monday night without them as Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points, hitting all 12 of his free-throw attempts while battling a tender groin. But last night, it was the Orlando Magic with their 32-18 record taking the floor at Madison Square Garden.

Magic's guard Jameer Nelson took immediate advantage of the Knicks backcourt, scoring 11 points on 5 of 8 shooting. Orlando took an eight-point lead (24-16) with a little less than 3 minutes to go in the first period. New York finished the period outscoring the Magic 9-5 as Steve Novak scored 5 of those points cutting the deficit to 4 (29-25) as the period came to an end.

With Orlando's Dwight Howard on the bench to begin the second, The Knicks scored the first 6 points to take their first lead of the game (31-29). It started a spark that elevated New York to a shocking 16 point lead before halftime (57-41).

With crisp passing on the offensive end and suffocating defense, the Knicks finished the second period on a 26-12 run. It was capped by a Novak 3-pointer at the buzzer. Both Novak and Anthony finished with 13 points apiece to lead New York while Iman Shumpert, inserted into the starting line-up, contributing 10 points. They shot 54% from the floor while limiting the Magic to 40%. Orlando, who relies heavily on their 3-point shooting, missed 11of their first 13 half attempts (15%). Meanwhile, after a rough start themselves, where the Knicks missed seven of their first nine 3-point attempts, they made four of their last six. The momentum they took in with them carried over to the third period.

If this was a boxing match, the refs would have stopped it so Orlando would not have endured further damage. How good did it get for the Knicks? At one point, the Knicks scored 21 straight points, leading by as many as 39 points (88-49). How bad did it get for Orlando? They missed eight of their first 11 shots as they watched New York pull away.

Magic's head coach Stan Van Gundy was not a happy camper in trying to explain the lopsided loss.

"What's shocking to me is that a team that's playing over .600 basketball could get absolutely rocked by as many teams as we have been." On the 21-point explosion, he said, "we got behind, they hit a lot of shots, they got us down and then we just sort of died."

With the Magic having nothing to lose and Howard and Nelson riding the bench dumfounded by how the game got out of hand, the reserves came out and outscored the Knicks 19-8 to creep within 19 (93-74) to begin the final period. Shumpert scored six of the next eight points, putting Orlando out of its misery.

Carmelo Anthony made the most of his evening finishing with 25 points in 26 minutes, his best game so far this season. He rode the exercise bike to keep his tender groin warm when he wasn't in the game.

Said Anthony afterward, "I just wanted to come out with a focus. My shot was falling today."

The New York Knicks have now won eight of their last nine games and their last six-in-a-row at home. They will be without Stoudemire for at least the next 4 weeks and Lin and his tender knee is on a day to day basis. Interim head coach Mike Woodson has no choice but to go with a smaller line-up.

"We will stay that way for a while," he said afterward. "Teams have to match up with us." He hopes the team continues to not only rebound but to keep the turnovers to a minimum. The Knicks out-rebounded the Magic by 15 (49-34) and had seven fewer turnovers (7-18).

They travel to Atlanta Friday night before returning to the Garden to face Cleveland on Saturday night.

Melo Gores Bulls

April 08, 2012

In a playoff atmosphere, Carmelo Anthony scores 43 points against the Bulls, the 20th time he has scored 40 points or more in a game and his first as a Knick

When the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls last played each other about a month ago, the Knicks were in the middle of a five-game losing streak and head coach Mike D' Antoni still had a job. They played one of their more spirited games during the losing streak, only to come up empty in the 104-99 loss on the road, extending the losing streak to six. To a man, many of the Knicks said they couldn't wait to get back on the court and it showed as right after D' Antoni "resigned" the Knicks went on to win their next five games for interim coach Mike Woodson. Fast forward to Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden on Easter Sunday and New York came out like they had their minds on the last time they faced Chicago.

With last year's MVP (the youngest in league history to win the award) back in the starting lineup after missing the last five games with a groin injury, Derrick Rose was looking to give his team a boost. The Bulls had split their last six games but still managed to come into the game with the best record in the east at 43-13. Right from the start, Rose showed rust missing six of his first seven shots in the first half scoring only seven points.

"I felt good," said Rose of his inauspicious start. "It felt good to be out there. I wasn't trying to do too much."

Meanwhile, the Knicks connected on seven of their first nine shots to take an early 12 point lead (15-3). Carmelo Anthony's torrid shooting (12 points on 5 of 5 field goals) maintained that margin going into the second period. Defensive-minded Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said, "big hole to start the game."

The double-digit lead continued for much of the second period with New York getting as high as 16 (35-19) after a Jared Jeffries offensive rebound and lay-up. Chicago slowly chipped away at the lead getting three more offensive rebounds and converting seven more free-throws to get within eight (53-45). Rose got his basketball legs back to begin the third period as an Anthony jump shot increased the lead to 10 (55-45). Rose scored 14 points tying the game at 67 after nailing a 3-pointer. Chicago ended the period up by three (75-72) setting up one of the best Knicks victories in recent memory.

The ball movement that accounted for the Knicks double-digit lead disappeared as they continually settled for perimeter shots in the fourth period. New York closed the gap to one point (81-80) but Chicago outscored them 10-1, taking a 10-point lead with a little more than 3 minutes left. That's when all the fun began. J.R. Smith, who missed 14 of his 18 field goal attempts (7 of 9 from 3-point land) gets the Knicks within 7 after a rare 3 pointer. The Knicks shut out Chicago the rest of the period as the Bulls not only turned the ball over but missed their last four free-throw attempts that could have secured the victory. Trailing by three, Anthony connects on a deep three-pointer, tying the game at 91. Rose then misses his last-second shot, sending the game into overtime as the sold-out crowd roared its approval.

In overtime, Chicago took a 99-95 lead after Rose and Joakim Noah combined for 8 points. Not to be undaunted, Anthony scores the final 5 points, the last three a trifecta with 8.2 seconds left and Luol Deng all in his face. It was Anthony's 43rd point of the night, a season high. His first as a member of the Knicks and the 20th time he has scored 40 points or more in a game. The play-off type atmosphere had Woodson with a wide grin of satisfaction on his face.

"Unbelievable," he started. "They (Chicago) refused to give in after we got off to a great start. We kept grinding. Our team refused to quit."

Anthony got caught up in the fact that both teams will play each other Tuesday night and may face each other in the playoffs.

"This was a playoff type of game. We might play these guys in the playoffs if we keep going. So this was a big statement game for us. A big win today."

Brooklyn Nets take the first Battle of the Boroughs defeating the New York Knicks 96-89; Brook Lopez scores 22 points and 11 rebounds

It took 13 games and one overtime before the official birth of the Brooklyn (still sounds kind of weird) Nets.

Both teams were supposed to face each other to start the NBA season but then Hurricane Sandy blew into town forcing the game to be canceled. When they finally stepped on the floor Monday night at the Barclays Center, both teams had gotten off to a good start. The first place Knicks had a 1 game lead over the second place Nets who were eager to see if their fan base would truly make this a "home game" for Brooklyn.

Said Nets head coach Avery Johnson before the game, "my first two years was an 80-20 split for their side. I'm hoping for an 80-20 split on our side this time." It was more like 50-50 at the beginning after both teams were introduced in front of the sold out (17,732) crowd.

The Knicks were without Jason Kidd who was out with a sore lower back so head coach Mike Woodson had to tinker with the line-up starting veteran Kurt Thomas and moving Ronnie Brewer to the shooting guard spot. Both teams relied heavily on their bench and in the end, it came down to gritty defense and stamina that allowed Brooklyn to come away with the 96-89 win.

Neither team would lead by more than seven points the entire game. The game, tied 12 times, also had 13 lead changes in regulation. The Nets took a 5-point lead (81-76) with 4:01 left in the 4th quarter after a Brook Lopez dunk. Knicks Carmelo Anthony quickly answered that with a 3-pointer of his own to get them within two points (81-79). It began an 8-0 Knicks run that put them up by 3 (84-81) with 1:38 left and victory in sight.

The teams would trade baskets down the stretch, as a Lopez lay-up and free throw tied the game at 84 (he missed the second attempt that would have given them the lead) once again giving New York a chance at stealing the victory but Anthony's jump shot hit off the rim sending the game into overtime.

Brooklyn then took advantage of the extra five minutes outscoring the Knicks 12-5 to take the first Battle of the Boroughs. The win overshadowed New York's center Tyson Chandler and his career-high 28 points. Anthony, who played 50 minutes, finished with a game-high 35 points on 11-25 shooting. On more than one occasion when Melo went to the free throw line, he was serenaded with chants of M-V-P which were quickly drowned out by the Brooklyn fans.

Nets guard Deron Williams, who finished with a double-double (16 points, 14 assists) was very aware of the home crowd, "It was good to hear them cheering for us the entire game," Williams stated.

Joe Johnson noticed the support as well.

"Every time some sort of Knick contingency started to cheer, our fans got louder and this is what we have been dreaming about since I've been here," Johnson said.

A victory will do that.

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