The Knicks should get back on track in London
Let me start off by saying the Knicks did manage to end their 3-game skid by beating the Hornets 100-87 on Sunday. Yes, the defense came out flat in the first quarter. Yes, Amar’e Stoudemire is still not back to his old form. Yes, they are still having trouble at the point guard position with Raymond Felton out. And yes, Carmelo Anthony revealed he has been fasting. But with 3-days rest along the trip to London and another 3 on the way back, I believe this mini-vacation over the Atlantic is just what the doctor ordered.
There is no denying the Knicks’ defense was horrid in the first quarter on Sunday. They let New Orleans score 29 and were outrebounded 17-10. Although the defense has failed to return to its early season form, Coach Mike Woodson indicated in his post-game press conference that defense would be the prime focus in practice heading into London. He believes it is a matter of practice reps, and I agree with him. Early on the Knicks were playing phenomenal technical defense and winning in the half-court. I do not think they lost that ability, rather they got lethargic and have been late coming off switches. I think the extra practice time should help solve that problem.
Moving on to Amar’e Stoudemire. While his stats haven’t been very “STAT” like, as he’s been playing more and more minutes, and whether you noticed on Sunday, his game is improving. On Sunday, I saw an Amar’e who not only had a quick step, but was forceful in the paint. He finished with 12 points and 3 rebounds in just 23 minutes of playing time. After the game, Coach Woodson said Amar’e had been cleared to play 30 minutes. I believe it’s that simple, the more minutes he gets, the more Amar’e will look like his old self in the next few games.
The point guard position has been weak with Raymond Felton out. There has been a lack of penetration and cohesion. But Jason Kidd is a wily veteran and is probably one of the smartest players in the NBA. Furthermore, Pablo Prigioni seems to have finally figured out his role and looks even better alongside Kidd out on the floor. But the biggest boost to the point guard position will come from the return of Iman Shumpert, who will play on Thursday. Shumpert brings a more physical and defensive presence than either Kidd or Prigioni, and he should hold the fort down until Felton comes back.
Finally, and what everyone probably wants to read about. Carmelo Anthony did indeed tell reporters after the game that he had been fasting for about 15 days. Obviously, Anthony has been going through some tough personal issues. While Knicks fans may not like hearing their star player isn’t eating, let me remind them that he put up 27 points and 7 rebounds. Most of couldn’t do that even if we ate 5-star meals prepared by our own personal chefs, so clearly Melo is capable of more than your Average Joe. Nonetheless, he said he’s done with it now, and is looking forward to the long trip to London, where this past summer he lit up the Olympics. As the game kicks off at 3:00, I think he’ll remind Londoners and everyone else of why he left London with a single-game Olympic scoring record and a gold medal.