By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
KNICKS CELTICS | VERIZON WIRELESS ARENA
How it happened:
Tonight was a homecoming for West Baltimore's own Carmelo Anthony, and the Knicks' star put on a show for the many adoring fans that hadn't seen him play in person since his days at Towson Catholic High School. The superstar came out firing and stayed in the game longer (29 minutes) than he may have in a "regular" preseason game, finishing with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists as the Knicks hung on for a 98-89 win over the Wizards.
New York improved to 2-2 for the preseason, putting the team back on track after what Coach Mike Woodson called disappointing losses to the Raptors and Celtics.
Andrea Bargnani joined Melo with an efficient scoring night, pouring in 13 points on only seven shots and making all four of his free throw attempts. Assistant Coach Herb Williams said the coaching staff implored Bargnani to be more aggressive on offense, and the big man responded with his best game as a Knick.
The Orange and Blue struggled to contain Washington's attack in the first half, specifically the explosive backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal. They combined for 35 points and eight assists and the Wizards' managed to outscore the Knicks, 44-30 in the paint.
But the Knicks were able to hold off Washington in the second half, a testament to the extraordinary depth of the roster. With both Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni leaving the game early with elbow injuries, others stepped up. Tim Hardaway Jr. (14 points and five rebounds) showed some new wrinkles to his game, making some plays in the open court -- he and Beno Udrih (12 points and two assists in 26 minutes) didn't miss a beat from the starters, instilling confidence that they are ready when their numbers are called.
Toure' Murry continued to make a case for a roster spot, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting with two rebounds, two assists and two steals. "He played great again," said Woodson after the game. "This is two back-to-back games that he's played great." He plays with great poise for a rookie, as evidenced by his one turnover in 25 minutes of ballhandling duties. Big man Ike Diogu also turned in his second consecutive positive performance, finishing with 10 points and eight boards in 23 minutes.
Knick of the Night:
There were plenty of positive performances, but the night belonged to Melo. He said "emotions were flying high" as he prepared to play, and he delivered a typically impressive performance.
The Knicks' next game is next Monday in Toronto.