By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
KNICKS 101, BOBCATS 91 | The Time Warner Cable Arena
How it happened:
The Knicks restored order tonight in Charlotte. Behind Andrea Bargnani's breakout performance in his first test as starting center, the team responded to the season's slow start by pulling together for a much-needed road win.
The summer's key addition stepped up in the place of Tyson Chandler, shouldering a larger portion of the scoring load, but also injecting some of the energy we've come to expect from the injured All-Star.
Bargnani matched his season total with eight rebounds and dominated the interior with five resounding blocked shots. On offense, he looked more comfortable than he had at any point since coming to New York, scoring 25 points, including three 3-pointers, in 35 minutes -- by far his season high.
The team as a whole did a great job moving the ball, leading to more open looks than they had been getting during their three-game skid. They finished with 24 assists on the night, a big improvement from the 12 they mustered in Tuesday's loss to the same Bobcats at the Garden.
Carmelo Anthony, who scored 32 in the last meeting, was much more efficient tonight, scoring 28 points on 12-of-22 shooting, with eight boards and six assists. Even more encouraging was that even with Chandler out, Melo, the NBA's leading minute-getter (42 per game) only had to play 39 in the win.
The new starting backcourt of Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni made significant contributions on both ends of the floor, keeping the ball moving and, along with Iman Shumpert, pestering Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker for most of the night before Walker got hot late. Prigioni and Felton scored 24 points between them, wtih seven assists and seven rebounds and only one turnover.
"We finally put a 48-minute ballgame together," said Coach Mike Woodson afterward. Indeed, everyone he put out on the floor pitched in.
Pressed into action with a thin front court, Amar'e Stoudemire made both of his shots for five points and took two charges. Kenyon Martin gave 10 minutes of tough defense. Metta World Peace continued to provide a boost off the bench, scoring nine points with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in 29 minutes.
Knick of the Night:
Bargnani. The significance of his emergence tonight cannot be overstated. Set against the loss of Chandler for 4-6 weeks, his assertiveness and ability to anchor the paint and knock down shots in the flow of the offense has to be the most encouraging takeaway from tonight's win.
After getting back into the win column, the Knicks head home for a star-studded Sunday matinee at the Mecca against the Spurs. J.R. Smith will make his return to the lineup as New York aims to even its record at 3-3.