By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
ROCKETS 102, KNICKS 100 | TOYOTA CENTER
How it happened:
The Knicks were of the verge of winning their second game in two nights against two of the best teams in the Western Conference. As they had on Thursday in San Antonio, the Knicks went blow for blow in a contest that came down to the final seconds.
Tied at 100 with less under 24 seconds to play, Tyson Chandler secured an offensive rebound and the shot clock turned off. Free to hold for the final shot, the ball wound up in J.R. Smith's hands, standing wide open at the top of the key.
Smith elected to pull the trigger, the shot glanced off the back of the rim, Beno Udrih picked up a loose ball foul charging after it and Aaron Brooks knocked down two free throws. The Rockets led, 102-100, with 17 seconds to play.
On the final possession, the Knicks managed a handful of clean looks, but after rebounding an Iman Shumpert miss, the game down to an Udrih runner that spun around the rim before falling out as time expired.
It was a frustrating defeat for New York after another hard-fought battle against such a quality opponent. The Knicks mounted comebacks on at least three separate occassions, answering Houston runs with a mix of long-range shooting and aggressive basket drives.
James Harden caught fire for the Rockets (37 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists), but as he went off for 16 points in the 3rd quarter, the Knicks responded. Rather than let Houston pull away, Carmelo Anthony (25 points, 8 rebounds) and Shumpert (26 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds) keyed a 20-7 run and combined for 24 points in the period.
New York came out attacking in the fourth, putting Houston in the penalty with nearly eight minutes left. For a second straight night, Shumpert made huge shots down the stretch, going 6-for-6 from downtown in the game. They showed up for the challenge, but just weren't able to get the bucket they needed at the end.
Chandler, who pulled down the rebound before Smith's shot, played tough all night and finished with 13 points and 11 assists.
Knick of the Night:
After barely edging out Melo for this honor last night, Shumpert wins the award outright tonight because his emergence in 2014 could be a such huge factor for the Knicks. Most impressive these last two games has been his efficiency, tonight going 9-for-14 from the floor.
The Knicks have a chance to finish their Texas road trip with a winning record when they visit the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night.