We wouldn’t be surprised to see Iman Shumpert in a cowboy hat, bolo tie, and at a pub in Texas dazzling the locals with his Dosey Doe skills. Listen, he seemed right at home during the three-game Texas triangle road trip for the Knicks.
Throwing the Texas stereotypes aside for a moment and seriously examining Shumpert’s impact is of great importance to a New York team in desperate search of a secondary scorer, wing defender, and clutch performer.
All of Shumpert’s game-changing attributes were on display in games against the Spurs, Rockets, and Mavericks over the last four days. Prior to the road trip, the third-year guard acknowledged his struggles this season, only averaging 6.2 points per game on 35.9 percent shooting from the floor and 30.5 percent behind the arc. This production dip was worrisome considering the significant strides displayed last season, especially as a corner long ball shooter and elite defender.
A completely different version of Shumpert appeared in Texas as he posted staggering numbers. In the three games, Shumpert averaged 20.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 steals, and 2.0 assists. He shot a blistering 76.5 percent from the 3-point line and hit 68.8 percent of his shots from the floor.
On Thursday night in San Antonio, Knicks fans witnessed the 2012-13 Shumpert as he unleashed a devastating barrage of long distance bombs on the Spurs. He connected on 6-of-8 shots from downtown as part of a 10-for-13 shooting performance and 27 points. With the game on the line Shumpert also delivered the finishing blows to the reigning Western Conference champs.
Tied at 98-98, New York won a scramble for the loose ball before J.R. Smith dished a pass to Shumpert for the go-ahead 3-pointer with 39 seconds on the game clock. Locked at 101-101 just five seconds later, the 23-year old defied gravity by hanging in the air just long enough to tip-in an errant shot from Carmelo Anthony. Both plays served as monumental possessions in New York’s unexpected 105-101 road win in San Antonio.
“He saved us,” Carmelo Anthony smiled in the visitor’s locker room on Thursday evening. “He saved the day. Some big time rebounds, some putbacks, he was back to the old Shump that we fell in love with. Just his effort tonight, it boosted everybody’s confidence, it boosted his confidence and helped us win the game.”
Shumpert was even more impressive the following night against the Rockets despite the disappointing result of the contest. Taking full advantage of open opportunities off of double teams aimed at Anthony, Shumpert knocked down 6-of-6 shots from the arc and finished with 26 points to go along with five assists and four boards in 35 minutes of court time. His offensive efficiency helped the Knicks remain in control for most of the game until James Harden exploded in the fourth and some miscues late led to New York’s demise.
On the final stop on the Texas tour, Shumpert played stifling defense on the explosive Monta Ellis, blew past Dirk Nowitzki for a spectacular reverse layup, and smashed the nail in the coffin with a 3-pointer to push the Knicks advantage to nine points with 1:13 left in the game. New York secured the 92-80 victory over the Mavericks and it completed a successful 2-1 Texas trip in large part due to Shumpert’s impactful performances.
“He’s playing pretty well right now. He’s in a nice groove and we want to try to keep him there because anything that he can do the way he is playing is a positive for our ball club and he puts in nice positions to win games,” head coach Mike Woodson asserted.
Shumpert shot the lights out in Texas. The city slickers now return to Madison Square Garden riding the momentum provided by one of their primary weapons.