KNICKS 104 BOBCATS 84| TIME WARNER CABLE ARENA
How it happened:
Heading into Thursday’s season finale in Charlotte, the main objective for the Knicks was to maintain health and rest with their first round postseason series set for Saturday. Interim head coach Mike Woodson decided to start Mike Bibby, Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields, Josh Harrellson, and Amar’e Stoudemire against the league’s worst team. Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony, and Baron Davis did not step on the floor one night after New York topped the Clippers at Madison Square Garden.
While Chandler, Anthony, and Davis needed the night off, Stoudemire was searching for rhythm following his extended absence due to the bulging disk in his back. The big man went to work early by scoring 10 points in the first 12 minutes of the contest at the center position.
J.R. Smith carried the Knicks offense throughout the second quarter as he scored 13 of his 15 points in the period. New York’s sixth man took a hard hit early in the quarter but he bounced back nicely with a flashy double-clutch dunk at the 8:15 mark. Reserve center Jerome Jordan also contributed in the frame by posting eight points and the Knicks led by two heading into the locker room.
Stoudemire was crisp in the third quarter and put on a show for the Charlotte crowd watching at Time Warner Cable Arena. At the 10:29 mark, Stoudemire pounded a big dunk down the middle of the lane with the Knicks leading by four. In the midst of pouring in 11 third period points, he also showed a flashback one-handed thunderous jam over Tyrus Thomas. The highlight reel dunk came off a slip screen and bounce pass from Bibby, who finished with 12 assists in the win.
With the game out of reach for the Bobcats, Woodson placed Stoudemire on the bench for the fourth quarter. New York held its sizeable advantage during the final stanza and cruised to a 104-84 road win. Improving to 36-30 on the season, the Knicks will take a three-game winning streak into the playoffs while Charlotte fell to 7-59, the worst winning percentage in league history. Smith scored a game-high 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting and six dimes on Thursday night.
Stoudemire’s explosive dunks were electrifying and a terrific sign for the postseason as he continues to regain conditioning lost from the back injury. He certainly displayed the athleticism that has made him an NBA star to go along with a solid shooting night, 9-for15 from the floor.
The Knicks dominated inside the box tonight by outscoring the Bobcats 50-30 in the paint.
State of the Playoffs:
New York secured the No. 7 seed in the playoff with the win over Charlotte. The Sixers fell in their season finale against Detroit, so the Knicks would have remained at seven regardless of their outcome on Thursday. On Saturday, New York will face the two-seeded Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first round series.
The Knicks will travel to Miami on Friday for a practice session before squaring off against the Heat on Saturday.