KNICKS 121 BLAZERS 79 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
The frustration of a six-game losing streak reached a boiling point on Wednesday and the Knicks took out their anger on the visiting Blazers. In a 121-79 romp over Portland, the home team emphatically snapped the skid while excelling under interim head coach Mike Woodson.
Prior to tipoff, executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company Jim Dolan, interim general manager Glen Grunwald, and Woodson addressed the media regarding the mutual agreement by the Knicks and Mike D’Antoni to part ways.
From the opening minutes, New York exuded the type of energy, effort, and execution needed to reverse the free fall. Carmelo Anthony was extremely aggressive early with eight points in six minutes to set the tone for his squad. After 12 minutes of action, New York held the Blazers to just 12 points and 25 percent shooting from the floor. He finished with 16 points and seven assists while pacing the team throughout the first half.
During the next 24 minutes of play, the Knicks stomped on the pedal, turning aggressive defense into offensive opportunities. New York forced 27 Portland turnovers that directly led to 31 points. The Knicks defensive unit stifled the Blazers to only 37.3 percent shooting from the floor.
Utilizing his full arsenal, Woodson played 10 Knicks in the first quarter and the bench was rejuvenated in the second half. J.R. Smith scored 23 of his 25 points in the game and he drilled 7-of-14 long bombs on the night. Steve Novak was just as deadly by hitting 6-of-10 3-pointers and 20 points in the resounding victory.
The distribution of the basketball was just as impressive. The Knicks dished out a combined 42 dimes compared to the Blazers 11 assists.
New York scored 43 fourth quarter points while improving to 19-24 on the season and tied with the Bucks for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
“For out ream it is very important. We are still trying to stay in the playoff hunt. You have to win at home. When you have a team that hasn’t been assembled that long, the first thing is learning to win at home. We have struggled this year winning at home. Tonight, they responded. It was an emotional day losing your head coach. They stepped up. They made plays on both ends of the floor. What I was very impressed about is that they defended and shared the ball offensively.” – interim head coach Mike Woodson
The Knicks connected on 19-of-38 attempts from downtown, a remarkable 50 percent for the game.
Anthony has received a ton of criticism over the last couple of weeks but the small forward showed determination every minute he was on the floor on Wednesday night. In 24 minutes of court time, Anthony hit 6-of-12 shots from the floor, 3-of-6 behind the arc, and had several highlight reel dishes to his teammates on the fastbreak. As one of the captains on the team, the All-Star was also seen cheering from the bench and in constant communication throughout the win.
The Knicks will practice at Madison Square Garden Training Center on Thursday afternoon in preparation for a back-to-back set against the Indiana Pacers on Friday and Saturday.