August 18, 2018

On The Way To NBA Playoffs, Nets Take Advantage of 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers were clearly the surprise team in the eastern conference in a strike-shortened season last year under third-year head coach Doug Collins. They stunned the heavily favored Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs after Derrick Rose tore up his knee in Game 1. Then they pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games before succumbing in a very physical series. So there was plenty of optimism coming into this year especially after they traded for center Andrew Bynum. Unfortunately for Bynum and the team, he never played a minute because of knee surgery. Philadelphia is basically playing out the string 14 games under .500 (31-45) when they came to Brooklyn to face the playoff-bound Nets.

The Nets took advantage of an undersized Philly team as Brook Lopez (19) and Reggie Evans (14) first-half points helped establish a 19-point (56-37) first half lead. As a team, the Nets also dominated the boards outrebounding the 76ers by 20 (36-16). Defensively, Brooklyn limited Philadelphia to a meager 34% on 14 of 41 shooting. The Nets shot 49% themselves turning the ball over only 4 times. Shooting guard Joe Johnson playing in his second consecutive game after missing the previous 5, connected on 4 of 7 shots (8 points) still a little confused as to why he was passed over as an offensive option in the last two possessions in the loss to Chicago last Thursday. His backcourt mate Deron Williams was held scoreless for the first time this season attempting only 2 shots.

Philadelphia was down 1 point (16-15) after a Jrue Holiday 3-pointer when Brooklyn outscored them 15-3 the rest of the quarter for a 13 point lead (31-18). Lopez and Evans combining for 25 of the 31 points. The 76ers managed to get back in the game trimming the lead to 5 (38-33) after a Nick Young short jumper. Again, the Nets went on a scoring tear finishing the half on an 18 to 5 run extending the lead to 18 (56-38).

Things would only get worse for the 76ers in the second half as the Nets continued to dominate on both ends of the floor. The rebounding number was an astounding 67 to 34 (24-8 offensive) in favor of Brooklyn with Evans corralling in 24 all by himself.

Said Evans afterward on what the team wanted to do to Philly, "We wanted to hit (the 76ers) upside the head."

It was blunt force trauma in the 104-83 win.

Five Nets finished with double-figure points as Lopez finished with 29. Nick Young came off the bench for Philly to score 18 points in a season that can't end fast enough for them.

Even with the win, Brooklyn lost a chance at winning the division when the Knicks routed Washington. The Nets, however, will be looking to lock up the 4th seed and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Their next 2 games on the road against Boston and Indiana will be tough before ending the year against lesser teams Toronto, Washington, and Detroit.

The Brooklyn Nets may not have any NBA All-Stars this season, but that did not stop their confidence, as they beat the Atlanta Hawks tonight at the Barclays Center, 94-89.

After a 14-point loss to the Hawks Wednesday night, Deron Williams led his team with 24 points; Brook Lopez finished with 20 points.

Nets interim coach, PJ Carlesimo said before the game, "It's easier when you play the same team, just makes your preparation better."

Former Hawks' guard Joe Johnson added 18 points and helped Brooklyn maintain its lead for the entire fourth quarter.

Prior to tonight's game, Hawks' head coach Larry Drew praised Johnson as a great addition to his new team.

"Brooklyn is a talented team. Joe is starting to find his rhythm."

A (Joe) rhythm that Drew still lacks on his team.

"When Joe left, it was tough. We had 9-10 new faces and we had to make them look familiar."

Familiarity was not in Atlanta's favor tonight, hitting only 5 of 22 from the field in the final quarter. Jeff Teague finished with a double-double, 21 points, and 10 assists.

Brooklyn is now 16-7 at home, with an overall record of 24-16. Under Carlesimo, the team has won 10 games.

The Nets play the Knicks on Monday, their third matchup this season.

Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, and Deron Williams helped to propel the Nets over the Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors helped the Brooklyn Nets christen the Barclays Center when they faced each other to open up the 2012-2013 season. The Nets came away with the 107-100 victory, which started the Nets on an 11-4 record (franchise best for wins in a month) and yielded a coach of the month award for Nets former head coach Avery Johnson.

December became a month to forget as Brooklyn would lose 11 of 16 games costing Coach Johnson his job. Since then, interim head coach PJ Carlesimo has taken advantage of a schedule that had the Nets playing only 2 teams (Oklahoma and Indiana) with winning records during their six-game winning streak. Brooklyn looked to stay perfect against the Raptors. Why not, the team has already beaten the Raptors twice this season; once at home and one on the road. Tonight Brooklyn played host for the last time against a Toronto team who were once again playing without its forward Andre Bargnani out with a right elbow/wrist injury.

After a slow start in which the teams were tied after the first quarter at 27, Toronto went up by as many as 10 points (40-30) before Brooklyn outscored the Raptors 16-10 aided by Mirza Teletovic coming off the bench and hitting 2 straight 3-pointers giving the Nets a 54-50 halftime lead.

Said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey of Teletovic, "he came in and opened up the game. We lost him in transition a couple of times and he's too great of a shooter to have miscommunication."

Brook Lopez led all scorers with 14 first-half points with Deron Williams chipping in 12.

Toronto continued to play Brooklyn tough through most of the third quarter (66-65) when Williams, Joe Johnson and Keith Bogans nailed trifectas sandwiched around two Lopez free throws extending the lead to 77-68.

Said Lopez, "that has kind of been the story for us the past few games; the second halves are really where we bring the energy."

The momentum carried over to the final quarter as the Nets came out on a 10-2 run opening up a 15-point lead (93-78) with a little more than eight minutes to go in the game.

Brooklyn kept a double-digit lead for the next 6 1/2 minutes paced by Williams, Lopez and Joe Johnson who all scored more than 20 points. It sealed their 7th straight win 113-106, as they get set to play back to back games against the Atlanta Hawks beginning Wednesday night on the road. The Hawks scored a pathetic 5 points in the second quarter in their loss to the Bulls Tuesday night.

Brooklyn can't help but think they can extend their winning streak to 9 games.

Nets Lose to the Bulls 92-90

With Derrick Rose still contemplating his return to the Chicago Bulls lineup and the Brooklyn Nets looking to solidify its playoff spot, both teams met for the last time in the regular season Thursday night at the Barclays Center. The Nets Joe Johnson returned to the starting lineup after missing the last five games (sore left heel) while the Bulls were without Rose, Marco Belinelli (abdominal strain), Taj Gibson (left knee), Richard Hamilton (lower back) and Joakim Noah (right foot) who were all listed day to day.

Riding the hot hand of Brooklyn's Brook Lopez (18 points on 8 of 9 shooting) and taking advantage of the absence of Noah, the Nets jumped all over Chicago right from the start getting out to a 13-point first period (26-13) lead. While Lopez sat for half of the second period, guard Deron Williams picked up the slack scoring 8 points as the defense stepped up limiting the Bulls to only 37% from the floor (0-5 from 3 point land) taking 9-point (47-36) halftime lead. Then Chicago's head coach Tom Thibodeau delivered a message to his team that was well received.

It began on the defensive end as Chicago allowed Brooklyn only 20 points clamping down on their perimeter shooting.

Said Thibodeau, "I thought our intensity picked up. and we had more energy on offense."

The Nets missed 11 out of 16 shots (31%) while the Bulls made 50% of their own (13-26) putting 29 points on the scoreboard. Brooklyn, who at one point enjoyed a 16 (36-20) point lead, entered the final quarter leading only by 2 (67-65) after 2 Williams free throws.

Neither team would lead by no more than 4 points (4 ties) as both squads intensified their defense. The last tie coming with 1:55 left (84-84) when Williams was fouled on a drive to the basket. After converting the free throw, he scored on a short jumper extending the lead to 3 (90-87) the last lead his team would see.

Chicago began its winning 5-0 run with Luol Deng hitting a long jump shot to get them within 1 point (90-89) before ex-Knicks and perennial pest Nate Robinson made his presence known. Robinson began by forcing a Lopez turnover and after a 20 second Bulls timeout, he dribbled right past the free throw line floating up a soft jump shot that gave Chicago the lead (91-90).

"Coach said get it and go if we got a turnover or rebound," said Robinson describing the play.

Brooklyn had plenty of time left (22.7) with a chance to at least send the game into overtime. It did not happen.

Williams broke down the Bulls defense and shuffled the ball off to Lopez who looked like he had a clear layup or dunk but did not have total control of the ball on the way up. It allowed the Bulls veteran Nzar Mohammed to fully extend, cleanly blocking the shot. He then had the composure to grab the rebound. A Chicago free throw pushed the lead to 2 (92-90) giving Brooklyn yet another shot at tying or outright winning the game.

Inbounding the ball with 5.5 seconds, Williams once again penetrated to below the foul line and shuffles the pass to Lopez again. His 17' fadeaway rolled around the rim before falling out as Chicago escaped with the 92-90 victory.

Brooklyn's interim head coach P.J. Carlesimo had no problem with the decisions Williams made down the stretch.

"Deron made a very good decision both times. He found Brook going to the basket the first time and he found him wide open the second time," he said.

Unfortunately, neither resulted in a basket.

The Chicago Bulls took 3 out of 4 games from the Brooklyn Nets which may be a factor in the playoff seedings if they end up with the same record at the end of the year.

"We're trying to get better each game," said Robinson. "It's something that the coach always harps on. Play your best basketball towards the end of the season."

Poor execution held Knicks back in 1st half, but able to eke out a win over the Cavs in closing minutes

The New York Knicks started the second half of their season against the Cleveland Cavaliers (13-19) with a roster that had players that didn’t play the first time they faced each other. The game played in Cleveland and won by the home team (91-81) had everyone talking about guard Kyrie Irving the way all have been talking about Jeremy Lin. Irving had a less than impressive night finishing with only 7 points and 7 assists. But with New York turning the ball over 23 times, leading to 24 Cavaliers points, Cleveland went on to the 10 point victory for their 7th win of the year. Fast forward to last night when New York played host with head coach Mike D’ Antoni having a true point guard in Lin and veteran back-ups in Baron Davis and J.R. Smith. They also had at their disposal Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrellson who missed time with injuries. Finding the right combination with a full roster was the dilemma facing D’ Antoni.

It did not matter what combination of players D’ Antoni put on the floor in the first half as the Knicks came out as if they all had all participated in every event that took place during NBA All-Star weekend. New York would never lead in the first 24 minutes of the game as Cleveland, coming off their 3 point loss to Boston the night before, jumped all over the Knicks. The Cavs shot 54% taking a 12 point halftime lead. Antwan Jamison led all scorers with 15 points (2 of 3 from 3-point land) while both Tyson Chandler and Jeremy Lin scored 10 points for New York. As poorly as they played, the Knicks were only down by 7 (36-29) with a little less than 10 minutes to go in the second quarter. Over the next 9 minutes, Cleveland outscored the Knicks 25-15 to take a 17 point lead (61-44). Only a 5 point spurt by New York reduced the lead to 61-49.

Said D ‘Antoni of the first half malaise, “it was a matter of rust,” he started. “We just talked about the spirit and the team effort we needed to have in the second half.”

The defense that was non-existent in the first-half, came to life in the 3rd quarter.

New York forced 8 Cleveland turnovers and outscored them 33-19 by the end of the period. They took their first lead of the game with 2:52 left after a Steve Novak 3-pointer. Novak, who established himself in the first half of the season with his deadly 3-point shooting, picked up right where he left off. Novak would hit 2 more 3-pointers before the end of the period as New York took a 2 point lead (82-80) heading into the final 12 minutes.

“He was ridiculous,” said D’ Antoni.

Novak’s hot shooting continued to begin the 4th as he hit the next 2, 3-pointers that extended the Knicks lead to 8 points (90-82). Just when you thought the Cavaliers were about to call it a night, Irving connects on a 3 pointer of his own to cut the lead to 8 (106-98) with less than 3 minutes to go. It was the Lin show the rest of the way. He began with 2 free throws, scored on a lay-up and assisted on 2 other baskets. The last assist, an ally-oop slam with Iman Shumpert on the receiving end.

Lawrence Frank Grinds On

February 01, 2012

Lawrence Frank, head coach of the Detroit Pistons has seen better days. The first year has not started kindly for the guy who as an assistant coach under Doc Rivers of the Boston Celtics. Frank helped the Celtics give up the fewest points in the NBA. However, that hasn't been the case in the first 22 games this year, his first with the Pistons.

They came into Madison Square Garden having lost 18 of those games. It hasn't helped that his key player, Ben Gordon from Yonkers, has been out the last 5 games with a shoulder injury. In the 15 games he's played, Gordon averaged 33 minutes and 15 points. Will Bynum (strained right foot) and Charlie Villanueva (sore right ankle) have missed significant time as well. It's life in a league that had to start the year with a shortened training camp and an abbreviated pre-season schedule. Those facts have not been lost on Frank.

"It is what it is," Frank said after watching his team get romped by the Knicks 113-86 on a night where they allowed New York to shoot 60% from the floor and 50% from 3-point land. "There's no excuse. We have to do better with what we have."

For more than 7 years, Frank was the head coach of the New Jersey Nets taking over after then head coach Byron Scott was fired at the end of January during the 2004 season. He quickly made news by winning his first 13 games. No other coach in the four major professional sports began their career in such fashion. Six of those games came on the road, setting another record. When he was let go at the end of the 2009-10 season, Frank was the Nets all-time leader in coaching victories. Under his guidance, Frank's team made the playoffs 4 years in a row, including winning the Atlantic Division twice and advancing to the Conference Semi-Finals three times. Taking over a Detroit franchise that has seen better days may be Frank's most daunting task.

The Detroit Pistons championships years has been well documented. Led by Isiah Thomas and Joe Dumars they won back-to-back NBA Titles in 1989 and 1990 against the Lakers and Portland respectfully. Those teams were led by legendary head coach Chuck Daly and the Bad Boys moniker was established by their hardcore defensive players, Dennis Rodman, Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer.

"When I was in New Jersey they (the Pistons) had to go through us in the eastern conference semi-finals. They were a hard-nosed, blue-collar defense first. Share the basketball, team first, grind it out team. Very tough-minded," said Frank.

It would take them 14 years (2004) to win their next championship, with a team that was built more on finesse and athleticism. Larry Brown was at the helm coaching Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Tashuan Prince and Ben Wallace. They defeated a heavily favored Lakers team that included Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O' Neal. Prince and Wallace are still with the Pistons and although they lost the following year to San Antonio, neither has been close to another final. Prince, who finished with 10 points on 5 of 10 shooting, believes the core is there to build another winner. Prince knows he and Wallace can guide the rest of the team in the right direction.

"At some point, we have to build a foundation to where we're going to get to that."

It would help if they could get Gordon, Bynum and Villanueva back and healthy, as soon as possible.

Knicks Cage Bobcats

March 30, 2013

New York Knicks Keep Winning Streak Alive Beating Charlotte Bobcats 111-102

Riding the current longest NBA winning streak (6 games) after the Heat streak was broken at 27 by the Chicago Bulls this past Wednesday, the New York Knicks faced a Charlotte Bobcats team that had only won 17 games when they stepped on the Madison Square Garden hardwood floor Friday night. Head coach Mike Woodson was not concerned about getting his team up against a club that had lost 54 games up to this point.

"They're next in line," Woodson said prior to tip-off. "It doesn't matter who we play. It's all about what we do as a team. We've been playing some pretty good basketball as of late. We're trying to stay at the top of our division. This is an important game. Every game from here on out is important for our ball club."

Right from the start, New York treated Charlotte like the team with the worst record (Orlando started the night with 18 wins) in the league. Like they did Wednesday night against Memphis, the Knicks jumped out to a huge first-period lead (38-20) behind 13 Carmelo Anthony points. J.R. Smith continued his scorching play. He chipped in 9 points (4-6 shooting) looking to score more than 30 points for the third straight game. Iman Shumpert, who hit his first 3-pointers against Memphis, picked up right where he left off. Eight of his points came from behind the three-point arc. Shumpert has converted 6 of 8 three-pointers in the last two games.

By halftime, the contest (if that's what you want to call it) resembled the latest NBA video game, as the Knicks lead ballooned to as many as 30 points (58-28) with Smith adding 14 more points. As a team, New York shot a blistering 62% from the floor including an eye-opening 75% from 3 point land. The Bobcats never had a chance as they were in the crosshairs of the Knicks all night.

Unlike the Grizzlies game, when the Knicks saw its 30 point lead dwindle to five, Charlotte really never made it a game even though they did outscore the Knicks 31-22 in the final period. The Bobcats managed to close the gap to 7 (104-97) but Smith did it on the defensive end with a steal, leading to free throws by Anthony sealing the game.

The streak extends to seven games with Smith scoring 37 points and pretty much locking up the NBA's 6th man award. Something his head coach said was a reasonable goal at the start of the year. His teammates have been impressed.

"He (Smith) is focused," said Anthony. "He is dialed in, locked in. His confidence is sky high. We are following his lead."

Knicks guard Jason Kidd, who began the year starting but now is coming off the bench, compared Smith to a golfer saying "he's putting well. He hasn't hit a bad drive. He's playing as well as anybody right now."

It's been a long time in the memory of Smith since he can recall playing this well.

"I haven't been on a streak like this since high school," he said.

The New York Knicks went on their customary west coast drought (1-4) dealing with injuries and could have easily fallen off the top of the division. Smith found his game at the right time becoming only the second player since 1990 to score more than 30 points in 3 straight games coming off the bench. The Knicks winning streak extends to seven games when they host the Boston Celtics Sunday night.

Brandon Jennings scored a game and season-high 36 points for the Bucks, and Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 35 points for the New York Knicks

With the New York Knicks offense struggling and the team on a 5-game losing streak, head coach Mike D 'Antoni can't wait until Baron Davis gets healthy enough to bring stability and veteran leadership to the backcourt. It may not happen for a couple of more weeks, but it's not because of a lack of effort on Davis' part.

Prior to the game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night, Davis talked about his health and the state of the team. It hasn't been easy watching the team go through the offensive funk that has them averaging only 88 points in their 8 losses. They have scored over 100 points only 3 times, winning 2 of those games. Defensively they have been better than in the past under D 'Antoni giving up 100 points or more in 4 out of the 14 games they've played. With Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire on the floor, points should not be hard to come by. Both have been in a funk evidenced by their poor performance in the Wednesday night loss to Phoenix. They combined for 35 points but needed 44 shots to do so. Only Stoudemire's free throws (9 out of 10) made his final line look respectable. Granted, Anthony has been hampered by a sore wrist and ankle and Stoudemire may still be dealing with a sore back, but as a team, they have not moved the ball well enough to give their teammates open looks and uncontested shots. That's where Davis is hoping to contribute when he's ready to play.

"I can shoot, dribble and a lot of spot shooting," said Davis sitting in front of his locker.

He basically does this alone with the help of the assistant coaches and watched closely by the training staff. He's doing things in moderation while working on conditioning drills.

"It's a process," he continued. "It's strength, it's conditioning, it's balance. It's being able to do that on a consistent basis day in and day out and wake up the next day and be ready to progress forward. I'm making leaps and bounds and huge strides to get myself on the court."

In the meantime, when the ball goes up in the air, Davis is relegated to being a cheerleader and teacher. When Toney Douglas' poor early season play forced D 'Antoni to bench him in favor of first-year guard Iman Shumpert, Davis had already been mentoring him while he was waiting to come off the bench. He was giving Shumpert advice and making sure he never lost confidence. Shumpert isn't his only pupil.

"We have a lot of young guys on the team," Davis continued. "If I see a weakness in a defender on the floor I will talk with Toney or Shumpert about it. I try and work with the younger guys to get them to hone in on the fundamentals. As we proceed thru the season, those are the things that are going to push us over the top."

As he watches his team from the bench, dressed to the nines, Baron Davis is learning the offense he will be running as soon as his back can handle the everyday pounding. As easy as it may look from his vantage point, putting it into action with a new group won't be easy. He doesn't think it will take that long to pick things up.

"I'm the type of person that I pick up things very, very quickly when I'm out there."

He will do that with a starting line-up that is still trying to develop offensive cohesiveness.

"Any time you have these many new faces in a system, it takes everyone to really catch a rhythm and to get on a roll. You have to be patient. Offensively I know that will come around."

It didn't come around against the Bucks as New York fell behind early in the fourth quarter by as many as 17 points in their 100-86 loss. Brandon Jennings, who torched the Knicks the last time he touched the Madison Square Garden floor for 37 points, scored a game and season-high 36 points. Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 35 points but his frustration showed after with 1:33 left in the game as he was hit with his second technical foul resulting in his ejection. The Knicks lost for the 5th straight time and their 3rd straight at home. D 'Antoni said the team was in "crisis" after Wednesday's loss. You can add turmoil as well.

"It's the whole team," he said afterward. "We are just not sharp. It looks like they are running circles around us. It is not just one guy. We wouldn't be this bad. Again, we have to dig deeper and get through this."

Getting Baron Davis on the floor would be a good start.

New York Knicks Defeat Charlotte Bobcats 91-87

It wasn't pretty. In fact, it almost turned out to be worse than the last time these two teams played each other. In the end, it was the New York Knicks making 30 of 40 free throws in escaping with a 91-87 over the Charlotte Bobcats in their second meeting in less than a week at Madison Square Garden.

When they met last Wednesday, the Bobcats totally embarrassed the Knicks. This was after the Toronto Raptors did the exact same thing 2 nights earlier. Blame the early schedule, lack of a regular training camp and missing players due to injury. Still, New York had no excuse losing to two teams that didn't even qualify for the playoffs last year. The Knicks did regroup the last two games on the road defeating Washington and Detroit on the road to get their record back to .500 sitting in second place behind Philadelphia. Now it was time to get revenge against a Bobcat team that hadn't won a game since they left the World's Most Famous Arena.

Said head coach Mike D' Antoni before they faced Charlotte "the Bobcats played extremely well last game and we didn't. We didn't bring the defense like I hoped we would have."

With rookie Iman Shumpert (16 points, 4 assist) starting his second game in a row, the Knicks looked to get off to a strong start. Before you could say "Ground Hog Day" the Bobcats raced out to a 10-0 lead. With the "boo birds" out early, the Knicks regained their composure and with the help of 3 alley-oops, outscored Charlotte 24-11to take a 24-21 1st quarter lead.

"They responded well," said D' Antoni. "

The defense failed to play in the first game and at the start of Monday night's game quickly changed as New York contested more shots, limited second-chance opportunities and they did not give Charlotte carte blanche from 3 point land. Amar'e Stoudamire, (25 points, 11-13 free throws) who was torched by Boris Diaw for 27 points last Wednesday, scored 15 first-half points. Diaw did score 12 but no other starter hit the double figure mark. Shumpert contributed 12 points and 3 assists giving the Knicks a 5-point (50-45) halftime lead.

Tyson Chandler (20 points, 13 rebounds) led all scorers with 10 third-quarter points as New York took an 11-point lead (72-61) with less than a minute to play. Charlotte would not go away, as they battled back after falling behind by 8 points (79-71), the largest deficit of the quarter after watching Stoudemire hit a running hook shot. With 4:49 left, D.J. Augustin brought them within 1 (80-79) after nailing a jumper. He wasn't done, tying the game at 82 sinking a long 3-pointer, as the shot clock was expiring. D' Antoni then decided to put the ball in Carmelo Anthony's hands. It paid off as he scores 8 of the last 10 points leading to the 4 point victory. Melo was on shaky ground in the waning minutes as he played with 5 fouls down the stretch.

"I just didn't feel like anybody else could produce any points," said D' Antoni.

It wasn't pretty but the New York Knicks came away with a victory against the same team they lost to last week giving up 118 points.

"We seem not to shoot the ball well against them," said Anthony. "Tonight we won the game on the defensive end."

New York Knicks defeat the Philadelphia 76ers with the final score of 85-79

One of the hottest teams in the NBA came into Madison Square Garden Wednesday night riding a 6-game winning streak. With a 7-2 record and leading the Atlantic division, the Philadelphia 76ers had not given up more than 100 points during the streak. The New York Knicks meanwhile was riding a modest 3-game winning streak of their own after Monday's win against the Charlotte Bobcats. They began the night two games behind the Sixers and looked to close the gap before starting a two-game road trip against Memphis and Oklahoma City.

They faced each other four times last year splitting the series. Prior to the game, Knicks head coach Mike D' Antoni stressed the importance of limiting Philadelphia's fast break.

"We have to get back in transition," he started. "We can't feed their fast break."

New York caught a break when Sixers center Spencer Hawes, one of 7 players to average more than 9 points a game, did not play due to a strained lower back.

For the first time all year, New York came out with a purpose. They ended the 1st quarter on a 13-0 run and a 28-15 lead. Carmelo Anthony scored 9 points and rookie Josh Harrellson (7 points) came off the bench and hit his first two jumpers, the second a 3-pointer.

Tony Douglas continued the long-range assault burying his first jumper, another 3-pointer to extend the lead to 31-15. Defensively they limited Philadelphia to only 32% from the floor, as they missed 6 of 7 three-pointers.

Where Anthony left off in the initial quarter, teammate Amar'e Stoudemire took over in the second. He scored 9 points to lead both teams as the Knicks took a 10 point (45-35) halftime lead. The Sixers did not attempt a 3-point shot in the quarter but their overall shooting rose to a respectable 42%. When the Knicks defeated Charlotte two nights ago, they attempted 40 free throws making 30 of them. They only saw the free stripe 3 times in the first half converting all of them.

Philadelphia began the third quarter outscoring New York 10-4 narrowing the lead to 4 (49-45). Anthony extended the score to 8 (58-50) after two straight baskets. After the first basket (a driving lay-up), he got tangled underneath with Andre Iguodala and both are hit with technical fouls. It seemed to light a fire under Anthony as he hit his next two jumpers giving them a 62-56 lead. After two more Anthony free throws, that man Harrellson burns the Sixers again hitting his third 3-pointer of the game taking an 11-point (67-56) lead into the final quarter.

Said D' Antoni of Harrellson's play so far this year, "Josh played well a lot. Some of the things you don't see. He's very strong, very smart defensively. I just think he's going to keep getting better if he can consistently make that outside shot."

The Sixers dug themselves into a deeper hole at the start of the final quarter as the Knicks opened up a 17 point lead (78-61). The hot shooting that propelled New York suddenly went cold and the Sixers took advantage going on a 10-0 run to close the gap to 7 points (78-71). From that point, neither team could find the basket for the rest of the game. No field goals were scored in the final 5:51. In that span, Anthony missed 5 shots and turned the ball over 3 times. It caught the attention of the head coach, as he witnessed the offensive woes that kept the Sixers in the game.

"We'll talk about it," a giggling D'Antoni said. "Carmelo is very effective at what he does. You got to be careful about talking too much. He's a competitor and he knows how to play. We just got to get things straight with the whole team."

Philly wasn't much better as they missed their 6 shot attempts. New York hit 7 free throws, Philly hit 8 down the stretch, but could not get any closer than the final score of 85-79.

The New York Knicks have now played two division games and have won both of them. They have struggled offensively more than they would like to. Defensively, they seem to be improving.

"We added two really good pieces in Shumpert and Tyson (Chandler) when you have that, then they feel even more engaged. It's just contagious."

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