Last Wednesday, the Charlotte Bobcats went into Madison Square Garden and got their only road victory of the young season over the New York Knicks. In the process, the home team was roundly booed by the Garden faithful. After a shaky start and some tense moments down the stretch, the Knicks avenged that loss Monday night, 91-87.
It started off badly for New York. Charlotte ran out to a 10-0 lead in the game's first four possessions, and the boo-birds were back. But the Knicks quickly righted the ship, and went on a 21-6 run themselves. At that point, it seemed that the Knicks might take control of the game and win going away. But to Charlotte's credit, they battled the whole way.
Although New York never again trailed after the first 8 minutes of the game, the Bobcats managed to stay within striking distance, and finally tied the score at 82 on a D.J. Augustin three-pointer with just under three minutes left. From that point, Carmelo Anthony scored eight of the Knicks final nine points and the defense came up with the key stops to close out the win.
Despite his heroics in the final minutes, this was not Anthony's night. He finished with 22 points, but was only 6 for 18 from the floor. He did lead the Knicks with six assists in his new playmaker role in Mike D'Antoni's offense. Like Anthony, Amare Stoudemire labored from the field, making just 7 of 25 shots on his way to 25 points. With their two big guns struggling, the Knicks were bolstered by 20 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots from Tyson Chandler, and 16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals from rookie point guard Iman Shumpert in the first start of his NBA career. All told, those four players combined to score 83 of New York's 91 points.
Charlotte came into this game with the worst defensive efficiency in the league, allowing almost 112 points per 100 possessions, so it's unexpected that it was their defense on Anthony and Stoudemire that kept them close in this one. Unfortunately, the Bobcats shot only slightly better than the Knicks. Boris Diaw had the kind of game for which he was once known in Phoenix, giving a little glimpse of what a special player he still could be, with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists, leading Charlotte in each of those categories. D.J. White had a solid game off the bench with 15 points on 7 for 11 shooting. But as a team the Bobcats shot under 42 percent (the Knicks shot 38 percent). New York enjoyed a huge 40-15 advantage in free throw attempts, which is where the game was eventually won.
Worth noting in this game is the Knicks' three-point shooting, or lack thereof. New York attempted just 10 threes, making just a single one. It was the fewest three point attempts for a Knicks team in D'Antoni's three plus seasons in New York. It was also the fewest three-pointers made in a Knicks win in that time. Needless to say, D'Antoni is having to adjust his coaching approach to his current personnel.
With the Knicks third straight win, they sneak above .500 at 5-4 for the first time since opening day. The Bobcats dropped their third straight to fall to 2-7.