Ever since scoring a franchise-low eight fourth quarter points in a blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls several days ago, the New York Knicks seem to have woken from that painful-to-watch slumber. They are playing spirited basketball, denying their opponents the opportunity to strip them of their leads. With their third straight win of a hot streak, the Knicks improve to 18-19, just one win away from the coveted .500 mark.
Their second straight road victory came Wednesday night against a great defense in Chris Bosh and the Miami Heat, who previously defeated the Knicks in their last eight meetings. The Knicks have now surpassed their win total from last season and it doesn’t look like they’re slowing down anytime soon.
Anthony Slays Heat
Carmelo Anthony led the way for his team tonight with 25 points on 9-for-12 shooting, while Arron Afflalo, who has been unbelievably productive in their last two matchups against the Atlanta Hawks had a quiet evening with just nine points. However, it was Robin Lopez who stepped up, scoring a season-high 19 points on 75 percent shooting. The big man, acquired in free agency this offseason, is not just producing at a high-level offensively as of late, but has visibly settled into his role as the defensive foundation of this unit, alongside rookie Kristaps Porzingis.
Porzingis, too, had a modest night with 12 points, though he was extremely inefficient shooting just 3-for-12, but on a back-to-back Porzingis seemed to lack a bit of stamina and the spark that he often brings to the hardwood. Though missing the dunk on the other side of the play, he did come up with a big block on Dwyane Wade, never failing to miss a highlight reel.
Spark From Their Bench
Leading the team in rebounding was Derrick Williams, who came off the bench for 13 points in just 18 minutes, also making the highlight reel with several of his ferocious dunks. The Knicks outscored the Heat’s bench with 24, more than half of those points coming from Williams. Knicks fans have been calling for Fisher to give him more minutes and fulfilling that request has been nothing but beneficial for the Knicks thus far.
After the game Williams said, “I know coach is using me as a spark plug out there. I’m trying to be aggressive, but also knowing that I have to get on the boards… That’s what I’ve really been focusing on, the defensive rebounding and getting out there and pushing the ball.” He also said earning the trust of Fisher and his teammates has led to his increase in minutes.
Miami Duo Put Up Numbers To No Avail
For the Heat, Bosh was an unstoppable force scoring 28 points on 12-for-22, often schooling Porzingis on plays. Wade also contributed 18 points on 50 percent shooting, but overall the Knicks dominated the stat sheets leading in field goal percentage, three-point percentage, and free throw percentages.
Though Anthony commented that the Knicks are still searching for their identity and continuing to grow as a team, the Knicks have certainly demonstrated that they can compete with teams who have long had their camaraderie intact, such as the combo of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
As the Knicks travel to San Antonio on Friday looking for their fourth consecutive win, Gregg Popovich's team will be the ultimate test of character. Facing the invincible trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, along with both the defensive and offensive prowess of Kawhi Leonard, the Knicks recent demonstration of pure grit and execution will have to be heavily relied on, especially considering the Spurs are undefeated at home.
The Knicks will try to end that streak against one of the best teams in the NBA Friday night at 8:30 PM