Knicks defeat the San Antonio Spurs 105-101 behind a brilliant effort by Iman Shumpert. Shumpert, mired all season in a sophomore slump, broke out in magnificent fashion with 27 points, 6 boards and 3 steals in 31 minutes.
Shumpert looked very confident and collected in nailing six of eight three point attempts mostly from the corners. The highlight of the game was a sick one-handed skying put-back off a Melo miss. Shumpert made things happen by his activity on the defensive end and when teamed up with Toure Murray in the second quarter, they brought the Knicks back into the game.
As I said many games ago, Toure Murray should be in the rotation. It is obvious that Felton is a major defensive liability. When healthy, he brings the added dimension of penetration, but it's not a useful tool if you cannot get stops on the other end. Felton on the same floor with Bargnani and Stoudemire is a recipe for disaster because to win against the elite backcourts, you need hustle players — the guys who will make that extra move to get to the ball. Shumpert, Hardaway, Murray and Smith are those players. Felton is absolutely not.
J.R. Smith scored only 4 points on just five shots, but his ability to find the open player led to three assists and oiled the Knicks offense. Additionally Smith hit crucial shots late. He was very controlled and did not shoot a bunch of crazy awkward shots. J.R. Smith's defense is suspect however. Although, his extra hustle creates opportunities, he is too often caught in screens, behind the play and out of position. His perimeter defense is lackluster.
Murray also got lost on defense a lot and he seems to rely on his youth to gamble quite a bit; still he is a ball-hawk and will get better with time.
Stat looked servicable. He was was not a major liability although he seems to have very little lateral movement and is mighty slow getting down court or reacting to the ball.
I love it when Bargnani (10 points on 3 for 8 shooting and 3 boards in 22 minutes) is not on the floor. Still he had the highest plus/minus on the team. That stat doesn't tell you much, does it?
Carmelo was fabulous in his return from an ankle injury. He willingly, if not quickly, threw the ball out of doubel teams as he had four assists and 12 rebounds to go with his 27 points on 50% shooting. He was fun to watch and it helped that someone else finally had a good offensive game. Thank you Shump. Thank you Knicks for a good nights sleep.