In what has become a traditional matinee matchup for the Knicks on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the team surprisingly came out with all guns blazing to start. Unfortunately, so did their opponent, the 76ers.
Both teams were successfully firing from all cylinders as the game began. A defensive effort was nowhere to be found. Philadelphia pounded the ball inside to Jahlil Okafor (20 points) for much of the first three quarters, and the big man easily had his way with New York's front court. Ish Smith was helping his team run circles around the Knicks. After two strong middle quarters for the home team, they slowed down in the fourth, but the 76ers did not.
This led to the evaporation of an 18-point lead. The Knicks were in dire straits, but luckily, a seemingly still-hampered-by-injury Carmelo Anthony bailed them out with a game-tying 3-pointer. Two overtimes later, and New York came out victorious, 119-113. Here's a look at some more observations from the Knicks.
- Jose Calderon had a lot of trouble slowing down Smith. Though the opposing guard was overzealous with his own shot, his 16 assists brought out the best in his teammates. Once the Knicks made a key switch that saw Langston Galloway defending him instead, they were able to maintain a lead and control the tempo a bit more.
- It's up for debate whether or not Derek Fisher should be credited with making key substitutions down the stretch. Did he time them correctly, or were they made simply out of desperation? The Knicks lacked respective injections of offense and defense when they needed to mix things up. Galloway and Lou Amundson, among others, eventually came up with huge plays and stops with the game on the line.
- Anthony was clearly still hampered by his nagging injury, despite playing an intense 49 minutes. He was grimacing throughout, hesitating to attack the basket. His shot was way off, despite his clutch make in the fourth. The Knicks should consider sitting him again against the Jazz on Wednesday.
- Nonetheless, as Anthony served as a bit of a decoy, Arron Afflalo stepped up in his stead. The guard is a very efficient scorer who is a near perfectionist at pushing off defenders and cashing in on off-balance jumpers. He led New York with 25 points, whereas Anthony had seven assists.
- New York was against the ropes at different points in this contest, but free throw shooting was a big difference maker in a game where both teams were otherwise strong offensively. The Knicks shot 83 percent to the 76ers' 52 percent, as the loser fell short of converting on clutch opportunities late in the game. New York did not.