***********Record during the week: 3-1Game results: Win @ Charlotte (100-98); Win @ Miami (112-92); Loss @ Chicago (85-93); Win v. Nuggets (112-106)Overall record / Place in standings: 15-5; 1st place
Swing Passing: The Heat game was a clinic in two things: (1) how much the "they don't respect us" card works; and (2) swing passing. True, Felton was lights out, and a few of his triples came while guarded, at the end of the shot clock, but for the most part, the Knicks romp over the Heat came from good, unselfish, crisp passing. Possession after possession the Knicks found the open man, who just so happened to always be standing at least 23 feet 9 inches away from the basket. People who think "they just got hot, that can't win playoff series" aren't watching the games. Making smart passes - followed by one more extra-smart pass - can and will lead to open shots over and over again. It's how this team is 15-5. And it's how they should plan on getting to 68-5 a few months from now. Remember Melo-Ball? Me either.
Filling Star-Sized Shoes: No Melo. No Amre. No Shumpert. On the road in Miami. Maybe the best prop bet of the 2012-13 NBA season. Nobody would have taken the Knicks against those odds (gaahhhd why didn't I make that bet?!!). But the team showed its depth and its spirit in
beating the absolute crap a solid win against the defending champs. While veterans and recently minted champs like Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd were right to make sure everybody knew that you don't wing rings for regular season wins in December, career role players like Felton and JR have the right to stand tall after walking into enemy territory without some of the team's best weapons and walking out with a W.
Tyson Chandler: After a slow first week, TC Hustle has rounded back into his "remind-me-how-we-got-this-guy-again??!" shape. Over his last 5 games, Tyson is posting 15 and 13.8, with 1.4 blocks, while shooting a stupid 70.7% from the field. And that was a dip as he is shooting 70.9% on the season. 70.9%! That's out of this world. Far and away the league leader (Serge Ibaka is second, shooting a measly 59.2%), Chandler seems to be at the rim for a put-back every time a point guard misses a pick-and-roll layup. It is invaluable to have a guy score so many second chance points. But aside from his mop-up-duty scoring, the team showed how much they respect Chandler as a scorer, running a play for him out of a time out last night in the 4th quarter. Granted that was his fourth lob-oop of the night, but teams have to respect Felton's ability to get into the lane and it leaves Chandler open for those kind of easy scores all night long. Oh, right, and he's the reigning defensive player of the year who changed the entire culture of defense on this team. That too, totally, right, right.
Looking At Tomorrow's Schedule Today: The Bobcats are a lot better than they were last year. But they're still the Bocats (oh, they're the Hornets again? My bad) and still a team the Knicks can and should beat. Which they did, but it was far from easy, pretty, convincing, take your pick. Kemba Walker played great, and some credit is due, but it felt like the Knicks took this game and their opponent lightly until the reality of their fourth-quarter deficit set in. Maybe it was just one of those nights, or maybe the team got caught daydreaming a bit too much about the following night's match-up in South Beach. A win is a win, agreed, but the Knicks have done a great job of jumping on bad teams early (see: the Hornets, the Wizards, the Pistons, the Suns) and failed to do so in Charlotte.
Rasheed Wallace: It seems unfair to hate on Rasheed for anything at this point considering he essentially fell out of retirement and into our laps, but after getting unceremoniously tossed last Sunday against the Suns, he spent this week doing little more than yelling from the bench. Sheed shot a combined 7-24 from the field (29%) and didn't enter last night's contest against the Nuggets. Sheed's defense and timely three point shooting were huge boosts during the team's first month, but, for better or for worse, the roster has proven ready, willing and perfectly able despite a dip in his contributions. How Amar'e's return or the potential health of Camby will factor into Sheed's ongoing role are yet to be determined.