This time of year, NBA teams obviously prefer to be competing for a postseason spot, or furthermore, simply preparing for an already cemented playoff matchup. Seeing as how the Knicks are in neither position, they'll have to settle for playing spoiler on occasion during this season's final weeks. On Wednesday night, that's exactly what they did.
The Bulls are fighting for their postseason life, hanging on to the Eastern Conference's eighth and final seed. A matchup with the otherwise lowly Knicks should prove to be a favorable one for them --- something they can cash in on for an easier victory. New York had other plans.
For one evening, the Knicks looked exactly like the team they should have been looking like all season long. There was great flow to the offense and players were enthusiastically attacking the basket and playing well off one another. The defensive intensity was high, and the team put forth one of their better rebounding efforts of the entire season. This was a glimpse of the team New York wants to be. As nice as it is to get a victory, one has to wonder if frustration followed, knowing full well such intensity hasn't been carried out on a consistent basis --- this was a harsh reality of what could be, but simply isn't.
Here are more observations from the victory:
- Matching his career-high of 29 points, it was clear Kristaps Porzingis had finally found his groove, arguably for the first time under interim head coach Kurt Rambis. The Knicks were running plays for Porzingis and opening up opportunities for him behind the three-point line. He cashed in on these chances relatively well.
- With Porzingis gelling, things came much easier for Carmelo Anthony. The pair created a quite formidable one-two punch, with each one carrying the Knicks by catching fire at different points of the game. This contest proved how important it is to have a consistent Robin to Anthony's Batman. There was great balance to the offense.
- One thing Coach Rambis should receive credit for is his decision and subsequent ability to get Robin Lopez more involved in the offense. The big man is looking for his scoring opportunities all the more often, and as a result, is even more active crashing the boards as well. He's playing with confidence and aggression. His role is well defined now. After some early season questions, Lopez is proving his worth and earning every cent of the contract he signed last summer.
- Rambis has opened up doors for Lopez, but he certainly hasn't done that for Langston Galloway. Playing the backup guard is clearly not a priority, as the interim coach seems to value the youngster much less than Derek Fisher. This should be a huge concern. Galloway played just over nine minutes in the victory.
- After shocking Chicago on Wednesday, the Knicks have put themselves in a vulnerable position on Thursday. In the second game of a home and home back-to-back, the Bulls will come to MSG all the more hungry for a victory and revenge against a team they probably believe didn't deserve to win the first time around.