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The New York Knicks (33-43) routed the Brooklyn Nets (40-34) on Wednesday night, 110-81. With this win, coupled with an Atlanta Hawks loss against the Chicago Bulls, the Knicks will essentially be even with the Hawks for the East’s final playoff spot.
Atlanta still has two games in hand and is one game ahead in the loss column over New York, but considering the putrid play of the Hawks recently, it does not seem to matter much.
Once again, Carmelo Anthony led the way. He poured in 23 points on 8 of 16 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. J.R. Smith led the team in scoring on the night with 24, including six 3-pointers and a team-high six-assists, according to CBS Sports.
The word of the night was balance. When Anthony doesn’t have to shoulder all of the load, this team flourishes.
Knicks Guard Iman Shumpert and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. exemplify that flourishing concept. To be considered even somewhat of a threat in the playoffs, Shumpert and Hardaway need to be the “step-up” guys. When the ball is moving (like tonight) and “Iso's” are at a minimum, that’s exactly when those two are noticed.
Hardaway has been coming on of late. Tonight, he continued his stellar play as he hit three 3-pointers on the night and went 7 of 10 in total from the field. Shumpert contributed with 10 points and five steals.
Ball-movement equals efficiency. Melo must realize though, that the ball-movement starts with him.
Knicks fans everywhere are all mumbling the same thing: Where was this all season? The Knicks have won four of their last five and 12 of their last 15 games, according to NBA.com. Finally you can mention the words playoffs and Knicks in the same sentence.
If there’s one thing every Knicks fan can agree on though, it’s that we don’t know what to expect from this team game to game. Inconsistent play throughout the entire season has gotten them in this situation. However with Phil Jackson coming aboard, and the Knicks having a shot to avoid losing their lottery-pick to Denver (by making the playoffs), this could be the start of something refreshing.
"Our guys came with energy and ready to play. It was a 48-minute performance." -- #Knicks coach Woodson
— NBA New York Knicks (@nyknicks) April 3, 2014
Most realize the number eight seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs means dying a slower death. But sports sometimes has a funny way of creating miracles. You have to be in-it to win-it, and the Knicks are inching closer for that opportunity.