With Tyson Chandler sitting out due to rest, the New York Knicks’ defense was nothing short of atrocious. However, that is to be expected without Chandler, as the Knicks have now given up 118, 119, and 112 points in games that he has missed.
This, combined with the facts that they were coming off a bad loss in Cleveland, still trying to get Amar’e Stoudemire reintegrated into the offense, and playing on the road against a good Atlanta Hawks team had the odds stacked against the Knicks.
But, in a game that the Knicks needed to win if they want any chance at the sixth seed in the East, they found a way to win, as a championship-level team would do.
The Knicks, who usually get solid contributions from the bench, were carried by their starting five.
As he has been for all of April, Carmelo Anthony was brilliant, scoring 39 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Amar’e Stoudemire also played very well, adding 22 points while pulling down 12 rebounds. Baron Davis had one of his best games as a Knick, scoring 13 points while dishing out 10 assists. Landry Fields added 18 points, and Iman Shumpert scored 11.
The biggest thing to take from this game is how well Amar’e Stoudemire played with Carmelo Anthony. Despite questions about whether or not the two could coexist, they both played terrifically, combining for 61 points and 22 rebounds.
The question that has not been answered, and the question that was really the only question there ever was, is whether or not the two can play well alongside Tyson Chandler.
During April, Carmelo Anthony has been phenomenal, and has been playing in the power forward spot due to the absence of Amar’e. It’s not an overstatement to say that he’s been the best power forward in all of basketball during the time span. However, when all three of these superstars start, Melo will be forced to play the small forward position, taking away the match up problems he causes from the power forward spot.
Can they play well together? Yes, sure they can. The Knicks were 6-1 with the three in the starting lineup under Woodson prior to Amar’e's injury, so there is no doubt that they can mesh well and win games. Right now though, they do not have much time before the playoffs to figure all of this out.
In my mind, there is really only one way that Mike Woodson can approach this. First, he has to start all three of them when the Los Angeles Clippers come to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.
The game will be crucial to Los Angeles, as they are still fighting for a division title and playoff seeding. This is a good thing for the Knicks, as this game will be a true test before the playoffs.
If Carmelo, Amar’e, and Tyson mesh well together, and the Knicks win, then Mike Woodson can be justified in having them all start in the postseason. If this does not happen, and they lose, Amar’e Stoudemire needs to swallow some pride and come off the bench.
Tyson is too valuable on the defensive side of the ball to not start and Carmelo is the team’s best player. Amar’e Stoudemire is the odd man out, and if he truly cares about winning over everything else, he would willingly come off of the bench.
If the Knicks can work this out, they will be a threat to make a deep run in the playoffs. If not, it will be very difficult.
About the Author
Written by Michael Burke
I'm Mike. I'm 16 and love sports. I'm a Knicks, Yankees, Colts and Notre Dame die-hard. My dream is to cover the Knicks professionally, so I hope that PSB can help me reach that goal. Follow me on twitter: @michaelburke47