Knicks Smother Blazers In First Game With New Coach
The Knicks dismantled Portland 121-79 at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night in the team's first game under interim head coach Mike Woodson. On a day when Mike D'Antoni resigned as the team's coach, New York snapped its six-game losing streak, but consider the Blazers may be the only team in the league who have played worse recently than the Knicks.
There was a noticeable difference in the Knicks' approach on the court - the Knicks seemed to have an increased effort on defense, Carmelo Anthony was looking to pass-before-shoot, and Woodson played ten different Knicks in the first quarter. And, J.R. Smith finally had a night - 23-points, including 7 of 14 from three-point range, to the lead the Knicks.
Steve Novak add six three-pointers of his own in a 20 point performance as New York shot 19 of 38 from long distance.
New York set season highs in points, 3-pointers made and margin of victory.
Amar'e Stoudemire sparked the offense in the first half on 7-of-7 from the field for 15 of his 17 points on the night. New York built a 55-29 advantage at the break, but that isn't the largest halftime deficit the struggling Trail Blazers have faced this week - Portland, who has now lost seven of its last eight, trailed Boston 65-30 at the break just a few days ago.
'Melo was clearly looking to get others involved early and finished with seven assists to go with his 16 points.
Ex-Knick Jamal Crawford, the Trail Blazers' second leading scorer, did not suit up. The only explanation given during the broadcast on MSG was that his absence may have involved a potential trade, as the league's deal-deadline looms.
Backup center Jared Jeffries, primarily a defensive player, returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing four games with a sore knee.
So, Mike Woodson's reign begins with a 42-point win and, at least for one night, it seems that all New York's problems have vanished. We'll get a better idea of whether the Knicks (19-23) have really turned things around as they host the 25-16 Pacers on Friday in the first-half of a back-to-back, home-and-home series with Indiana.
*As seen in the above photo, the Knicks wore Nueva York jerseys for the second consecutive game.