Shorthanded Knicks Win Tenth In Row At Home

Published on: 16th December, 2012

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Cleveland Cavaliers' Irving brings the ball up court against New York Knicks during their NBA basketball game in New York
Shorthanded Knicks Win Tenth In Row At Home

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving brings the ball up court against the New York Knicks in the second quarter of their NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York December 15, 2012. REUTERS/Adam Hunger (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)  | read this item

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New York — There are a couple of ways of looking at tonight’s Knicks 103-102 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Either the shorthanded New Yorkers, playing without Carmelo Anthony, Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, Amare Stoudemire, and Iman Shumpert, were incredibly lucky to be facing one of the NBA’s worst teams in the Cavs or tonight’s victory provided an excellent example of the resiliency and depth the Knicks now possess to be able to win games even when key players are out.

If you’re Knicks coach, Mike Woodson, it would be the latter manifestation.

“This was an important win,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you play. We are trying to continue our winning ways at home.”

The Knicks certainly continued their home dominance, sustaining their season-long winning-streak at MSG with their 10th win. They are the only NBA team still undefeated at home (10-0).

Kyrie Irving Lit Up The Knicks In Cavs Loss

With Anthony not ready to resume playing after the nasty fall he took against the Lakers resulted in injuries to his ankle and hip, Woodson replaced those 27 points per game with Chris Copeland, a free-agent, rookie forward who had only gotten into 11 of the Knicks 22 games this season, averaging just five minutes per game.

No matter. Copeland fit right in with the starters, scoring eight points in the first quarter alone on 3-3 shooting, including a three-pointer. He was positively Anthony-esque as he led the Knicks in scoring for his time on the floor.

Woodson noticed the rookie’s play.

“He played great,” he said. “He can make shots. I was pretty pleased with his play. We had him guarding a much bigger man in Tristan Thompson and he more than held his own. Thompson couldn’t stick with Cope on the other end, though so we made out well in that matchup.”

Woodson also stretched out the minutes for both Steve Novak and J.R. Smith, who played 33 and 35 minutes, respectively.

Novak was electric from the three-point stripe, hitting 4 of 7, finishing with 13-points and five rebounds.

Smith, who took 20 shots tonight as Woodson needed someone to fill the scoring void left by Anthony’s absence, didn’t shoot particularly well, going just 6 for 20 but he made some big shots down the stretch.

Once again, Tyson Chandler was asked to provide more scoring than usual. The seven-footer, the NBA’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, scored 23-points tonight on a phenomenal 9-10 shooting, many of those shots coming on lobs from Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd as Chandler skied high to jam the ball through. He added 10 rebounds.

Chandler, a career 12.6 ppg scorer, has been on a scoring binge lately. He’s averaging 15 points per game in his last five games while shooting an unworldly 75% from the field.

“My teammates did an excellent job of finding me on penetration, tonight,” said Chandler. “It was a big game for us to win.”

The Knicks bench strength wasn’t lost on Chandler.

“We definitely want to keep it rolling,” he said. “When one guy goes down, another guy has to step up. We also understand how crucial and important Carmelo is to our success.”

The Knicks also got productive minutes from Kurt Thomas, who was asked to play nearly 15-minutes, scoring four points while pulling down five rebounds.

The Knicks were able to overcome a career performance from Cleveland’s wonderkind point guard, Kyrie Irving, the local kid from West Orange, New Jersey. Irving lit up the scoreboard with 41-points, a career best, on 15-25 shooting from the floor. The best part about his game was he never forced a shot the entire night. He took what the Knicks gave him. If they sloughed off on three-point shots, he shot the three and hit them (5-8). If they played him tight, he drove around them to the hoop for layups.

The kid is good and Woodson was duly impressed.

“He is phenomenal,” Woodson said. “I had an opportunity to watch him this summer at the Olympic tryouts. He was competing against LeBron (James) and Melo (Anthony) and I thought he was the bright spot. He easily could have played on that team.”

Raymond Felton tried to match Irving as he led the Knicks in scoring, putting up 25.

“When a guy gets that hot, there is nothing you can really do,” said Felton. “He hit great shots but still got the win. The kid has a bright future.

The Knicks improved to 18-5 for the season. But more importantly, they reinforced tonight how they can win games even when their superstars aren’t available. However, in a star-driven league like the N.B.A., one suspects they wouldn’t want to overexpose their depth too many more times.

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