The New York Knicks responded well to Carmelo Anthony’s players-only meeting, and they came out with a lot more energy in their rematch with the Charlotte Bobcats, who are being coached by Knicks legend Patrick Ewing. In their first game without Tyson Chandler, they showed a greater commitment to good ball movement and renewed focus on the defensive end, leading to their first win since the season opener.
New York’s gameplan included more activity from beyond the arc, as they attempted 26 shots from deep, hitting 12. The three ball was a huge part of their offensive success last season, so it’s good that the Knicks are working for good three-point attempts. They also crashed the offensive glass far more than usual, picking up 12 extra possessions in the process (Melo had five). The Knicks would end up attempting 14 more field goals and 10 more threes than the Bobcats.
The Knicks’ defense was much improved, especially on the perimeter, where the Knicks were very aggressive. They were able to hold the Cats to just 40.8 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent shooting from three. Still, the defense wasn’t without its issues. While the perimeter defense was fine and they did a much better job on Kemba Walker, the Knicks’ interior defense was still a little spotty.
In the first quarter, Andrea Bargnani, who started at center, looked lost after even the simplest offensive actions and was only able to muster weak, half-hearted hedges in the pick-and-roll. He got better as the game went on, though, and he managed to block five shots. The Knicks also switched on screens far too often, leaving some rather unpleasant mismatches, but the Bobcats just weren’t good enough to capitalize on those opportunities consistently. While their defense should struggle against the league’s better teams, simply increasing their effort and dedication was enough to stifle the Bobcats.
Bargnani’s offensive performance will go down as the story of the game. He had his best game as a Knick, putting up 25 points while grabbing three offensive boards. His 25 points may have come on 25 shot attempts (he generated zero free throw attempts and he shot a decent 44 percent from the field), but it was nice to see him shooting confidently and in rhythm. He had a few short hot streaks that helped the Knicks build a lead, and he was able to score without disrupting the team’s offense.
Melo also bounced back nicely. He was really forcing things early on, but he eventually settled into a nice groove offensively. He ended up with 28 points off 12-of-22 shooting and six assists, despite tough defense from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
The Knicks won’t be nearly as good with Chandler out, but until he gets back, this is what the Knicks need to keep doing. They have to continue to play smart offensive basketball, work hard on defense and beat the sort of teams they’re supposed to beat. They handled business in Charlotte tonight.