Mike D’Antoni should send Carmelo Anthony a fruit basket. Or something like that.
The Knicks looked on the verge of a disastrous loss Friday night before Anthony’s three pointer with 15 seconds left saved them. They were behind 96-95, having surrendered a seven point fourth quarter lead against the winless Washington Wizards. Anthony surely had his part in the collapse, misfiring on a number of forced shots. But when the Knicks got the ball after John Wall put the Wizards up by one, Anthony knocked down the big shot, saving the Knicks from a loss that could have seriously endangered the future of D’Antoni as head coach.
The Knicks’ win brought them to a still disappointing 3-4, and the Wizards remained winless at 0-7. Anthony finished with 37 points, connecting on 16 of his 33 field-goal attempts. The others Knicks stars, Amar’e Stoudemire (23 points, 12 rebounds) and Tyson Chandler (12 and 15) had good nights as well, but two backcourt reserves shined bright.
Mike Bibby, who had hit just one three pointer all year ahead of this game, knocked down three long range shots and finished with a season-high 11 points. Rookie Iman Shumpert, who simply continues to impress and outplay Landry Fields, stuffed the stat sheet. Shumpert had 10 points with five steals, seven assists and three rebounds. And perhaps most importantly and impressively, Shumpert led the Knicks in plus-minus, as the team was +20 with the rookie on the court.
The Knicks needed Bibby and Shumpert to play the bulk of the minutes and perform because starting point guard Toney Douglas and Fields were uninspiring, playing just 29 combined minutes and two points between them. There have been rumors that Shumpert will soon start, and that possibility is becoming increasingly apparent.
The Knicks have a shot to get back to .500 Saturday night when they visit another struggling Eastern Conference team, the 2-5 Detroit Pistons.