The Knicks haven’t exactly been outclassing people, but a win is a win even if it took them all of 48 minutes to get one over the Bobcats. Carmelo Anthony (6-for-18, 22 points) struggled for most of the night, but when it counted he hit the buckets and free throws, and gobbled up enough boards to send New York home with a much-needed four-point win. Charlotte had their chances. Down one in the final 20 seconds, D.J. White missed a crazy jumper off the bounce (who drew that one up?). Then, D.J. Augustin (12 points, eight boards) hit a wild three on the following possession to make it a one-point game. After two ‘Melo free throws, Augustin got another wide-open wing three and just tried to aim it a little too much … Tyson Chandler (20 points, 13 rebounds) and Amar’e Stoudemire (25 points, 12 rebounds, but you could tell he said “Screw it, I’m getting my numbers” last night. Dude was 7-for-25 from the field.) put up big numbers next to Anthony. We’ve mentioned this before, but is this the best frontcourt in the league? … Who caught the back-to-back sequence in the middle of the third quarter when the Knicks threw down two straight rim wreckers? First, Iman Shumpert (16 points) stole a pass and ripped one on the break in front of Diaw. Of course, dunking on the Frenchman isn’t all that special. But when you combined it with the next possession – a lob from ‘Melo to Chandler that was so nice, Chandler probably had dreams of CP – it all brought the Garden to their feet. Is there any other fanbase in the game that would serenade their team with chants for a rookie bench player? We mean, Shumpert’s a nice player and is already making some noise as a freshman, but c’mon New York. Wasn’t it just last year that Landry Fields was going to be the next man of the hour in New York? We guess they’ve moved on already … We have to give Florida Evans…we mean Paul Silas some credit this year. Charlotte is only 2-7 but when you’re relying on Fat Magic (Boris Diaw), who had 19 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and D.J. Augustin (who’s been balling this year) on a team that gets so disrespected the Knicks PA announcer actually introduced them as the Charlotte Hornets last night, what do you expect? They’ve at least been competitive … The other New York-area team, the Nets, put up a fight against Atlanta, but couldn’t quite overcome a late 12-point deficit because every one of the Hawks’ starters put in work. Josh Smith had his best game of the season with 26 points on 14 shots and Jeff Teague added 20 of his own. Joe Johnson emerged from underneath his giant pile of money to score 22 points and hit four game-clinching free throws in the final seconds (Don’t underestimate how huge that was for Atlanta. They’re not exactly known for making clutch free throws.). It’s amazing Atlanta is where they are right now (7-3) considering JJ has been terrible this whole year. He was bad last season. But now? How does 16/3/3 on 39 percent shooting sound? … For New Jersey fans, take solace in having MarShon Brooks (19 points, 10 rebounds). But Deron Williams (15 points, 14 assists) is stuck in one of those instances that always suck for the fans: one of the best players in the world stashed on a terrible team in the middle of his prime. He’ll never get this year back … Keep reading to hear about the best team no one is talking about …
It’s hard to question a team that’s No. 1 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. But before last night, you had to hold Philly up with an asterisk. They were blowing everyone out yes, but their only playoff-worthy opponent had been Portland on opening night. They lost that game. But last night, Andre Iguodala had one of his best games of the season (20 points, nine rebounds, five dimes), and the Pacers were held to an ugly 36 percent from the field (Danny Granger didn’t play after he ate something bad.). The Sixers had six players in double figures, and while Spencer Hawes‘ lil’ game he’s playing on everyone (When will he come back to Earth?) didn’t work on Roy Hibbert (Hibbert killed him for most of the night) they beat the Pacers handily (96-86) for their fifth straight win (and all of them have been by at least eight points). Once again it was the third quarter that boosted Philly. They hit the Pacers with a 15-3 run to blow it open at that point. Dating back to the middle of last year, the 76ers are now 43-30 in their last 73 games … The return of Bad Porn hit DimeMag.com yesterday … Speaking of great names, Squeaky Johnson, the former UAB point guard, has finally made his NBA debut. After years of sweating it out in the D-League (he’s 29 years old), he made a couple of appearances with the Hornets last week. This is our type of dude: He ended a few serious relationships because he didn’t want a family to get in the way of his dream, which was making the NBA. Check out what he said about being in the NBA: “Oh my gosh, it’s crazy. You can use your phone on the plane. It’s like a four-star restaurant up there. You have seats where you pretty much can lay down.” No one told him it was like that? … Johnson and the Hornets went into Denver and surprised one of the best teams in the league with a convincing 13-point win. New Orleans was in control from start to finish. Carl Landry had 21 and one disgusting jam. The Nuggets only seriously challenged once in the second half. When Ty Lawson (15 points) returned, limping from an ankle injury, he sparked them with a three, a floater and then a feed off a pick-n-roll that ended in a Nene cram … The Bulls rode Carlos Boozer (23 points, eight rebounds) and Derrick Rose (22 points, eight assists) in their 92-68 blowout over Detroit. We mentioned it in our Power Rankings, but Chicago, outside of a flopper against Atlanta, has now held teams to 64, 74, 83, 83 and 68 points in games this month … And the Raptors limited Kevin Love (3-for-16, 13 points, 14 boards) to his worst game of the season while Amir Johnson (19 points, 11 rebounds), Andrea Bargnani (31 points) and Toronto improved to 4-5 with a 10-point win … We don’t believe him for one second, but Andre Drummond is saying he will come back no matter what for his sophomore year at UConn. While he could use another year learning from one of the best coaches ever, it’ll be hard to turn down top three money (he’s reportedly playing this year as a walk-on) … And will Jerry Sloan return to coaching? He sounds ready … We’re out like LSU.
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