Written by William Lee
After the debacle that occurred on Friday night against the Phoenix Suns, New York would face another opponent with a similar offensive style, another explosive three point shooting team in the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are the sixth best team in the league in three-point field goals made and field goal percentage, at 9.1 made per game at a 37.5% success rate. And again the same results happened, at least early on anyways, allowing the Warriors to connect on five three-pointers in the first quarter. Golden State jumped out to an early 16-5 lead, causing New York to take a quick time out. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the “Splash Brothers” made it splash from downtown connecting on three three-pointers on the run combined. Curry and Thompson are first and third in threes made in the Association. (So of course the Knicks were confused when they were making it rain…) The fact that the Warriors were without David Lee (hamstring) and Andrew Bogut (pelvic contusion) made it worse, these two was the only real offensive threats in the game for Golden State.
New York would be down by as many as twelve points early in the second quarter, before the bench got the Knicks back into the game with a 12-0 run in which Pablo Prigioni was responsible for ten of the points, knocking down a three, assisting on a Iman Shumpert three and Tim Hardaway Jr. layup. Before you can blink the game was tied at 34-34 with 7:53 remaining in the second quarter. With the game tied Mike Woodson decided to bring back Carmelo Anthony in the game, within a minute Anthony picks up his third foul, sending him back to the bench. This was a blessing in disguise as New York was playing with much more ball movement with Anthony out of the game. New York would go on a 15-0 run to end the last two minute of the first half, behind the combination of J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. J.R. Smith scored 14 of his 21 points in the pivotal second quarter, where the Knicks outscored the Warriors 34-12. New York led by 56-44 at halftime.
The third quarter the game came to a grinding halt, too much isolation, especially on New York’s end with Carmelo Anthony. Both teams shot below 40% in the period, but Stephen Curry kept the cold shooting Warriors in the game, scoring 12 of his game high 32 points in the third quarter.
The game got a lot uglier in the fourth quarter, as both teams shot sub thirty-percentage. New York again was isolation heavy on offense, but Carmelo Anthony was having an off game, going 1/7 in the final quarter. New York’s star forward had a very ineffective night, scoring 19 points on 21 attempts, the Knicks were a -14 with him on the floor, by far the worst +/- on the winning team. As for Golden State, New York was not playing amazing defense by any stretch, but the Warriors were for the most part, at least slightly contested on majority of their three-point attempts. Unfortunately with 2:42 left in the game, this wasn’t one of those times, as Stephen Curry was wide open for the game tying three, knotting the game up at 81 apiece.
On the very next possession, Curry put up a quick three-point attempt, then with a long bounce off the rim Curry got the offensive rebound, and just throws it up feeling contact from behind. As Curry’s horrible attempt flung up in the air, a whistle was made. Fortunately for New York, it was for the Knicks, as Amare Stoudemire got fouled battling for the rebound under the rim. With Golden State in the penalty already, this sent Stoudemire to the charity stripe. Stoudemire calmly sank his free throws, giving New York an 83-81 lead.
As horrible as a night Carmelo Anthony was having, the last two minutes showed why he is one of the most clutch players in the league (even though he hasn’t shown it much this year…). With two Warriors draped all over him, Anthony makes a tough step back jumper to give the Knicks an 85-81 lead with 1:24 left in the game. Klay Thompson would answer with a three to get within one point with a minute left in the game. Again New York would isolate Anthony, and he threw a foul on Andre Iguodala, sending himself to the line, where he made both the clutch free throws to give New York a three point lead with 45.4 seconds left in the game.
The Warriors got off a shot quickly, going for a “two for one” situation. Curry missed on the quick attempt, but left 30.9 seconds remaining on the game clock, to give Golden State one more defensive stand, and an opportunity to tie the game with a few seconds remaining. Anthony called for a clear out, playing one on one with Iguodala again, but would get blocked this time around, causing a shot clock violation. Golden State advanced the ball with a timeout, needing a three to tie, with the score 87-84. Raymond Felton knew that the ball would find its way to Stephen Curry, and Felton got all up in Curry’s face as he made his three-point attempt, forcing him to pass the ball in mid-air, which Draymond Green was not prepared for. Shannon Brown, who was put into the game for his defense, got the loose ball, and quickly got up the court, where he was fouled from behind. The referees whistled the Warriors for committing a clear path foul, essentially ending the game, as Brown made both his free throws. The win put New York one game back of the Atlanta Hawks for the eighth and final playoff spot, with Atlanta holding the tie breaker.