New York Knicks Look To Extend Winning Streak To Two Games

After ending a brutal six-game losing streak last night against the Milwaukee Bucks, will the New York Knicks make it two straight tonight at Indiana?

After giving up a game-winning shot to Giannis Antetokounmpo at Madison Square Garden Wednesday night, the Knicks came into Milwaukee and returned the favor.

On Wednesday, the Knicks took a 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter before squandering it and extending their losing streak to six games. Last night, the Knicks took a 13-point deficit into the fourth quarter, erased it, and snapped their six game skid.

Since being criticized for their lack of effort, the Knicks have had two strong performances on both ends of the floor, and finally managed to come out with a win.

Jeff Hornacek

Jeff Hornacek made an incredibly gutsy call last night to roll with Ron Baker at point guard instead of both Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings. At first, I thought Rose was dealing with some type of injury on the sideline that led to Baker’s emergence.

However, both Rose and Jennings were healthy, and Hornacek went with Baker anyway.

I alluded to Hornacek’s willingness to play the hot hand in prior articles, and last night was a testament to his method. Baker produced, played efficiently on both ends, and was a key component in snapping a six-game losing streak.

To sit down your $20 million dollar starting point guard and $5 million dollar backup in favor of your third-string point guard shows that you’re willing to reward effort and energy.

That attitude can go a long way in repairing a franchise that has rewarded their players based on their paychecks instead of their gameplay.

Carmelo Anthony

Anthony has been phenomenal since being criticized for a lack of intensity. Last night, Anthony was great on both ends of the floor, and superb in leading the fourth quarter comeback.

He finished the night with 26 points, six rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, and a +/- of +22 in his 39 minutes of play. After Joakim Noah and Kristaps Porzingis fouled out, Anthony stepped up and hit a huge 3-point field goal to put the Knicks up by one.

On the very next play, Lance Thomas got his redemption on the Greek Freak by stripping him, leading to the Baker steal and the Courtney Lee finish at the rim to put the Knicks up by three.

Unfortunately, news broke after the game that Anthony has been battling shoulder injuries. Seeing how important the month of January has and will continue to be, this could not have come at worse time.

Hopefully, Hornacek can find some time to rest Anthony and his shoulder.

Return of the Unicorn

After missing three straight games with discomfort in his achilles tendon, Kristaps Porzingis returned the Knicks starting lineup and battled Giannis Antetokounmpo on both sides of the ball. I cannot how express how happy I was to not only see Porzingis back in the lineup, but to see how competitive he was against another young superstar.

Then, when it mattered most, Porzingis delivered.

Can we acknowledge how deep that last three-pointer was? Wow.

Porzingis gives the Knicks another dimension on both sides of the floor, and it was evident last night. After the game, Porzingis told reporters that he felt no pain in his achilles and is ready to play at Indiana.

The Indiana Pacers

The Knicks wont have much time to celebrate their victory since they have a matchup against the Pacers in Indiana later tonight. The Knicks won their first meeting with the Pacers at the Garden in December, 118-111, and will look to make it two straight wins after losing their last six.

The Pacers are rolling into this game as winners of four straight with a record of 19-18 overall, good enough for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

The combination of Paul George, Jeff Teague, and Myles Turner seems to be meshing well for the Pacers.

The Knicks snapped their six game skid last night, and look to take that confidence into Indiana and make it two straight wins. However, Anthony played 39 minutes last night and is battling a shoulder injury that may limit his minutes tonight.

Luckily, Rose sat the entire fourth quarter against the Bucks and should be fresh for tonight’s game. In the previous matchup against the Pacers, Rose had 24 points on 50 percent shooting, along with six assists, four rebounds, and two blocks.

Even if Anthony’s minutes are limited, the bench has shown that they’re capable of stepping up. Brandon Jennings (five minutes), Justin Holiday (eight minutes), Noah (20 minutes), Thomas (20 minutes), and Willy Hernangomez (DNP) should see a boost in playing time tonight to help alleviate Anthony’s burden after yesterday’s heroics.

The Verdict

Psychologically, the Knicks win last night should do wonders for the confidence and morale of the team. Despite being down 13 points on the road in the midst of a six-game losing streak, the Knicks still managed to steal a win.

Being below 500 at this point in the season is far from ideal, and the Knicks should be playing every night like it’s a must-win game.

The Knicks make it two straight wins tonight behind a big game from Rose.

Final Score: 108-103. Rose finishes with 25-5-5.

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