New York Knicks: Players Who Stepped Up Against Houston Rockets

The New York Knicks concluded the first back-to-back of the 2016-17 NBA regular season with a 118-99 loss the Houston Rockets. Who stepped up?


Nov 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose (25) talks with New York Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Knicks have completed the first unfavorable stretch of the 2016-17 NBA regular season. Just 24 hours after facing the Detroit Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the Knicks traveled back to New York to host the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden.

With vengeance on their minds, the Knicks fought to defeat the team that it lost to in the preseason opener.

New York were blown out once again, this time falling 118-99. The expectations were somewhat tempered considering it was the Knicks’ second game in as many nights, but New York was still hoping to secure the win.

Though it was a forgettable performance for the Knicks, a number of players made statements against the Rockets.

In some instances, it was a star solidifying their place as one of the most revered players in the Association. In others, it was an unsung hero who stepped up and provided an invaluable impact for New York’s favorite team.

The question is: which players stepped up during the New York Knicks’ 118-99 home loss to the Houston Rockets?

Nov 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) is fouled as he shoots by Houston Rockets small forward Trevor Ariza (1) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony

New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony is in the midst of what could be a bounce-back season. He hasn’t yet played at the level expected of him, but he’s beginning to find his rhythm as a scorer.

After scoring 19 points in the regular season opener, Anthony has since recorded at least 20 points in three consecutive outings.

Anthony finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, one offensive rebound, one assist, and one steal on 8-of-15 shooting from the field. He also shot 1of-4 from beyond the arc and 4-of-5 from the free throw line for the Knicks.

Considering the early games of the 2016-17 NBA regular season are more about progress than actual results, it’s encouraging to know Anthony is thriving as a scorer.

Anthony has scored at least 20 points in three of the four regular season games in 2016-17. He’s far more confident in his jump shot than he was a season ago and appears far more willing to go to the post.

Anthony’s efforts haven’t yet translated to a consistent string of victories, but he’s finding his rhythm in the most important way.

Oct 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) dribbles the ball during the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 10, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks guard Brandon Jennings (3) dribbles the ball during the third quarter against the Washington Wizards at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Jennings

The New York Knicks have been waiting for Brandon Jennings to break out as the sixth man. After scoring a combined 13 points on 3-of-11 shooting over the first two games, Jennings has since showed why Phil Jackson has so much confidence in him.

After scoring 12 points in 19 minutes against the Detroit Pistons, Jennings stepped up with yet another quality performance against the Houston Rockets.

Jennings finished the Houston game with 12 points, three rebounds, three assists, and eight trips to the free throw line. He shot 3-of-7 from the field, which translates to a respectable 42.9 percent, and hit six of his eight free throw attempts.

Though Jennings is still being criticized for his questionable shot selection, he’s done a much better job of finding the bottom of the net over the past two games.

Though his jump shot is still off-and-on, Jennings is showing a long-awaited willingness to attack the rack. He struggled to create penetration in 2015-16, but that no longer appears to be an issue now that he’s arrived in New York.

The first month of the season will be about finding a rhythm and building chemistry. Jennings is doing the former.

Nov 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard Courtney Lee (5) drives against Houston Rockets shooting guard James Harden (13) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Courtney Lee

New York Knicks starting shooting guard Courtney Lee has rebounded quite well from a disappointing effort in the regular season opener. He has was brilliant against the Memphis Grizzlies and had the best +/- of any starter against the Detroit Pistons.

Matched up with James Harden and the Houston Rockets, Lee had yet another productive performance at Madison Square Garden.

Lee finished with 16 points, one assist, and two steals on 7-of-12 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 shooting from beyond the arc. He did a bit of everything as a scorer, working both with and without the ball to create offensive opportunities.

The results may not be great for the team, but if Lee continues to perform at this level, the rest should fall into place.

Lee’s offensive role is to pick up the slack for the stars whenever they may go cold. The issue in New York is that, while Lee is filling his role to perfection, the stars have been unable to perform at the level they’re expected to.

Nevertheless, one can’t help but applaud the effort that Lee has been putting forth over the Knicks’ past three games.

Nov 2, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose (25) controls the ball against the Houston Rockets in front of New York Knicks center Joakim Noah (13) during the third quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Derrick Rose

Once again, Derrick Rose was one of the shining stars for the New York Knicks. He did an outstanding job of creating penetration—so much so that he kept the Knicks alive during what could have been a blowout early in the first quarter.

Rose may not be the elite player that he used to be, but he’s certainly showing signs of being able to get back to an All-Star level.

Rose played 30 minutes against Houston, recording 16 points, four rebounds, an offensive board, four assists, and a pair of steals. He shot 8-of-18 from the field and continued to overwhelm opponents with his speed and quickness.

If there’s only one reason to be encouraged by the Knicks’ first four games, it’s that Rose can still get to the rim as quickly as any player in the NBA.

Rose’s four assists aren’t exactly awe-inspiring, but he was far more willing to pass against the Houston Rockets than he was during the first three outings. His teammates may not have converted the shots he set up, but it’s all about progress and Rose is showing signs of it.

Another day, another strong performance by Rose, and another disappointing performance by the team around him.

At least these players provided a silver lining to another blowout loss.

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