No Carmelo Anthony proved to be no problem for the Knicks on Sunday night. Taking on the Rockets as their star sat out with an illness, New York shot an impressive 58 percent from the field and saw five players score in double-figures. Four players dished out 4 assists. The ball movement was there, and so was the efficiency. Stepping up for Anthony, Arron Afflalo was assertive, attacking the basket and knocking down a plethora of jumpers from the corners en route to scoring 31 points. Kristaps Porzingis wasn't far behind with 20, but he was even more impressive as he crashed the boards and manned the paint. He gave the Knicks a very strong interior presence against the likes of Dwight Howard and Clint Capela.
Their offensive effort helped the Knicks jump out to a commanding lead, but their defensive effort wasn't bad, either. New York held James Harden, the league's second-leading scoring, to just 36 percent from the field. They made him work for his points, and kept him at bay pretty much until he finally began to persevere with the game on the line.
Alas, much of this would make it sound like New York went home with a victory. But this wasn't the case. The game came down to a few last minute poor decisions down the stretch, including some missed timeout opportunities, poorly run plays, and an inability to keep up the same type of effort from start to finish. Here's a look at some more observations from the game.
- As the Knicks fell to 8-10, coach Derek Fisher continued to prove that he's to blame for much of the team's struggles this season. His rotation patterns are farfetched. He failed to call a timeout (initially) with the game on the line in overtime, allowing his players to run up the court in disarray and throw up an errant shot before luckily getting the ball back. The play that was run afterwards wasn't very impressive either. The Knicks let this victory slip through their fingers.
- Lance Thomas started in place of Anthony, and didn't disappoint through much of the game. He played with a boatload of energy and even made a couple of key momentum plays late in the third, but was unusually nowhere to be found late in the fourth and early in overtime. Coach Fisher sat him out.
- Kevin Seraphin had his mid-range jumper working on Sunday, converting on seven field goals and boasting a stat-line of 10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks. He was huge on the defensive end. Despite the efforts from Afflalo and Porzingis, one could argue Seraphin was the team's best performer. He did a very good job on and against Dwight Howard.
- Seraphin and the energetic Derrick Williams picked him up off the bench, but Langston Galloway is in a slump as of late. The guard shot 2 of 9 and had some defense lapses against Harden in the overtime period. His absence and inefficiency on the offensive end is more concerning, as it's been proven how crucial the positive impact he can make really is. The Knicks need to somehow help him find a rhythm again, and in turn, his confidence as well. He's been non-existent through the team's losing streak.
- This scoring outburst from Afflalo should not simply be attributed to Anthony sitting out. The veteran guard is a very good player. This latest outing should be an indication to the Knicks the type of offensive weapon they have, and that he needs to be continuously utilized in heavy fashion alongside Anthony.