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 01/13/2013 – The 5th Quarter in New York Sports

Hosts Jake Brown and Ty Hardamon recap the NFL playoff games over the weekend, discuss the Melo suspension, the Knicks success and their future. They also spoke about the MLB Hall of Fame induction “shutout”, as well as all of the latest Jets drama, as well as the coaching/GM moves throughout the NFL. Guests included Ravens broadcaster Gerry Sandusky and Knicks writer Adam Zagoria.


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 This Rivalry Ain’t Kidd-ing

On the eve of 12/12/12, the Knicks and Nets officially began a special rivalry in New York.

After the Nets took the first game between the two just 15 days ago in Brooklyn, the Knicks got revenge in another thrilling game at the Barclays Center. Jason Kidd did what he did in New Jersey for the Nets…make a clutch shot to win the game for his team. This time he did it in orange and blue. Kidd’s three pointer with 24 seconds to go would prove to be the game winner as the Knicks topped the Nets, 100-97.

You couldn’t ask for a better game at the Barclays Center. For the second time this season, the two teams played a game that felt like one played in May, not December. Carmelo Anthony led the way for the Knicks with 45 points, a season high, and an NBA season high. Melo carried the Knicks in a game they clearly wanted to win against their new crosstown rival. In a game where the Knicks trailed 26-9 in the first quarter, Anthony’s ability to take over the game and Kidd’s ability to knock down clutch three pointers is what propelled Mike Woodson’s team back in the game.  The Knicks made big shot after big shot in the 4th quarter outscoring the Nets 26-18 to get the comeback victory.

The Nets were led by Andray Blatche, who scored 23 points, but they clearly missed their star center Brook Lopez. The Nets are 1-5 without their injured center, including five straight losses. The team has struggled mightily since their statement win against the Knicks two weeks ago. Deron Williams has been off shooting this season and had a poor night from the field once again Monday going 6 for 16, including 1 for 6 from three point range. Joe Johnson scored 16, but has been very inconsistent so far this season and hasn’t played at the level he did in Atlanta.  Brooklyn needs their leading scorer to come back healthy to get back to their winning ways.

The Knicks not only got revenge after their first loss to the Nets, but they also hold bragging rights. The Knicks have won 7 of 8 games since that loss in Brooklyn and hold the best record in the Eastern Conference at 16-5. Monday night officially turned this into a rivalry and something truly special for New York.  Knicks fans could be heard in an arena that seemed to be a 50-50 split of Knicks and Nets fans.  That is the last time the two teams will meet in Brooklyn until next season…unless the two match up in the playoffs, which would be a dream for many. After seeing the first two games between these two teams, a playoff series between Manhattan and Brooklyn would be history in the making.

The battle of the boroughs has not disappointed fans so far this season. If those two games weren’t enough excitement, they will meet up again next Wednesday at Madison Square Garden. The atmosphere at the Barclays Center was extraordinary, but expect it to be on another level when the rivals meet at MSG. The winner of next week’s game takes the season series lead. Their fourth and final meeting comes on January 21st at MSG, when the Knicks should have Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert back in the lineup.

Buckle up for the ride because we got ourselves a big rivalry in the big apple.

 Melo Feeling Golden for 2012-2013 Season

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony is ready for the NBA season to begin after winning his second gold medal in London.  Anthony was all smiles Friday when he chatted with reporters at his ProCamps youth hoops camp at St. John’s University.

Anthony is ready to get back going with the Knicks.

“I’m excited to just get this thing going especially coming off of what I just had and what we had in the USA team.”

Anthony also said that not only is he ready but his teammates are working as well this offseason.

“Everybody’s working. I see Amare is in the gym working.  Iman is getting his knee right.  Tyson is out there with me.  It’s just a matter of us putting it all together and making this run.”

The Olympic gold medalist is enjoying what he has right now after helping Team USA win the gold in London.  The feeling of winning the gold in London still hasn’t sunk in yet for Anthony.

“It’s an honor. It’s a blessing.  It really hasn’t sunk in yet as far as being a two-time Olympic gold medalist.  I’m just trying to just live in this moment and enjoy this moment as of right now and go from there.”

The All Star forward said his gold medal is in good hands despite everyone wanting a glimpse of it.

“Everywhere I go they wanna see the medal.  The medal is locked up though.  It’s locked up it’s getting framed.  It’s getting in a case right now as we speak.  I might bring it to the facilities or something like that and show everybody.”

Anthony is looking forward to playing again with his star teammate Amare Stoudemire.  Stoudemire worked out with Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon and Melo is ready to see what “Stat” has got.

“I’ve been looking for him. I haven’t seen him yet. I’m ready to see what he has added to his arsenal.  I’m excited of the fact that he even went down there and started working with the Dream so that’s a big step for him.”

Anthony is looking forward to what Amare can bring to the table this season.  The two have a below .500 record when playing together in the same lineup.  Anthony sees big things coming in the 2012-2013 season.

“With him going down there putting me on the wing now I can play off of him rather than me going out there and him playing off of me which could be a deadly weapon.”

Anthony is ready to get back with his teammates for the season opener.  The opener happens to be in Brooklyn where they will face the cross-town “rival” Nets in the first game at the Barclays Center.  Melo wasn’t ready to call them “rivals” just yet.

“There’s no rivalry between us and Brooklyn right now unless it starts on that first game.  We’ll see what happens in that first game but as of right now we focused on ourself.  We ain’t really focused on them.”

Anthony was asked by a reporter if former Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin has anything to be “scared” of when the Knicks play the Houston Rockets.

“I don’t know. I don’t play against him.  I mean I don’t guard him so he ain’t got nothing to be scared of.”

 Is Woodson Really the Man?
  James Dolan snatches interim tag, Woodson officially head coach

The Knicks have made their decision, the more rational one at least. Interim Coach Mike Woodson has agreed on a multiyear contract to become the head coach.

Woodson took over when Mike D’Antoni resigned on March 14, from hosting an 18-24 record and no support from his locker room. Woodson lead the Knicks to an 18-6 record, an 8.4 PPG differential and the 7th seed in the playoffs.

Outmatched, and Outgunned the Knicks lost 4-1 to the Miami Heat in the first round, breaking an NBA-record of 13 consecutive postseason loses, by winning Game 4, which was the first victory since 2001.

Many expected Woodson to get the nod as head coach, but is it the right move?

Woodson led his former team the Atlanta Hawks to 206 wins in his stay before management decided not to renegotiate his contract, which expired in 2010.

The Hawks posted one 50-win season and three playoff appearances in six seasons with Woodson running the sidelines. The Hawks made it to the conference semifinals twice but failed to win a single game.

At best, the Hawks were just an average team that would make the playoffs each year. The one and two seeds in the playoffs never actually felt the Hawks were a threat, hence only three wins in three playoff appearances by Woodson in Atlanta.

Knick fans are not willing to embrace mediocrity. Can Woodson shed his can’t get over the hump ways, and propel the Knicks to the Eastern Conference Finals? Only if he can make Carmelo Anthony and Amare’ Stoudemire coexist.

Follow me on Twitter: @Ty_Hardamon

 Knicks-Heat Playoff Preview

The 66 game NBA regular season has come to an end.  The playoffs have finally arrived.  The Knicks are locked on to the 7th seed and will play the 2nd seeded Miami Heat in the first round.  Game one will be Saturday afternoon at 3:30 in Miami.  The Heat finished the season with a 46-20 record while the Knicks finished with a 36-30 record.  Miami dominated New York in the regular season winning all three games against them by an average of ten points.

The Heat are not the best matchup for the Knicks.  That is without a doubt, but the Carmelo Anthony led Knicks could make a series of this.  The Knicks have been playing good basketball finishing the season very hot.  With the exception of Jeremy Lin, who will most likely miss the entire first round, the Knicks are coming into the playoffs fairly healthy.  Amare Stoudemire is back and looked strong in the last couple of games of the season.  Tyson Chandler will be ready to go as he got to rest himself for a couple of games.

The key to this series will be the play of Amare Stoudemire.  Stoudemire needs to help Melo in the scoring department and needs to outplay Chris Bosh.  As soon as Amare went down in last years playoff with injury the series was a wrap.  The Knicks need to get the continued incredible play of Anthony as well as a strong series from Amare if they want any chance to make this a series.  Another huge factor in this series will be the defense of Iman Shumpert on Dwyane Wade.  We have seen the aggressive defense from the rookie Shumpert all season that has had many guards frustrated.  If Shumpert can contain Wade throughout the series and force LeBron James to carry this team, the Knicks will make this a long series.

The coaching matchup is fairly even as both coaches Mike Woodson and Erik Spoelstra have been to the playoffs and have won in the playoffs.  Mike Woodson is a guy who preaches tough defense.  Spoelstra has had the entire season to work with his team while Woodson has only been the head guy for six weeks.  Team chemistry is definitely going to be a major factor in this series and could be a disadvantage for the Knicks.

The problem is that the Heat just have too much athleticism and talent for the Knicks.  LeBron James will most likely win an NBA MVP this season, Dwyane Wade has done it before in the playoffs and the Heat are looking to start the dynasty that they hoped for when signing the “big three” last season.  The Heat have added some depth this season with players such as Norris Cole and Shane Battier who have been big contributors off the bench this season.  The Knicks definitely have the advantage when it comes bench play and depth.  New York will keep this a good series because of their improved depth and the strong shooters such as Steve Novak and J.R. Smith.  New York is going to have to get improved play from their backcourt and some big buckets by guys other than Stat and Melo.  Also, the “precocious neophyte” Landry Fields cannot disappear as he did in the first round last year against the Celtics.

The Knicks hope to revive Madison Square Garden and pull off the upset this series like they did against Miami 12 years ago.  It is going to be a tough task trying to do it against a star-studded Miami team, but the Knicks are not backing down and are ready for the challenge.  Sunday afternoon the rivalry continues.

My Prediction: Heat in 6

 Melo Silences the Haters
Anyone who had anything bad to say about Carmelo Anthony was quickly silenced Sunday afternoon.
 

Anthony put on an unbelievable performance at Madison Square Garden in a playoff atmosphere against the Bulls, who have the best record in the Eastern Conference and the most wins in the NBA. The Knicks beat the Bulls, 100-99 in overtime. Melo scored an astounding 43 points. He showed integrity and determination down the stretch making clutch basket after clutch basket. With 11 seconds left, Melo drained a long three pointer with the long arm of Taj Gibson right in his face. The Garden erupted into a thunderous roar. The Knicks seemed to be out of the game, but thanks to four missed free throws by Luol Deng and Derrick Rose, the Knicks stayed alive. Steve Novak had a three pointer that somehow went in the hoop and came right out prior to Melo’s game tying three. Melo’s clutch three helped send the Knicks to overtime where he was not done yet.

Melo would make a driving layup with just over a minute to go in overtime to cut the Bulls lead to two. With eight seconds left, Melo would make the Garden shake once again. He drained another long three pointer with Deng’s hand in his face to give the Knicks a 100-99 lead. The Knicks would get a stop on defense and come out with the victory.

Anthony showed all his haters that he knows that it is his time. The Knicks are playing without Jeremy Lin for the rest of the season and possibly without star Amare Stoudemire for the year. Sunday was up there as one of the most magical performances ever seen at MSG. New York will need Melo to play like this down the stretch and into the playoffs. The Knicks needed that game as the Bucks are creeping up behind them for the eight seed in the East. It was a monumental win in a game that could be a playoff preview of the first round. Anyone who had doubts about Melo has hopped on the bandwagon now and is on for the ride.

The Knicks clearly are the team that the Bulls and Heat wanna stay away from come playoff time. The Knicks are tied with the Sixers for the seven seed at the moment with the Bucks sitting just a game behind. New York has ten games remaining and will play the Bulls once again on Tuesday night in Chicago.

 Linsational February for the Knicks
  Jeremy Lin Leading the Way

The month of February was outstanding for the New York Knicks. The team has found a point guard, and they are back to their winning ways. The Knicks were 8-15, when Jeremy Lin became the starting point guard. Carmelo Anthony had just been injured and A’mare Stoudemire left the team due to the death of his brother. Mike D’Antoni was on the verge of being fired when Lin stormed onto the scene and became the star the Knicks needed. The emergence of Lin has saved the Knicks season.

Since Jeremy Lin has become a starter, the Knicks have won 9 out of their last 12. There was a 7 game win streak during this current stretch as well. Lin had an amazing 38 point performance against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, as well as a 28 point and 14 assist game against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks. Lin has been averaging nearly 25 points and 9 assists a game during this stretch. It’s amazing what a great fit D’Antoni’s system is for Lin-  kind of reminiscent of when D’Antoni was coaching the Phoenix Suns, and we saw Steve Nash excel so greatly.

While Lin has been a sensation, there is much to be excited about with this team. The fact is that the New York Knicks are winning games playing team basketball. While the Knicks may not win the championship this year, the team has a young talented core along with a nice mix of veterans like veteran Tyson Chandler, A’mare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony to lead the way. Mike D’Antoni’s seems to finally have the right mix of players to excel in his system. If the team can continue to play defense, the Knicks should be championship contenders for years to come.

The playoffs start in April, and it will be interesting to see how the Knicks will play down the stretch. Will they have enough to win a playoff series? How far can they go? One thing is for sure, if Jeremy Lin continues to play at the his current level, the Knicks have a very strong chance.

 The New Look Knicks

Photo by DvYang

The Knicks have become an entirely different team than the team we saw just seven games ago when they were an abysmal 8-15.  They were a couple losses away from Mike D’Antoni being jobless, Jeremy Lin being cut, and Carmelo Anthony banging himself up even more.  The Knicks were being led by a banged up Anthony and a struggling Amare Stoudemire.  Two men were attempting to carry the team on their backs.  It just could not be done.  They needed a change.  That’s when the Knickerbockers would make a Lin-probable return to winning basketball and an excitement in New York that we have not seen since the days of Patrick Ewing, Allan Houston, and Latrell Sprewell.

The Knicks are now at .500 at 15-15 and in the thick of the playoff race securing the eight seed in the Eastern Conference right now.  Lin has helped lead the Knicks putting up unbelievable numbers.  Lin has scored at least 20 points in six of the seven games and has had at least seven assists in every game.  Three of the games he has recorded a double double.  Lin dropped 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in front of a packed Madison Square Garden without Stoudemire and Anthony.  It has been a story that has gotten Lin several endorsement offers and the financial assets to move him off his brother’s couch and into his own place.  Lin has thrived even with all the attention he has received.  When everyone thought the Lin-sanity would take a halt for a game against the Raptors in Toronto, Lin scored six points in the final minute including a game winning three pointer with less than a second to go.

This story has been one of the most inspiring stories and one that has Knicks fans believing in a championship this season. Just today, the Knicks signed J.R. Smith hoping he can add some depth from the shooting guard position.  When Smith is on, he is an explosive scorer.  Him and Anthony played together in Denver as well.  The Knicks have a potential starting lineup of Jeremy Lin, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler.  That is arguably the best lineup in the NBA.  The question is whether Anthony will be able to co-exist with Lin and the rest of the team.  Melo will have to do a lot more passing and less shooting.  This Knicks team has thrived moving the ball and getting everyone involved.  They have gotten great bench play from Steve Novak as well as Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker.  The team has played superb team basketball since Anthony has been out.  The Knicks need Anthony to return, be healthy, and move the ball with this new look team.  If this team can co-exist and continue their unselfish play, we might just see a deep playoff run and MSG rocking come late May for the first time in over a decade.

 For now, D’Antoni’s Job Saved by Harvard Graduate
  Lin-Sanity has begun, 48 minute workout edition.

Photo by Kimberly

Prior to the beginning of this NBA season, many raved how the Knicks would be a championship contender. The Knicks went 6-11 in the month of January, including, an overtime loss to the Denver Nuggets, the exact team they swapped players with to land mega-star Carmelo Anthony.  They also landed the top center inside the free agency pool in Tyson Chandler, who is fresh off propelling the Dallas Mavericks to a championship. Would the Knicks have the same luck?

To date the Knicks are below .500 standing at 11-15. With Mike D’Antoni job in a limbo, a drastic change was made to shake things up. February 4th, 2012 is when “Lin-Sanity” began.

The Harvard graduate Jeremy Lin made a name for himself by smashing a ton of Ivy League records, along with a 3.1 G.P.A. Undrafted, skipped around the league to the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets before the Knicks claimed Lin off waivers on December 27th, 2011. Lin was sent to the D-League, where he posted a triple double over his inferior competition.

Called up shortly after, the first American player in the NBA to be Chinese posted 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists in 36 minutes of action vs the Nets. Lin has surged the Knicks to three straight wins, while averaging 25 points and eight assists in those contests.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lin is the first player since LeBron James in 2003 to score at least 20 points and hand out at least eight assists in his first two NBA starts.

Lin excels in the pick and roll with his deceptive speed and uncanny strength. Center Tyson Chandler has been the main beneficiary of the emergence of Lin. The last three games Chandler has averaged 17 points, four more points with Lin facilitating than Carmelo Anthony (13).

We don’t know if the experiment will last forever. However, the Knicks have edged opponents with missing Amar’e Stoudemire and Anthony in the lineup. D’ Antoni now has his team moving the ball and pressing the tempo. Lin is to thank for the recent success, actually, Lin is to thank for D’Antoni’s two-week job extension.

 Knicks Head into the New Year with Hope

The New York Knicks are 1-2 and will take on the Kings tonight in Sacramento. Is the Knicks 1-2 start reason for concern? Not really. For about the first month or so of basketball, every team in the NBA will look a bit sluggish. Let’s not forget there was basically no preseason due to the lockout leading to this shortened season.

Newly acquired center Tyson Chandler is still getting aclimated with the team. The Knicks have a really big group with Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudamire, and Tyson Chandler. Amare and Carmelo did not get to really gel last season, but Knicks fans are hoping that they can all come together quickly with Chandler.

The season short but the Knicks are young, and Chandler brings the defensive intensity that the Knicks haven’t had in a while. Knicks fans are hoping that Chandler will bring in the defensive tenacity that he helped bring the Dallas Mavericks there first championship in franchise history.

With the talent that the Knicks have, most fans believe that they should be a top 3 seed in the eastern conference. Miami and Boston are the two other teams who have a good shot at contending out east. Knicks fans hope to get a good win against Sacramento, and then start the new year right with a win against the Toronto Raptors.

The big 3 will lead the way for the Knicks. It is up to the supporting cast to help out those 3 on a consistent basis for the Knicks to have a great NBA season.

 Knicks Are Built For A Championship

Photo by Keith Allison

With the recent acquisition of Tyson Chandler, the Knicks are a legit NBA championship contender. They were a contender before the addition of Chandler, but now they have a serious chance to win it all.

Chandler will bring a lot to the table for this team. He will give the Knicks a physical presence down low and will take a lot of pressure off of Amare in terms of rebounding. Amare will now be able to hang around near the elbows and make a living off of that 15 foot jumper.

One of the most important facets that Chandler will bring to this team is experience and leadership. He knows what it takes to win an NBA championship. He should step right in and be the voice in the locker room, along with Amare and Carmelo.

Taking a look at the rest of the Eastern Conference and how the Knicks stack up to the other top tier teams: the Heat are the obvious favorites and will be the toughest to beat. The Celtics are old and their “Big 3″ seems to be coming to an end. That leaves the Knicks with possibly the number two spot in the East.

Carmelo is going to have a career year this season. He has to be tired of coming up short and tired of the spotlight shining on Lebron.  Amare will also have a breakout season. Much of weight has been taken off of his shoulders, and with the addition of Chandler, he won’t be relied on to score 25 points and bring down 10 boards per game.

The opening day matchup against the Celtics on Christmas day will be a great measuring stick for how good this team truly is. This team does not lack talent, however, if they have any aspirations of winning a championship, they must throw away all ego’s and play like a team.

 New York State of Mind
  Tyson Chandler a Key Acquisition for the Knicks

Photo by Keith Allison

When was the last time you heard Knicks and defense in the same sentence? Then again, when was the last time you heard of the Knicks and title contenders in the same sentence? New York hasn’t had a dominant man in the middle since Patrick Ewing, but all that changed when Tyson Chandler traded in his cowboy boots from Dallas for the bright lights of New York. In doing so, Chandler has the NBA and Knicks fans in a New York state of mind.

Chandler transformed the Mavericks, a perennially “soft” team, into a defensive minded unit that shut down the Heat for their first NBA title as a franchise. New York hopes Chandler can do the same for the Knicks and help restore the “D” in coach D’Antoni’s name.

For the Knicks to succeed he must play the role of Dennis Rodman. Chandler must do all the dirty work by locking up opponents top big men, rebounding, and blocking or altering shots at the rim. Make no mistake, Chandler is being paid $56 million over four years to be the defensive coordinator as much as new assistant coach Mike Woodson.

As owner James Dolan and coach Mike D’Antoni unveiled their early Christmas gift both were in a New York state of mind. Dolan said during Chandler’s press conference, “We made a commitment to our Knicks fans that we would put together a team that would compete for an NBA championship. The addition of Tyson along with Amare (Stoudemire) and Carmelo (Anthony) is another important piece of that (championship) puzzle.” D’Antoni echoed Dolan and called the Knicks trio “(on paper) the best in the league.”

For the Knicks to fulfill their lofty expectations Chandler must be worth every penny of Dolan’s $56 million investment. Chandler is up to the task and said, “I know what my job is in coming here. I know I came here to defend. I’m going to defend the rim and I’m going to rebound. I’m going to get extra shots. I know if we play on both ends, and we play as a team, the sky is definitely the limit.”

The Knicks officially unveil their new toy on Christmas Day as New York at Madison Square Garden at noon.

 

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