Defense Leads Knicks to Ugly Win - NBC New York

Defense Leads Knicks to Ugly Win

Knicks get revenge on Bobcats thanks to the defense.



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    This defense thing might actually work out for the Knicks.

    Going into Monday night, you could just about count on no hands how many times during Mike D'Antoni's tenure a game has ended with the realization that the Knicks won a game because of their defensive effort.

    After Monday night's 91-87 win over the Bobcats, you'll need to actually find a finger.

    The Knicks offense fell apart in the fourth quarter, allowing the Bobcats to crawl back into the game in the final moments, but thanks to a few free throws and a last bit of good work in their own end, the Knicks pulled it out.

    D.J. Augustin missed a three, Carmelo Anthony grabbed a rebound and the Knicks held on for their third straight victory.

    That wasn't the case in their loss to the Bobcats last week, when the Knicks allowed Michael Jordan's squad to emulate their owner by hitting 55 percent of their shots, 64 percent of their threes and forcing just 13 turnovers.

    The Jordan rules didn't pan out for the visitors this time as they were 42 percent from the floor, 32 percent from three and handed the ball over 17 times.

    The Knicks took advantage of all that slop, scoring 18 points off of turnovers and converting 16 fast break points on the way to a lead that was comfortable all the way until the fourth quarter.

    Getting the ball up the court quickly paid off for the offense, which moved the ball well and took advantage of transition to hit several alley-oops in the first half to set the crowd into a tizzy.

    Tyson Chandler was the biggest reason why the defense had such an impact. He blocked three shots, altered several others into misses, picked up three steals and pounded the glass to help key the Knicks' transition game.

    That's why they brought him to town, obviously, and, for the first time, it looked like his presence sprinkled down to the rest of the squad. The Knicks gave up on their constant switching and actually stuck with one man while knowing that there was real help behind them should someone get beat off the dribble.

    Chandler is around for just that reason and it also helps that Iman Shumpert's playing time has increased. Shump's able to stay in front of both point and shooting guards while also fighting through screens instead of the Knicks' long preferred system of going under them and screwing up the entire defense.

    It's nice that the defense was so good, because the offense turned into a mess. It's hard to figure out just why, although Shumpert's conditioning would seem to be part of the reason.

    The rookie had to leave early once again because of leg cramps and it seems that he isn't quite ready to take on the physical toll of running the team for all four quarters. After a really sharp first three quarters of work, the offense turned into nothing but isolations in the fourth and that failed miserably.

    Both Amar'e Stoudemire and Anthony struggled to make even the easiest of shots (13-of-43 combined) on Monday night, but they were the only parties in the mix down the stretch even though Chandler, who scored a season-high 20 points, had been a real force in the paint up to that point.

    The Knicks were ultimately bailed out because the Bobcats kept sending them to the line, a strange defensive choice given how often the Knicks were just throwing the ball off the rim and ducking for cover.

    That offensive meltdown is certainly reason to be wary of making too much of this victory, but you have to imagine that the two stars will be better in the future.

    It's nice to see that the Knicks can find a way to win when they are off, especially when that way highlights all the reasons Chandler came to New York.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.