WHAT IT MEANS: Even without Tyson Chandler for the seventh straight game (small bulging disk in his neck), the Knicks got their fifth win a row by controlling the paint in a 100-85 victory over the Boston Celtics.
While the Knicks had only 11 assists -- nine fewer than the Celtics -- they made up for it on the glass, finishing with 15 offensive rebounds. Carmelo Anthony had six, and Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith had four each, contributing to 50 points in the paint. The Knicks took advantage of the Kevin Garnett-less Celtics, who had only seven offensive boards.
The Knicks' defense (12 steals) and isolation scoring from Smith (a game-high 32 points) and Anthony (29 points) fueled them to the victory.
DIFFERENCE-MAKER: Smith's attacking. Recently, the sixth man has been relying less on outside shots to score, but more on quick and aggressive penetration. And he has capitalized, finishing over 50 percent from the field in his fourth straight game. He was also 5-for-5 from the line, where he's been just as effective recently.
That relentless attack has benefited Smith's offensive rebounding as well, as he had three offensive putbacks tonight. Of course, he still showed off his 3-point shot, when he hit one from way deep as the third-quarter buzzer sounded.
RUN, COACH, RUN: The Knicks totaled only eight turnovers. The Celtics, on the other hand, had 19. That efficient playmaking by the Knicks was their recipe for success earlier in the season when they went 18-5. Having point guards Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton in the starting backcourt has been a huge catalyst.
KIDD'S MINUTES KEY: At the start of the month, Jason Kidd was playing around 30 minutes per game, but with his move to backup point guard, he has been playing about 10 less. Tonight, he played 23, and that's been helping his play.
As the Knicks forge ahead in the most critical part of the regular season, the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer needs to be fresh to continue his heads-up playmaking and 3-point shooting. While he didn't do anything speculator tonight, he put his stamp all over the game. He had a steal, took a charge, grabbed six rebounds and hit a 3 (five points total).
WHAT'S NEXT: The team that gave the Knicks their first loss of the season, all the way back on Nov. 16 after they started 6-0. While the Grizzlies have lost Rudy Gay since then, due to a trade, they're still the fifth seed in the Western Conference at 47-23.
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