For 24 minutes, the New York Knicks looked to be up to the challenge of knocking off the Los Angeles Clippers in Madison Square Garden. Then, reality set in. The Clippers outscored the Knicks 59-45 after the break, and with that, ran away and hid from New York in a 109-95 victory.
Blake Griffin was the best player on the court in MSG on Friday, and the All-Star power forward scored 32 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. It was an efficient 32 points for Griffin, as he shot 12 for 20 from the field, but more importantly, he turned in a quality defensive effort against an assortment of New York forwards.
The most high-profile Knick, Carmelo Anthony, had one of the weirder statistical outputs of his entire career in this game. For reference, Anthony put up a 20-20 game with 26 points and a staggering 20 rebounds in 40 minutes, but at the same time, it was a disastrous offensive night for Carmelo. Anthony finished just 4-for-23 from the field and was endlessly frustrated by the Clippers defenders (including the aforementioned Griffin) to the point where the 26-20 effort was overshadowed by his inefficiency.
It’s almost a shame to see the Knicks waste anything positive from JR Smith, but that is exactly what happened. Smith had his best game in weeks, scoring 24 points on just 18 shots in 35 minutes, but it wasn’t enough against the Clippers and their balanced attack. In addition to Griffin’s 32 points, Jamal Crawford matched JR Smith shot-for-shot, scoring 29 points in 29 minutes, and starting center DeAndre Jordan added a double-double with 11 points, 16 rebounds, 3 steals, and 3 blocks.
Even without Chris Paul, the Clippers are likely the “better team” in this spot, but for the Knicks, it was an ultra-disappointing final half after what seemed like a promising start.