After a tough loss to begin their four-game road trip, the New York Knicks couldn’t have closed it out much better. They’re just hoping that momentum will mean something at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks have dropped three straight at MSG, but after a successful visit to California they can pick up their fourth consecutive win in Tuesday night’s opener of a home-and-home set with the Charlotte Bobcats.
New York (6-8) dropped its sixth straight overall last Tuesday in Denver, where it fell behind by as many as 16 points early in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks rallied, however, and though they still lost 120-118, their late surge carried over. Danilo Gallinari(notes) and Amare Stoudemire scored 27 apiece in a 113-106 win at Sacramento on Wednesday, Raymond Felton(notes) led the way with 35 points and 11 assists in a 125-119 victory over Golden State on Friday, then Gallinari and Stoudemire were at it again Saturday.
The duo combined for 70 points - 45 after halftime - in a 124-115 win against the struggling Los Angeles Clippers.
“It was like a video game,” Stoudemire said after scoring a season-high 39. “… The positive from this is that we’re on a three-game winning streak and our chemistry’s now starting to come together. We showed how good we can be and what it takes to win, and we’re showing winning qualities. We’ve just got to keep it going.”
It was the first time the Knicks won three games in California on the same trip, and coach Mike D’Antoni’s team improved to 5-4 on the road.
New York is just 1-4 at MSG, though, largely due to its inaccuracy from beyond the arc. The Knicks are hitting an NBA-worst 26.0 percent of their 3-pointers at home, while they’ve knocked down 38.9 percent on the road.
They’re 5-0 when they hit 40 percent or more from 3, and 1-8 otherwise.
Stoudemire’s production has been consistent regardless of venue, but that hasn’t been true for his teammates. Felton, who will be facing the Bobcats (5-8) for the first time after spending his first five seasons with Charlotte, is averaging 19.3 points and shooting 50.4 percent on the road as opposed to 14.2 points and 41.3 percent at home.
Gallinari’s differences have been even worse. He’s averaged 25.4 points and hit 43.2 percent of his 3-pointers in his last five road games. In the Knicks’ five home games, he’s averaged 12.8 points and shot 25.0 percent from beyond the arc.
Perhaps Charlotte will be better served by playing at New York’s up-tempo pace on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Bobcats’ 73.2 field-goal attempts per game are the league’s fewest, but they seemed invigorated running the floor with Phoenix on Saturday.
It helped that the Suns didn’t have Steve Nash(notes). Charlotte took a season-high 87 shots and hit a season-best 57.5 percent, getting the first triple-double in franchise history from Stephen Jackson(notes) (24 points, 10 boards, 10 assists) to lead the way to a 123-105 win.
“We knew that we could attack the rack and be aggressive, and we knew if we played defense we could beat these guys,” said Jackson, who’s averaged 26.0 points and hit 51.4 percent from 3-point range in his last four games.