Anthony leads Knicks past Ewing-coached Bobcats
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The New York Knicks felt enough urgency to call a players-only team meeting after their home loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday.
The meeting produced the desired results as the Knicks bounced back, snapped a three-game losing streak and beat the Bobcats 101-91 in a rematch on Friday night.
Forward Carmelo Anthony led the way with 28 points and then proclaimed the players-only meeting a success.
"Sometimes you need to just get together and talk, let it all out and try to figure what's the problem, what's the issue," Anthony said. "We responded. We responded well tonight."
The Knicks went on a 15-0 run early in the third quarter to take command after leading by four at halftime, and wound up leading by as many as 19.
"We played like our backs were against the wall," Anthony said. "It was a must-win for us. When you talk about must-wins this early in the season something obviously is going wrong. But we corrected that. We took care of the basketball. We played defense. Our offense was clicking. We made shots. We held them to 90 points. When you do all that you can win a lot of games in this league.
The New York victory came on the same day that Bobcats coach Steve Clifford underwent a procedure to have two stents placed into his heart. Clifford complained of chest pains at dinner on Thursday night and was admitted to a Charlotte hospital, then had the procedure done Friday afternoon. He was to remain in the hospital Friday night and there is no timetable for his return.
Former Knicks great and Bobcats assistant Patrick Ewing assumed the role of acting coach in Clifford's absence.
The Knicks (2-3) also got 25 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots from Andrea Bargnani, who stepped up in the absence of center Tyson Chandler, who suffered a broken leg on Tuesday and is out at least four weeks.
Guard Raymond Felton also scored 15, on a night when the Knicks went 12 of 26 from 3-point range and committed just 12 turnovers, several of them after the outcome had been decided.
Bargnani's performance might have been the bright spot of the night to Knicks coach Mike Woodson, who said it was the first time this season that the Knicks had "put a 48-minute ballgame together."
"He asked everybody to be more aggressive especially on defense with Tyson not playing," Bargnani said. "And I think that was the difference tonight. We were all more aggressive on defense. I'm just trying to play my game and fit in with my teammates and they are helping me a lot."
The Bobcats (3-3) shot just 40.8 percent from the field. Guard Kemba Walker led the way with 25 points but was just 8 of 22 from the field. Guard Gerald Henderson scored 18, guard Ramon Sessions scored 15 and forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 14.
"They're a tough team to play," Ewing said. "They play small. They have so many good shooters. I thought for the most part the guys tried, and it just wasn't in the cards for us."
Ewing didn't find out until Friday morning that he was in charge of the shoot-around, and then found out later in the day that he would be the acting coach. His only other head-coaching experience had come in summer leagues.
"It's a lot different," Ewing said. "When I'm an assistant I'm just sitting there giving advice. Tonight, I was the head man and they were giving me advice. But it's a total team effort here. The coaches, the players, everyone's in this together. I was nervous at first but then I calmed down and was able to do my thing."
NOTES: Bobcats acting coach Patrick Ewing said that it was "ironic" his first game came against his longtime team, the Knicks. Ewing played for the Knicks from 1985-2000. ... The Bobcats had won five straight home games over this year and last before Friday's loss. They beat Toronto at home on Wednesday night 92-90, behind G Gerald Henderson's 23 points. ... F Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in scoring in each of their first four games and came into Friday's game 10th in the NBA in scoring at 23.8 ppg. ... Bobcats C Al Jefferson missed his fifth straight game with a bone bruise in his right ankle, and C Brendan Haywood could miss up to two months with a stress fracture in his left foot. ... Knicks G J.R. Smith remains suspended by the NBA. ... The Bobcats will close out a three-game homestand on Monday night against Atlanta. ... The Knicks will return home to play San Antonio on Sunday afternoon.