On Tuesday night, however, when the Knicks returned home to host the Bobcats, it was a couple of unsung heroes who led the team to victory.
Rookie sensation Landry Fields and Ronny Turiaf both came up big in the 4th quarter as they helped the Knicks seal a 110-107 win.
Although the Knicks led the Bobcats the entire game since early in the first quarter, their control on the game seemed to waver in the 4th quarter as the Bobcats made an offensive run. With a double-digit lead, Knicks’ coach Mike D’Antoni played a lineup that included Timofey Mozgov, Bill Walker, and a struggling Wilson Chandler as the team’s lead quickly began to quickly slip away.
While some may praise Mozgov’s defense in his nine-plus minutes on the court last night, others will find it appropriate to criticize his high level of confusion on the court. Clearly not yet comfortable with Coach D’Antoni’s system, Mozgov is constantly stagnant while on the hardwood. He slows up the entire offense, and his confusion is apparently infectious. He is becoming a liability on the floor and it showed as his team struggled late in last night’s game.
With Stoudemire in trouble with five fouls and Felton experiencing some back pain, D’Antoni depended on Fields and Turiaf late in the game. While not usually a part of his coach’s 4th quarter rotation, Fields went on an offensive spurt, scoring 7 straight points (for a total of 14), helping the Knicks’ regain a more comfortable lead.
Turiaf, whose energy level has not yet ceased to excite the Garden this season, continued to be a forced to be reckoned with on defense; he once again threw his body around all game on his way to two blocked shots. More surprisingly (but just as clutch, of course) was his season-high 12 points on a very efficient 6-6 from the field.
Moreover, after knocking the Bobcats’ Gerald Wallace down on defense, Turiaf lent a helping hand, offering to help his opponent up, rather than run down the court on offense. Some may criticize him for helping the enemy, but that immense display of sportsmanship was classic Ronny Turiaf.
Struggling throughout the game, Stoudemire added 17 points and 7 rebounds. Playing through back pain, Felton added 16 points and 9 assists, and furthermore, is expected to play in his hometown against his former team, the Bobcats, tonight.
Toney Douglas continued to regain his impressive offense form, quietly leading the Knicks in scoring with 22 points off the bench, hitting 5 of 7 shots from down town.