The Knicks defeated the Nets at Nassau Coliseum in their preseason finale Wednesday night by a score of 97-95. As New York sealed the deal with a victory, it should have come to nobody’s surprise who helped lead the way.
Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland have emerged as two worthy rotation players over the last couple of weeks, and nothing changed Wednesday night. At 35 years old, Prigioni may not be the quickest point guard in the world, but the guy simply has court vision that you just can’t teach.
Whether it be their collective experience playing overseas or not, Prigioni and Copeland just seem to have a complete understanding of one another on the court. They’ve been excelling alongside each other all preseason long, and last night, they led the charge as the Knicks beat Brooklyn.
An array of Prigioni’s 11 assists went Copeland’s way as the pair paced the Knicks through the fourth quarter and overtime. The Argentinian is also someone who likes to chase loose balls, putting pressure on the opposing team’s floor general. He came up with three steals in the contest.
Copeland’s 16 points came in lieu of a team-high seven turnovers, but frankly, after a preseason full of pleasant surprises and stellar play, he’s done far more than enough to snag a spot on this team. His aggressiveness under the basket helped him pour in the points last night, getting to the foul line six times.
With the game representing the Knicks’ last preseason matchup before the regular season begins next week, Coach Mike Woodson opted to rest many of his key contributors late in the game.
Though Woodson managed each player’s time on the court responsibly, it would have taken not playing Tyson Chandler at all to avoid an injury to the big man. Chandler banged knees with an opposing player 44 seconds in to the game, and did not return. He left the Knicks’ locker room on crutches and is expected to get an MRI at some point today.
As for the rest of New York’s starters, a couple seemed to struggle more than most. Carmelo Anthony couldn’t hit a shot to save his life in the early goings, though he later finished with 15 points. Scoring aside, it was more interesting to see Anthony crash the boards as a power forward throughout the game. His ability to do so could really benefit the Knicks during Amar’e Stoudemire’s absence.
Though he also struggled to knock down a consistent jumper, Ronnie Brewer scored 12 points as he went confidently towards the basket again and again. Such an action is a positive sign for the wingman, who is still finding a rhythm back from injury.
Aside from Prigioni and Copeland, Raymond Felton has been one of the more impressive players in preseason play. Clearly hungry to find a successful rhythm again in New York, Felton scored an efficient 15 points Wednesday and seems poised to step up to lead the Knicks with Anthony as they wait for STAT to return.
The Knicks’ late game charge was highlighted by contributions from some of the non-guarantees. If this was their last game in orange and blue, Henry Sims and Mychel Thompson did themselves proud.
Sims played aggressive defense, displaying hustle as he swarmed the opponent. Not letting up for one second, he grabbed 5 rebounds and blocked 2 shots.
Thompson also strutted his stuff in the best way, spreading the floor on his way to pouring in 13 points and knocking down three daggers from deep.
The Knicks were hit with quite a lot of injuries this preseason, but with certain absences has come the emergence of other players ready to step in to fill the void. As they enter the regular season, it’ll be interesting to see if New York can adjust well enough to come away with enough victories throughout the year.