Knicks forced to go short, then long on threes
The Washington Wizards' starting lineup had 14 inches on the Knicks' starting five Tuesday night. With starting center Tyson Chandler sitting out again to give the Knicks a rest, the tallest active player on the Knicks' roster was 6-10 Steve Novak, who isn't exactly known for his inside play.
But on a night the Knicks clinched their first Atlantic Division title in 19 years, the Knicks did what they have done in their best games all year: They played to the strengths of the players they had on the floor and the result was a 120-99 win over a larger but less talented Wizards team.
Turns out, size doesn't matter so much when you can hit 55.6 percent (20-for-36) from three-point range en route to your 51st victory.
The Knicks might have to continue shooting that way if Chandler stays out and the ankle injury that sent Kenyon Martin to the locker room in the fourth quarter turns out to be serious. Martin, who at 6-9 was the tallest player in the Knicks' starting lineup, was playing center in place of Chandler.
From the get-go, the Knicks refused to get involved in an inside game and came out firing. Six of the Knicks' first seven field goals were from behind the three-point arc as the team took a 20-11 lead and never looked back.
The Knicks' three-point shooting was particularly impressive in the first half. The Knicks fell just two short of the NBA record for three-point field goals made in a half by shooting 12-for-21 over the first two quarters. Six players -- Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton, Chris Copeland, Jason Kidd and Novak -- hit threes. Shumpert and Copeland both were 4-for-6 from three-point range for the game.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson badly wants his team to win the second seed so that they can have home-court advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Still, he said before the game that if any of his players -- such as Chandler -- came to him and told him they needed to rest, he was going to defer to their wishes.
"Regardless of who's in uniform, you've got to step up and play," Woodson said. "That's what's at stake for us right now as I speak. I feel good about the guys in uniform, they've just got to play."
There is a good chance that the Knicks will have fewer tall players to chose from in the next couple of days as Martin's injury looked painful. Martin rolled around on the court pounding the ground before being helped off the floor.
There certainly will be some debate over the next couple of days as to why Woodson still had him in the game in the fourth quarter when the Knicks had an insurmountable lead.