Shumpert provides spark in London
January, 17, 2013
By Mark Woods | Special to ESPNNewYork.com
Paul Cunningham/USA TODAY Sports Iman Shumpert scored eight points and grabbed two rebounds in the Knicks' defeat of the Pistons.
LONDON -- New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson says his team has found two answers to their poor start problem: the London crowd and Iman Shumpert.
The first is temporary. The second figures to be a big help, night after night.
The second-year pro was thrust straight back into the starting lineup in his first appearance in seven months Thursday and played 10 seconds shy of the preordained 15 minutes in the Knicks 102-87 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
His three-pointer capped an early 16-2 run that saw his team hold the lead after the first quarter for the first time in six games.
At times, there was some ring rust. In the second quarter, Shumpert had the British fans enthralled when he drove on the baseline and rose to complete what would have been a spectacular dunk. He didn’t even come close to converting.
But his extra energy on defense figures to help the Knicks going forward.
"It was a tribute to him and how hard he’s worked to get back out on the floor," Woodson said.
"I’m happy as hell to have him back. He brings so much energy and his teammates feed off that. It’s one of the first quarters we’ve had to start the game in a while where we’ve been really good.
And I think he had a lot to do with it."
His teammates felt that too.
"We all know what he brings to the game," Carmelo Anthony said. "It was just a matter of him testing it out and seeing what he was able to do.
We were excited. The energy that he brought tonight, the minutes that he played, we fed off that."
Shumpert eventually finished with eight points in the game but it figures to be a gradual transition as he comes back from the ACL injury he sustained during last season’s playoffs.
Still, said Woodson, his return will take some of the pressure off Jason Kidd in handling the ball until Raymond Felton ends his own spell on the sidelines.
Most of all, he added, it was just good to have him on the court.
"When you have a major injury like he went through, there’s a lot of sweat and tears and hard work to get back on the floor," Woodson underlined.
"I’m sure there were days probably in his mind when he didn’t think he was going to get there. But his reward tonight was us winning and for him to get off to such a good start."