Knicks' no-quit approach key to closing out
April, 28, 2013
By Jared Zwerling | ESPNNewYork.com
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaIman Shumpert pointed to Game 4's halftime speech as the catalyst in the Knicks' comeback attempt.BOSTON -- Entering Game 4, the Knicks had only one come-from-behind win this season after being down 20-plus points. That happened against the Cavaliers on March 4, when the Knicks' deficit was 22 points.
On Sunday, the Knicks could've had their second big comeback after trailing 59-39 near the start of the third quarter. That was the largest lead of the game, in which the Celtics pulled out in overtime, 97-90.
The Knicks' veteran approach and relentless attack were all over the second half -- two common factors that have kept the Knicks in many games no matter who's in uniform. And as the Knicks' embark on Game 5 back in New York on Wednesday, their close-out mentality and playoff experience should come in handy, especially at home, where they only lost 10 games all season.
"We have a bunch of guys who are not going to quit. We're going to play," Jason Kidd told ESPNNewYork.com. "We're a veteran ball club, so we don't panic."
On Sunday, the Knicks' second-half momentum started in the locker room.
"At halftime, we were all just preaching, 'Where do we want to be?'" Iman Shumpert said. "We're up 3-0, they made a run and they made their push, so we're going to make our push in the second half and put ourselves in a position to win at the end of the game."
After halftime, all five players on the court were in unison defensively. The guards set the tone, reading passing lanes well and pushing a faster pace -- a key that's overwhelmed the Celtics in the series. The Knicks finished with 10 steals -- their third game in the series with at least that amount.
"We knew we needed some energy and get something to happen for us, and we did," Steve Novak said. "We got big steals, we got big stops."
The guards also extended their aggressiveness to the boards, especially Iman Shumpert, who finished with four offensive rebounds.
"I've just been watching a lot of film going into the playoffs, and I knew I could help out a lot on the boards," he said. "I found myself standing a lot when I saw shots got up."
In addition, Chandler's trademark tapbacks led to several second-chance points for the team down the stretch.
"Just an effort thing honestly," the center said. "I’m starting to get my legs back, getting some spring. I was just able to get a couple extra opportunities."
While the Knicks fell just short to the Celtics, their fight in Game 4 was there until the end -- even with Shumpert and Raymond Felton filling in offensively for Smith's absence. The team is confident in closing out the first-round series on Wednesday.
"We knew [today] was going to be a dogfight, and the fact that we came back from a 20-point deficit shows a lot about our team," Felton said.
Carmelo Anthony added: "I take my hat off to my guys for fighting back ... We look forward to bringing this game back home to the Garden Wednesday. The Garden will be rocking Wednesday. We'll be prepared for it."
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