NEW YORK — One strong defensive quarter helped the New York Knicks end a seven-game skid.
New York held Denver to just one basket in the second quarter en route to a 109-93 victory over the Nuggets on Nov. 16.
The Nuggets missed their first 15 shots of the period before Ty Lawson’s layup at the buzzer ended the nearly 13-minute drought. New York outscored Denver 31-8 in the quarter to blow it open.
“I thought probably defensively that was the difference in that quarter,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said.
“We scored 31 points in the first quarter as well even though it may not have looked as pretty as it did in the second quarter but someway we found a way to hold them to eight points and I thought that was the difference in the game.”
Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, who’ve had their shares of moments grasping the concepts of a new offensive system, each scored 28 points to lead New York. But the Knicks’ first win since Nov. 2 against Charlotte boiled down to their defensive effort in the second quarter, which gave them a 62-39 lead heading into the second half.
“I thought in that second quarter we played great defense, buckling down, keeping them out of transition. It led to our offensive end,” said Anthony, who made 10 of 14 shots from the field. “Once we got stops on the defensive end, we felt confident enough to go down there and make some shots and run our offense and do what we had to do.”
Arron Afflalo had 18 points and Lawson added 17 points and nine assists for the Nuggets, who’ve lost seven of their last eight games. Kenneth Faried chipped in 16 points.
Afflalo, who hit 4 of 5 3-pointers and scored 13 points in the first 12 minutes of the game, had never experienced a slide like the one Denver went through in the second quarter.
“I noticed that we only had scored six points pretty much that whole quarter and I knew we hadn’t made a few free throws, but I didn’t recognize the fact that we hadn’t been able to score the ball from the field,” Afflalo said.
Samuel Dalembert had eight points and eight rebounds for New York.
Trailing by as many as 25 points after Anthony’s shot made it 79-54 for the Knicks with 5:36 left in the quarter, Denver went on a 25-10 run, capped by Nate Robinson’s three-point play that made it 89-80 with 8:55 in the final quarter.
But New York pulled away for good with a 13-3 spurt of its own. Amar’e Stoudemire’s three-point play made it 92-80. After a free thrown by Denver’s Alonzo Gee, Smith scored four straight points and Anthony hit a 3-pointer that extended New York’s lead, 99-82 with 5:50 remaining. Lawson then added a free throw before Smith answered with a shot beyond the arc that made it 102-83 with 3:58 left.
The Nuggets started out with a good rhythm in the opening quarter, hitting 6 of 9 3-pointers, but then hit their scoring drought, which started after Darrell Arthur hit a 20-footer with 50.2 seconds left that gave Denver its last lead 31-29 of the game.
“I thought we started out the game getting what we wanted, but it was an exchange, we were scoring, they were scoring”, Denver coach Brian Shaw said. “In the second quarter we were tentative offensively and we had a long drought with no penetration, turnovers missed free throws and they slowly continued to score.”