The New York Knicks won their third straight by defeating the Phoenix Suns, 106-99, last night at Madison Square Garden. They are now 7-0 at MSG for the season (18-1 at home under Mike Woodson) and 12-4 on the season.
New York is currently second in the East, half a game behind the Miami Heat and half a game behind Memphis and Miami for the best record in the entire NBA. This years Knicks team has been a refreshing for Knicks fans as the 2012 Knicks actually play defense!
More importantly their superstar Carmelo Anthony has been playing defense, and the best basketball of his career. He is in the best shape of his career and playing on a superstar level. After being called out by media pundits for his lack of effort and being routed by the Miami Heat in last years playoffs Melo has responded in a big way.
Going into Sunday's game against the Suns Anthony was shooting a career-high 44% from beyond arc (4-10 against Phoenix). He is averaging 26.6 points a game, behind only Kobe Bryant for leads leading scorer. He is actually shooting better from three than 3-point sharpshooter Steve Novak.
Melo is feeling healthier this season after dealing with multiple injuries last year. He dealt with nagging pains in his thumb, ankle and wrist last year missing 11 games while Linsanity was in full force. This year he shows no sign of ailment and has been balling, to say the least.
Teammate Steve Novak has also noticed the difference in Anthony,
"He's shooting great," he said. "I mean, he's so focused, he's healthy. He's not only shooting it well, obviously, but he's playing great defense. He's our leader. If he's playing the right way, you're going to do well as a team."
Defense has been a mantra the whole Knicks team has taken behind their superstar, they are currently ninth in league in points allowed per game. Watching the game against the Suns Melo made repeatedly made effort plays on defense, stripping the ball and diving to keep it in bounce.
This has been the biggest transformation in Melo's game and factor in being in the MVP talk. He could always score but now he's clamping down and playing both sides of the court. Credit this to head coach Mike Woodson who challenged Carmelo to lose weight in the offseason and focus on his defensive play.
Anthony has responded in a big way.
"I know I can do [play defense]," Anthony said. "It's not a matter of me not being able to do it. It was me just saying, 'OK, I'm going to do it now.' We have a coach that stays on me about it. There wasn't a defensive system since I came to New York, but
Even Knicks fanatic Spike Lee noticed Anthony's efforts,
"Carmelo is just playing a complete game," Lee said. "Now for whatever reason that is, I don't want to get into it. I don't know. But there is a distinct difference in what he is doing now and when he first put on a Knick uniform."
Madison Square Garden has been yelling "M-V-P!!!" every time Melo has been on the court this season. They have a legit case although it is very early in the season. How Carmelo and the Knicks continue to play going into the thick of the season will determine if Anthony stays in the MVP discussion.
Who's ready for Nick Foles? Andy Reid made it clear when Michael Vick was first injured that he was starting quarterback once healthy. Vick has been cleared to play by team doctors, and he is not the starting quarterback.
The Eagles have essentially moved on from the Reid-Vick regime and decided to look at what they have for the future. Quite a few lockers will be cleaned out at the end of this season with the biggest disappointment coming from number 7.
The Eagles thought they had their franchise quarterback when Michael Vick erupted on the scene and tore up the league two short seasons ago. He seemed to be a whole new quarterback and a new person. Gone was the run-first quarterback as Vick had seemingly evolved into a pocket passing quarterback.
Two years later, new Vick old problems.
He was brittle through out much of the season (although he got no help from his pathetic offensive line) and suffered numerous injuries throughout the season. It seemed like every time was hit, or fell to the floor he would reach for a body part wincing. It seemed inevitable that Vick would end up hurt and out
for a few games sooner or later, and of course it happened sooner rather than later.
Even when he was on the field Vick was pretty mediocre at best. When the game was at it's highest Vick's game was not. In the fourth quarter this season he had a 55.6 completion percentage with a 79.6 passer rating. In overtime he has a 39.6 passer rating. On the road he has 53.7 completion percentage, 5 touchdowns to 5 interceptions, and a 69.2 passer rating.
Interestingly enough it seems like Vick plays better when the Eagles are actually trailing. He has a 87.7 passer rating when behind and 90.9 when down by 9-16 points. But interestingly enough that number drop to 42.2 the Eagles are ahead. He throws twice as many interceptions when they are ahead and seven times more touch downs when they are behind.
This is simply unacceptable for someone who receive a 100 million dollar contract. This is in-fact unacceptable for any quarterback, never mind one with the expectations Vick has.
Andy Reid's decision to start a young Nick Foles over a healthy Michael Vick marks the end of Vick in Philadelphia.
Many other Eagles *cough* Nnamdi Asomugha *cough* have also failed to live up to expectations and will likely face the fait former teammate Jason Babin faced. The Eagles will have a new quarterback, new coach, new look next year.
Not many things are certain right now in the city of brotherly love, but Vick's departure is one of them.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher fatally shot his girlfriend Saturday, then drove to Arrowhead Stadium and committed suicide in front of his coach and general manager.
Authorities did not release a possible motive for the murder-suicide, though police said that Belcher and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, had been arguing recently. The two of them have a 3-month-old child.
Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel before shooting himself in the parking lot of the team's practice facility, police spokesman Darin Snapp said. Police had locked it down by mid-morning and reporters were confined to the street just outside the gates.
The Chiefs were scheduled to play the Carolina Panthers on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The Panthers were advised by the league to travel to Kansas City as planned, though no official announcement on the game itself had been made.
Belcher was a 25-year-old native of West Babylon, N.Y., on Long Island, who played college ball at Maine. He signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, made the team and stayed with it for four years, moving into the starting lineup. He'd played in all 11 games this season.
"The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy," Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement.
"We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted," Hunt said. "We will continue to fully cooperate with the authorities and work to ensure that the appropriate counseling resources are available to all members of the organization."
The NFL released a statement that also expressed sympathy and said, "we have connected the Chiefs with our national team of professional counselors to support both the team and the families of those affected. We will continue to provide assistance in any way that we can."
Authorities reported receiving a call Saturday morning from a woman who said her daughter had been shot multiple times at a residence about five miles away from the Arrowhead complex. The call actually came from Belcher's mother, who referred to the victim as her daughter, leading to some initial confusion, police said.
"She treated Kasandra like a daughter," Snapp explained. Belcher's mother, who is from New York, had recently moved in with the couple, "probably to help out with the baby," Snapp said.
Police then received a phone call from the Chiefs' training facility.
"The description matched the suspect description from that other address. We kind of knew what we were dealing with," Snapp said. The player was "holding a gun to his head" as he stood in front of the front doors of the practice facility.
"And there were Pioli and Crennel and another coach or employee was standing outside and appeared to be talking to him. It appeared they were talking to the suspect," Snapp said. "The suspect began to walk in the opposite direction of the coaches and the officers and that's when they heard the gunshot. It appears he took his own life."
The coaches told police they never felt in any danger, Snapp said.
"They said the player was actually thanking them for everything they'd done for him," he said. "They were just talking to him and he was thanking them and everything. That's when he walked away and shot himself."
At Belcher's mother's home on Long Island, relatives declined to talk to reporters. A purple SUV in the home's driveway was flying a small Kansas City Chiefs flag.
Perkin's Facebook page shows the couple smiling and holding the baby.
Belcher is the latest among several players and NFL retirees to die from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the past couple of years. The death of the beloved star Junior Seau, who shot himself in the chest in at his California home last May, sent shockwaves around the league. Seau's family, like those of other suicide victims, has donated brain tissue from the linebacker's body for research to determine if head injuries he sustained playing football might be linked to his death.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James said that he spoke to Pioli after the shooting, and while he refused to discuss the GM's emotional state, the mayor said Pioli was "extremely concerned that fans of this team are not disappointed and not left in the cold."
"I think they think there's an obligation to the people of this city, the fans of the team and the fans of the other team to play the game," James said.
The season has been a massive disappointment for the Chiefs, who were expected to contend for the AFC West title. They're just 1-10 and mired in an eight-game losing streak marked by injuries, poor play and fan upheaval, with calls for Pioli and Crennel to be fired.
The Twitter account for a fan group known as "Save Our Chiefs" recently surpassed 80,000 followers, about 17,000 more than the announced crowd at a recent game.
Maine's head football coach, Jack Cosgrove, said Belcher was a "tremendous student-athlete."
"His move to the NFL was in keeping with his dreams," says Cosgrove. "This is an indescribably horrible tragedy."
Associated Press Writer Heather Hollingsworth contributed to this report. Content originally published by Associated Press.