Shumpert Thrives as Rose Continues to Sit (UPDATED)
NEW YORK — While the basketball world waits to see if Derrick Rose will suit up for Game 3 against the Miami Heat, much of the talk across NBA circles today revolves around Iman Shumpert’s vicious one-handed putback dunk that made No. 1 on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays.
Rose and Shumpert tore their ACLs on the same day a year ago, April 28, 2012, yet while Rose has yet to play this season, Shumpert made a jaw-dropping play with a one-handed putback jam of Chris Copeland’s missed 3-pointer in the first half of the Knicks’ 105-79 rout of the Indiana Pacers in Game 2.
“I think I was trying to make a statement,” said Shumpert, who finished with 15 points and six rebounds in the win. “That was the most perfect miss. It came off so perfect. It was beautiful. I wanted to win this game so bad. I know we need this game.”
Shumpert’s dunk awed the crowd, but it didn’t actually spur the Knicks on.
Instead, the game-changing 30-2 run came in the second half and was fueled by Carmelo Anthony (32 points) and Pablo Prigioni (10).
“Shump’s dunk was unbelievable, incredible,” Anthony said after scoring 22 points in the second half. “Got us going, got the crowd going. Our energy picked up after that.”
As for Rose, Shumpert defended him while on The Michael Kay Show on Wednesday.
“Derrick Rose has something totally different on his shoulders,” Shumpert said.
“If he feels like he can’t carry the load then he has to make that decision on his own.”
While much has been made of the fact that Shumpert and Rose injured their knees on the same day, Shumpert said he feels so good now that he doesn’t even think about the injury he sustained in Game 1 a year ago against the Miami Heat.
“If it wasn’t for you guys [the media], I forgot I tore my ACL,” Shumpert said.
“I don’t really think about it much unless I see my scar. Right now it is all about winning games. I have been waiting my whole life to play in the playoffs. I am living in the moment right now.”
Shumpert went 7-for-11 from the field and 1-for-3 from the arc. He said the ACL injury actually helped him improve his jump shot because while he was rehabbing he was unable to jump and could only shoot jumpers.
“I guess I have to credit tearing my ACL to being able to knock down corner 3’s,” Shumpert said.
Along with his improved jumper, Shumpert seems to have regained the athleticism he had during the early portion of his rookie season. He brings an element to the Knicks’ backcourt that Jason Kidd, 40, and Pablo Prigioni, 35, cannot.
“He’s getting better,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “It’s amazing. He’s come a long way, man. That’s a tough injury to bounce back from. He’s got a lot of pope now. He’s moving laterally and he’s jumping well and he’s shooting the ball.
“He’s doing all the things that we thought he could do. I just can’t help but think that he’s going to continue to grow and get better.”
Follow Adam Zagoria on TwitterAnd like ZAGS on Facebook
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.