It’s been part of his imagination, part of Iman Shumpert’s dreams. Yesterday the Knicks were locked in a nationally televised showdown against the Bulls, a clash in which Carmelo Anthony twice sent the Madison Square Garden crowd into bedlam with crucial 3-pointers.
“These are games you dream about,” Shumpert said. “It’s my first year. I play for the New York Knicks. To be in this type of atmosphere, I’ve dreamed of [it]. I’m looking to play big.”
It is hard to see how Shumpert could have played bigger yesterday. In the Knicks’ electrifying 100-99 overtime triumph over the Bulls on Easter, the two best players on the court were Anthony and Derrick Rose but Shumpert was right behind, racking up 15 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals.
ROSE HEDGED: The Knicks’ Iman Shumpert (left) and Tyson Chandler put the clamps on Bulls star Derrick Rose during an electrifying 100-99 overtime win at the Garden yesterday.
And the Knicks rookie’s defense helped force Rose to shoot just 8-for-26 from the field and commit eight turnovers.
“Shump did a hell of a job defensively out there working,” Anthony said. “Trying to make it tough for [Rose]. Denying him. Putting pressure on the ball.”
With Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin out, Shumpert has become that much more important to the Knicks’ playoff push. He played more than 45 minutes yesterday, second only to Anthony, and is averaging 39.8 over the Knicks’ past five games.
“I don’t really care. I don’t really want to come out,” Shumpert said. “I want to live in the moment.”
Before yesterday, Rose, the Bulls’ dazzling All-Star point guard, had shot 50.3 percent in his past nine games against the Knicks, averaging 26.6 points. Yesterday Rose, returning after missing 12 games with a right groin injury, poured in 29 points but missed 18 of 26 shots from the floor, saying, “I am just [trying] to get back into rhythm.”
“I was just trying to keep him uncomfortable,” Shumpert said. “Anytime I got beat, my guys were right there to help me.”
Shumpert hails from Chicago, and the Bulls had beaten the Knicks the first two times they played this season. The 21-year-old conceded playing against his hometown team carried some special meaning.
“A little bit,” Shumpert said. “A little bit.”