The Knicks were expected to lose to Oklahoma City on Saturday night without Carmelo Anthony. They did. Badly. The Knicks, who make blowouts look semi-competitive in the box score better than any team I’ve ever seen, lost in Oklahoma City 104-92.
Here are some notes from the game:
- I saw some things I liked and some things I didn’t like about Amar’e Stoudemire. I’ll be positive and start with what I liked. He did make a conscious effort to drive the ball last night. Driving to the hoop then allowed Stoudemire was able to kick out 3 assists to his teammates on the perimeter. I did not feel like Stoudemire forced a lot of shots in the first half, he just wasn’t hitting them. In the second half, I thought he forced a lot of shots but that was mostly because of the lopsided score (it was 70-47 at halftime). Here are the negatives. STAT picked up his league-leading 4th technical foul. This has to be a concern because in this shortened season, 13 results in a suspension. As a leader on this team, Stoudemire has to fix this problem and stop getting so many technical fouls. One thing I noticed on offense last night was where Stoudemire was getting the ball. I noticed that he was getting the ball on isolations outside the 3 point line in the left corner and then out past the left elbow. This is a direct result of having either no point guard or no offensive plan, and I know D’Antoni isn’t drawing up schemes were Stoudemire isolates outside the 3 point line. I think in order to help Stoudemire out of this funk, the point guards must do a better job of getting him the ball in a position to be successful, aka not outside the damn 3 point line.
- In Melo’s absence, Bill Walker was …well Bill Walker. Despite my clear disdain for Bill Walker, I was rooting for him last night to help get the Knicks a victory. I should have known better. Rather than grab his new opportunity by the horns, he dropped the ball and sucked. He shot 1/6 from the floor, the 1 being a dunk, 0/4 from outside the arc, including an air ball, and he played porous defense on Kevin Durant. To his defense Durant is an animal but letting Durant hit 10/13? C’mon Walker. I pray to god that Melo comes back Monday not only to help the team but to put Walker out of the starting lineup. I saw people on Twitter saying that Walker should start and it drove me insane. There was nothing he did last night to indicate that he is deserving of playing more, only indications that he should play less.
- Durant should have been double teamed on defense. I do not understand why the Knicks did not constantly bring double teams on Kevin Durant. This falls on D’Antoni and Woodson for not making this adjustment. I noted three times in the first half when they doubled on KD. Two of the three possessions resulted in a turnover and one resulted in an OKC layup. Clearly the Knicks had no way to stop the guy, he was 10/13, so why not bring more double teams and mix it up? I thought that was a glaring mistake by the coaching staff last night. When you’re short handed, you have to do everything you can to scrap out a win and as a coaching staff you must put your players in better position to win. The Knicks coaches did not do a good job of that defensively because they should have had Durant double teamed all night.
- Jorts continues to shine. Josh Harrellson has been the lone bright spot for the Knick bench lately and he continued that trend last night. His defense was again solid and he put in 10 points on 2/5 shooting from beyond the arc. I really like what Jorts has been bringing to the table. Him and Jeffries, who returned last night, give us two pretty good defensive front court players off the bench. Obviously Jeffries contributes close to nothing on offense but Jorts can stretch the floor and hit his 3’s. I continue to like how Jorts plays the game.
- Jeffries returned last night. I thought Jeffries had a pretty decent game in his return from injury. He was 0/4 from the field, taking 4 more shots than he should, but he contributed 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 steals in 22 minutes of play. I thought D’Antoni had a very interesting rotation late in the first half. He had Shumpert and Fields as the guard with Jeffries, Harrellson and Chandler in the front court. The rotation didn’t really work last night but that doesn’t mean it can’t work. That rotation has a lot of size and defensive skill. I think that rotation could be regularly seen at the end of quarters or the first half as the season progresses.
- Toney Douglas looked like the Toney Douglas of old. This is a good thing Knick fans. Douglas came in and shot the ball well last night. He was 5/10 and put in 14 points. Though he didn’t hit a 3 pointer, going 0/3, I thought his game was a step in the right direction. Douglas will never be a solid distributing point guard but if he can score some points off the bench and not be a detriment to the team then he will be a good piece to this Knick club. He was a +4 on the night and looked more confident on the offensive end.
- Landry Fields looked like the Landry Fields of new. Poor Landry Fields seems to have lost all his confidence right now. It is a shame because I really think he can be a good contributor to this Knick club. For whatever reason, he seems to have just totally lose all his confidence. He was a sad 1/7 from the floor last night. His lone good play was a nice pick and roll he ran with Jorts in the second quarter but apart from that he was pretty bad. Fortunately for him, Bill Walker was equally as bad so Fields will continue to see minutes and hopefully will bust out of this slump.
- Unfortunately for Fields and Walker, Bibby was very good last night. I liked what Bibby did. Rocking an oversized blue headband, Bibby shot the ball really well from outside the arc, shooting 2/4, and I thought he moved the ball well. Despite the fact that he hasn’t been a good defender since 1978, I think Bibby can contribute as a backup point guard. If he can continue to shoot well he will play because right now the Knicks collectively have struggled from 3 point range.
- Can Steve Novak get some shots? He played 5 minutes and shot 0 times. If you’re not gonna get him a shot then why play him? He doesn’t really do anything else well so if he’s not shooting 3’s then he is kind of pointless.