Amar’e Stoudemire was in foul trouble all game and Carmelo Anthony ran out of gas as the Knicks relinquished a fourth quarter lead and lost to the Magic at Madison Square Garden 102-93. Despite shutting down Dwight Howard, the Knicks defense was not good enough to slow Orlando down in the second half.
Here are some notes from the game:
- A tale of two halves. The Knicks outplayed Orlando in the first half only to be beaten down the second half. In the first half, Carmelo Anthony was rolling with 16 points and the Knicks offense put up 51 points despite Amar’e Stoudemire sitting out most of the half with foul trouble. The defense, and Tyson Chandler in particular, held Dwight Howard and the Magic to 45 points. In the second half, Anthony began to struggle and Orlando’s perimeter shooting began to take over. Ryan Anderson went 7/13 from outside the arc thus burying the Knicks in the 4th quarter. The Knicks forgot how to guard the perimeter in the 4th quarter giving up 29 points. Late in the fourth, Orlando went to a zone defense in which the Knicks responded by running around like headless chickens.
- Stoudemire must be better. 22 minutes. Stoudemire relegated himself to the bench with silly fouls resulting in him playing 22 minutes. Douglas played 22 minutes and Jeffries played 25. As much as I like Douglas (when he’s not running the point) and Jeffries, the Knicks will not win games with those guys playing as many minutes as Stoudemire. When Stoudemire did play, he was fairly efficient on offense shooting 4/7 for 12 points. After the game, Stoudemire looked depressed and sullen and I think this might be a turning point for him. In what I believe to be a positive sign, Stoudemire proclaimed after the game “I take blame for the loss. I got into foul trouble. Won’t happen again.” I think the fact that he grabbed his poor performance by the horns and made no excuses for his poor game (more on that in a second *cough* Melo *cough*) is a good sign and I expect him to come out determined on Wednesday versus Phoenix.
- Oh Melo… After the game, Melo spoke to the media about his 9/27 performance. He claimed that he couldn’t control the ball because of his sprained wrist. I have a problem with this. I have a problem on two levels. One, why do you shoot the ball 27 times if you cannot control the ball? I did not have an issue with Melo’s shot selection today, I actually thought it was very good. However, he leaves himself open to criticism by using the wrist as an excuse. If he does not feel like he can shoot then why does he take 8 three pointers? I know he had 16 free throw attempts but if he could not shoot the ball he should have gotten to the line more. My second issue is that Kobe Bryant has not used that excuse once this year. He has a worst wrist than Melo does. Now I hate Kobe and it burns my skin just to be writing this but if you are healthy enough to play, you play and you give no excuse. I don’t believe Melo’s wrist is so bad that he can’t hit shots, clearly he still had a decent game with 33 points. He is not in Stoudemire condition like the playoffs last season when he could barely run around with his back, much less play basketball at a high level. I love Melo but I don’t love using his wrist as an excuse, especially when he shoots 27 times.
- Walker only got 10 minutes in the game. He was 0/1 with 1 rebound and was a -11 on the day. Maybe D’Antoni and the staff finally read my blog.
- Chandler was excellent defensively. Today showcased what Tyson Chandler can do for this Knick team. His performance today is why they gave him a 4 year 58 million dollar contract. He held the best center in the game to 8 points and 10 rebounds. 8 points and 10 rebounds. That is unbelievable when you think about Howard’s usual performance against the Knicks. Howard averaged 29 points and 15.8 rebounds a game versus the Knicks last year. This season, he is averaging 20.5 ppg and 15.2 rpg. He was almost a non-factor in terms of production today. It was a marvelous performance by Chandler.
- Jared Jeffries was great today. He played a solid defensive 25 minutes and even contributed 6 points. Today showed why Jeffries is valuable to this team. Often berated by Knick fans, Jeffries is an important player on this team because of his defensive prowess at both the 4 and the 5. With Stoudemire eating pine all game, Jeffries stepped up and played some nice defense today. Had Jeffries not been available today, the Knicks would have had to play Chandler over 40 minutes (he played 34) and would have had to play either Balkman or Walker more minutes today.
- Douglas played better today. I thought he provided a nice spark off the bench but like the rest of the club, he went cold in the 4th quarter.
- I thought Fields was better today. His defense was good except for a couple times when he was mixed up on defensive switches and left JJ Redick open. His offense was okay until the late 4th quarter when he air-balled a shot and turned the ball over once. WIth Fields it needs to be baby steps. I do think he will be good this year and I think he just needs some confidence. His rebounding seems to be coming around as well. He has had 5+ rebounds in 4 of his last 5 games.