The Knicks seemed to find their way offensively Tuesday night against Charlotte only to become lost again Wednesday night in Cleveland. In a pathetic second half showing, the reeling Knicks scored only 36 points and lost 91-81. Amar’e Stoudemire showed flashes of brilliance and worked hard on the boards but was unable to find any consistent jump shot. Carmelo Anthony is a walking bandage right now and cannot consistently dominate offensively.
Here are notes from the game:
- The Knicks need a point guard. Badly. The 3 Knick point guards, Bibby, Shumpert and Toney Douglas had a combined 6 assists tonight. Melo had 6 by himself and Billy Walker had 4. By comparison the Cavalier point guards, Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions, combined for 12. The Knick point guards are not only bad but they are holding the offense back. Shumpert basically did not play tonight. He was nonexistent in the 22 minutes he played and was benched early in the 4th quarter. Douglas came in and did what Toney Douglas does best. He panicked. When Douglas panics, he shoots. When Douglas panics and shoots he misses and when he does not hit his shots he is useless. Tonight, Douglas did not move the ball, he did not score and he did not get Melo and Amar’e the ball where they needed it. This game came down to the 4th quarter and in the 4th quarter the Knicks sucked. They decided to run the offense though Douglas and Jeffries despite the fact that Amar’e played strongly at the rim again tonight and Melo showed a few flashes in the 4th. Why Douglas would take it upon him self to continue chucking aimless shots, he finished 3/12, is beyond me. Which brings me to my next point.
- I do not like to criticize D’Antoni. I do not like feeding the notion that the team would be better without D’Antoni this season because they wouldn’t be. However, I find it unacceptable that Toney Douglas was allowed to run around and basically blow any chance the Knicks had to win the game. If you’re D’Antoni, YOU HAVE to sit Douglas late in that 4th quarter. Clearly the game was moving far too fast for him. I would rather have seen Bibby out there late in the game. Bibby would have at least realized that running a high screen with Jeffries every possession was not the way to go. Again I do not commonly rip D’Antoni but he deserves blame for not benching Douglas late in this game.
- However, I did like the Knicks ball movement in this game up until they went to the Douglas-Jeffries offense. I thought the ball moved nicely, I liked what Melo did. He did a nice job of not forcing shots and moving the ball to where it needed to go. His shots did not fall tonight as he went 5/14 but I liked how he played within the offense. Stoudemire gave a good effort as well. Despite the fact that his jump shot is anything but consistent, STAT made an impact offensively. Showing relentlessness on the boards tonight, he picked up a season high 14 boards. The bottom line is this offense is not going to gel consistently for a while, and I’ll continue to pull my hair out every night, but the two stars in particular seem to have the right idea. The offense will make no progress if the ball sticks every possession and I think STAT and Melo are doing a good job of trying to get others involved.
- I do not understand why this damn team cannot shoot. The Knicks were 3/20 from beyond the arc tonight. How do you shoot 15% from downtown?? I do not understand this team. They should not be this bad shooting the ball. Look at the Knicks 3 point percentages from last season compared to this year and then tonight’s game.
2010 w/NYK 42.4%
2011: 31.5% Tonight: 0/3
2011: 33% Tonight: 0/2
2011: 23.5% Tonight: 2/8
2011: 21% Tonight: 0/1
2010 with ATL: 44.1% 2010 with MIA: 45.5%
2011: 37.2% Tonight: 0/2
- This team has guys who have shot well in the past. They should be able to shoot in the present but so far this year they have been atrocious. I think a the impending arrival of Baron Davis will help the spacing and rhythm but at some point this team just has to play better basketball. Get looks. Shoot the ball. Make the shot. Right now the Knicks are struggling to make the shots and it is incredibly frustrating.
- Conversely, the Knicks allowed Cleveland to shoot lights out from downtown. The mighty (only against the Knicks) Cavs shot 9/20 from down town hitting their 3’s at a 45% clip. When you shoot 3/20 from downtown and allow the opponent to shoot 9/20, often times you will not win. The Knicks, especially on nights when they struggle to score, cannot allow opponents to shoot open 3’s. Chandler is doing a fantastic job of protecting the rim this season and Amar’e actually has played decent defense as of late. The strength of the Knick defense is in the paint and they must force teams to try and score there. Letting a garbage team like Cleveland shoot 45% from downtown is unacceptable.
- Fields had another solid game. Fields scored in double digits for the 5th straight game tonight scoring 13 points on 5/7 shooting. He had a couple really nice drives to the hoop and a strong and-1 at the basket. Anthony Parker did have his way offensively against Fields late in the 2nd quarter but apart from that stretch, I thought Fields played a solid game.
- Jeffries hit another corner 3…
- The Knicks turned the ball over 22 times tonight. Cleveland turned the ball over 18 times. The Knicks allowed 14 offensive rebounds tonight. A big reason the Knicks are struggling is because they do not do the little things well. When playing a lowly team like Cleveland, allowing 14 offensive rebounds and losing the turnover battle by 4 is unacceptable. This team has more problems than Melo and STAT and cannot win by playing this way. To compensate for their poor shooting, the Knicks must pay special attention to offensive rebounding and ball security. The Knicks rank 27th in the NBA in turnovers per game at 16.7. Conversely, 9 of the top 10 teams that turn the ball over the least have winning records. In order to pick up some wins during this slump, the Knicks must excel in turnovers/offensive rebounding, not lose both categories to bad teams.
- That Deron Williams guy looked pretty good for New Jersey tonight. Melo has been struggling… Just saying.
Last season the Knicks struggled mightily against the Cavs, losing 3 of 4 to LeBron’s old squad. Current Knick Baron Davis killed the Knicks last season as a member of the Cavaliers. His replacement, first overall selection Kyrie Irving will provide a challenge for the Knick defense tonight as he has had an impressive rookie campaign.
Here’s what to watch for:
- Multiple Knick beat writers have been reporting that Baron Davis may make his Knick debut tonight. Now this won’t be a Melo debut where he starts and plays 35 minutes. Any Davis appearance will likely be 5-10 minutes just to get his feet wet. Personally, I do not want him to play tonight. I want him back healthy as much as anyone but there is no need to rush him back against a Cleveland team playing a back to back.
- Apart from breaking their 6 game losing streak, the Knicks decisive victory last night allowed the starters to get some much needed rest and the Knicks should have an advantage tonight. Cleveland battled with Miami last night and should have more wear on their legs than the Knicks do tonight.
- Lets see how Stoudemire and Anthony co-exist tonight. I blogged after the game last night about the remaining lack of a two-man game against Charlotte. Moving the ball definitely is great but to maximize their abilities, the two stars must learn to play together. Whether that is the pick and roll, the pick and pop or the give and go, the two stars must being to set each other up in positions to score the basketball.
- Landry Fields should continue his hot streak. Fields has begun to re-gain his confidence over the last 4 games and his continued production offensively will be huge to the Knicks success moving forward. Against the imposing defensive matchup of Anthony Parker (sarcasm), Fields should continue to get to the rim and score points for the Knicks.
Carmelo Anthony scored 1 point tonight as the Knicks defeated the Charlotte Bobcats in a laugher, 111-78. Tyson Chandler was a beast tonight scoring 20 points and grabbing 17 rebounds in 29 minutes. Amar’e Stoudemire came to life tonight with 18 points on 7/12 shooting. Despite the Knicks dominating performance, I do have some concern about what I saw tonight.
Here are some notes from the game:
- Carmelo’s single point performance. Despite the fact that Melo scored 1 point, I liked what I saw from him. The ball did not stick with him and he moved it swiftly and accurately all night. He picked up 11 rebounds, 7 in the first quarter, dished 4 assists and did a good job keeping the offense going. It was evident that Melo, despite his 0/7 shooting, drew the attention of the Charlotte defense and opened up the floor for others to score. Landry Fields, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire all scored more than 18 points tonight. The Knicks ran very few isolation plays tonight to Anthony and Stoudemire which resulted in better spacing and ball movement for the entire offense. Here is what I didn’t like:
- I am all for ball movement and spacing, however I was not thrilled with Amar’e Stoudemire’s lack of time on the floor with Carmelo Anthony. I do not have any official numbers on it, but Stoudemire and Melo were hardly on the court tonight. I understand that they will always play better apart then together on the floor but at some point they will need to learn how to co-exist. I understand the Knicks needed a win tonight and I am all for that but at the same time, is there a better time to work out kinks than when playing the Bobcats? Stoudemire and Anthony had their “important meeting” yesterday, did they not discuss how to run a two man game with each other? There was none of that tonight. At some point when it will really matter, aka the playoffs, the two stars will need to make this offense work together. I am just very concerned that they are going to be unable to do that because there have been no signs of their successful coexistence this season. The two stars will have to play together in 4th quarters and will need to work on getting their games to mesh TOGETHER. If they aren’t willing to work on it against Charlotte, what is going to happen when they are down 5 with 3 minutes to go in the 4th against Miami…?
- Tyson Chandler was worth his money tonight. Chandler abused poor Byron Mullens scoring 20 points and recording 17 rebounds, 8 of which came on the offensive glass. Need I say more?
- Shumpert was 1/9 shooting the ball. Despite his bad statistical night, I thought he played well. Two of his misses came on a botched dunk and a missed layup so his numbers are a bit misleading in that he wasn’t just tossing up shots a la the Memphis game. As always he brought it defensively and he moved the ball well.
- There was a Steve Novak sighting! My boy Stevie Novak came in mid-way through the 4th and hit 3/3 from outside the arc. He actually played some good defense too building his case that he should get some minutes in games not against semi-pro teams. I think his consistently strong outside shooting could boost the Knicks offense even if he only played 10 minutes a game.
- I won’t be starting a Team Bill Walker. He wasn’t good tonight, proving that his 5 minutes (literally) of fame against Denver were an aberration. He was 0/4 after hitting his first shot, a 3 from the corner, and I thought his defense was subpar. He also stepped out of bounds for the 415th time this season. Great job as always, Bill.
- Jared Jeffries was good on BOTH ends of the floor tonight. A la me using the Knicks in 2k12, Jeffries drained a corner three (a staple of my 2k offense). He was 3/5 offensively and actually made some nice plays scoring the ball. He even hit all 4 of his free throws and finished with 11 points (which is the equivalent of 40 points to any other player not named Jared Jeffries). Defensively he was solid as always, including a great hard foul on Gerald Henderson that was ridiculously called a flagrant.
- Jeremy Lin and Jerome Jordan played. Both solid D-leaguers got on the court midway through the 4th and feasted on a Charlotte bench that is probably better off joining Terrell Owens in the Indoor Football League than continuing to pursue their NBA careers. Against a lottery level D-League lineup of Cory Higgins, 400 year old Eddie Najera, Bismack Biyombo, Matt Carroll (fresh off a near death experience on a dunk) and DeSagana Diop, Lin and Jordan combined to shoot 3/3 from the field and score 10 points. I still do not think Lin is that great but seeing him destroy Cory Higgins makes me happy that the Knicks at least don’t have Cory Higgins…
- Last but not least, Landry Fields is getting his confidence back. It is about damn time. Despite looking like Charles Barkley in Space Jam since the all-star break of last season, Fields has pieced together a stretch of really nice games. In his last 4 games, Fields has averaged 15.8 ppg on 53% shooting. While most have seemingly given up on Fields, I refuse to do so. I am not delusional, I understand that at this point in time he is an average player at best but I really do think he has potential. He will never be an all-star, he will never win the scoring title but he will compete night in and night out and in this era of NBA basketball filled with Andray Blatche’s and Eddy Curry’s that intangible is invaluable. In this era where money causes laziness, I believe Fields will stick for a long time because he will always hustle and defend. In the end, it is not always the most talented player who wins the battle *cough LeBron cough* but it is the player willing to sacrifice every night. Fields is one of those guys and I am glad to see him finally starting to produce for the Knicks.