Without Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks were beaten by the Rockets 97-84 in Houston. The Knicks were able to compete with Houston but fell apart in the late 3rd quarter and lost by a worse margin than the score would indicate. Amar’e Stoudemire was the Knicks leading scorer with 23 points.
Here are some notes from the game:
- In the 3rd quarter, Mike D’Antoni decided to insert Jeremy Lin into the game with the Knicks down 59-50. The Knicks were able to cut the lead to 6 but D’Antoni then sat Stoudemire and the Rockets pulled away to build a 75-60 lead to start the 4th. The Knicks then started the 4th quarter with Balkman and Novak on the floor and the Rockets put the game away. D’Antoni’s decision to play Lin totally backfired. The Harvard product was wildly mediocre. I thought he got to the rim nicely but he couldn’t finish and he didn’t shoot very well. A lot of people questioned D’Antoni’s coaching method during last nights game and I’m one of them. Putting in Lin, Balkman and Novak together at the start of the 4th is basically waving the white flag. I thought he should have kept Amar’e in from the start of the 4th to see if the Knicks could make a run and get back into the game.
- Amar’e Stoudemire’s jump shot was improved last night. On jump shots from 16-23 feet, Stoudemire has shot a pathetic 32% on the season. In last night’s game, Stoudemire was 5/11 from that range and 10/20 overall. This was not one of Stoudemire’s dominant games but he did seem to find some of his lost mid-range stroke.
- Iman Shumpert is slowing down. Mike D’Antoni even admitted after the game that Shumpert is starting to tire out and his athleticism is suffering. This is a typical lockout effect and I think it is smart for D’Antoni to try and play Shumpert under 30 minutes a game to try and get his legs back. However it is surprising to me however that a young player with such great athleticism is burning out so quickly. Given Shumpert’s early injury and the few weeks of conditioning I can understand why he is not conditioned. Unfortunately for the Knicks, Baron Davis doesn’t seem to be coming back for another week and the Knicks need Shumpert. We will see what happens but I do not expect Shumpert to make an impact until he gets his legs back underneath him.
- Landry Fields seems to have aggravated his strained back. This is exactly what the Knicks need. Melo and Jorts injured, STAT struggling, Shumpert burning out and now Fields potentially could be injured. In the 3rd quarter, Fields seemed to have grabbed his back in pain and did not re-enter the game. This would be devastating to lose Fields as he has been one of the Knicks best players over the past two weeks. Fields was unable to score in 18 minutes last night but I think the Knicks would have been in the game longer if he had played more.
- As I noted in my pre-game, Houston has a very deep bench and it killed the Knicks not-so-deep bench. Goran Dragic and Chase Budinger killed the Knicks with a combined 35 points. Ex-Knick lottery pick Jordan Hill had 14 points and 11 rebounds. The Knick bench was outscored 61-35. That was the difference in the game. The Knicks lack of depth once again bit them in the ass and cost them this game.
- Tyson Chandler continues his incredibly efficient season with a 5/7 shooting performance. Chandler is now shooting a staggering 69.6% on the season. Now obviously he only takes shots at the basket but still that is a great mark. He has been a perfect center for the kind of team New York wants to be. In this season where the Knicks shooting has sucked, a little more scoring would be nice from Chandler. However, in the overall image of what this team was thought to have needed, a big defensive center who did not need the ball to score, Chandler has been fantastic. I really am looking forward to seeing Chandler play for the next few years as he is an absolute joy to watch on the defensive end.
- Bill “Wale” Walker gave a solid 2/9 performance including 1/7 downtown thus proving that his strong performance against Miami was an aberration that Knick fans will never see again.
- Toney Douglas was 3/13 and once again showed that he cannot run the point guard position for this team. He had 4 assists in 27 minutes while Jeremy Lin had 6 in 20 minutes. Douglas just proves to everyone game in and game out that he is not capable of running the point for this team. Unfortunately for the Knicks, Baron Davis will not be back for another week and Iman Shumpert seems to be burning out. Douglas must learn to at least make his shots in order to give this team a chance. He is never going to be a great passer because he is not a great ball handler and the game moves far too quickly for him.