There is no such thing as a moral victory. Not when you have 8 wins and 14 losses this season. Not when you have Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire on your team. This was absolutely a game the Knicks could have and should have won. A horrific 2nd quarter performances, lead by Toney Douglas (more on him later), put the Knicks in a hole they could never pull themselves out of. They wasted Stoudemire’s best performance of the season. It was Stoudemire’s best game by far apart from the fact that he missed a wide open 3 that essentially put the game out of reach. The Knick “bench”, who I predicted to score 3 points, scored 6 points tonight and Jeffries was the only guy that did anything remotely well. Toney Douglas has horribly regressed since last season and killed any momentum the Knicks had in the first half. Melo was good but did not play a sharp 4th quarter and the Knicks were unable to pull out the win.
Here are my notes from the game:
- Where do I start? I’ll start with your favorite whipping boy and mine. Toney Douglas was absolutely horrible tonight. I cannot even begin to describe the anger that filled my body while watching him attempt to play the point guard position tonight. Whether its running out of bounds under the basket, bad turnovers, stopping dribbles at mid-court, playing bad defense or missing open threes, there is no other way to say it. HE CANNOT PLAY POINT GUARD. At this point I question whether he can play shooting guard remotely well as he did last year. What happened to the Toney Douglas that burned Chris Paul at the Garden last year? He was a nice spark plug off the bench and this year he can’t seem to do anything well. It is a shame that Shumpert, who played well, was in foul trouble or Douglas would have ate pine all night. He had no business being on the same court as other NBA players much less Derrick Rose. Rose had Douglas on permanent skates all night defensively. The worst thing Douglas did tonight was kill momentum. He came into the 2nd quarter and helped Chicago extend their lead to 11 at halftime. He came in after the Knicks had gone on a 3rd quarter run to get the lead to 2 and he helped Chicago go on an immediate 6-0 run. Obviously this game cannot all be put on Douglas but he was responsible for most of what the team did wrong. He is the back up POINT GUARD. His job is to be a model of stability not to be the reason for erratic, chaotic, ineffective offensive play. Douglas seemingly has no idea of how to play basketball much less run the point. He can’t dribble, can’t pass, he takes bad shots and his once solid defense has gone down the toilet. I have no idea what is wrong with him and I do like TD but right now he is killing us. I would rather see Bibby or Lin at this point. And trust me, I know how shitty they are but they are not like this. Douglas was far and away the worst player on the court tonight.
- Amar’e Stoudemire was fantastic tonight until his last shot. With 11 seconds left, D’Antoni drew up a great play for Stoudemire and he missed the game tying 3. Now I understand that he is a power forward and is not a 3 shooter but he has hit that shot before. He is making a max contract. There is no excuse for him to not make that shot. This is not a road game in Detroit. This was Chicago at the garden with the Knicks struggling. These are huge games for the Knicks. Sure they are early season games but they are huge considering the 8-14 hole the Knicks have dug themselves in. Amar’e, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE A SUPERSTAR. Superstars hit that shot. He was open, there was no hand in his face, he absolutely should have hit that 3. I love Stoudemire and it was great to see him dominate tonight, and he was dominant, but there is no excuse for missing that shot. D’Antoni got him a great look in his favorite spot outside the arc and Stoudemire just missed. That is a shot he HAS to make. He is one of the leaders and stars on this team and him missing that shot when the team is 8-14 is unacceptable.
- Carmelo Anthony is also deserving of some criticism. Why Melo? Why do you put your head down into traffic and drive in the 4th quarter when your jump shot was money all night? I understand he should get to the rim. I do not fault him for trying. He has to be smart though. The officials were absolutely horrible tonight. They were giving the Knicks 0 calls and gave the Bulls almost all of them. You are not going to get a call there Carmelo! It is not going to happen. Pull up and shoot the damn mid-range. That is your bread and butter, why drive into a stout Bulls post-defense when you no longer posses the leaping ability to poster people like you could in the Olympics a few years ago. Melo is a clutch 4th quarter player, maybe the most clutch in the game, but he wasn’t tonight. He had a LeBron game tonight. I can’t believe I am saying that and upon reflection I may feel different tomorrow but Melo played 3 great quarters and 1 very mediocre 4th quarter. I thought he should have looked for Stoudemire more late in the 4th. the Knicks are Melo’s team but when Amar’e is on fire like he was tonight you HAVE to ride the hot hand. This was not a game the Knicks should have lost. Obviously the blame has to go around but Melo has to be better in the 4th quarter. I am not worried because he is one of the most clutch in the game but tonight I thought was a poor 4th quarter showing by Melo.
- In my pre-game, I predicted the Knicks “bench” to score 3 points tonight. They scored 6. All 6 were by Toney Douglas and it took him 8 shots and 3 turnovers to get there. The rest of the “bench”, Jeffries, Walker and Balkman, scored 0 points. That is completely pathetic and unacceptable. The Bulls did not even guard Balkman when he was in the game and when he drove to the hoop he twice dropped the ball like the thing was covered in butter. Walker came in and did absolutely nothing. Jeffries was scoreless but scoring is not his role. Unlike Balkman who has no role, Jeffries is in the game for his defensive prowess. He is not asked to score and really does not have the ability to score. I will give Jeffries a pass for not scoring but Walker and Douglas cannot be spared. Despite by obvious distain for Walker, he was absolutely useless tonight. He can’t defend anyways and he had a foul and a turnover in 9 minutes. He missed his only 3. I have already harped on Douglas but I may as well keep harping. Not only did Douglas suck but his inability to do anything well made other people worse! He did not get anybody the ball with any space, he barely got Amar’e or Melo the ball. He flat out sucked and the bench flat out sucked. They got outscored by a wildly mediocre bench 25-6. That was the difference in the game.
- Two guys I thought were great tonight were Landry Fields and Tyson Chandler. Fields, who I have preached patience with since the beginning of the year, was absolutely fantastic tonight. He finally has found his long lost shooting stroke, going 3/5 from downtown and 7/10 overall. He had a bit of trouble chasing the Ashton Kutcher clone around the floor early in the game but apart from that I thought his defense was solid. Offensively he was efficient and effective tonight scoring 17 points including a bank shot layup that gave the Knicks a chance in the final minute. He finished with 17 points and 4 rebounds. As always, Tyson Chandler was very good tonight. He was hindered a little bit early with foul trouble brought on by the poor officiating and pathetic flopping by Joakim Noah. Talk about an annoying, arrogant, fool. Joakim Noah is the epitome of what people hate about the NBA. He flops. He yells. He presents himself like a homeless person and he seemingly has never been to a dentist. Noah is a good player but his style of play is exactly what NBA officials are supposed to punish this year. Instead, the boneheaded officials gave Noah every call when he would flop like Derrick Fisher or Reggie Miller. The officiating was bad and did hinder Chandler a bit tonight but I still thought he played an excellent game.
- I hope Charles Oakley finds Reggie Miller and kicks the shit out of him. Miller was his usual Knick hating self all night. At one point Miller gave his “season report card” for the Knicks and had their defense graded with a D. The Knicks are ranked 11th this season in defensive efficiency and 16th in points allowed. They also are 4th in defensive rebound rate. Miller then later thanked his co-announcer, Kevin Harlan, for holding him back while Charles Oakley walked by. As if Miller would go after Oakley. Get the fuck out of here Miller. You are a scrawny punk. Oakley could snap Reggie Miller’s neck with 3 fingers if he wanted to. Miller always has been and always will be all talk and I absolutely hate that TNT continues to give Miller paychecks to pay off his ex-wife. Yea this guy would kick Charles Oakley’s ass:
- Last but not least, I believe that Mike D’Antoni coached his best game of the season. Apart from sticking Renaldo Butterhands into the game at all, I thought he coached a good game. I do not fault him for all for going to Stoudemire late in the game. He drew up a great play that got Stoudemire an open look in his favorite three-point spot. That is a shot Amar’e has hit multiple times as a Knick and he should have hit it again. D’Antoni’s offense was very good tonight, except for the Toney Douglas run 2nd quarter. They utilized both Chandler AND Amar’e in the pick and roll which was great to see and I thought the spacing was very good tonight. If James Dolan had half a brain, which he doesn’t, he would see how well the Knicks played tonight and that D’Antoni can get this team playing well. Obviously it was only one game and the team lost to a team missing 2 starters but I think tonight was a decent sign for the Knicks. I don’t believe in moral victories but the Knicks needed to prove to themselves they could play better and Stoudemire needed to prove to himself and the fans that he could still dominate. He isn’t all the way back but he was very good tonight and I think a lot of the credit has to go to the embattled Knick coach. Say what you want about D’Antoni but that team played hard for him tonight. He can get the job done. I know D’Antoni isn’t a hall of fame point guard and doesn’t sexually harass team executives, but he is the right coach for this team at this point in time. Obviously if Phil comes calling then that change must be made but right now there is no coach who will be any better for this club than D’Antoni.