The Knicks sucked tonight. Period. End of story. They never led in this game, they started the game with poor effort and they couldn’t get a stop down the stretch. 10 missed free throws and 21 turnovers cost the Knicks this game. They were sloppy and played like an Isiah Thomas coached team tonight. New Orleans wanted it more and they got it. Before you read my anger filled post game, let me say something. I understand that this is only 1 out of 66 NBA games. I understand the Knicks came in a bit cocky and might even be exhausted from this constant media attention but there is NO excuse to blow a chance to get over .500 to a team like that. The Hornets had 3 starters (Gordon, Landry, Okafor) out and Jarrett Jack hardly played tonight. The Knicks remaining schedule only has 13 “should win” (in my opinion) games left. The Knicks have played most of their cupcake games this year. They need every win they can get and there is absolutely no excuse for losing to a banged up New Orleans team at home.
Here are my notes from the game:
- What on earth was Stoudemire doing tonight? His defense was atrocious. It may have been the worst I’ve seen Stoudemire play defense as a Knick. Not only is he poor in terms of his defensive technique and skill but HE DOES NOT EVEN TRY! He is flat out lazy defensively and it killed the Knicks. Stoudemire, the big New York star, could not stop Gustavo Ayon from recording a double-double! If you aren’t a die hard NBA nerd or a Hornets fan, you have no idea who Gustavo Ayon is. I didn’t even know who he was until he popped up on my 2k fantasy draft the other day. Against our big money star, Ayon, currently earning $1.9 million over 3 seasons, had 13 points and 11 boards. He ran the pick and roll with general Greivis Vazquez like this once dominant force who used to run it in Phoenix a couple years ago. Stoudemire had 26 tonight but he had to give up at least 30 on defense. The team was better tonight with Jared Jeffries on the court. I counted at least 4 defensive breakdowns in the last 5 minutes of the game on Stoudemire’s account. Not only does he not try but he doesnt even pretend to be trying! He is flat out lazy defensively. His athleticism seems to be declining as well. He has has no explosiveness right now. Whether it is his back or his mental psyche, I have no idea but he is not right. He has not been right all season. As Dan from Knicksfanblog pointed out, the Knicks have no more amnesty clause. Stoudemire is going to be here for 5 years and his already deteriorating far quicker than anybody would have imagined. This season, he is shooting just 44.3% and scoring 18 points per game down from 50.2% and 25.3 ppg last season. He no longer is a dominant player and given the way he looks physically, I am not sure if he will ever get back there. This is not an overreaction. I have felt this concern all season but the last few games have really shown how far Stoudemire’s explosiveness and athleticism has fallen off. I hope that I, along with many Knicks skeptics, are incorrect but I have my serious doubts about Stoudemire right now.
- Landry, Landry, Landry. I am a fan of Landry Fields. I like his long 6’7 frame and his athleticism. He is a smart player and he is solid defensively. Tonight, he was abysmal. Fields finished the game a -18 in the +/- statistic and he finished the game 1/8. Worse than his 1/8 shooting was his 2/4 from the free throw line. He missed a key free throw with 1:15 left in the game that would have put the Knicks down 3 as opposed to 4. The Knicks ended up having a possession down 4 with less than 5 seconds in the game. That single free throw took away an opportunity for the Knicks to tie the game. Now I understand that Knicks not named Landry Fields missed 8 free throws but they didn’t miss free throws with a minute left in the game. Fields is a young player but he is not a rookie. There is no excuse to not make your free throws. If you miss your shots, so be it. Guys are going to have bad shooting nights. There is absolutely no reason why Fields cannot hit his free throws late in games. This is not the first time we have seen Fields struggle from the line. HE IS SHOOTING 62% FROM THE LINE! I have noted this many times. That is absolutely, positively unacceptable. He is a damn shooting guard and he’s shooting 62% from the free throw line. This is a problem that Fields has to fix or else he eliminates his ability to play late in games. With the emergence of Shumpert and the additions of Melo and JR Smith to the lineup, I think Fields will begin to spend late game situations sitting on the bench.
- Novak was 1/7 from downtown tonight and 2/9 overall. He had numerous open 3’s and he did not hit them. Novak failed to do his job tonight and it cost the Knicks. His presence did spread the floor for the Knicks and as a result, Novak’s +/- statistic was a +13 tonight. Again this is only one game and he will not shoot 1/7 from downtown every game but it must be noted that Novak hurt the Knicks tonight.
- Billy Walker was 1/5 and 0/4 from downtown. Renaldo Balkman’s bench seat won’t cool down too much cause Walker will be sitting there soon enough with the addition of JR Smith.
- The Knicks shot 4/24 from downtown tonight. You read that correctly. 4/24. And people say that Melo and JR Smith will hurt the team? Give me a break. This team has struggled to shoot all season and that trend reared its ugly head tonight. This team also has struggled at times defending the perimeter and tonight they got killed from there. The Hornets were 7/12 from beyond the arc tonight. There is no way the Knicks can continue to win games shooting 4/24 and giving up 7/12 from beyond the arc. Horrible horrible job on the perimeter on both ends for the Knicks tonight.
- Now, onto Jeremy Lin. Before I get into my criticism’s of Lin, I want to say this: The Knicks did NOT lose this game because of their new point guard. Lin did not play his best game but he played more than well enough to win. I thought this was Lin’s best shooting game in this stretch of Linsanity. Granted in the Lakers game he put up 38 and in the Raptors game he scored the game winning 3 but tonight Lin made his living shooting the ball. He tried to get to the rim but he was turning the ball over and not getting calls from the officials. I thought he did a good job of shooting the ball when he was open and trying to get others involved. Lin only had 5 assists tonight but that was primarily because the Knicks shot 4/24 from downtown and 41.3% overall. He scored 26 points on 8/18 shooting and I thought he ultimately played well enough to win in the 2nd half. Onto the turnovers. The key stat on the night was 9 turnovers on Lin’s behalf. He had 8 in the first half. Early in the game, Lin was pressing and New Orleans played strong interior defense. Often times, Lin found himself in the air with nowhere to go and that resulted in him throwing Rex Grossman-esq passes. Turnovers are a disease for a team. They are madly contagious. Lin had 9 turnovers and the Knicks as a team had 21 turnovers. As Lin struggled with turnovers, the entire team followed suit. This quality of play resulted to the Knicks digging themselves into a 14 point first quarter deficit that they could never recover from. There were multiple times tonight were Lin split the double team nicely but was unable to find an assist man or finish at the rim. Ultimately I do not think Lin’s game was as bad as his stat line and the “experts” (such as Matt Moore of Hardwood Paroxysm) will say it was. He did not play a great game but he played well enough to lead the Knicks to victory. Tonight was a complete team loss. The Knicks couldn’t shoot. They couldn’t defend. They couldn’t win tonight.