That game sucked. On Monday night, the Knicks lost a tough game to the rival New Jersey Nets 100-92. Point guard Deron Williams and ex-Kardashian Kris Humphries killed the Knicks. Williams was unconscious most of the game, including when he foolishly fouled out of the game in the middle of the fourth, and finished with 38 points. The Knicks were unable to bother Williams from outside the arc as he shot 8/14 on 3’s. Humphries, who is actually a very good player, finished with yet another double-double scoring 14 points and 14 rebounds. The only positive thing about New Jersey’s performance is that Humphries and Williams are both on my fantasy team. From the Knicks perspective, the addition of Carmelo Anthony did not help. Anthony looked motivated to get others involved and he did not force shots but he was clearly rusty after missing 7 games. Baron Davis made his debut and looked as good as one can after missing about 8 weeks with a herniated disk in his back. I will say, before I get into my analysis, that the officiating was horrible tonight. The Knicks did not play winning basketball but I believe this game would have been much closer if the game was called more fairly. Multiple times the Knicks caught the short end of calls, resulting in momentum change in the game. More on that in a second.
- The officiating was disgustingly bad. First off, Tyson Chandler picked up his second foul in the first quarter on an “offensive foul” in which Sheldon Williams had his big ugly frame entirely in the restricted zone. Chandler’s absence cost the Knicks in the first half. Jeremy Lin was hit many times going to the rim in which no foul was called. If he gets those 5-6 more attempts at the line, this game could have been different. Carmelo Anthony was mugged getting to the rim multiple times in which he did not receive a call. This was never more apparent then in the fourth quarter when Kris Kardashian shoved Anthony into the cameramen in order to stop the basket. No call. The officials even allowed the shot clock to be restarted when it shouldn’t have been and that cost the Knicks 3 points on a New Jersey 3. Both teams got incredibly chippy in the 3rd quarter and the officials lost control of the game. I have no idea if Jay Z is salty about his ugly kid and paid off the refs or if Humphries decided to spread around some of that TV wedding money to the zebra’s but that was the worst officiated game I’ve seen all year.
- The one call the officials got right was the Tyson Chandler technical. In the 3rd quarter, Humphries was called for an offensive foul on Chandler and on the next possession, the Knick center was called for a technical foul while grabbing and following Humphries to the bench. It was totally asinine on Chandler’s part. It is additionally stupid because he now has 8 technicals and will be suspended if he gets 13. Chandler is a team leader and a hell of a center but he has to be smarter than this. There was no reason for him to stalk Humphries to the Nets bench. Humphries did not throw a punch or anything like that. He did a nice job of getting under Chandler’s skin. Chandler must be smarter than this from here on out.
- The Knicks perimeter defense sucks. While their overall defense has been very solid this season, the Knicks still struggle to guard the perimeter. They were ranked 24th in opponent 3 point shooting percentage headed into the game and tonights performance won’t help that statistic. The Nets shot 15/31 from downtown. 15/31!!! Nobody shoots 15/31 from outside the arc. I know a lot of that was Williams doing star player things but still, 15/31 is unacceptable. MarShon Brooks and DeShawn Stevenson each hit multiple 3’s, which was sickening. The Knicks missed Iman Shumpert’s strong perimeter on ball defense tonight. Jeremy Lin looked exhausted and the Nets did a good job running him through screens all night. Lin was unable to keep up with Williams running through screens and the Knicks paid dearly.
- I saw something I did not like tonight pertaining to JR Smith. There was a play in the early 4th quarter when the Knicks ran a fastbreak and Lin pulled up in the paint and looked to pass it out. Smith was wide open but Lin missed him. Smith called for the ball but when Lin went to shoot, Smith threw up his arms in disgust. The next possession, Smith was open and the Knicks did not get him the ball and once again he displayed negative body language. On a possession after that, the Knicks got Smith the ball and you could tell that he wasn’t going to pass. He got that “I’m going to shoot no matter what” look in his eye and he proceeded to take his man off the dribble and drain the mid-range jump shot. I had no problem with the shot but what I did not like was his body language. He just got to New York and already he’s not happy when he does not get the ball. Smith was 0/4 from downtown tonight. He played a poor game. Granted he is on China time and he’s never played here, etc. I get that but Smith cannot, cannot, cannot display that sort of attitude on the court.
- Landry Fields played the best of any Knick tonight. His free throw shooting, 0/1 from the line, still sucked but he recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. He had a great poster dunk on Kris Kardashian and he made numerous hustle plays. His outside shooting still hasn’t clicked for him but he’s playing well right now.
- Melo was rusty. I thought Carmelo Anthony did a good job of moving the ball and playing within the system. You can tell he is not 100% comfortable but I definitely think he can get there. He had many opportunities to finish at the rim, especially in the first half, but his timing was off tonight. I think he’ll ultimately be very good with Lin but he was very poor tonight.
- This was Lin’s worst game as a starter. Yes he had great statistics, 21 points 9 assists 7 rebounds, but he did not have the kind of impact he has had in past games. In no way did I think Lin played a poor game tonight but he just did not play the game we’ve been accustomed to seeing the past two weeks. In the 4th quarter, Lin looked a bit passive with Anthony on the floor. Lin is a smart player. He knows that the 4th quarter is usually where Melo makes his money and I thought he tried too hard to get him involved. Lin was 2/4 from beyond the arc and 7/18 overall. He shot the ball well again tonight. The Nets worked hard to take away Anthony in the 4th quarter and I thought Lin should have attacked more. Ultimately, these guys will figure it out but it didn’t work out for them tonight.
- Now, onto Stoudemire. I feel so split on this. My eyes show me one thing and my heart and brain remind me that none of this would be possible without Stoudemire’s contributions. If he didn’t come to New York, there would be no Melo. There would be no Tyson Chandler. No JR Smith. No Baron Davis. This team would not have the potential that it does now. I understand that Amar’e is grieving and that he physically is still not right. I understand all of that and I feel for Stoudemire. That being said, when you get on the floor there are no excuses. Stoudemire is not producing. It is plain and simple. He is not rebounding, he is not defending and worst of all, he is not scoring. The Knicks need Stoudemire to defend and rebound but in order to really get the team clicking, they need him to dominate offensively. He hasn’t done it all year and he isn’t doing it now. His offense is not there right now. He’s a superstar, his offense hasn’t been horrid. He’s not shooting 2/18 or scoring 3 points. 17 points on 7/17 shooting is not bad but those aren’t Amar’e Stoudemire numbers. More disturbing than the mediocre numbers is the way Stoudemire plays. His explosiveness is way down and his defense/rebounding is lazy. Obviously the laziness is fixable but his lack of explosion is very disheartening. He added extra weight in the offseason which has held him back and I don’t think his back is right either. I am worried about his long term health and how that will impact him moving forward but I am worried for his impact this year as well. The Knicks need him and right now he just is not producing. I think he will eventually get it rolling this year but my confidence in that notion seems to decrease each game.