Before I get into the game recap, let me say this. Carmelo Anthony’s performance on all levels was unacceptable tonight. He was awful, shooting 2/12, and his antics and body language reminded me of one Stephon Marbury. Yes, Carmelo Anthony was Marbury-esque tonight which is a horrible sign for Knicks fans. I will elaborate on this later.
In terms of the game, I thought the Knicks played very poorly. Offensively, they never found a great rhythm. The aforementioned Anthony was 2/12 shooting and the trio of Baron Davis, JR Smith and Jeremy Lin combined to shoot 8/28 on the night. As a team, the Bockers shot 38.1% and shot a dreadful 65.2% at the free throw line. One of the lone bright spots offensively was Amar’e Stoudemire who scored 26 points on 10/18 shooting. More on him later.
The Knicks did do a good job defensively, especially in the second half, holding Dallas to 38.8% shooting. As always, Chandler played a nice defensive game and Josh Harrellson added some much needed energy in the second half. The defense was strong but could not get stops late in the game as Dallas pulled away in the final minutes.
Here are my notes from the game:
- Josh Harrellson played a good game. Granted, he wouldn’t have gotten into the game if Jared Jeffries (sore knee) had played the second half but Jorts did a nice job. He almost air balled the only 3 pointer he took but he played solid defense and pulled down 7 boards. I love Jorts but I’m not sure that he has a defined role on this team. I still believe he is the odd man out at the 4/5 positions but he did a good job pushing for more minutes tonight.
- Quietly, JR Smith has been horrible. In the three games after the all-star break, two of them Knick losses, JR Smith has shot 5/18 and 0/7 from downtown. I understand that Smith is a streaky scorer but he has to at least give the Knicks SOME production every night. Tonight, Smith stunted a 4th quarter Knick run by killing possessions with turnovers and missed fadeaway jump shots. He was a -12 on the night in 13 minutes, turned the ball over twice and scored 3 points on 1/5 shooting.
- Tyson Chandler is a warrior. This is good and bad for the Knicks. Obviously Chandler’s presence is huge on the defensive end of the floor but the boxing glove on his wrist hurt the Knick offense tonight. Multiple times, turnovers were created by balls ricocheting off Chandler’s giant wrist protection. The Knicks cannot afford to not have Chandler out on the floor but they need to do a better job of getting him soft lob passes and things of that nature as opposed to Shumpert firing Randy Johnson-esque fastballs into the post. Turnovers were big in a close game tonight. Moving forward, the Knicks need to find a way to get Chandler involved without the risk of turning the ball over.
- Jeremy Lin played a decent game. Baron Davis did not. If Lin had hit a few more of his shots tonight, his stat line would have looked much better. He finished 4/13 with 14 points and 7 assists. This was not one of his better games but I loved the way he fought despite being battered around by Dallas’ defense. In the second quarter, I thought Lin was dead after Ian Mahinmi and Jason Kidd combined to body slam him to the floor. I was shocked how a flagrant was not called on Mahinmi, who made no attempt to play the ball. In an impressive display of toughness, Lin got up and continued to play hard. I was not happy with the amount of 3’s. Lin is not a good outside shooter. He can hit the outside shot but that is not his game. He shot 1/5 from downtown. I understand that he had some open looks but the strength of his game is getting to the rim. Against a Dallas team with one active center, he should have attacked the paint far more often than he did. Dallas did do a nice job containing him and pushing him to the perimeter off screens with traps and double teams but I thought Lin should have made a more conceded effort to get to the rim. He did do a good job protecting the ball, only turning it over twice. Overall, this was not a great game for Lin but I thought he played decently taking into account the beating he took and the strength of the defense he was facing. Baron Davis did not play a great game. The Knicks made a run while he was on the court in the 4th but I didn’t think he played well. He dished only 3 assists in 15 minutes and was 0/5 from downtown. He shot only 3/10 overall and scored only 6 points.
- Steve Novak was doing the championship belt again tonight. I’m not sure tonight was a huge enough game for Novak to be pulling the discount double check but I’m okay with it as long as he shoots 4/8 from downtown every game. The dude can stroke 3’s which is invaluable for a team that cannot consistently shoot from the perimeter. The Knicks shot just 6/23 from downtown tonight. That means that Knicks not named Steve Novak hit only 2/15 from downtown. Baron Davis and Carmelo Anthony were 0/8 combined from downtown. Yikes.
- Shumpert and Fields had strong games. Once again, Iman Shumpert played some great defense. I really believe he has the potential to be an elite defender in this league. The fact that there are only 10-12 elite defenders in the league speaks to how good I believe Shumpert can become defensively. He already is a well above-average defender. He has elite athleticism and length. His effort is fantastic. I believe once he learns to effectively fight through screens, he will take that next step to becoming an elite defensive player in this league. Landry Fields responded nicely to yet another nightmarish performance in Boston. He scored only 2 points but pulled down 10 boards and caught a sick alley-oop from Lin. I love Landry and I love what he brings to the court. He gives constant heart and energy and is a great rebounder. However, I’m really not sure he’s a good fit on this club. This is a stark contradiction from what I’ve previously said about Fields and this is not a knock towards Fields. I say this because right now this team needs shooters and he is a below-average shooter. Last season, he was a very effective outside shooter and he was a perfect fit. This year, his shooting has tailed off and it is hurting the team. His 10 boards are huge and his energy is great, but the Knicks have other guys who can do what he does. They have Shumpert, Jeffries, Novak, Harrellson and Chandler, all high energy “glue guys”. They have other players who can rebound and defend as well or better than Fields. They need shooters. I know that Shumpert isn’t the best shooter but he’s been far better this year than Fields has been this season and he is a better defender. JR Smith is a better shooter than Fields and has proven to be more than adequate defensively. I know he’s struggling at the moment but he is a much better shooter. Fields is a great “glue guy” but right now the Knicks have a lot of “glue guys”. They need shooters. Fields’ shooting has been porous and I think that has badly hurt the team.
- The Knicks best player tonight was Amar’e Stoudemire. I’ll refrain from making a bunch of “stay tuned” jokes but tonight I loved what I saw. Stoudemire has looked better physically as of late and tonight that translated into his play. He scored 26 points on 18 shots and pulled down 7 boards. Stoudemire looked to making more effort rebounding and he played hard defensively. Yes, you read that correctly and no, I am not insane. Stoudemire truly put strong effort into guarding Dirk Nowitzki tonight. He did an excellent job in the first half but Dirk ended up getting the best of him in the second half. Nevertheless, Stoudemire continued to compete tonight. He played the game the right way and I was very happy with the way he played tonight. He has been the anti-Carmelo Anthony throughout this season. Despite his struggles, Stoudemire has garnered my respect as a team player this year. Not once has he pouted or complained about getting single digit shot attempts in a game. He hasn’t always played hard defensively but as of late he has. I think Stoudemire really does want to win games and has been willing to sacrifice some of his statistics to do so. He has been a true team player this year. He has been awful for most the year, which makes me want to tear my hair out sometimes, but I respect his classiness and willingness to adjust his game for the betterment of the team.
- Starmelo Manthony gave a pathetic showing tonight. Yes, I am going to compare him to Stephon Marbury because his showing tonight was absolutely sickening. Where do I start? He was 2/12 shooting with 6 points and 2 turnovers. He was a -18 in 31 minutes and dented the rim with a plethora of bricks. He decided that he would spend the second quarter jawing with Shawn Marion instead of playing. At one point, he had an inbound pass in which he was so busy arguing with Marion that he blindly tossed the ball straight to a Mavericks player for a turnover. How on earth can you throw in an inbound pass without even looking at where it is being thrown? It was total laziness on Stelo’s part and it showed that he did not care about the game tonight. This was also apparent when he was blatantly pouting on the bench during the fourth quarter.When he was inserted at the 3:57 mark, his demeanor and body language was very sulky and negative. The bench was playing well in the 4th quarter and Mike D’Antoni saw no reason to put the struggling Stelo back in the game. I agreed with his decision as Stelo immediately entered the game and bricked a 3. By the way, I just have to say that I hate when he shoots 3’s. He has hit only 3 of his last 10 and is shooting 29.7% on the season from downtown. In the waining minutes of the game, Manthony was shown on MSG TV laughing and talking to a fan while the Knicks were down 10. It showed a complete disconnect from the game on his part and was sickening to me and I’m sure to all Knicks fans who saw that. It was especially sickening given his seemingly careless reaction after Sunday’s loss to Boston, in which he was smiling and congratulating Boston players on the victory. After the game tonight, Manthony ducked the media before later returning to answer a few questions. Right now his head is not in the game and it needs to be. Chandler and Stoudemire need to sit him down and let him know that things need to change. He is supposed to be the one to carry this team, not the one to create distractions and hurt the team. Right now he is acting very similarly to how Stephon Marbury acted as a member of the Knicks. I’m not saying he will end up like Marbury but there need to be changes. Manthony is supposed to be the star of this team and tonight he was anything but. This may be an overreaction on my part but his overall performance tonight was not to the level of a professional athlete. He was unsuccessful in his game and was unprofessional in every way. I hope this is not a continuing trend or else this team will be in big trouble. And so will the name of my blog…