The Knicks have lost 6 in a row. They are 18-24 and are now the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference. If the playoffs started today, the Knicks would be watching the playoffs like the rest of us. From home.
Monday night, the Knicks lost in pathetic fashion to a short handed Bulls team. Despite not having the services of starters, Luol Deng and Richard Hamilton, and backup point guard CJ Watson, the Bulls defeated the Knicks 104-99. The difference in this game was effort. The Bulls wanted to win more than the Knicks did and they won. New York’s effort rebounding the basketball was abysmal and unacceptable tonight. Chicago’s whooping 22 offensive rebounds were the difference in the game and buried the Knicks in the second half. The Knicks had a chance in the final minute but failed to come back and win the game. With 32 seconds left and the Knicks down 4, Carmelo Anthony inexplicably threw up a contested 29 foot three pointer early in the shot clock and the Knicks fate was sealed.
Here are my notes from the game:
- Jeremy Lin played a very solid game tonight. This game cannot be blamed on Lin. In my opinion, he and Tyson Chandler were the two best Knicks tonight. Lin stepped up to the challenge of facing the reigning MVP. His stat line, 14 points 4/11 shooting 8 assists, will not necessarily show that Lin was a standout in this game, but he was. He did an early job, especially early in the game, of moving the ball and finding open guys. As the game went on, the Knicks ball movement suffered and the ball was taken out of Lin’s hands a lot of the time. I did not understand why, with the two point guard rotation, the offense was being initiated by Baron Davis rather than Lin. I think that was a big part of the Knicks scoring just 21 points in the 4th quarter. I really did like how well Lin played defensively tonight. He had a sick block of Rose in the first quarter and finished the game with 3 steals. Lin has not played great as of late, but tonight I thought he was very good.
- JR Smith is killing the Knicks. He played only 9 minutes tonight but he was awful. In the fourth quarter, his two turnovers in 3 possessions resulted in Chicago’s lead going from 1 point to 5 points. He scored 0 points tonight. The Knicks desperately need his explosive scoring ability, especially in games where Melo doesn’t shoot well. The Knicks needed Smith to provide a spark off the bench tonight and he was unable to do it. If he continues to play this putridly, Smith should find himself a cozy seat alongside Mike Bibby.
- Iman Shumpert should be playing more. 17 minutes tonight? Not good enough. I want to see 20-25 minutes a game for Shumpert. He’s not great guarding quick point guards. Fair enough. He is an elite defender on the wing. Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver combined for 20 points and 14 rebounds tonight. I think Shumpert could have helped that. While his offensive game, particularly his jump shot, are below average, Shumpert has a role on this team and I think he needs to be in the game for more than 17 minutes.
- The Knicks were embarrassingly bad rebounding the ball. Chicago out rebounded the Knicks 56-38. That is not a typo. New York was out rebounded by 18 boards tonight. 22 of Chicago’s 56 rebounds came on the offensive glass. 22 offensive rebounds is unheard of and completely unacceptable. Taj Gibson of the Bulls just totally destroyed Amar’e Stoudemire on the glass. In 26 minutes, Gibson recorded 15 points and 13 rebounds. 8 of his 13 rebounds were offensive. Stoudemire’s effort on the boards was offensive to the city of New York and Knick fans everywhere. More on him in a second. Here is the bottom line, the Knicks cannot be lazy on the offensive rebounds. They held Chicago to 43% overall and 35.7% from outside the arc. The Knicks shot 46%. They should have been able to win this game. Their lack of EFFORT on the glass is what lost them the game. I would accept if Stoudemire was working his ass off and just physically was unable to box out Gibson or Noah. My issue comes from the fact that the Knicks, minus Tyson Chandler, did not even try to box out tonight. Numerous times in the game, Knick defenders watched the shot go up while Chicago’s big men ran in front of the mannequin defenders to grab offensive rebounds. The Knicks lack of effort to grab rebounds is what lost them this game tonight.
- Before I rip on the Knicks “stars”, we need to recognize Tyson Chandler. His effort, heart and will to win are being wasted by this joke of a basketball team. Chandler is a champion. Watching him play alongside Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony really opens your eyes as to what it takes to be a champion. Being a champion has nothing to do with scoring 25 points per game. Being a champion has nothing to do with barking “I do this” at the other team’s bench. Being a champion has nothing to do with saying the right things off the court. Being a champion is about doing everything the right way. That means NOT throwing your arms up in disgust when you don’t get the ball, Carmelo Anthony. That means finding a man to box out on a defensive rebound, Amar’e Stoudemire. That means being a class act off the court, not posting nude pictures of your girlfriend, JR Smith. That means playing unselfish, winning basketball. Chandler gets it. The rest of the team doesn’t. I don’t think Baron Davis gets it. I don’t think JR Smith gets it. Amar’e Stoudemire understands the concept of team ball and sacrifice, but his laziness on the defensive end of the court trumps anything he does well offensively. Carmelo Anthony has NO concept of what it is to be a winner. Knick fans, appreciate what we have in Tyson Chandler. He is a great leader for this team and it is a damn shame that this team is letting him down.
- I’ll start with Amar’e Stoudemire. I like Stoudemire. I think he truly wants to win games and rings with this team. He showed me a lot with his post game press conference last season, when the Knicks were 3-8, that turned the Knicks season around. From everything Stoudemire says in his press conferences after games, he has shown that he understands the team concept of sacrifice. He has sacrificed shots all season and has never complained once. I believe he has tried to adjust his game by shooting more jump shots than he normally would, in order to make him a better fit with Chandler. Here is my gripe with Amar’e Stoudemire. He is lazy on defense and on the boards. Tonight, Stoudemire shot the ball really well. He was 7/12 and scored 20 points. I don’t care. I think he sucked tonight. His lack of effort on the boards absolutely killed the Knicks. He recored 3 rebounds. One of them was offensive. Chicago shot 40/93 as a team in this game. That means Chicago missed 53 shots and Stoudemire was able to grab only 2 of them for rebounds. That is absolutely unacceptable. I truly believe that Stoudemire wants to be a winner, but it is damn near impossible to defend him when he records 2 defensive rebounds in 34 minutes. The Knicks do not pay this man a max deal so he can pull down 2 defensive rebounds a game. Third year player Taj Gibson dismantled the Knicks 100 million dollar man tonight. His 8 offensive rebounds were the difference in a 5 point Bulls victory. Stoudemire’s offense does seem to be coming around. That is great but it does not help if his defense continues to be well below average. In order for this team to win games, Stoudemire must be consistently focused on defending and rebounding. I was disgusted by his effort tonight and I think he really did hurt the team, especially in the 4th quarter.
- Speaking of somebody else who is hurting the team… Carmelo Anthony is really beginning to turn me against him. I want Melo to be as good as anyone. I think the guy has all the talent in the world and I believe that he is the ability to score as well as anyone in the NBA. Hell, my damn blog is named after him. He was supposed to be the savior to come and put this team over the top and right now he is hindering this team in more ways than one. The Knicks other max money player turned in yet another lackluster performance tonight. Anthony was 8/21 shooting and provided some moments that made me want to tear my hair out. In the first quarter, there was a fast break in which Anthony had a cutting Lin going to the hoop. Rather than dish the ball, Anthony ran up court with his head down looking for the 3 point line. When he had gotten over half-court, he knew he was going to shoot the ball. He pulled up in transition and bricked the 3 pointer. Melo is a career 31.9% three point shooter. Why on earth is he pulling up for 3’s in transition? If Novak does it, I can live with it. Same with a sharp shooter like a Kyle Korver or Ray Allen. Carmelo is not that kind of player. He should be looking to play UNSELFISHLY, rather than look for his own shot on a transition fast break in which he has an open guy cutting to the rim. I vividly remember another instance in the game, I think in the 4th quarter, when Anthony missed a three and nonchalantly jogged down the court while Lin and Novak tried to stop the on coming fast break. It was totally unacceptable and showed a lack of passion and caring on account of Anthony. Later in the 4th quarter, Anthony was posted up and calling for the ball. The Knicks were unable to get him the ball in the possession. Anthony was livid on the floor, screaming as he moved away from the play. He was probably justified in being upset. He should have gotten the ball. Nonetheless, Anthony showed his immaturity and selfishness by getting angry at his teammates. That is not what leaders do. Anthony should have put his head down and went back to work on the defensive end of the floor, rather than display “starburian” body language and yell at his teammates. With the Knicks down 5 with 32 seconds left in the game, Anthony took a horrible contested three. Rather than look for his teammates, Anthony tried to play hero ball and ended up looking like an ass. He missed the shot and the fate of the Knicks was sealed. Carmelo Anthony is doing absolutely nothing to justify his max contract. He has been selfish, unprofessional and lazy. Right now, Anthony is totally disconnected from the rest of the team. Him and D’Antoni don’t see eye to eye and therefore Anthony has mentally checked out. He does not care if the Knicks win or lose. Sure, after the game, he says that losing baskeball games sucks but he does nothing during the game to change the game. Kyle Korver dove for a lose ball late in the game that gave Chicago another possession. Anthony was right next to him. He did not have the heart that KYLE KORVER had to dive on the ground and grab the ball. It was lazy and pathetic on Anthony’s part. In his post game press conference, Anthony did not seem to have the same depressed demeanor that Amar’e Stoudemire had. He made a few jokes and smiled a few times. It is so clear to me that either Anthony doesn’t care, doesn’t get it, or both. He needs to understand something. He is being portrayed as the villain of this team. The fans are turning on him. He has been a disaster and he seems to be getting worse. If he does not improve some heart and effort, Anthony will become the epicenter of all hate in New York sports.
- In my opinion, you can’t blame the coach right now. Sure, Mike D’Antoni isn’t perfect, but this teams problems stretch far beyond their lame duck coach. The Knick PLAYERS deserve 90% of the blame. D’Antoni could improve on a few things, but Mike D’Antoni was not lazy on the boards tonight. Mike D’Antoni did not give up 22 offensive rebounds. Mike D’Antoni did not shoot 3/11 from beyond the arc tonight. Mike D’Antoni isn’t being paid a 100 million dollar max contract to shoot 8/21 in the game and 40% on the season. The bottom line is that this team needs to try harder. This is not AAU hoops in which the coach must motivate his players to try. This is the NBA. These are grown men. Carmelo Anthony has been in the league since 2003. It should not be D’Antoni’s job to motivate these guys to try. Say what you want about D’Antoni. Un-knowledgable fans will use D’Antoni as a scapegoat based on their lack of basketball knowledge. I’m not going to say I’m some basketball analyzing god. I’m not. I’ve been wrong before but I know this much: this teams problems stretch beyond their head coach. If you know basketball, you can see the Knicks are not being out-schemed. The Knicks are not being out-coached. Tonight, the Knicks were out-worked. As Bill Parcells once said, “if you can’t get up for this game, then you ought to go home”. The Knicks couldn’t get up to play the Chicago Bulls at the United Center? Are you kidding me? Tonight was a totally pathetic loss on so many levels. The Bulls were short handed and did not shoot well. If the Knicks would have put decent effort into rebounding, they would have won this game by 10 points tonight. Don’t blame this one on D’Antoni. He didn’t lose this game. The Knicks players lost this game and they ought to be embarrassed by their performance tonight.