This one hurts. For me personally, this one hurts especially bad. The Lakers have always been my least favorite franchise in the NBA, for various reasons. More importantly, this loss hurts for the Knicks. After the magical start to this season, the Knicks have come crashing back down to earth. In their last five games, New York is just 2-3. The offense has not performed well as of late, led by the struggling Raymond Felton. Defensively, the Knicks have yet to patch up the problems that have plagued them throughout the season. These problems all came to fruition on this Christmas day in Los Angeles. Carmelo Anthony’s gritty 34 point performance wasn’t enough on this day. Nursing a one point lead through three periods, the usually strong 4th quarter Knicks faltered down the stretch. Riding a disgusting amount of Raymond Felton wasted possessions, the Knicks scored just 16 fourth quarter points and were unable to stop the Lakers down the stretch when they needed to.
Here are my notes from the game:
- Ronnie Brewer is borderline unplayable. He played only 8 minutes today, but missed all three of his field goal attempts. In the month of December, 13 games played, Brewer is shooting just 27.3% and 18.2% from three point territory. He has missed his last 10 three point attempts. At this point, the Knicks cannot afford to keep playing Brewer and we’ve already seen Mike Woodson cut his minutes back. Brewer played 22.7 minutes a game in November, but that number has dropped to 19.1 in December. In the past five games, Brewer has played 20, 15, 10, 13 and 8 minutes. I think it is time for Mike Woodson to play Brewer as few minutes as possible because he is absolutely killing them on offense. The Lakers continued a recent and intelligent trend by opposing teams to not defend Brewer on offense. He has had wide open look after wide open look and has failed to hurt opposing defenses. New York has been much better recently with Brewer off the court than on it. Here are numbers from the past eight games.
- The regression of Raymond Felton is in full effect and it is ugly. Remember Dennis Green’s “the Bears are who we thought they were” speech, that’s how I feel about Felton right about now. Felton’s early season magic has worn off and, while I don’t believe he is as bad as he is playing, he is absolutely killing the Knicks right now. In December, Felton is shooting jut 38.6%. Today might have been Felton’s worst game of the season. He shot just 5/19 and had an atrocious second half. Felton shot just 2/10 in the second half. Throughout the game, Felton threw up gross runner after gross runner after gross runner. In the 4th quarter, the Knicks were completely unable to get Carmelo Anthony the ball. Whether this falls on the blame of Woodson for Felton, I’m not completely sure. What I do know is that Felton having the ball in his hands was a complete disaster. He also injured his finger in the game (and may not play tomorrow because of it) which may have affected his shot late in the game. Injury or not, the ball should not have been in his hands. So what should we make of Felton’s dramatic regression? I’m not completely sure. He does deserve some slack for toughing out multiple hand injuries. However, this is not an excuse for the shear volume of shots he takes. Felton needs to stop shooting, or at least take better shots. On the season, Felton’s FG% is now down to 40.1%, similar to his 40.7% from last season. He has missed his last 15 three pointers and this month he is down almost a full assist per game from his November averages. He is shooting more and passing less. Felton is a great complimentary point guard, but he cannot be the focal point of an offense or a number two scorer. If the Knicks wanted that from a point guard, they should’ve resigned Jeremy Lin.
- Wanna see something gross? Check out Felton’s shot chart from today’s game:
- Carmelo Anthony was great on offense today. Defensively, I thought he was very average. He was lazy on his help defense and picked up some foolish fouls. However, he was the Knick offense for the game. He scored 34 points on an efficient 13/23 shooting. Melo scored 17 huge third quarter points and really took over the game. However in the 4th, the Knicks were completely unable to get him the ball. Ironic, given that he posts one of the highest usage rates in the league. He scored just 7 points on 2/3 shooting while Felton and JR Smith shot the Knicks out of the game. Anthony should have been touching the ball on every possession at the very least and he should have gotten 5-8 shots in the quarter. He has been the Knicks closer all year and I don’t know why they went away from him today.
- I thought Mike Woodson coached a very poor game. His accountability spiel looked like a fat sham today as we continually had to watch Raymond Felton shoot a ridiculous amount of bad shots. He drew up a terrible out of bounds play with 32 seconds left in the game. Down three, Woodson drew up a cross screen that got JR Smith a contested three point look that he of course missed. Rather than go for the three, the Knicks should’ve taken a quick two and then fouled. If the Knicks were to take the three, it should’ve been Melo shooting the ball. For some reason, Pablo Prigoni played just five minutes tonight. Woodson doesn’t trust Prigioni, which baffles me. Prigioni does have a reluctance to shoot the ball at times, but he is far better defensively than Felton and his game emphasizes ball movement. The Knicks could have used at least another 5-7 minutes of Prigioni and probably more. I blame Woodson.
- JR Smith was a team low -18 in +/- tonight. I find that odd because I thought he played a pretty solid game.
- Jason Kidd made a horrible defensive mistake on Gasol’s game-sealing dunk. With Gasol out at the three point line, Kidd ran out at a horrible angle and way too hard. He should have known that Gasol is a 23% three point shooter. He should have taken a flatter angle, cutting off Gasol’s path to the paint and forcing him to shoot the three.
- Tyson Chandler was horrible today. He looked slow, unassertive and he was ineffective all day. I wonder if he is fatigued at all from the Olympic games over the summer. He just doesn’t have the same energy on the floor that he usually does. Chandler still plays with emotion, but he hasn’t been the help defense monster he was last season and he certainly wasn’t that today. The Lakers made their money today in the paint, as shown by their shot chart from the game:
On to Phoenix! Also, that Steve Nash guy. He’s pretty good.
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino