Well it wasn’t pretty, and honestly it probably was a game the Knicks should’ve lost. Basically, this was a ‘2k’ game, as both teams were ridiculously good on offense. Led by Carmelo Anthony’s 9 three pointers, the Knicks shot 54.2% from the game, and 59.3% from downtown. The Hawks became the first team in the NBA this season to lose a game in which they shot 60% from the floor. New York had no answers for Jeff Teague (27 points) or Al Horford, who didn’t miss a shot in the game. Amar’e Stoudemire had another good game, scoring 18 points on 9 shots and grabbing 8 rebounds. Tyson Chandler aggravated his neck and clearly was in pain towards the end of the game. The severity of his injury is unknown Jason Kidd played 5 minutes because Woodson wanted to ‘rest’ his back, which means he probably has several spinal fractures that the Knicks just aren’t telling us about. I’m joking, hopefully. Anyways, back to the game, the Knicks were pretty shaky in the 4th. New York started the quarter with an 8 point lead, but allowed Atlanta to score 30 points in the frame. Surprisingly Iman Shumpert played just 13 seconds in the final frame. Given how dominant Jeff Teague was tonight, you would’ve thought Shumpert could make a difference playing him on the ball. Offense wasn’t the problem for the Knicks in the quarter, but they couldn’t stop Atlanta. The Hawks shot 11 free throws in the quarter and shot 60%. A Carmelo Anthony technical foul gave the Hawks a 102-101 lead with 1:51 left in the game. With the Hawks leading 104-103, Anthony laid in the game winning basket with 12 seconds to go. On Atlanta’s final play, the Hawks ran high pick and roll with Teague. Tyson Chandler was able to switch onto Teague and the ball eventually found it’s way out to Josh Smith who took a 25 footer that hit off the backboard and rimmed out. It wasn’t a great win for the Knicks, but not every win is going to be a great one. There are plenty of issues that need correcting and the Knicks are by no means playing well, but wins are always a good thing and the Knicks needed to get one today after last night’s debacle.
Here are my notes from the game:
- Mike Woodson did not coach a great game today. In fact, I thought he coached pretty poorly. Throughout the game, the Knicks were bad defensively. He made the executive decision to guard Teague with Raymond Felton rather than Shumpert. Given that the Knicks have been killed by quick point guards all year with Felton guarding them, you’d think Woodson would be tasked with keeping Teague out of the paint. I think the Knicks would’ve been fine cross matching and putting Felton on someone like Devin Harris or Kyle Korver. Also on defense, you saw a lot of really bad switching from the Knicks that threw the defense all out of sorts. This is nothing new, but is always infuriating. On offense, the Knicks played very well until the last five minutes of the game. For whatever reason, as he has been doing recently, the Knicks went to the iso-Melo offense. Sure, Anthony played a great game, but putting him in isolation after isolation after isolation is not at all the best way to run your offense. If we look at Anthony’s synergy numbers, we see isolations are his least efficient play.
- Not to say Anthony is bad in isolation, because he isn’t, but he’s just so much more when being utilized in other ways. Take this game for example. Anthony started off cold, running mostly isolations in the first quarter. However, when put in situations to catch and shoot, Anthony got hot and hit 9 threes in the game. I thought Woodson should’ve continued to let Felton dictate who got the ball in the offense like he did the rest of the game, recording 10 assists. On the final offensive play for the Knicks, Woodson drew up (take a guess) another isolation for Anthony. Melo did a really good job of attacking Josh Smith off the dribble and got the and-1 layup to put the Knicks ahead for good. Given that Melo iso’s have failed the 5 prior times the Knicks have done that this year, I still would’ve liked the Knicks to run a play.
- Speaking of Anthony, he was absolutely magnificent. 42 points on 15/28 shooting, 9/12 from downtown. This performance reminded me of the Olympics from this past summer. It was Carmelo doing what Carmelo does best, catching and shooting the basketball. He got hot and it was game over. I would say the one complaint I have about his game was the technical foul he picked up late in the game. After getting poked in the eye and getting the foul call from the official, he slammed the ball down in frustration. I can totally understand being upset over something like that, but he’s got to keep his composure. That point could have very well cost the Knicks the game.
- Amar’e Stoudemire played well again. He looks spryer by the game and he had some awesome plays tonight. His 8 rebounds were huge, given that 4 of them were offensive. He got to the free throw line 8 times, making 6 of them. Defensively, Stoudemire had lapses, as did the rest of the team. He’s never going to be great on defense, but you can really see he’s trying hard on that end of the floor. Offensively, I thought STAT was very good. He’s staring to look more and more comfortable with his post up game. The Anthony-Stoudemire-Chandler lineup had a Net-RTG of 15.5 in 17 minutes today. Stoudemire’s post up game is really allowing that lineup to flourish. It helps the spacing as Stoudemire can be down low while Tyson is up top setting picks and Anthony can operate on the wing.
- Pablo Prigioni hit a pair of threes early in the game. Woodson doesn’t like playing Prigioni, through I’m not sure why. I think Prigioni has real value running the pick and roll on the second unit, especially with Stoudemire in the game. He was more actively looking for his shot today and it worked out for him. I think Woodson wants Prigioni to play more aggressively and look to score more often. If he does that, he may find himself playing a few more minutes.
- Steve Novak is a lost man right now. Thirteen minutes played, one shot attempt, no points. It seems like Novak just has no role right now. Sure, he’s going to space the floor and stuff, but the Knicks seem to be moving away from more of the 4-out look that they ran early in the year. That doesn’t bode well for Novak. With the Knicks doing more posting up and isolating, the ball movement isn’t the same and the spacing isn’t the same. Novak isn’t JR. He’s not going to create a shot for himself, he needs it created for him. He has to play in a D’Antoni style offense to be successful and the Knicks haven’t done that lately. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Novak moving forward. Come playoff time, he may be left out of the rotation altogether.
That’s all folks. Not a great win for the Knicks, but we’ll take it. Let’s just hope we don’t all wake up to news that Tyson and Kidd are now paraplegics because Roger Hinds thought it’d be a good idea to operate on their spines with chainsaws, crowbars and duck tape. *fingers crossed*