Sans Carmelo Anthony and his 42 point performance, the Knicks were utterly hapless on both ends of the court this afternoon at Madison Square Garden. The Clippers shot 52% as New York was a complete mess defensively. Amar’e Stoudemire was pitiful on both ends of the floor and the rest of the Knicks followed suit. After a strong 3rd quarter, the Knicks were dominated in the 4th. Mike Woodson coached a poor game in terms of both scheme, personel and lineups. Though the game was close in score down the stretch, it never felt like the Knicks had a chance to win. They couldn’t get any stops down the stretch with Amar’e in the game instead of Tyson, Shumpert sitting on the bench and Felton guarding Chris Paul. All in all, today was a disastrous game as the Knicks continue their prolonged mid-season stretch of mediocrity. Here are my notes from the game:
- Today was not Carmelo Anthony’s fault. In addition to his efficient 42 point performance on 26 shots, I thought he played hard on defense too. Friday night in Minnesota, Anthony was quite lazy defensively and got chewed out by Woodson in the 3rd quarter. However, today was not like that. If not for Anthony the Knicks would’ve lost by 40 points. He played a very strong game today.
- I could sum up the Knicks defense today by showing you the Clippers shot chart, which I’ll do anyways, but I think I’ll talk about it too.
- As you can see, the Clippers got whatever they wanted at the rim. This was due to multiple things. First off, I have no idea what Woodson was doing defensively today. He started the game with Shumpert defending Chris Paul, which was the right move. However as the game progressed, Felton became the man to defend the league’s best point guard. Given Felton’s propensity for getting destroyed by opposing point guards, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. The idea was a terrible one and Paul dominated the Knicks with 25 points and 7 assists. Eric Bledsoe also had his way with the Knicks defense with a cool 13 points on 6/6 shooting. In addition to lackluster point guard defense, the Knicks were lazy rebounding the ball. Los Angeles grabbed 13 offensive boards and scored 17 second chance points. New York also made a plethora of terrible double teams today. To be fair there were a few possessions, mostly in the 3rd quarter, where the Knicks properly were able to execute a double team and they got stops. However this didn’t happen for 85% of the game and the Clippers capitalized. The Knicks, as they’ve done all season, double teamed players who don’t need to be guarded by two men, like Lamar Odom, and they got burned. I don’t have the synergy numbers yet, but the Clippers had to score at least 5 baskets off wide open cuts today. The one in particular that stood out to me was Jason Kidd making a horrific decision to double Lamar Odom in the post, allowing Odom to dish the ball to a wide open Eric Bledsoe under the basket for a layup. I’d like to say this is an isolated incident, maybe a game where the Knicks were collectively sleep walking, but the Knicks defensive ineptitude has been ongoing for months now. It’s disheartening to me to see Mike Woodson fail to coach these guys. While the Knicks don’t have great effort at times defensively, I believe many of the problems are schematic. The “Mike Woodson: defensive coach” media narrative needs to be shot down because as we’re seeing this season, clearly that is not the case.
- Tyson Chandler has to be injured or tired or there has to be some issue with him. Today he was horrible on defense. His help defense was slow, his rebounding effort and technique was lacking and the Clippers took advantage. The pinnacle of this was when Ryan Hollins outworked Chandler in the 4th quarter grabbing offensive rebounds on back to back possessions. Mysteriously, the Knicks went on a 6-0 fourth quarter run to get back into the game. A timeout was called and when the Knicks came out of the timeout, Chandler found himself glued to the bench for the rest of the game. Friday in Minnesota, Chandler seemed to have soreness in one of his arms. While sitting on the bench down the stretch, Chandler could be seen on the broadcast grabbing his arm again. I wonder if there is something here that we haven’t heard about. After all, this is the Knicks we’re talking about.
- Amar’e Stoudemire had his worst game in about three weeks. After starting off his game with a beautiful spinning post fadeaway bucket, his game took a downhill turn. He didn’t defend well at all and he wasn’t good enough on offense to make up for it. Stoudemire turned the ball over 3 times and just scored 9 points on 4/9 shooting. Oddly Woodson went with Stoudemire down the stretch in 4th at center, which was a disaster.
- Pablo Prigioni played just 4 minutes and 30 seconds today, all of them coming in the second quarter. Woodson opted to go with Kidd as the backup point guard, which I thought was a mistake. Prigioni would have fared much better against a whirling dervish like Eric Bledsoe. When Prigioni did play, JR Smith did most of the ball handling and Prigioni was relegated to standing around the wing and doing nothing. Prigioni isn’t Jason Kidd, in that the strength of his game isn’t spot up play. Prigioni needs to have the ball in his hands to be effective, and I think the Knicks are better when the ball is in his hands. I didn’t understand why the offense ran this way and it was quite unsuccessful.
- The Clippers did a really good job smothering the Knick offense today. Although Carmelo Anthony dominated, he wasn’t doing so in the flow of the offense. On their best day, New York is an extremely unselfish offense. There is spacing and the ball swings along the perimeter until an open shot presents itself. Today, the Clippers took that away. They forced Carmelo to beat them 1 on 1 and really took everybody else out of the game. The Knicks had just 11 assists today, which attributed to their poor three point shooting.
- Last point before I go pour acid in my eyes, JR Smith was useless tonight. However Mike Woodson played Smith 34 minutes, including all 12 minutes in the 4th. Given that he was 1/9 shooting, poor defensively and not distributing the ball well, I fail to see an angle where that makes sense. I mean, if you’re Mike Woodson, your team can’t get any stops, JR is playing poorly and you opt for him over Shumpert and ultimately Chandler? That makes no sense to me. I would have much preferred to see a Felton/Shump/Melo/STAT/Tyson lineup, or even a Felton/Kidd/Shump/Melo/Tyson lineup, but opting to play JR over Chandler or Shumpert in the 4th when the Knicks couldn’t get a stop is unacceptable. I have no idea what got into Woodson’s lineup management today. It was horrible.
Quick Meloship note: Dan, James and I have a great new weekly segment we’re pulling out tomorrow for the first time. Stay tuned for that.
Follow Taylor on Twitter @tarmosino