What a wild game for the Knicks against Atlanta. With Tyson Chandler sitting this one out for rest, there was not a lot of defense on either side played in this one.
With Chandler out, Amar’e played the 5 and Melo moved back to the 4 where he has been on such a tear. Landry Fields moved back into the starting lineup at the 3 spot.
The Knicks shut some people up about Melo and Amar’e not being able to play together for at least a few days. At least on the offensive side of the ball anyway. Melo got lots of touches while also getting Amar’e involved on the pick and roll.
Melo finished with 32 points on 14-32 shooting to go along with 10 boards. Amar’e was very aggressive and showing that quick burst that makes him so effective. He also featured his spin move off the dribble in the post. Amar’e finished with 22 points on 9-13 shooting with 12 rebounds.
The big difference in this game was there was a lot more going to the basket and less jumpshots. The jumpshots they did take were quality shots (12-19) from 3. The Hawks were equally as effective from the three point line shooting 15-23 from distance.
The most encouraging thing about the three point shooting was everyone not named JR Smith and Steve Novak contributed from the outside. Baron Davis, Melo, and Landry Fields all contributed 3 treys apiece. Novak and JR had 1 apiece.
Landry Fields, who has struggled mightily with his jumpshot this season, was 3-3 in the third quarter from three. The best part was there was no hesitation and there seemed to be more arc than he has had (which had been very little). He finished with 18 points on 7-8 shooting overall.
Baron Davis, coming back after a couple games off, was pretty effective although he still had a couple careless BD turnovers. He was penetrating effectively and hit open three point shots as he was 3-4 from distance. He had a nice penetrating move in the 3rd quarter and dished it to Amar’e for the jam. The Knicks need him to take care of the basketball when playoff time comes.
The most important thing I take away from this game, besides the fact that Amar’e looks pretty healthy, is the Knicks didn’t fall in love with the 3 point shot. They were shooting it well, but didn’t let that steer them into taking an inordinate amount of them. They had pick and roll with Amar’e as well as Melo on the low block a couple times.
I would really like the Knicks to feature Melo on the low block a lot more as this either leads to more higher percentage shots, getting to the foul line, or double teams which help facilitate ball movement out of the double team. I would like to see more of this in lieu of Melo getting it on the wing where there is no chance of ball movement.
I understand that Melo is going to get his isos on the wing, but I think a higher percentage of low block post ups are in order. The benefits of this, of course, are getting more free throw attempts. More fouls leads to the opposing team getting into the penalty quicker which leads to more free throw attempts for non-shooting fouls.
Now onto Amar’e’s defense or lack thereof. Watching this game, you see that Amar’e doesn’t really seem to know how to play defense. He lets the same quickness that he uses on the offensive end become a liability on the defensive end. He tends to jump at defenders instead of simply staying in front of them.
Textbook example of this was when Josh Smith had Amar’e matched up with him, and Amar’e is jumping at Smith crowding him and overplaying him. A big part of defense is reading the scouting report, and the scouting report on Josh Smith is make him shoot jumpers. Josh Smith likes to take jumpers all too much, ask Mike Woodson. All Amar’e has to do is stay in front of him, and if he makes a jumper so be it. Playing defense is about playing the percentages.
When you are going against the best athletes in the world, all that offensive player needs is the defender leaning in the right direction. Amar’e needs to stay balanced and in front of his man. It is this overplaying and getting right up on his man that leads to players blowing right by him.
There were a lot of good things in this game from an offensive standpoint, although it is hard to put too much stock into it beings there was very little defense played.
I have mixed feelings about Chandler sitting out. While it is good obviously for the big man to get some rest before the playoffs, does it help to have Amar’e at the 5 and Melo at the 4 if that’s not the lineup you are going to have in the playoffs? With the spacing, you risk having to make even more adjustments. Now if you just wanted to have Amar’e to get a solid game under his belt with Melo, then I can see it. However, I have read some reports that the Knicks may shut Tyson down for the last 2 games. I don’t like the idea of the Knicks waiting until the playoffs to get the offense working with these 3 on the floor at the same time.
One last note, I would have like to see Dan Gadzuric get some minutes especially with Chandler sitting out to see if he could contribute. As seen by today’s game, the Knick defense leaks like a sieve when Tyson doesn’t play.