but to me it seemed that they were a bit fatigued in the end - particularly Duhon. I thought Duncan looked old and slow but smart. I think the Knicks could have won this game. They missed a lot of threes as they've been doing the last couple of games. The problem with the Knicks offensively is that they have players that are not consistent. Lee (with Duhon's help) is a very efficient scorer on a consistent basis. Gallo usually shoots around 50% from all over the floor (though he missed his threes tonight). Chandler's usually pretty efficient from inside the arc. When Harrington or Duhon shoots 4-8 from three, they'll usually win, and they would have tonight - but they usually don't.
I think having Harrington, Duhon and Chandler shooting threes might get you a bunch of points on some nights, but to take your chances on that seems like a poor strategy. I like having Harrington in there as a tertiary option if the defense shuts down their pick and roll, because he can drive to the hoop and score against anyone. But he's not a good enough three point shooter to take a bunch of them every game. As for Jeffries - I understand he can't shoot, but if he can't make layups it's awfully hard to run an offense with him in there. I know he has other valuable skills, but jeez - can you believe this guy was a high draft pick? His skills are SO second round.
I think that the Knicks shoot themselves in the foot to some extent with the short rotation. I like the defined roles, and I think that's really helped them. They're going with a three guard rotation of Duhon, Hughes, and Chandler, and I think it's working defensively, particularly because they can use Jeffries on the point guard and not have a big mismatch elsewhere. But I think it would serve them well to give Douglas some minutes to tire out the opposing point guard. Plus, I think he's a better 3 point shooter than Hughes or Chandler, and, at this point, quicker to the hoop. You <em>could</em> put Nate in the rotation too, and he is probably a better 3 point shooter than any of them, but I do think it messes up their defensive scheme. To me it seems like the Knicks are switching on picks almost all the time, and since they've usually got 4 guys 6'8" or taller (and reasonably quick) on the court, it's working pretty well. Nate is a guy that almost has to stick to the point guard, and that messes up the plan, which is, I think, the true reason D'antoni's not using him. Toney's a good defender and he's short but strong, and would have a bit more of a chance. If they put Toney in the rotation, at least Nate would be the next guy should someone get hurt, and I think that helps keep his spirits up.
In any case, I think it would have served them well to have Duhon be a little fresher on that last, ill fated drive. Watching the Spurs last night, they are still very good but their big guys are definitely slowing down a bit and the Knicks, with their youth, could have exploited that more.
I'm OK with Bender in the rotation - I think he has good skills for this system once he gets comfortable - but I worry that Hill is losing morale and developing bad habits being glued to the bench. For now I'm OK with this. But I think they really need to get rid of Curry now, because I think it would better serve their futre if Hill is the next guy in line should there be an injury to one of their bigs.
It would be awesome if they could somehow give Curry a big payout in exchange for him not picking up his 2010 option (cue 'I can dreeeaaam..., can't I ?'). I think the guy's sense of entitlement has returned, and while it's possible D'antoni could have handled the situation better, it's also likely that Curry has not had a life-changing motivational surge as a result of his time in the wilderness. He's probably glued to the bench until the trade deadline - then it will be interesting to see what they do if they can't trade him.
So, in conclusion, they did some good things in the game, but I think they could make a few adjustments to their offense and/or their rotation and give themselves a better chance of scoring a few more points without sacrificing their defense. If they can do that, I think they could sneak into the playoffs, but if not, like last night, they'll likely fall a bit short.