That one stank. After a hot three-point outing on Thursday, I figured the Knicks would post a brickfest against the Wizards on Friday. Instead, New York saved the ineptitude for a Sunday afternoon, shooting a horrendous 3-19 from outside and farting through the fourth quarter to turn a close contest into a double-digit loss. As P&T user "The Rooster" noted in the comments, the Knicks had moments of effective defense, which spurred momentum and fast break buckets, but that D didn't sustain long enough to overcome a truly horrible offensive showing.
A few notes after the jump.
- First of all, the Sixers played a hell of an offensive game. Elton Brand dominated the early going by getting good position and working to get his looks over pretty decent shot contests by Timofey Mozgov. Jrue Holiday was deadly (4-5) from downtown and quick to the rim when the bigger Knicks didn't help. Meanwhile, Evan Turner got it done from midrange and Lou Williams faked and flailed his way to 14 free throws. Without Andre Iguodala, the young Sixers (and Brand) still managed to find the net from all over the floor. There were defensive aspects in which the Knicks floundered (they, for instance, completely lost Turner and Holiday on screens in the first half), but Philly really just shot the ball like a bunch of champs and earned free throws to boot.
- On a day when the halfcourt offense struggled and the Sixers hit everything, the Knicks briefly held leads (as big as 9 in the third quarter) when they pressed, forced turnovers, and scored in transition. In the endgame, a lot of that turnover defense morphed into reckless fouling, and the Sixers chipped into the lead while the Knicks sputtered at the other end.
- Today's game reminded us that several of our beloved young guns are, in fact, human. Landry Fields posted his usual efficient line (8 points on 4-5 shooting, 5 boards, 2 assists, a steal and a block in 20 minutes), but had some defensive breakdowns and committed a couple of silly fouls in Lou Williams in the second half (a relatively small transgression, but the line is really where the Sixers ate New York's momentum). Toney Douglas got himself 17 points and 3 steals, but made some silly, silly fouls (5), made some ugly decisions in transition, and bricked a few jumpers outside his comfort zone. Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari just shot poorly.
- On second look, Landry was +17 in a 10-point loss, so maybe I should exclude him from that last bullet point.
-If there was any game for Amar'e Stoudemire to take over, it was this one. No dice, though. Amar'e canned a few open looks in the third quarter, but went on to miss free throws, commit one costly turnover, and struggle getting the ball in position to score when the Sixers went to a zone defense in the fourth. Amar'e's 21 and 15 over a milquetoast Philly front line (Really, nobody is milquetoastier than Spencer Hawes) looks nice on paper, but this was a game in which the Knicks needed a hero.
- It sucks for Raymond Felton that he couldn't find the rim (2-11, 7 points), because his 10 assists and 8 rebounds were pretty splendid. Those latter two categories were buoyed by a number of sequences in which Felton turned long rebounds into fast break dimes. If Felton and co. could have maintained that pace throughout the evening, they might have won. Given the way the Sixers were shooting and the Knicks were fouling, though, that wasn't going to happen. At some point, you just have to run plays and hit open shots.
- Anthony Randolph blew a dunk and bricked a transition jumper, but he also defended and rebounded quite a bit in his 11 minutes. Anthony's kind of a headache in a halfcourt offense, but he's been a force without the ball.
- In both the Chicago and Washington games, several Knicks (Douglas, Felton, and Bill Walker, namely) stepped up to hit big shots when it looked like the opponent was gaining momentum. Tonight, no Knick could provide those "answers". A couple of really important momentum-busters rimmed out, or in Raymond Felton's case, missed the hoop entirely.
- Of all the ugliness I saw today, Tony Battie's line of 6 points and 5 rebounds in 14 minutes is the most nauseating. I'm used to losing...but Tony Battie? Tony? Battie?
I don't know, guys. The Knicks certainly aren't as bad as they looked this afternoon, but it was a bummer of a bookend to an otherwise terrific weekend of basketball. Maybe you'll take solace in the fact that, despite the miserable shooting and spotty defense, this was a winnable game until the final minutes. Maybe it was those final minutes that really troubled you. All I know is that last year, this loss would have triggered a cascade of struggles in the ensuing week. Let's see if New York can nip this poor play in the bud and get back on their collective grizzies on Tuesday against the feisty Bucks. For now, the Knicks hang at .500.