Not pictured: A wide-open Laker. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Hey, I'm sad, too. Like teb7 in the game thread, I've found the past two nights to be unmitigated torment, and I'm feeling pretty down on my Knicks right now. They can't execute offense, can't focus on defense, and just can't string together anything even vaguely resembling entertaining basketball. It sucks.
Do this, though: Take a look in the P&T archives. Go back to mid-November of last season, when the Knicks were heading toward a 3-8 record. Skim through some comment sections, and I think you'll see what I'm getting at.
Teams with multiple new players tend to start poorly. Teams hampered by injuries tend to start poorly. Teams coached by Mike D'Antoni, for whatever reason, tend to start poorly. We fans, particularly early in the season, tend to overreact and extrapolate wildly. The sun tends to rises in the east. Dogs tend to lick their own genitals.
I'm making an effort to avoid said overreaction and wild extrapolation. I refuse to believe that these Knicks are the Knicks, both because the team and coach aren't working to their full potential and because a couple key players are missing (Baron Davis, if we're the same blood type, I will donate my back to you). Mostly, I just can't stomach the thought of 63 more games like the torturous two (two and a half, really) behind us. Take the jump for a few notes.
- The Knicks fell behind about halfway through the first quarter and didn't really make a run the rest of the night. Weirdly, though, they wouldn't just roll over and fall behind by 20. Somehow, they mustered enough free throws and empty Laker possessions to stay within about ten points almost the whole away. They had ten-- like, one more than nine-- points in the fourth quarter and still only lost by 17. What a strange, miserable game that was.
- HoopData hasn't posted its shot location stuff for this game yet, but I'd wager that the Lakers made quite a few shots at the rim, and that many of those were assisted. Rehashing what was said here a bit, this is in large part because Tyson Chandler and Amar'e Stoudemire feel compelled (it must at least partially be coach's orders) to ditch their men on every single set screen. They either trap ball-handlers with abandon or just drift into oblivion, leaving everyone else to cover for them. This is the kind of thing that works in a corner, (and it did a few times) but, at least with these personnel, fails miserably in the open floor. A few dribbles and a pass or two, and there's a wide open lay-up available under the basket. It's not working and it must stop. Give Toney Douglas a chance to contain Steve Blake off the dribble, and let the big men hang back and keep the paint clogged. If Douglas can't stay in front of somebody like Blake or Derek Fisher, then 1. Toney Douglas is doing something horribly wrong. and 2. The big men are in the paint lying in wait, not flailing around at the three-point line. I can't guarantee that a non-switching, non-trapping, less-helping man defense would work better, but isn't it at least worth a try? It's definitely simpler. Probably won't happen.
- I'd encourage Toney Douglas to try and drive more often instead of creating from the perimeter. He's looked dismal standing still at the top of the pick-and-roll, but got to the rim nicely in a few halfcourt sets during the Celtics game, and registered a few of his assists from below the free throw line in this one. At the very least, he can kick the ball out to the perimeter and get guys three-point opportunities that are in rhythm.
- Because, really, watching Tyson Chandler roll to the rim empty-handed over and over again is making me chew off my fingers, and I need those to type. Toney either fails to recognize opportunities, recognizes them but balks at them, or acts too slowly and deliberately and telegraphs his passes so blatantly that I feel like I could steal them from my couch.
- I say that because I have never seen more arrhythmic three-point opportunities. Some of them seem like accidents. Douglas and Landry Fields sometimes look like they just don't feel like holding the ball anymore and can't find anybody to pass to, so they figure they might as well toss it toward the rim.
- Despite his excessive defensive roaming, Tyson Chandler put up better numbers in this one. He pulled down 11 rebounds, including 4 offensive boards, and drew a ton of contact around the basket (11-14 at the line!). When he wasn't drawing contact, he didn't look so hot around the basket. Chandler favors a lefty jump hook, but the lefty jump hook does not favor Chandler.
- Carmelo Anthony didn't play badly, and his 27-point, 7-rebound, 5-assist stat line looks pretty nice. Per usual, he found himself handling the ball a lot and looking to distribute early, then pretty much abandoned that mindset as the game progressed. To his credit, Melo was intent on maneuvering getting close shots and draw contact, even in isolation sets. Not to his credit, Melo had 5 turnovers, including a couple of silly-ass travel calls.
- The non-Melo Knicks shot 13-53, including 4-18 from downtown. Not recommended.
- Amar'e Stoudemire never looked remotely comfortable with the ball. He didn't step into any of his jumpers and over-stepped his stuff off the dribble. We saw games like this from him at times last year, so I'm not especially worried. Amar'e's perfectly capable of creating offense for himself, but when he's defended well and/or loses touch on his jumper, his game gets pretty aggravating. Lots of jumpers taken from his heels and head-down, careening drives to the rim.
- Amar'e also turned his ankle and has deemed himself day-to-day.
- Josh Harrellson is super diligent about catching his teammates after collisions, even when they're not at all in danger of falling. Methinks he just likes hugging.
- Steve Novak sure can hit a corner three.
- I'm not actually advocating giving him meaningful minutes, but I am really curious to see how Jerome Jordan would fare guarding a decent opposing center for a while. His footwork in garbage time has been genuinely impressive to me.
- I don't care what they say, Renaldo Balkman. You did your best out there against Kobe Bryant and you are great and I love you and my only critique is that you should have poked him harder in the eye when you fouled him to give him a four-point play.
Welp, poop in a sock, that's all I've got. I welcome the off day tomorrow with open arms. After that, it's a New Year's Eve date in Sacramento, which promises to be interesting. Hang in there. <3.