Indeed, DonMoosavi. Our hearts have been warmed at times this season, but they've also been wrenched, rent, and broken on more than one occasion. Tonight just kinda felt like heartburn. To my eye, this game wasn't all that different from the previous loss to the Pacers. The Knicks had stretches of ball movement and accurate shooting (better from three than from two on the game), but they mostly executed poorly on offense. The defense, meanwhile, was just as hideous as in the previous game. One of the NBA's least efficient offenses rolled to 52% shooting from the field, primarily behind yet another career-high performance from Tyler Hansbrough. New York's bigs (Jared Jeffries, Shawne Williams, Amar'e Stoudemire later. Ronny Turiaf, you're cool...) just couldn't handle the weirdo. Save for a nice run in the second quarter by the bench unit, the Knicks didn't defend, rebound, or make hustle plays with any conviction. After the last loss, they spoke of "must-wins" and playing with more urgency and whatnot, but they really didn't follow up on it.
Anyway, the Knicks made a game out of this one after falling down by as many as fifteen points, Carmelo Anthony's game-tying layup got eclipsed by a Danny Granger game-winner with less than a second remaining. It sucked, but it would have been too weird if the Knicks actually won this game. They didn't even remotely deserve it.
Take the jump for a few notes.
- Amar'e got into foul trouble and never really found his rhythm off the dribble. For some reason, he kept passing up looks from outside in favor of awkward collisions at the rim. I'm in favor of him attacking, but he declined some good, open looks that would have opened things up for everybody. Carmelo Anthony shot well (29 points on 10-20), but rarely within the flow of the offense. Chauncey Billups, though, was by far the worst. Again, he was attacking and making plays in the paint early on, but that aggression tapered as the game progressed. He ended up 5-11 with 4 pretty ugly three-pointers, and two crucial turnovers down the stretch (one of which was a creative but risky pass that got fumbled by Amar'e). He also got pretty badly beat on screens and just generally looked a step slow.
- Again, Hansborough's combination of mid-range deadliness and strength off the dribble was more than the Knicks could handle. They just couldn't (or wouldn't) force him left, push him out of his comfort zone, or contest his shots off the dribble. It was kind of embarrassing to see that again, especially because I just decided that Tyler looks like the shark submarine from Tintin.
- Snaps for Landry Fields and Toney Douglas. Landry was awesome in the first half, forcing turnovers and scoring both off the dribble and off the catch. Toney took over in the second half, when he made a few crucial plays to get the Knicks back in it and sank a huge transition three to keep it close down the stretch. I wonder now if Landry would have made a difference down the stretch.
- Same deal for Ronny Turiaf, who I thought was the lone Knick to do a consistently decent job against Hansbrough.
- Conseco Fieldhouse alternates between corny-ass carnival music and legitimately pump-up tribal drum music. It's terrible/awesome.
- The Pacer big men passed really well. The Knick
big men really didn't.
- Jared Jeffries made a crazy and-one and had a big putback, so I don't know what you guys are talking about. He's totally dominant.
- That last shot was defended well enough by Extra E, but Granger's a killer and he did some killin'. Again, that shot was going in before the ball was even inbounded. New York was NOT going to win this game.
Yuck, guys. Precedent dictates that the Knicks will suddenly come alive, perhaps against the Celtics and Magic next week, but you never really know. You've gotta imagine that they won't be this hapless in playoff competition, but that doesn't make these regular season doldrums any less repugnant. I'm ready to move on from this pair of games, so I'm going to go pull my copy of Red Rackham's Treasure off the shelf, make fun of all the pictures of Tyler Hansbrough, and forget about these losses. Remember to be kind to one another even though the Knicks are strugglin'!