Was able to watch the second half of last nights victory against the Grizzlies.
Obviously, superior pooping.
Having not watched the stinkers against Indiana, I can't really speak to whether their defense was better or worse, but I do have a few observations:
One thing that occurred to me, watching the game, is that no matter whether you have one or two or three all-star type of players on the team the key to winning a basketball game is to have 5 guys on the court at all times that know what they're doing out there. They have to have complementary skills and they have to be confident and comfortable playing a role. Even superstars.
Before the trade, Felton and Gallo and Chandler really seemed to have a pretty good idea of what they were doing out there. Replacing those guys with Carmelo and Chauncey may be a fair trade of talent but it's one less guy and though those guys are confident, seasoned pros, they don't quite know their role out on the court with this team as of yet.
Therefore, a greater responsibility falls upon Extra E, Landry, and Toney to really step up into the void right now. I think Toney is really doing a good job of that and getting an idea of how to succeed on the court. Extra E and Landry do their poop thing successfully and Landry knows what he's doing on the rebounding end, but they still have to figure out and get confident in doing a few other things. At certain points I didn't feel like anyone was in control out there when Billups was on the bench... until Amar'e started playing point guard from the foul line, which was awesome. Then I was like "STAT, dude, you got some space there, stop being such a nice guy and take that shit to the hoop!" And he did a couple of times in a row down the floor, which was also awesome.
The Grizzlies seemed to be slithering into the basket at will and this was troubling. The Knicks had to foul them a lot, but I did think that was preferable to letting them hit the shot and get all pumped up. One thing the Knicks seemed to do well is corral the Grizzlies misses and limit those second chances. I thought this was really the key to not letting them back in the game.
In terms of Carmelo, well, he looked like a defensive liability out there to me. He kind of drifts around. He has this kind of cool, unflustered demeanor all the time, and I think it serves him well on the offensive end. He doesn't get flustered by the situation. But I've always thought that guys who can play great O and D are really special because on defense, the mindset is to disrupt calm and create (new word creation alert) flustration. On offense, the key is to deny flustration and produce calm and (another created word coming) depanic. Switching these gears 100 times a game has to be difficult.
Although Carmelo's situationally unflustrable depanic is a rare and awesome skill, in combination with his rockstar fame it produces in him a kind of supreme confidence, when the truth is the guy needs leadership on the defensive end. I don't think anyone on the Nuggets, including Chauncey and George Karl, was successful in doing that. Can anyone on the Knicks? Could be the key to a bright, or frustratingly dominiquesque future.
My favorite moment of the game was after Turiaf subbed in for Jeffries. A Grizzlie pranced into the lane, necessitating a foul by Turiaf. After the play, Turiaf talked to Amar'e and Turiaf looked like the master and Amar'e like the overconfident student. Soon Toney ambled over and the three animatedly pointed around and started nodding, and returned to their basketball tasks. Game might have been won right there. That's one of the great things you see when watching a game that doesn't show up in boxscores, highlights, or video games.