It was a pretty simple loss, really, and lololol's comment in the game thread pretty much summed it up. The Magic reacted to New York's terrific defense on Dwight Howard by moving the ball faster than the Knicks could scramble to recover, finding open shooters, and draining three-pointers, especially in the fourth quarter. The Knicks also moved the ball pretty well-- at least better than we've seen-- but missed their open shots from outside, especially in the fourth quarter. The Magic adapted to New York's solid defense and executed brilliantly. The Knicks did not do that. Ballgame!
Take the jump for a little more.
- Tyson Chandler did an absolutely heroic job against Dwight Howard, and he was so solid that I wish the Knicks just let him be. Chandler, who, as I said in this recap, might be the first Knick to ever seriously challenge Howard, did something we've never seen before: he withstood Howard's contact and pushed him right back. It was astounding, and it forced Howard into some ugly inside attempts and a couple of offensive fouls.
- ...so why double? I'd understand throwing the occasional aggressive double team at Howard to keep him on edge (and the Knicks did that), but cheating a perimeter player toward Howard on nearly every possession seemed unnecessary and counter-productive. The Magic did a good job of exploiting the half-assed double or inexpertly switched pick-and-roll and finding the open man throughout the afternoon, but it wasn't until the second half that they really cashed in on those outside attempts. And good lord, did they cash in. The team as a whole shot 17-35 from downtown, including a 7-13 three-point outing from Most Improved Player candidate Ryan Anderson (the Knicks have a habit of boosting folks' MIP campaigns. Do they take a commission?). The Knicks granted the Magic open jumpers and the Magic hit a lot of them. That's really it. Exactly half of their points came from downtown, and a number of those make came off weird broken plays or second opportunities. Stinky.
- Aside from allowing an already excellent three-point shooting team to hit well above its average percentage, the Knicks defended pretty well. They mostly kept the Magic off the line (and, uh, defended them pretty well at the line. They were just 13-22, mostly thanks to Howard) and forced them into 17 turnovers, including 12 steals (3 apiece for Shump, Melo, and Amar'e).
- The problem with the above, though, is that the Knicks couldn't get easy points off o' them turnovers. They had just nine fast break points and twelve total points off turnovers, most of which seemed to be Shump's doing. Not to beat hammer this point through the wall, but a team that forces a lot of turnovers (and the Knicks do. They're fifth in in opposing turnover rate) but can't convert the other way seems in need of a point guard. Hey, maybe that's one way that Baron Davis guy could help!
- Y'all might not have noticed, but Al Trautwig blew this one for the Knicks in the pre-game show. During his intro, he made a bit of a slip: "...so, as the Knicks lose-- look to restart a winning streak..". He accidentally said "lose". I went back and checked, and it definitely happened. TRAUTWIG JINXED THE KNICKS AND MADE AMAR'E GET ALL THOSE FOULS YOU GUYS.
- Yo, those fouls, though. Jeez. Amar'e picked up two quick ones in the first quarter, added a charge and went back to the bench in the third, then immediately committed a fourth coming out of halftime. That whole time, he never really got a rhythm going. The only point at which he looked semi-decent offensively was in the fourth quarter when Tyson Chandler was on the bench. Hmm!
- Carmelo Anthony did a lot of things considering how few of his limbs (2 of 4 by my count) aren't quite working. He took a lot of shots (27! His third highest total of the whole season!), hitting some in the first half then going completely cold in the second half. Melo's best moments came when he attacked the basket, (though, to be fair, his outside shots were mostly open. They just didn't fall.) as Hedo Turkoglu, Earl Clark, and Quentin Richardson didn't have a fragment of a chance of containing him off the dribble.
- Iman Shumpert had another sub-par shooting line (3-9), but looked a bit more like the sharp, confident Shump of a week or two ago, particularly in the beginning of the third quarter. He made some great defensive plays to force turnovers and transition, including one highlight in which he got a steal in the backcourt, raced toward the basket, and threw a horrifying behind-the-back pass to Carmelo Anthony, who laid the ball in. His ear-to-ear grin afterward made the terror associated with that pass totally worth it. So, Shump had an okay game, (he hit two of four threes off the catch as well) but he also let Jameer Nelson blow by him a few times, screwed up a few transition drives, and really badly missed a few of his shots. He continues to play like somebody who has something to contribute, but not as much as the Knicks are asking of him. [cough]Baron Davis[cough]
- Landry Fields and Toney Douglas both seemed to momentarily shake their trubblez. Fields struggled to chase J.J. Redick off screens (that's pretty much a Mad-Lib at this point. Just fill in the name of the opposing shooting guard.), but didn't force things on offense and made a few nice buckets off the dribble. He's still not contributing much. Douglas, meanwhile, had a few stretches in which he did an impeccable job of keeping his dribble and pushing the ball "north-south" or "downhill" or whatever those football guys are saying nowadays. He dribbled right into the seams of the defense to find easy shots for himself or kick-outs for others. It wasn't a trend that lasted for all that long, but it was a glimpse of how Toney can remain effective even when his outside shot's not falling.
- Josh Harrellson is a more or less flawless basketball player.
- I'm pretty excited to have Jared Jeffries back. He's good for a couple useful defensive plays per outing, and has also done a nice job maintaining ball movement since he's been back. Oh, and he stepped to Dwight Howard when Dwight dared give Jorts an extracurricular shove.
- Clyde (sort of) confirmed rumors that he intends to start a Twitter account, which is going to make me really antsy until it actually happens.
- The Magic are like the polar opposite of the Nuggets in terms of Degree To Which I Miss The Team's Former Knicks.
- Melo's going to be okay, but his form was visibly wacky on a few of his attempts. He also jumped over the scorer's table sprained ankle-first to chase a loose ball, which made my entire body shrivel into a little man-raisin. He's fine, though.
So, it was a loss. That's never pleasant, but for whatever reason, I didn't find this one totally gut-wrenching. The home stand continues on Wednesday against the Suns.