I'm fairly grumpy right now, and I wouldn't even say it's because the Knicks lost. It's more because we knew the Knicks were going to lose long before this game ended and we knew more or less how they were going to do it. We knew they'd switch on Phoenix pick-and-rolls and fail to cover the subsequent mismatches. We knew they'd go iso at the worst possible times and, when they didn't, would stumble over their own momentum with missed open shots and untimely turnovers.
So, here I am. I feel unhappy, but not the rabid, blood-boiling kind of unhappy I'm accustomed to feeling when the Knicks lose. Shannon Brown's big shot that pretty much decided the game was a corner three that bounced off the rim and high off the backboard before falling through...and I hardly batted an eyelash. More than anything, I'm mad that I just sat for two and a half hours watching a shitty, boring movie without a single surprising plot point and an ending I'd guessed well in advance. Like Russ put it in the game thread, this was a battle of two feeble, Generals-esque teams just trading mistakes until time ran out. Really rancid stuff.
Take the jump for a few quick notes.
- I will begin these notes on a bright note: This was by far the Landriest game of the season, at least on offense. Landry Fields looked confident and aggressive off the dribble, and stepped into some quality makes both around the rim and from the mid-range. He also grabbed six rebounds, made several useful passes to create easy baskets, and kicked off transition by forcing a couple turnovers. Fields ALSO missed some crucial open threes and had his usual trouble chasing opposing shooting guards, but it was still probably his best complete game of the season.
- Carmelo Anthony played quite a bad game of basketball. It's admirable of him to persevere through a sore ankle and wrist, but he needs to adapt his decision-making accordingly. And by that I mean that going iso and pulling 22 times when 50 percent of the hands touching the basketball are incapacitated is exceedingly unwise. And they weren't even good shots. Melo also had 11 solid rebounds and 4 assists, and I wish that was all he did. Cool three-pointer to keep it close in the final minute, though, if you're into that sort of thing.
- Amar'e Stoudemire also played a pretty bad game. It's funny/horrifying how there are instances during each of these dreadful performances in which Amar'e drains a jumper or two or makes a savvy move to get to the basket and I'm all like "YES, THAT. HE'S ROLLING NOW." and then the next time down he goes back to bulldozing planted defenders or spinning himself dizzy and air-balling contested side-arm floaters. I'm pretty much resigned to Amar'e playing like buttocks until Baron Davis is healthy, which is a pretty weird mental place to be.
- Least favorite Amar'e play: When he faces up his defender on the baseline with a few inches of room, then drives toward the baseline as if he expects to just blow by the guy, only to be forced under the basket so that he has to throw the ball off the defender's leg to avoid a turnover. Pretty much nobody, no matter how athletic they are, can just cruise by a halfway decent defender whose feet are completely set and who has plenty of time and space to react to a baseline drive. The only plausible explanation here is that Amar'e spends so much time scurrying out of the way when folks make face-up drives (see Hakim Warrick's blow-by dunk in the third quarter) against him that he expects them to return the favor.
- Iman Shumpert was pretty feckless offensively until the second half. He dawdled and deferred all game long (despite being guarded by Steve Nash, who looks like a furry little child next to Shump), then went on to hit two major threes to keep things close down the stretch. His defense was the usual: A few brilliant strips and shot contests on mismatches, and plenty of moments in which he let a small, feisty guard (the aforementioned furry child) shake free for open shots while he got caught on screens.
- I'd need to re-watch it to confirm, (and I'm definitely not re-watching that game) but I think Toney Douglas may have defended Nash pretty well. They seemed to switch less when Douglas was on the floor, which meant less open shots for the rest of the Suns. That's pretty much the extent of Toney's success in this game.
- Tyson Chandler tried to defend everybody he could and ripped down 17 rebounds. I salute you, Tyson.
- Speaking of which, fun moment: Channing Frye fouls Chandler under the basket HARD, and somehow the play ends with Chandler upright and Frye crumpled on the ground in pain.
- There were plenty of bad shots and miscues, but it's also baffling how inaccurate these Knicks are on good, high-percentage plays, especially when there's momentum building. Seriously, whenever a Knick makes a special, crowd-rousing play and you feel their luck changing, they make some sort of rudimentary boner to squander that energy. A few examples, all from the fourth quarter:
1. Down one, Amar'e Stoudemire, after a bad turnover, makes a BRILLIANT chase-down block of Shannon Brown. The crowd goes wild. The action heads the other way and the ball finds Fields wide open in the corner...and he rims out the three. The Suns come back the other way and Robin Lopez scores over Amar'e.
2. Down three, Carmelo Anthony makes a gorgeous drive to the basket (one of his few) and just flubs the lay-up. The ball goes the other way and Shannon Brown leaks out for an easy dunk to put Phoenix back up 5.
3. Down three, the Knicks make one defensive stop but give up the offensive rebound. Then they make ANOTHER defensive stop, but Shumpert and Stoudemire grapple for the same rebound and the ball slips away. On the third attempt of the possession, Steve Nash sinks a jumper to put Phoenix up five.
- The switching defense has worked at times. It did not work in this game.
- Ronnie Price airballed a three. Clyde: "The Price is NOT right!".
- Mike D'Antoni, wearing a microphone, was caught screaming a lot. He also did quite a bit of hand-swirling. Lots of hand-swirls. It's a versatile gesture.
- Statistics: The Knicks out-rebounded the Suns 54-38, including 18 offensive boards (thanks, Tyson). The Knicks shot 20-30 from the free throw line. If they'd won, I would have pointed to the former stat. Since they lost, I'll point to the latter. [points]
So, yeah. I know not everybody's with me, which is understandable, but I'm resigned to sitting and waiting for time and/or Baron Davis to solve this team's inability to make their shots. I don't see another option.The defense is a separate concern, but we've seen them adapt to their own switch issues before. It's the offense that sucks, and that sucking shan't be expected to dissolve any time soon, no matter the quality of the opponent.