So, it appears the faltering defense in Dallas was not an isolated incident. New York's transition coverage, close-outs, and-- most of all-- interior help and rebounding were astoundingly bad tonight in Houston. Before the game, various Knicks broadcast the sentiment that they weren't especially focused on Jeremy Lin, just beating the Rockets. Then they went out and trapped Lin's pick-and-rolls with abandon-- a fine strategy if there's help behind it, but rather welcoming to the other Rockets if not. New York's traps early on were untimely and half-hearted, and the interior help to cover the ensuing 4-on-3 never, ever arrived. Even when they weren't thoughtlessly flinging two defenders at the ballhandler, New York's help defense-- Tyson Chandler in particular-- routinely lagged. Chandler Parsons and James Harden strolled effortlessly into the paint to meet-- at best-- a shooting foul and, at worst, absolutely nothing between themselves and the rim. If Carmelo Anthony hadn't matched Parsons's output with a flurry of isolated excellence, the game could have been over after the first period.
It was over soon after that, though. Pretty much everything that had been characteristic of New York's brilliant first two or three weeks got turned on its ear and pissed upon. The Knicks' defense had been terrific at limiting at-rim opportunities, avoiding fouls, and forcing turnovers. They gave up 54 points in the paint, 28 free throws, and just 14 turnovers to one of the sloppiest teams in the league. And on top of all that, we saw more whiny, petulant behavior (Melo barking at a ref and drawing a technical while Patrick Patterson drove in for a dunk directly behind him, Chandler deliberately elbowing Omer Asik in the gullet) and an offense over-reliant on isolation and three-point shooting even against a very bad interior defense. Oh, and the league's best possessin' team committed a season-high 16 turnovers. Everything sucked. I don't know if King Henry the 2nd coined the word "terrid" on purpose or via typo, but it's accurate. The game was terrible and it was horrid. It was terrid, indeed.
And yeah, I'm trying not to flip out and forget all the magic of the first nine games after seven quarters or so of terror, but it's pretty disheartening to see these Knicks not just slump, but play lazy, careless basketball opposite of everything they've done up to this point. It really was opposite day. (Or were the Knicks of the first two weeks fooling us? These are the things now haunting me.)
It was the first time these Knicks have allowed 100 points in two straight games under Mike Woodson and, in fact, the first time they've lost consecutive games under Woodson. I guess if you're gonna do that for the first time, do it with gusto?
In closing: YOU SAID YOU WERE GONNA CHANGE THE FRIDAY NIGHT KNICKS SONG, ROBERT RANDOLPH. THIS IS YOUR FAULT.