It's something else every night. Tonight, as $100 Million Contract (apt!) said in the thread, it was rebounding. Honestly, I'll take "rebounding" as the something wrong over "everything" and/or "is this even a basketball team? Am I even alive?", which were the somethings wrong over the last few games. New York kept the game close-- and even avoided the full third quarter meltdown-- by playing pretty solid offense and defending like a million times more actively than they have of late, but they just could not finish those plays. Either because the bigs had collapsed onto the penetrating Derrick Rose or just because guys were far too nonchalant against the league's best rebounding team, Chicago pulled down an obscene 22 offensive rebounds and held a 56-38 overall edge on New York. That pretty much did it.
That rebounding effort was dismal and the late-game execution was fairly hideous, but the Knicks did keep up with the Bulls and, well, we'll see what comes of this, but it was encouraging to feel anything other than existential despair after a Knick loss. Progress!
Take the jump for a bit more.
- Clyde, pre-game: "As horticulturists know, you never get the Rose without the thorn. Now Rose is in full bloom, and that's no Bull."
- Carmelo Anthony had another spotty outing. As usual, we got glimpses of brilliance-- a perfect pass here, a pick-and-roll play or isolation bucket there, even some spurts of nice defense-- but there was plenty to stoke the fire. Most notably, Melo was totally useless in the fourth quarter. He did one cool thing, and that was block a Kyle Korver pass into the twentieth row with his face. Besides that, Melo missed some good shots, missed some bad ones, openly pouted after not getting the ball on a post-up (he had a right to be sad, but again, thousands of angry people are watching. Probably lock that shit up.), and inexplicably gave a foul on Kyle Korver down 4 with 48 seconds remaining. (It did not appear, to my eye, that Mike D'Antoni had instructed his team to foul). Some good moments, but definitely not a good outing.
- Amar'e Stoudemire often found himself in the eye of the rebounding storm, just chillin' while Bulls whipped around him snaggling caroms. Three rebounds in a game with this many missed shots is not a good look. That said, Amar'e did involve himself in a small percentage of defensive plays (What? That's a relatively good thing!) and was legitimately cookin' soup in the third quarter, when he had 13 points on some crisp jumpers and finishes around the basket. Not a good game, though, for either well-compensated offensive frontcourt player. Definitely not.
- Speaking of well-compensated, Tyson Chandler got a number of great looks and finishes on the move to open the game, but quieted down as time progressed and was often pulled away from the rebounds because of Rose's drives. He was also matched up with Carlos Boozer-- a tough cover for him-- and let Boozer shoot right over him a couple times. Chandler had a decent outing, but the Bulls managed to cut him off completely in the second half, and he just couldn't defend everyone AND pull down all the rebounds.
- Jeremy Lin opened the game defending Derrick Rose pretty well (with a lot of help from Chandler) but got torched plenty of times, particularly in the second half. Let us pause to appreciate this gem:
Rose got him back with several ridiculous finishes, but...damn, Jeremy (three blocks!). Anyway, Lin did his darnedest against Rose. Offensively, he had eight assists, many of which came on terrific lead passes in transition. As in the previous game(s), though, Lin picked up his dribbles, lost some dribbles, and forced some shots (including one or two that would have had shirtless Knicks fans running around the court throwing grenades if Melo had attempted them). He was mostly in control and created plenty of plays, though.
- Landry Fields blew a few possessions with his bizarre spasms of over-dribbling, but shot well (5-11) and ran some nice side pick-and-rolls with Amar'e and Chandler. He and Kyle Korver could not guard one another, but at least Fields got the edge in that battle (Korver was just 2-7).
- The bench didn't have too, too much to offer. Baron Davis got into the paint and made some stuff happen, but also heaved a couple horrifying shots. Steve Novak was well covered off the ball and couldn't really get looks where he wanted them (though he did back down and score over John Lucas, which was AWESOME). Josh Harrellson defended nicely but played just nine minutes (in a game like this, why?). Iman Shumpert played fine in 17 minutes, J.R. Smith played miserably in nine.
- Chandler is suddenly really into setting picks with his buttocks. It keeps him facing the basket and restricts him from pushing folks, so I don't see why not.
- After falling behind early, the starters went on an 11-0 run. A lineup of Chandler and all bench bros played great D and went on a nice run in the second quarter. The starters (with Harrellson and Shumpert subbing in toward the end) went on another run of 13-5 in the third quarter.
- Referee Bill Kennedy is the nephew of Richard Pryor!?!?!?!?
- Carlos Boozer missed a shot about as badly as I've ever seen somebody miss a shot. He airballed it by like a fortnight. I'm aware that that's not a measure of distance. That's how badly Boozer missed.
- Why Clyde doesn't watch soccer: "Not enough scoring." Noted.
- Breen's description of the reason for J.R. Smith's $25,000 fine: "the inappropriate tweet...with the picture...of...the woman."
- Part of it was just an effort thing but, like, what do you expect from a lineup with Steve Novak at the four against the league's best rebounding team?
- I'm not saying Jimmy Butler normally eats flies, I'm just saying I bet he wouldn't say no if you offered him one.
- What felt like the dagger: Midway through the fourth, after what felt like 90 straight Chicago possessions with second and third opportunities, the Knicks poked the ball away, but failed to grab it. Kyle Korver dove on the ball when no other Knick did and dished it to Rose, who missed a three. Taj Gibson ripped down the o-bound and kicked it back out to Rose, who drove and did this.
And that play felt like both the back-breaking moment and the play most typical of the Knicks' evening. New York's offense was sound until the final minutes, when they really needed to buckle down. Their defense, amazingly enough, was active and solid for up to 24 seconds, but they negated their own efforts over and over and over again by letting the Bulls recover their misses. It was frustrating, but still a marked improvement from the listless bumblefarting we saw during the previous few games of this losing streak. And yeah, the Knicks have now lost six straight and would be a lottery team if the season ended today. And yeah, I'm comparing the relative merits of one loss to others. That's where we are right now. The Knicks are back home to face the Blazers on Wednesday, and an effort like tonight's (albeit with a little more attention to rebounding) should be more than enough to beat the Blazers. Of course, that's so, so far from a given.