I knew the Knicks would break my heart this year, but I didn't think it'd be so early. Last night's game against the Bobcats was a rout from the outset. The Cats darted ahead by double digits seemingly from the opening tip and didn't relinquish that edge until midway through the fourth. After the Knicks finally caught up, it became a war of attrition featuring two overtimes and countless missed opportunities. I feel violated.
There isn't all that much to say. The Knicks offense was as lifeless as the previous game. On offense, they wasted mismatches, refused to cut and drive, and repeatedly missed wide open shots. On defense, they switched when it wasn't necessary and rarely provided weak-side help.
It took an epic blizzard of Bobcat misses to allow the Knicks back in the game, and New York might very well have squandered the opportunity if Jared Jeffries didn't suddenly catch fire. A pair of JJ's threes (yes, threes) and some of his defensive hustle sparked the final push to tie it, then Danilo Gallinari missed what would have been the game-winning three.
Some notes, after the jump...
- The Knicks' inability to exploit mismatches is a killer. David Lee does a great job of picking Chris Duhon's man and forcing the opposing point guard to mark him in the post. The problem is that New York's spacing is so horrendous that defenders have an easy time helping out and preventing the entry pass. It seems like it'd be easy enough to stack one side of the floor and isolate Lee after he sets the screen. There's no excuse for Dave not to get a clean shot off when he's matched up with the likes of D.J. Augustin.
- Similarly, the Knicks absolutely do not need to switch so often on defense. It works for certain matchups, since guys like Chandler, Jeffries, and Gallo are more or less interchangeable, but Chris Duhon should never have to switch onto Vladimir Radmanovic. Just get over the screen.
- Danilo Gallinari looked a little sharper offensively in this one, but it was his D that got him in trouble. He's still learning how physical he's allowed to be, and saw limited minutes in the endgame because of 5 personal fouls (though at that point, who cares?). Many of those were off-the-ball and on ticky-tack calls. He simply needs to learn when to keep his hands to himself. There's a time and place for those fouls.
- One other point of concern: Gallo was seen lying down on the sideline in the fourth quarter with a trainer beside him. I haven't heard anything about it, and it was probably precautionary, but it still freaked me out.
- Via The Knicks Fix, Chris Duhon really ripped into the team after last night's loss:
"We're not that good. We can't come in here and joke around and take the game lightly. It is a precious game and we've got to be serious. This is our job and we have to take it seriously and we're not doing that right now.
I appreciate (and second) the sentiment, but a lot of that responsibility falls firmly on Chris's shoulders. Leadership starts at the point guard situation, and Du's on-court body language doesn't exactly convey enthusiasm. I'm talking about kicking the ball out of bounds on a crucial overtime position and just walking away without a hint of regret. I can't speak for the huddle or the locker room, but Chris isn't doing much on the floor to show that he gives a shit. To his credit, Duhon was a bit more offensive than previously (although his 3-10 shooting doesn't indicate great success) and got to the line (7-7) more than any other Knick.
Hahn adds that Mike D'Antoni is known as a player's coach, and might be a bit too permissive with his team's careless play. That's fair, too. For instance, I've yet to see D'Antoni cut an opposing run short with a timeout and give his players a tongue-lashing. That might not be his style, but somebody's gotta make some noise. Don't make ME come down there.
- If it were up to me, Wilson Chandler would have his outside shooting rights revoked until he attempts double-digit free throws in a game. He and his primary match-up, Gerald Wallace, had similar lines. Both shot miserably and took a few too many attempts from outside. The difference? Wallace made up for it by driving and getting to the line (10-11), while Wil only had one free throw attempt. That, to me, is inexcusable for so athletic a forward.
- I'm pretty sure Al Harrington (7-20, and 1-7 from downtown) and Nate Robinson (7-16, and 2-9) aren't this bad offensively. They're both forcing the issue from outside and attacking the basket only occasionally.
- 5 minutes for Darko Milicic and 3 minutes for Toney Douglas. What gives?
- Hats off to Jared Jeffries, once again, for being the only Knick with hand-eye coordination (3-4 from downtown) and for making a difference defensively. Are we prepared to live in a world where Jared is the most effective Knick?
It's probably better that the Knicks lost this one. The relief that would have resulted from a comeback win might have overshadowed the appropriate pissiness regarding quarters 1 through 3. Hope everyone's having a lovely Halloween so far. Expect some festivities and a Knicks-Sixers game thread this evening. Come join in!