At a certain point, it's time to change up your game. Sticking with what works works, until what works stops working, you feel me? When the three-pointers keep bricking, it might be time to stop attempting them. When your 6-man rotation is getting tired, it might be time to find minutes for men 7-12. When your team stops attacking the basket and rebounding, it might be time to play your guard that attacks the basket and your big men who can board. Sorry for being snide, but the Knicks' faults in tonight's loss to the Bulls were deafeningly obvious. The Knicks shot too many threes and played too few players (and the wrong ones), and it doesn't take an expert to see that.
Notes, after the jump.
- New York started unreasonably hot from downtown. Al Harrington and Chris Duhon were gunning from the outset, and we were looking at a 17-point lead in a matter of minutes. If you thought an edifice built out of Harrington and Duhon threes was going to stand tall, you haven't watched Knicks basketball. That lead evaporated faster than you can say "Checking into the game for the Knicks, number 34, Eddy Curry".
- And that was the first major hiccup of the night. Curry checked in alongside Danilo Gallinari with 2 minutes left in the first, and things went downhill from there. Eddy called for touches impressively, but swallowed the ball as soon as it came his way. He would take too long to make his move, invite the Bulls' double, turn into the double, and then either mishandle the ball or throw up a blind hook shot. I like the idea of allowing bringing in Curry and Gallo as a tandem so one can free up shots for the other, but it won't work until Eddy's confident and oriented enough to pass competently.
- Speaking of Gallo, he and the Knicks completely neglected the two-point shot this evening, and paid the price. Even after the first quarter heat had dissipated, the Knicks kept shooting early and often. Ballhandlers kept missing cutters, so the cutters stopped cutting, then everything went to shit. Though nearly every Knick had a hand, Gallinari was the most disappointing of the perpetrators. Some late-game buckets helped his overall numbers, but Danilo's 6-17 from the field on 6-16 from three was inexcusable. Gallo's far too versatile to limit himself like that, particularly when he can't get his legs under those jumpers. Particularly on the multiple occasions he was marked by an undersized Bull, it would have behooved Danilo to drive and pull-up from the midrange or back his way down for some close buckets. We all know he can do it. Word has it the Bulls' announcers were talking smack about our prized youngster, and they had every right to do so this evening.
- As for the team's three-point shooting as a whole, there isn't much to say past the numbers themselves. They shot 16-47 (.340) from three and 31-86 (.360) total. Those 47 three-point takes broke the Knick record for attempts. They were one short of the NBA record. The 29 attempts in the first half were an NBA record. It was as laughable on television as it is on paper.
- Regarding the missing of cutters, some of the best stretches in those wins over Phoenix and Atlanta came when Wilson Chandler and Al Harrington got hit for open looks off of backdoor cuts. Tonight, like I said, the passes didn't arrive, so the cutters eventually saved their energy. After 11 first quarter assists, the Knicks finished with 21 on the game.
- Taj Gibson should have goggles.
- At one point in the third quarter, Chris Duhon hit a three-pointer, then stared down the Chicago bench with maybe the grimiest, most perverted look I've ever seen on a human being's face, all while leaving David Lee hanging on a high-five. He went 1-5 for the rest of the game. This sequence, to me, sums up Chris Duhon's entire existence.
- I was happy to see Toney Douglas get some minutes, but Ghostface failed to impress in his time against Kirk Hinrich and Derrick Rose. Toney's a defender by trade, but he's outside his mind if he thinks playing close on Hinrich 35 feet from the basket is going to end well. Toney's got the agility to stay in front of people, but he compromises that by face-guarding everybody all the time. Gotta pick your spots.
- Somebody needs to keep a list of the NBA names to which Clyde adds and extra "r" or two. Tonight's victim was Joakim "No-er" ("Knower"?).
- It was nice to see Wilson Chandler back down Kirk Hinrich a few times in the second half. That doesn't come close to compensating for his 1-6 from downtown, though.
- David Lee got his chin cut open in the fourth quarter, undoubtedly because Joakim Noah hasn't clipped his nails since July, and got just about the ghettoest tape job I've ever seen. It looked like his jaw fell off and somebody tried to stick it back on with bandaids.
- I got a little sassy in the intro paragraph about the rotation, so I guess I should explain. The Knicks look tired tonight, and Mike D'Antoni gave significant minutes to only 6 guys. Even with Jared Jeffries and David Lee in foul trouble, he stuck with the same 6 dog-tired players. Energy and activity were lacking. If you're hampered by injuries, this is excusable. If you've got Nate Robinson, Jordan Hill, and Marcus Landry- all of whom fit the description of "energetic" and "active"- riding the pine, you look silly. I know D'Antoni sticks to his guns, but he's got to see the signs. Everybody else watching the game saw the obvious. Nate gets the picture and the youngsters deserve more of a shot, and tonight was the night to break the trend. You stick with what works until it stops working.
- 5-18 on the night for Al Harrington. Somebody ought to start up some trade rumors again.
Again, tonight's loss was maddeningly simple. The Knicks are flying back to New York now and playing the Clippers tomorrow night. If D'Antoni sticks to his six and those six keep this up, we'll be in for another long night.