Another day, another sloppy, lackadaisical effort by the 3-4 Knicks. The Knicks still hadn't woken up after Sunday's dreary loss to the Sixers, giving up 41 points in the first quarter and never recovering in Milwaukee. As commenter 100% Dundee put it in the game thread, it appeared the Knicks were still addled by the clocks turning back or something. How else can we explain back-to-back delirious outings by a team that was so energetic just days prior?
Take a deep breath and remember that we're 7 games into an 82-game season. We will see terrific highs and terrible lows. Take the jump and check some notes if you'd like, then let's move on to the next one.
- After watching Elton Brand, Andray Blatche, and Taj Gibson post big first quarters against the Knicks, we got the Drew Gooden show tonight. Against teams with quick point guards (namely, each of the last four teams they've faced), Knick bigs are focusing quite a bit on closing off dribble penetration. Using tonight as an example, you'd see a lot of defensive sets in which Amar'e Stoudemire would sag off his man and set up between Brandon Jennings and the rim, with Raymond Felton trying to funnel Jennings into the help D. Because of this, and because the other Knicks are chronically slow to rotate, Gooden, like the list of big men above, found himself wide open for short jumpers and flush with space to operate. By my count, Gooden had 11 points in the first quarter. As was the case with the big guys in each of the previous games, units changed, the Knicks went with more straight-up coverage on the point guard, and Gooden cooled off in the latter three periods. With David Lee and Michael Beasley coming up on the schedule, keep an eye on how the Knicks defend the two-man game early on.
- It disappoints me to see Knicks fans on Twitter and in comment sections around the internet losing their minds this early in the season, but I must say that there's something particularly maddening about the Knicks' offensive tendencies. To my eye, when open shots aren't falling, they simply resort to forcing contested shots instead, as if that might cover for the fact that they're cold from the field. Pretty much every Knick was guilty of that this evening.
- For a miserable game, this one was peppered with some truly sublime highlights. Bill Walker posterized Andrew Bogut, Raymond Felton hit Anthony Randolph for a long-distance alley-oop, and Landry Fields soared skyward for a flawless one-handed putback dunk.
- Randolph, by the way, was given an extended chance to spin, and did plenty of good in his 27 minutes. 2-7 (including a forced jumper or two and some stone hands around the rim) doesn't look nice, but 9 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 assists, and 2 blocks is a pretty splendid line. It's impossible to appreciate Randolph if you're only watching him when he has the ball, but he was the most active Knick by far in this one. What he lacks in instincts, he makes up for unbridled energy on defense and on the glass.
- Andy Rautins got to play!!!!!! So did Roger Mason.
- I don't really have anything nice to say about "Squad 6", so I just won't say it. I imagine they'd be happy with that, though. They really are irritating, and their premature "5! 4! 3! 2! 1!" countdown at the end of quarters actually rattled the Knicks on more than one occasion. I don't even remember that working against high school girls.
- I wish Clyde was calling this game. For one, I think the Knicks are like 2-53 when Kelly Tripucka is the color commentator. For two, I'm almost positive Clyde would've pronounced Jon Brockman's last name as "Balkman".
- Besides Clyde missing the game, tonight wasn't the best for the MSG broadcast. The video was a split second behind the audio for most of the first half, the scoreboard kept disappearing, and they thought it was perfectly okay to show us both Andrew Bogut's gruesome injury from last season and Patrick Ewing's broken wrist against Andrew Lang and the Bucks in 1998. We'd all be better off never seeing either of those things ever again.
- Early Boykins hit a skyhook in the second half. Somewhere else in the world, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar felt a sudden, inexplicable urge to injure a small child.
- Ronny Turiaf had somebody fall on top of him and sprained his left knee in the third quarter. I'll update y'all with his prognosis as soon as I find out. If Turiaf has to miss time, that'd just be some booger icing on the poopy cake.
- This probably falls into the "At Least He's Not Chris Duhon" category, but Raymond Felton had 6 turnovers and a bunch of missed assignments in the first half, and looked genuinely enraged with himself heading into halftime. He also looked much sharper in the limited minutes he saw in the second half. I know I'm grasping at straws here, but it means something to me that Felton appears legitimately pissed off that the offense isn't clicking yet. I'm convinced that he's motivated to make things work. Again, that's probably just because Duhon would be half asleep and picking his bellybutton right now, but I'm not down on Felton.
- Ersan Ilyasova looks like a Playmobil person.
- Hey, at least they shot free throws well (19-21), right? Right, guys!? Ha! Hahaha. Haahahahh. Hhhhh.
I know you're grumpy and so am I, but let's not dwell on this one or get all Chicken Licken just yet. The Warriors come to town tomorrow, and the Knicks will have an instant chance to turn this around and make us believers again. Or they can keep up the malaise and get throttled. Intrigue!