The Knicks really did have their moments offensively Monday night. Carmelo Anthony exerted himself and hit some tough shots against tough Nicolas Batum to score 34 on 13-25 shooting (plus 15 rebounds). Kenyon Martin took an unexpected point-center turn, creating from the perimeter and hitting so many deep jumpers that he took a heat check at one point and it wasn't that weird. Beno Udrih hit his threes. The Knicks only turned the ball over nine times and hit most of their threes in the second half. They could have gotten to the line more, and they could have gotten better shots with pass-friendlier lineups, but they were really fine overall on the offensive end. It's that other end. Look at this shit (all GIFs via Bronx Chica):
It wasn't *all* that bad. Only...maybe half of the defensive breakdowns led to shots that absurdly wide open. The other half were just regular defensive breakdowns. And there was a stretch of the third quarter in which the Knicks actually rotated correctly and forced some bad shots and turnovers. But there were dozens-- I really mean dozens-- of defensive plays that had us SMHin' like those did. Nobody has any idea what anyone else is doing, and everyone's hoping that help will come in behind them. It very rarely does
Sometimes there are dishes in the sink and your roommate assumes you're gonna do them but you assume your roommate's gonna do them and you end up with dirty dishes just festering in the sink for several days. This is like that except there are five people assuming the other four are doing their jobs and it only takes a few seconds for the dishes to decay into putrid open layups. It's mostly just negligence and laziness, but at a certain point, it begins to resemble spite. Like these roommates have a bone to pick with each other and if YOU'RE not doing the dishes then NO ONE'S doing the dishes. This is a mess. The Knicks will beat almost nobody until they figure out the rudiments of team defense. Tyson Chandler's return can only fix so much of it.
- Praise to bluecheese999 for pointing out that Iman Shumpert's resoundingly silent night was as unusual as it looked. He actually peppered some decent defense in there when Mike Woodson let him guard Damian Lillard, but most of the defense was poor, and 0 points, 0 assists, and 0 rebounds (but several fouls and turnovers) in 23 minutes is historically bad. Like, that's a Knick record for nothingness. One would typically expect the young guy to be the bright spot on a team this bad, but watching Shump look so detached on the floor is the most disheartening part of each game.
- Amar'e Stoudemire did not set any records for nothingness, putting up a 5-12 line for 10 points in 25 minutes. Nice to see him finish a pick-and-roll or two (from Melo!) and drop in a couple hooks and jumpers, though, as I've said prior, if the Knicks are going to feature him exclusively when he's on the floor, he needs to be pretty much perfect. The rest of the offense has a tendency to shut down, and the defense remains the defense.
- Mike Breen has really been great during this awful stretch. He rightfully berated the Knicks all night, then nearly soiled himself when they actually did something somewhat right. The Knicks switched small onto big and doubled, but Andrea Bargnani actually rotated to cover the weak-side kick-out for the first time all night. There ended up being a foul, but Breen was practically standing and applauding in the booth. I was, too, on my couch. Just something. Anything to feel again.
- Another good Breen moment: "Off AN INBOUND, Udrih is guarding Aldridge!" Mmhmm.
- The Knicks made a couple runs. They finally hit some threes and forced Aldridge into some bad shots (or Aldridge just got bored) to cut it to 10-11ish in the third quarter. Then they blew a crucial exchange in which Melo dribbled the ball a beat too long and threw a pass too high to Shump at the far elbow, then Shump bricked a wide-open three, the long rebound of which sent the Blazers running the other way for an open three to go back up 14. In the fourth, Bargnani hit a three to cut the deficit to seven. The Knicks got a fast break on the next play, but Metta World Peace tried to force a layup in traffic and missed, which sent the Blazers running the other way for a dunk. Then Portland got another fast break and Wes Matthews hit another three and that pretty much ended it.
- Great Breen line from just before that Bargnani three: "Knicks have a chance to cut it to double figures! Or single figures, excuse me." The Knicks could have been down 100 before. Not totally out of the realm of possibility.
- After Bargnani missed two free throws, Clyde and Breen had a long conversation in which Clyde took kind of a while to explain to Breen that J.R. Smith had given Wizards fans free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches by missing two free throws during that promotion in Washington. Breen loves Chick-Fil-A, we learned.
So, there's that. I'm not even mad at this point. I'm just bored. It's the same old thing every night, like DHP said. The Knicks have one note, and it is a brown note.