I watched Blackfish after the Knicks-Bobcats game last night. It's a documentary about people torturing whales and whales torturing people. It reminded me that the world is often governed by its most brutal citizens. Those being governed are beholden to the brutality because they are either too weak or too naive to affect change. On that note, here are some spare thoughts from last night's loss:
- Now that we know Chandler's out for a while, last night's non-Chandler/somewhat first-unit-y lineups feel important. At least against Charlotte, replacing Chandler with Metta World Peace yielded productive offense (though it didn't *look* good) and ineffective defense (though it didn't look that bad, I thought). Playing two point guards with Metta, Melo, and Kenyon Martin (as they did down the stretch) was the reverse. Simply replacing Chandler with Kenyon fared pretty well, as did that lineup with World Peace instead of Bargnani. We're talking about five-to-seven minute stretches here, so I'm not thinking toooo hard about those efficiency numbers. Just trying to get a sense for how Mike Woodson might adapt going forward.
- I am not in "oh man it's just so SAD to watch Amar'e Stoudemire right now" mode yet, because we've seen him look rusty then morph back into a pretty efficient dunksman before. But yeah, he's never looked quite as rusty as he did against the Cats. His 11 minutes were as terrible as any 11 minutes I've ever seen an NBA player play-- spinning into traffic and getting stripped, coming up short and getting his finishes blocked, swallowing the ball when double-teamed, offering absolutely no support as an interior help defender. And he was MAD. I've never seen him that frustrated. After getting stripped for the umpteenth time on a post move, he balled both fists, stomped his feet, and ROARED. It was so out of character that I was briefly confused as to why he was celebrating a turnover.
- Good god, that switching. It was, as it has been, totally unnecessary 90% of the time. If an opponent sets a great pick and the Knick guarding the ballhandler gets lost, then yeah, switch. The Knicks didn't do that. They switched constantly and deliberately. I reckon Kemba Walker spent as much time staring down a big man as he did blowing by Raymond Felton. And then, of course, you have Felton or Pablo Prigioni or someone down low trying to box out a big man. The Bobcats grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and took 42 free throws, in large part because the Knicks welcomed mismatches. FORTY-TWO free throws. The Bobcats!
- On that note, Kenyon Martin and Metta World Peace have a similar defensive tactic against quicker players. They both move their feet remarkably well, but they're bound to get beat eventually. And when they do get beat, they start swinging, and dribblers know that. Simply planting the idea that getting a step equals a headshot can deter some drives, but when the headshots actually come, the refs, ya know...they give you fouls for that.
- I'd spoken previously about replacing Andrea Bargnani with Metta in the starting lineup, though that seems even more unlikely now. He's been a more effective player, he seems like a better fit, and he might be less prone to chucking with that group. Well, he didn't play with THE starters last night, since Tyson Chandler's early injury meant the first unit didn't see much time, but he did play in those groups mentioned above and, well...he hit a lot of shots, which was good, but he also called his own number far too often for my liking. I guess it's not that illogical to eat the extra pass and pull away when Melo is struggling like he was last night, but yeah, that's poor form. Metta airballing a wide-open corner three, then forcing a steal only to fumble the ball on a coast-to-coast attempt had me LOLin' in despair, too. 7-13 for 18 points in 32 minutes, though, so I don't know.
- I had forgotten until looking at my notes that Melo hit a sweet pull-up three from way out to beat the first quarter buzzer. It feels like it didn't happen.
- It makes me sad to look back at my notes on Chandler's first quarter. He had that one possession with several consecutive offensive rebounds that led to an open jumper, and he got an and-one off a lovely back-down hook over Cody Zeller. I'm gonna miss that guy.
- Nice to see Iman Shumpert get to the line some (5-6, Euro-steppin' like a boss), and nice to see Beno Udrih out of the doghouse for a spin, and in a two-point-guard group, as well.
- "Are you a soccer guy, Clyde?" "Not too much, Mike". Clyde did kick a ball of a wall to improve his footwork, though.
I can't believe the Knicks have to play more basketball games, but they'll face the Cats again on Friday.