This is Bunsy the Triangle Mink. I've hired Bunsy to help us cope. We knew this was going to be a long season, and we knew early injuries would make it worse, but night by night, it's tough to watch a meager roster keep losing. Can't see the forest for the trees when the trees keep falling on your head. Anyway, Bunsy knows it's hard (or, Bunsy is being paid 3 frogs an hour to know it's hard) and he is here for us. We may all pet him when we're feeling frustrated with the daily pain of a developing team.
Go ahead. Give the tummy a scratch. Don't be shy. Try the ears. It's soothing.
I need soothing after five straight losses. Again, I knew to expect grime, but sitting through it each night sucks. If these Knicks were a movie, this season would be a montage. Or at least this part of the season, right? If it were a video game, we'd want to sim this part, like the artist formerly known as Dishing and Swishing (y'all got some long-ass names) said in the comments. We can't. Those of us too attached to this team to look away have to sit through ten hours of grime a week. We just have to hope it's worth the trouble.
Monday in New York wasn't all that different from Saturday in Atlanta, or most of the basketball before that. The Knicks started fine, but unraveled. Carmelo Anthony had as many awkward touches as he did moments of brilliance, leading to an offense that featured Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. as its most efficient players.
Once Atlanta realized the Knicks were determined to bother Kyle Korver, they pushed other options, knowing it doesn't take much to spread New York thin. When Dennis Schröder's penetration and the shooters around him didn't burn the Knicks, their own propensity to foul did the job. Festering frustration with perceived slights from the officials (bits of it valid) only seemed to aggravate the fouling issue. This game didn't turn quite as sour as the previous one, but the Knicks couldn't get the buckets or stops they needed down the stretch.
Some quick notes:
- Mike Breen is always quick to point out when the rare road team chooses to shoot on the basket in front of its bench in the second half instead of the first, which was the case for Atlanta. I would absolutely never notice that on my own.
- Shump really stuck Korver to begin the game, losing only the occasional step. It helped that Korver just seemed to be cold, but I like to think a microsecond of rushing with knowledge of Shump's pursuit had something to do with that. On the other end, Shump partied off those weak-side hand-offs and had a surprising amount of success driving into the triangle and kicking to the other side of the floor. Pretty much the same for Hardaway, though he had an uncharacteristically rough time around the rim early on. Kinda forcing it.
- I thought J.R. Smith took pretty good shots in the first half, but his catch-and-threes wouldn't drop. He took some horrid shots in the second half, but at least one of those went in. Gorgeous drive, spin, and finish in traffic, too.
- Speaking of good shots not dropping: Cleanthony Early. Thought he looked more comfortable than he has previously (which is still a little uneasy) and found decent touches and takes. Just no feel for the net this evening. I still sense a good aura from him in a sort of mood-ring-y way I can't quite describe.
- You look at a point guard gashing the Knicks off the dribble and in the pick-and-roll-- Schröder instead of Jeff Teague in this one-- then you look at the Knicks' roster, and you just throw your hands up. They don't have a guard who can track a speedy dribbler without fouling (not when Shump's otherwise occupied), and they don't have any bigs who can step into help without fouling. This is where I'd recommend giving Cole Aldrich a shot, but I suppose that's unrealistic. The gashing started around the time Pablo Prigioni and Amar'e Stoduemire checked into the game and reappeared when the game was on the line.
- Shane Larkin's got hands to match those feets, man. He sometimes just acquires the ball from an opponent before I can realized he moved his hands to make a steal. This doesn't change any of the above, but it's nice when it, say, leads to an open dunk for a lagging Shump at the other end.
- Why do the Brothers Smith throw such lazy passes? Like, to everyone but each other, it seems. I don't like this on-court nepotism. Jason and J.R. Knock it off. Go to your room. You share a room because you are brothers. You have a bunk bed.
- I'm not sure the Knicks need to play two bigs that often. I'm positive now that they don't need to do it when Mike Scott is the opposing "four." Don't make Amar'e Stoudemire or Jason Smith or whoever guard the damn perimeter, Fish.
- And at a certain point there's nothing you can do, but Sam Dalembert chasing Pero Antic out to the arc kinda ruins the whole defense, too.
- You know, especially with J.R.'s affinity for passing to him, I'm starting to get Novakian vibes from Jason Smith. Except he shoots twos and does the occasional big man thing. I just keep having those "wow, this dude's pulling up even though there's nothing but open space between him and the basket, which is crazy, but absolutely the right choice because this is the only thing he can do" moments that I haven't really had since Novak. Or Bargnani, I guess, although that version's not quite so simple.
- Halftime interview things: 1. Al Trautwig tried to ask a still-panting Shumpert an unnecessary question about a turnover he'd forced (a palming vs. foul situation) toward the end of the half, and Shump had no idea what he was talking about and things were very awkward and sweaty for a second. 2. I like to imagine Brian Keefe keeps getting the end-of-halftime coach interviews because he LOVES them. Like I assume it's usually a rotation and the other guys do it because they have to, but Brian's like OH ME ME ME I WANNA GO ON TV. This is not a kind way for me to characterize an adult stranger, but we do what we must to get through the losing.
- I am not alone in saying this, but I like Melo isolating low way more than I like him isolating high. Easier said than done, but when he gets the ball on the low block, that spin move puts him right at the basket. I was gonna say he needs to shoot more threes, too, but now I see that he took five and missed all of them? I have no recollection of this. Shoot more memorable threes, Melo.
- I'm not gonna say this face-pass, which led to an open Korver three that gave the Hawks the lead, was the turning point...
...but yeah, that was totally the turning point. These Knicks would have a game hinge on a face-pass.
- Just a butt game for Pablo Prigioni. He had one of the worst series I've ever seen from him, with a horribly mis-thrown lob, a helpless blow-by on defense, and a rushed three-point brick on back-to-back-to-back plays.
- Speaking of bad lobs, Shump totally swallowed what would have been an easy weak-side alley-oop to a well-timed Melo spin because he'd under-thrown the same pass in the first half.
- Two back-breaking misses: J.R. missing a wiiiide-open three off a catch from a Melo hockey assist out of help (and a nice extra pass from Larkin) and Shump missing a wiiiide-open three off the catch on what I believe was the next play.
- If you're not gonna shoot any free throws, then you must hit the ones you do shoot.
Enough words. For the somethingth time in a row, the Knicks managed to stick around in an ugly game, but slipped in crunch time. There were fragments of success-- progress, even-- to enjoy, but the game as a whole was a chore to watch. Give Bunsy a scratch. It'll be okay. Well, it might not be okay, but we have no idea whether or not it will be okay based on this start to the season. Just have to bear it, because we can't simulate it.