The Knicks, as they are wont to do, played an incomplete game at home against the Rockets Sunday night, which resulted in a 14-point fourth quarter collapse despite shooting nearly 13% better from the field than Houston. An autopsy on the grueling loss will turn up two additionally zany statistics, each of which helps to reconcile how the Knicks could lose despite such a dominant shooting performance: New York was beaten in offensive rebounding 17-5, as well as turnovers by a count of 21-8.
Though Clint Capela did most of Houston's damage on the offensive glass, the Rockets took advantage of their size and also received contributions from Terrence Jones, Trevor Ariza, James Harden, and Dwight Howard. Looking to the turnover margin, however, is probably more constructive due to the Rockets' eventual edge in fast break points by a tally of 14 to 0. Scan the box score and try not to vomit when you realize Houston finished with 16 steals, each of which represents a "live-ball turnover," which cause the death of nearly 65% of basketball coaches.
These turnovers can be broken down into four categories, which I've stupidly named: "The Lazy Guard," "The Ambitious Big Man," "The Brainless Entry Pass," and "Asshole Inbounding." Since I could not obtain useful video of the Knicks' inbounding troubles, we'll analyze some from the remaining three categories.
"The Lazy Guard"
The turnover bonanza began exactly one minute into the game, when Arron Afflalo executed his best "walk-through" impression by attempting a perimeter pass to Lance Thomas while James Harden, who had already been credited with 31 steals at this point in the season, stood not four feet away from each of them. Afflalo puts not one packet of mustard on this "pass," and Harden comes up with an instant fast break by simply moving his hand into the passing lane.
Subsequently, Langston Galloway executes an extremely poor bounce pass on a screen-and-roll about 20 feet from the rim. Derrick Williams has proven so far this season that he can score out of the pick and roll, but giving him the ball so far from the basket is inviting him to make a bad decision. The Rockets don't allow Williams to commit a blunder, however, as Galloway preempted his teammate, who threw far too reckless a pass near ballhawk Corey Brewer. Galloway also commits the third turnover in the clip compilation, which is the result of a one-handed cross-court pass without any momentum. Such a pass is the result of impulse, and is inexcusable with 15 seconds left on the shot clock.
Jose Calderon authors the final "Lazy Guard" turnover, attempting a very difficult bouncing entry pass to Kevin Seraphin inside. The length and proximity of Clint Capela should have discouraged Calderon from attempting such an uncharacteristically difficult pass. Hypothetically, if Seraphin had received the pass, he would still face scoring on a relatively well-positioned Capela.
"The Ambitious Big Man"
The first "Ambitious Big Man" turnover features Kevin Seraphin attempting a low post shovel-type pass out Cleanthony Early, who had just come off a screen near the free throw line. Early retains partial culpability for this turnover for poorly utilizing his screen by jumping backwards instead of curling toward the baseline, but Seraphin should know Early has beaten his man off the screen before making the pass.
The second turnover is courtesy of Kristaps Porzingis, who commits one of the oldest and worst mistakes in basketball: He jumps in the air before passing the ball. His best passing option after being doubled in the high post presents itself after Porzingis has already been overwhelmed, which results in a weak cross-court jump pass.
"The Brainless Entry Pass"
Lance Thomas kicks off the "Brainless Entry Passes" portion of your program, attempting a bouncing entry pass to Arron Afflalo's favorite spot on the court. Trevor Ariza streaks in to provide help, as he has been doing for a decade, and comes up with the steal. It's understandable why Thomas wanted to get the ball to Afflalo in that spot on the court, but Ariza's penchant for awareness, quick hands, and matching one thousand career steals should have prevented the pass.
The second clip shows a lazy, high-arcing entry pass from Kristaps Porzingis, who has so far proven himself among the Knicks' most skilled entry passers. Though the steal is as much a result of Clint Capela's insane length as anything, Porzingis must know that these types of entry passes, which are meant to beat a front, require even more mustard on them. Porzingis should have put this pass in a place only Seraphin could reach it, and if he were going to miss he should have assured it would be too long rather than too short. This would not prevent the turnover,ut it would have precluded a fastbreak.
Finally, Derrick Williams contributed to the Knicks fourth-quarter collapse by throwing one of the most ill-conceived alley-oop(?) passes imaginable. Lance Thomas may be athletic, but this pass is suicidal considering the presence of Clint Capela in the paint. It almost makes you wonder whether the Knicks were going after Capela, whose relative lack of professional experience belies his defensive skill. Also, he put up 16 and 14 against the Knicks in their last meeting.
If the Knicks hope to capitalize on this season's clearly improved ball movement, which motored them to 57% shooting over the course of last night's game, they need to develop passing habits that minimize live-ball turnovers. The best way to limit an opponent's scoring is to play good defense and force bad shots. However, a team willing to take unnecessary risks to provide extra opponent possessions will find that its shooting percentages, both for and against, only go so far.