I'm honestly kinda surprised -- not happy, just surprised -- the Knicks didn't get beat worse by an elite defense specializing in forced turnovers. Except for a dismal (yet somehow not totally fatal!) third quarter, the Knicks took care of the ball against the Celtics. They just missed eeeeeeeeverything and nobody arrived to pick up the slack. New York's backcourt played its worst -- missing high, missing low, swinging like gates to let Boston's guards score on the move. LazaroSmithington pointed out that Marcus Smart, who played 13 minutes and shot poorly in his first game back from injury, outscored every Knick guard. Jon q's comment (in the headline) pretty much summed up the difference between New York's backcourt and Boston's.
It obviously wasn't all the guards! Kristaps Porzingis ended up with very nice counting stats, but just couldn't get clean looks to fall. Early on, he got a bit too cute -- double-clutching or fading away instead of just attacking the rim and accepting contact. Natural rookie stuff. Late, the Knicks (Carmelo Anthony, specifically) got Kristaps a couple really nice open looks that just swirled out of the rim. If he'd been on at the end there, the Knicks might have actually taken a lead. And then lost, probably. But not wire-to-wire!
Melo had to deal with Jae Crowder grinding on him all night, which is tough. He didn't shoot so hot, but got his buckets attacking the basket and hunting second attempts. He defended some, passed when he could, and acquitted himself just fine for a guy playing heavy minutes in the second of a back-to-back against an extremely annoying swarm of defenders.
Anyway, the Knicks lost. The Celtics are better than they are. The Knicks could have won anyway, but the Knicks aren't very good at winning games they could have won. A few more notes:
- I gotta say, man, even in these games he doesn't hit enough shots, Kristaps keeps defending. He contests admirably against speedy guards, and when he can actually square up to go after an attempt, this happens:
He works quickly. When he gains the confidence to use that bounce on offense, I think there will be very good dunks.
- Kyle O'Quinn made one gorgeous give-and-go play with Langston Galloway and I swear he didn't throw a single other good pass. Kyle's heart was in the right place (His beard. His heart is in his beard.), but everything from entry passes to hand-offs to basic outlets went awry. Catches, too, honestly. Not a good game for Kyle!
- Even in a game in which he had to manage foul trouble and only played 10 guys (Cleanthony Early played like 4 seconds, Jerian Grant gave all his minutes to Sasha Vujacic, which is very lame but probably a short-term wash), Derek Fisher came pretty close to avoiding all-bench lineups. I think the Knicks played about 7 minutes without a starter on the floor.
- Credit to Jay King for pointing this out: The Knicks scored two baskets outside of the paint in the entire first half. Both were mid-range twos, and both were kinda forced in the last 2 minutes of the half. Nice of them to attack the rim, I guess! Also, it would be nice to hit open jumpers!
- Isaiah Thomas shouldn't be allowed to drive on Kristaps. A lowered Isaiah shoulder makes contact at exactly the height of Kristaps's porzenis, and that's not okay.
And that was like an hour after Jared Sullinger shoved Kristaps porzenis-first directly into Jae Crowder's knee. Very scary night for future generations of Porzingim.
- I hope I've made it clear that even in a really garbage game, the Knicks were very much Right There (trademark of the honorable Desus Nice) down the stretch. Galloway, in perhaps the only virtuous stint any guard played all night, really locked up Isaiah for a bit, and Melo got some stops, too. The Knicks came the other way and created their openest looks of the night and ... Porzingis missed, Galloway missed, Arron Afflalo missed. Everyone missed always. You have to put the ball in the basket or they don't let you have any points, unfortunately.
Done talking about that game! I didn't like it. The Knicks have now lost their requisite four games in a row, so up next is a four-game win streak. That's just science. Have a good night, buddies.