According to social and regular media, Monday night's loss to the New Orleans Pelicans was particularly embarrassing, even for this Knicks club. I don't get it. Sure, the Pelicans were missing most of their starters, and sure, even Alonzo Gee ended up missing the second half, and sure, Toney Douglas was prominently involved (16 points!), but the Pels had a quality point guard in Jrue Holiday, enough athletes to play uptempo, and a coach smart enough to implement an uptempo game plan. That's more than enough to beat the Kurt Rambis Knicks.
Rambis could clearly see that his opponent wanted to push pace -- even a six-year-old could see that -- and still bet heavily on his most aged, defensively-useless guards after halftime: 16 second-half minutes for Jose Calderon, 18 for Arron Afflalo. New Orleans finished with 18 fast-break points; that, combined with the Knicks' sudden inability to hit open looks -- New York shot 13-45 in the second half -- was more than enough to tilt the game New Orleans' way.
Yes, the Knicks would have won fairly easy if they had simply made the shots they should have made, but they haven't done much of that this season -- they rank 27th in the NBA in effective field-goal percentage. Putting this team in the position where they have to hit a high percentage of shots to keep up with the matador defense of the Calderon/Afflalo backcourt is a losing proposition. This team plays dumb, losing basketball. We shouldn't be surprised to see them lose to anybody.
- Langston Galloway was both the most inspiring and depressing story of this game. The Louisiana native was clearly hyped to be back home, and he played the most LangStarrific game we've seen in a long, long time: 8 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, zero turnovers, 4 steals. He was blowing by Pelican defenders for layups, working a sweet give-and-go game with Porzingis, and punishing reckless New Orleans ball-handlers. Twice he was smart enough to foul Kendrick Perkins when the big man was left all alone due to incessant switching. He made one backcourt steal off an inbounds before I even realized he had checked back into the game -- it almost seemed as if he had just shoved one of his teammates to the bench and forcibly inserted himself into the lineup just so he could swipe that pass.
Honestly, it would have been better if he had forcibly inserted himself into the lineup down the stretch. Rambis inexplicably left Galloway on the bench for a key stretch in the fourth quarter, only to bring him back in once the game had gotten out of hand. I know he has struggled over the past few months, but Langston Galloway was the guy who needed to be out there. Instead, we got Afflalo and Calderon.
- Calderon was good on offense and train wreck on defense, as usual. Not gonna talk about Afflalo.
- Carmelo Anthony's targeting computer appeared to be out of sync. He started the game swishing transition threes like only he can, then suddenly he was clanging balls off ever nook and cranny of the rim. When the fourth quarter rolled around it looked like he had been successfully re-calibrated, splashing all manner of looks over helpless New Orleans defenders ... until the end of the game, when he inexplicably fired two cross-court passes directly into the arms of the enemy. Weird game.
- Yes, Kristaps Porzingis ended the game shooting 1-7 from the field after a blistering 3-3 start. It's always sad to see the Zing Child waste a hot shooting start, especially against a crap team. But man did Kristaps get after it in every other phase of the game. Eight of his 10 rebounds came in the second half. He had 4 blocks, but was only credited with 3 as he stuffed a Pelican layup attempt which was negated by Jose Calderon lying down on the court. His passing was sublime.
Now this is the work of a unicorn:
Kristaps blocks, Kristaps dishes https://t.co/VMWlJO7HmU— vineydelnegro (@vineydelnegro) March 29, 2016
- The Knicks scored 10 points in the third quarter. I don't even know what to say about it: Their offense got bogged down, and they couldn't even hit point-blank looks. Standard 10-point quarter, really.
Jerian Grant had a bruised quad but that's not the reason he sat today. Rambis said he was looking for experience.— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) March 29, 2016
This coach is a freakin' sadist. Why the hell would you even say something like that publicly? Just say, "I didn't play Jerian because he had a bruised quad," and be done with it. This would have been a dick move even if the Knicks had won -- considering the fact that they lost, and the "experience" he was looking for off the bench (Afflalo) was -17 in the game, it's just incomprehensible. Rambis is telling the world I'd rather look like a jackass and a moron than lie about my motives. So, at least he's honest, I guess?
By the way, Grant did play 10 minutes in the first half. He picked up two quick fouls and shot 0-3, but did manage 3 assists against 0 turnovers.
As knicksfanhere96 said, we are left to fantasize about coaches that might be ... but probably won't. Right now I'd settle for just about anyone but Rambis *knocks on wood*.