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Heat 107, Knicks 104 (OT): A plea to shoot more threes

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Stop getting out-shot by Wayne Ellington.

NBA: New York Knicks at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Hello. I’m supposed to recap the Knicks’ 107-103 overtime loss to the Miami from Friday night. Here’s my problem, though: These losses are all the same. The only real difference between Friday and many of the Knicks’ recent losses is that Courtney Lee’s wack-ass game-tying heave caromed off the rim right to Kristaps Porzingis, who found Doug McDermott amid the confusion for a three. That sent the game into overtime, which featured much of the same stagnant offense and just enough mental boners on D to seal the Knicks’ fate. Otherwise, this game was a textbook 2017-18 Knicks loss, at a time when the textbook is filling up fast.

The Knicks are in one of their patented mid-season swoons. They’ve lost like one billion of their last one billion-and-one games. There’s no end in site (come back soon, Tim Hardaway Jr.). It’s cold as hell outside. What else is there to know!

Should I talk about Kristaps missing a ton of shots (and not getting any open looks in Jeff Hornacek’s offense)? Been there, done that.

Should I talk about Jarrett Jack, he of the infinite moments of catching the ball wide open above the three-point arc, only to take one step in to chuck a long 2? Please, not again.

Should I talk about Michael Beasley’s incredibly efficient (20 points on 8-11 shooting) iso-heavy game? I can only do it so often.

Should I talk about the fact that Courtney Lee, for all his gifts, should never touch the ball in crunch time? Seriously, what is this crap?

Stop playing for the foul, doofus. Just shoot the J. SHOOT IT! YOU’RE SHOOTING 42.7% FROM 3 FOR THE SEASON, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!

Anyway, I taught a class this morning, went to Popeye’s for lunch, and decided that I want to talk about three-pointers for a moment. Or, more precisely, I want to talk about the lack of three-pointers. This is also something of a common theme throughout Knicks losses—they don’t shoot threes. Friday night they shot 13 in a game that went into overtime. That’s not enough!

But someone argued with me the other night that the reason they never shoot threes is a lack of dribble penetration from the guards. OK, that’s fair...to an extent. But that’s not the excuse some fans make it out to be. Just look at Heat (and Knicks training camp alum) Wayne Ellington. who took (and hit) more threes than the entire Knicks team on Friday (6-16 from beyond the arc).

Leaving aside the times he was open simply because the Knicks forgot he exists, most of his looks came from simple dribble hand-offs. Just hand him the ball and screen his man for a split second. Are you saying the Knicks can’t do that? They hand the ball off to each other on the perimeter...but then they weave around for a while before either taking a mid-range J or dumping the ball off to Kristaps or Beasley on the block. Perhaps if they spaced the floor out past the three-point line, like most NBA teams, there would be more space for the likes of Frank or Jarrett Jack to break down the defense. Frank may be exceptionally timid taking the ball to the rack, but he’s been much better lately at keeping his dribble alive and probing the defense.

I know the game of basketball is more complicated than “space the floor, shoot more threes”, but damn...it’s not THAT much more complicated. Space the floor. Shoot more threes. Let Ron Baker shoot more threes, or Doug McD, or even Frank. Plead with Beasley to shoot the three when he catches the ball behind the line.

Shoot more threes.