Three years have passed since Mark Jackson almost became coach of the Knicks, and if last night’s game was any indication, the Garden-legend’s coaching philosophy stands in stark contrast with that of New York’s current coach.
Ironically, it was Gotham’s offense – supposedly MDA’s specialty – that made Jackson look good.
Held to just 14 points in the fourth quarter, the Knicks (1-1) fell to the Golden State Warriors, the second-youngest team in the NBA, in uninspiring fashion, which is particularly surprising given the good vibes that were flowing after the season-opener on Christmas Day.
The Knick-offense was shockingly ineffective – partly due to Golden State’s inaugural commitment to defense – but of far greater concern is that the Knicks’ structural issues aren’t easily solvable in the short term.
Quite simply, this team needs Baron Davis back (no pun intended) in the worst way. Notwithstanding the recently-acquired Jeremy Lin, who may or may not be proficient at distributing the rock in D’Antoni’s offense, there doesn’t appear to be anyone on the roster who is capable of playing point guard. Mike Bibby can knock down an option shot here or there, and he certainly sees the floor well, but he also seems far more likely to pass out from exhaustion than to discover an on-court fountain of youth.
We’ve heard a lot about Carmelo Anthony (13 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist on 3-for-13 shooting) operating as a “Point-Forward,” but despite being New York’s most skilled offensive player, it seems unrealistic to expect him to consistently deliver the ball to his teammates in spots where they can be successful. And when ‘Melo is on the bench, as he was last night due to foul trouble, the Knicks become highly exposed.
Yes, it’s an extremely small sample size, but there’s no denying this problem exists.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Landry Fields (14 points, 3 rebounds and 3 steals) must have read my Christmas recap, because during the first half, at least, he played with extreme aggression on the offensive end.
- “D-FENCE!” Despite the absence of GSW’s best player, Stephen Curry, New York held the Warriors to just 35% shooting in the first half. They also forced 6 Warrior turnovers in the first quarter. Sure, the lockout-shortened training camps and preseason schedules are contributing to sloppy play league-wide, but at least early on, we’ve seen a level of defensive intensity from the Knicks previously absent during Mike D’Antoni’s tenure in New York. Credit Mike Woodson, methinks. We’ll just ago ahead and ignore that 55% clip by the Warriors in the second half.
- If you’re looking to motivate Bill Walker (14 points on 6-of-8), you should probably just choke him. Admittedly, I am not a huge fan of Walker’s game, but if used correctly, he can give the Knicks a spark off the bench and a useful dose of attitude.
- New-Knick Steve Novak is shooting 1.000 this season. The sharpshooter connected on his one and only FGA, a three-pointer, no less!
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Per the usual, the Knicks were badly out rebounded (47-31), with a mind-numbingly few of those boards (4) being of the offensive variety. Again, it may seem simplistic, but New York consistently fails to body-up opponents when shots are launched. I counted at least 15 such occasions last night from Amar’e Stoudemire alone. Second-chance points are essential in this league, especially on the road and during crunch-time, but the Knicks displayed no desire to make any such hustle-plays last night.
- Tyson Chandler‘s second game as a Knick was not one to remember. Plagued by early foul trouble, the New York center was unable to contribute much on either end of the floor. In fact, the entire team failed to block even one GSW-shot in the contest.
- It’s only two games, but despite their off-season film-sessions, STAT ‘n ‘Melo still have yet to figure things out. The Pick ‘n Roll is completely nonexistent between the Knick-superstars, a problem as inexplicable as it is unacceptable. Coming to absolute conclusions about this team – as is one certain radio host’s daily wont – is unwise at this juncture of the season, but to deny that the Knicks’ two best players aren’t jelling, is to deny reality.
- Toney Douglas doesn’t travel well, apparently. The Knick “PG” was dreadful against the Warriors, shooting 3-for-11 from the field (0-for-5 from long-range), and displaying little understanding of how to best to set his teammates up. One unfortunate byproduct of a stagnant Knick-offense is that Douglas often ends up taking/forcing too many attempts as the shot clock is winding down. He’s shown an ability to make long-range shots, but it’s not an effective team-strategy going forward, especially with ‘Melo and Amar’e on the floor.
- Mark Jackson’s barber is top-notch. As far as pointy sideburns go, you can’t get much better than that.
- In other hair-related news, coach Mike Woodson’s goatee was awarded the “Thickest in the Building Award” at halftime.
- Renaldo Balkman shot a three-pointer, which was one-too-many.
- Monta Ellis, the Warriors’ dynamic SG, was playing with a heavy heart; his grandmother passed away on Christmas Day. He was also playing with an increasingly-heavy litigation bill, what with all those sexual harassment-allegations, and all.
- Chandler picked up his first technical foul of the season, and he’s going to have to watch himself going forward. It’s one thing to be expressive and vocal, but at least early on, it seems like Tyson isn’t much for controlling his emotions on the court.
- Jerome Jordan made his NBA debut, and was relatively productive, scoring 4 points and grabbing 2 rebounds in just six minutes off the bench.
- No rest for the weary as the Knicks take on the Lakers tonight. Andrew Bynum remains suspended for his annihilation of J.J. Barea last season, and Kobe Bryant is nursing a sore wrist. New York would be well-advised to ramp up their intensity tonight, and take advantage of a weakened Los Angeles squad.
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Photo by AP/Ben Margot