If you thought the Knicks couldn’t possibly play worse than they did a couple nights ago against the Memphis Grizzlies, well… you were wrong.
New York (6-6) got smacked around by the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, staying close for about half of a quarter in a game that wasn’t anywhere near as close as the 104-92 final score indicates. Expecting a win against the West-leading Thunder, winners of six-straight, was probably expecting too much, especially with Carmelo Anthony out with a sprained ankle, but this one was really ugly.
Bill Walker started in Anthony’s place and Landry Fields was sent to the bench in favor of Mike Bibby.
The game was essentially ended when James Harden entered the game and Bibby, who had been defending Thabo Sefalosha and roaming to help his teammates, was forced to defend the far-superior Harden.
In the first half alone, Harden, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to shoot 18-for-28 from the field, 5-for-7 from three and 12-for-12 from the line, and the dynamic-trio scored 53 of OKC’s 70 (!!!) points before halftime. At one point, it appeared as if the aforementioned Harden literally faked Fields out of his pants (Note: I re-wound the DVR, and Fields’ pants did NOT fall off).
Although the box score doesn’t show it, the Knicks actually started off the game looking pretty good on defense, and they were moving the ball extremely well on offense, too. We saw ball-movement, dribble-driving and getting in the lane, and even passes to hit the open man. But once the Thunder started to find their groove on offense, the Knicks quickly lost theirs, reverting to isolation hero-ball for the better part of the night, which predictably didn’t work. At all.
Sure, ‘Melo wasn’t playing, but there is little doubt that the Knicks’ offense is dreadful right now. The scary part may be that there is no easy way to fix what ails this team.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Uh, Jorts, I guess? Josh Harrellson hit a few three-pointers in the first quarter, played his typically-solid defense, and ended up with 12 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals.
- Toney Douglas (gasp) hit some shots. He was 5-for-10 from the field and had 14 points in 14 minutes. He somehow wound up a plus-4 in the plus/minus column off the bench.
- Jared Jeffries rejoined the lineup, and he did some Jared Jeffries-like things on both sides of the court. He grabbed five rebounds, stole two basketballs, blocked two shots, gave it away to the other team thrice. Oh, Jefferies also made exactly zero of his four field goal attempts. A very Jared Jeffries game from Jared Jeffries. I just love to say Jefferies.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- The Knicks turned it over 21 times, which led to 16 OKC points. New York also had 11 of its shots blocked. Not what anyone would call ideal, per se.
- Amar’e Stoudemire was hit another technical foul. He now leads the league with four, and Mike D’Antoni should be concerned. In the compressed season it only takes 13 to earn a one-game suspension.
- The Knicks did a lot of complaining to the refs, and it was quite unseemly, but making matters worse, they also did a lot of yapping with the Thunder. Talking trash against a quality opponent can be a good thing, but when you’re down by 30 points in the third quarter, it just makes you look foolish. Step your game up, then start talking, not the other way around.
- Walt “Clyde” Frazier‘s in-game discussion of Serge Ibaka (Congo) and his broken English was pretty much the apex of the evening from a Knick fan’s perspective.
- Mike Breen REALLY wants people to like Toney Douglas. The constant positive spin, much like how he’s discussed Jefferies in recent years, makes me think the Knicks are shopping Douglas. Probably not, though.
- Westbrook finished just shy of his sixth career triple-double (21 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists) and thoroughly dominated rookie Iman Shumpert. It was definitely a Forrest Shump kind of evening for the PG, scoring just 6 points on 3-for-10 shooting, with 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 23 minutes.
- Kevin Durant was ridiculously efficient last night, pouring in 28 points on just 13 shots. He made 10 of them and went 7-7 from the free throw line. Even for a Knick fan, it’s ridiculously fun to watch him work.
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Photo by Newsday