Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya, tomorrow! You’re only a Davis away!
The woes continued for the Knicks (6-8) last night night as the [previously] dreadful Phoenix Suns came to town to remind Mike D’Antoni of what it’s like to run his offensive system with a real point guard. Making matters exponentially worse, Phoenix was playing in the second half of a back-to-back set and came into the game riding a 5-game losing streak.
After the game, D’Antoni said the Knicks are “in a little bit of a crisis,” and though the comment was made in pseudo-jest, his choice of words isn’t likely to ease then tension surronding the team right now.
New York – now losers of four-straight themselves – hasn’t scored more than 93 points in their last six games, and if last night was any indication, the offensive disfunction is nowhere near to dissipating. On a night when Carmelo Anthony (12 points on 5-for-22 from the floor with 11 rebounds) was mired in a deep funk, the Knicks were seemingly unable to make
easyany baskets when they needed themat all.
As usual, New York had absolutely no answer for the aforementioned Steve Nash (26 points, 11 assists, 5 rebounds). Predictably, the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” meme was all the rage before, during and after the game, as Nash’s affinity for the Garden and New York City was cited about as often as the Knicks missed jump shots – or, approximately every ten seconds or so. On the court, the youthful 37-year-old, who I am told lives in Soho during the off-season, sliced and diced the New York defense at will. It is a testament to the continuing defensive-impact of Tyson Chandler that the Suns only scored 91 points in the affair.
The early-season enigma which is Amar’e Stoudemire (23 points, 7 rebounds) brought a degree of intensity not often seen this year, but he also brought his questionable decision-making (6 turnovers) and inability to shoot (7-for-22).
Doom and gloom aside, things aren’t all bad. Surprising as it may be, the Knicks are technically already in the playoffs. Kind of. If the post-season started today, New York would make the tournament as the Eastern Conference’s 8th seed. It’s a good thing we’re still in January, though, because D’Antoni’s squad would surely be obliterated by competition far better than the Suns.
I just hope the coach lasts long enough to bet his bottom dollar on a Garden-revival.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Chandler is an absolute beast. He grabbed 17 boards last night, and it isn’t a stretch to say that without his defensive-presence in the paint, the Knicks likely would have been blown out of the building by Phoenix. Chandler is now averaging just a shade under a double-double on the season (10.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg), and despite not taking many shots, he is incredibly efficient (sporting a ridiculous 69.4% shooting percentage). Honestly, where would the Knicks be without him?
- Landry Fields (17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) finally showed some signs of life, and perhaps he can use this game as a springboard to more consistent production. I still maintain that his inability to create his own shot or defend on-the-ball should relegate him to the bench if/when Baron Davis returns, but regardess, the Knicks will be a much better team if Landry can produce with any regularity.
- Don’t be surprised if 21 Shump Street gets nominated for an award or two at this year’s Oscars. Iman Shumpert did his best to carry the Knicks to victory last night, scoring 20 points on 8-of-14 with 4 steals, and his two late-game 3-pointers cut what seemed like an insurmountable deficit to a one-poessesion game. On whether he was fouled on a potential game-tying 3-point-attempt as time expired, Shumpert quipped “[T]here was no whistle, so now we move on to the next game.” For what it’s worth, Shumpert is now second in the NBA in both steals-per-game (2.5) and steals-per-48-minutes (3.76). Giddyup.
“WHAT WENT WRONG:
- I have no idea what is going on with ‘Melo, but his pre/in/post-game disappearing act may lend credence to the official Knick-statement that the small forward was dealing with a “family issue.” Anthony opened the game by executing a beautiful assist to STAT on a designed pick ‘n roll play, but it was pretty much all downhill from there. In fact, the entire month of January has been subpar for ‘Melo; despite maintaining his scoring average (25.0 ppg), his efficiency has been downright abysmal (just 39.7% shooting, 32.6% from long-range). UPDATE: Rumor has it that Carmelo has been excused from today’s practice to deal with his personal situation.
- As if ‘Melo’s shooting problems weren’t bad enough, STAT continues to look dreadful on the offensive end. It’s a good thing he’s hitting 80% of his free throws, otherwise things would be even worse. Stoudemire continued his season-long habit of utter discombobulation when driving to the basket, and even if you’re an eternal optimist, you have to at least be a little concerned about the disapperance of his mid-range jumper. To put things into perspective, Amar’e, a career 53.4% shooter, is now hitting at just a 40.8% clip this season, and it seems like the officials have taken notice. The Knick PF is repeatedly getting crushed by the opposition, but the calls don’t seem to be there for the “superstar.” This is definitely something to keep an eye on.
- The Knicks scored just 12 fast break-points last night, a shockingly low total, considering their opponent, and the style of basketball each team tries to play. A recurring theme emerged during the post-game relative to this point as several players expressed concern with the team’s lack of easy baskets in transition. Quite simply, taking bad shots late in the shot-clock is a recipe for disaster, and one can only hope that the players’ apparent awareness of this issue leads to significant adjustments. Immediately.
- Former Knick Charles Smith was in the house prior to the game. He’s an interesting character, and I will be sitting down with him in the coming weeks to talk Knicks, his post-career doings, and of course, the 1993 playoff series against the Chicago Bulls.
- Up next for the Knicks: the Milwaukee Bucks come to town, Friday at 7:30 pm (MSG Network)
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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II