Remember that time 24 hours ago when I told you that everything was going to be okay? Apparently, I lied.
And as long as Toney Douglas keeps playing meaningful minutes for the Knicks, my feel-good promises of a turnaround for Mike D’Antoni’s embattled squad are going to remain unfulfilled. Last night New York lost yet again, this time in heartbreaking fashion – they haven’t won in Boston since 2006 – and predictably, for what felt like the umpteenth time, Douglas’ [lack of] presence single-handedly destroyed the Knicks’ chances to win.
Yes, I realize that the Knicks were inept in reeling in loose balls during crunch time. Sure, I saw the Knicks go 0-for-10 from long-range in the second half. And yes, I understand that history repeated itself as the immortal Ray Allen drove dagger after dagger into New York’s heart.
None of that explains away the fact that Douglas first entered the game with 3:46 remaining in the 3rd quarter (Knicks led 69-60) and departed with 7:43 to go in the 4th (game tied at 77). Plus/minus is rarely useful in the context of just one game – far too many factors outside of the player’s control can affect the score – but in this case, the measure is spot-on accurate. Despite being benched in the first half in favor of Jeremy Lin (more on him later), Douglas (now shooting 31.9% on the season) got the call in the second half of a must-win game on the road against a division rival.
To be clear, I have repeatedly said that the Knicks [ultimately] cannot win without a contribution from Douglas, but at this “point,” there is simply no way that they can win WITH him, either. At a minimum, Douglas needs to be immediately relieved of any responsibility to bring the ball up-court. Only bad things happen when he attempts to initiate the offense and it throws the entire team off-rhythm. Last night, the Knicks were unable to recover from TD’s misdirection – mostly because Iman Shumpert is not yet capable of steadying his teammates – and a winnable game slipped away again.
not-so-bright side, all those who decried Amar’e Stoudemire‘s game-tying 3PA against the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night got their wish in seeing an ice-cold Steve Novak on the floor for a last-second shot attempt against Boston.
Yeah, so… about that.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- God-awful loss aside, the Knicks tallied 19 assists on 34 field goals made, and though they only shot 42.5% against the Celtics, there were many open looks and oodles of crisp, juicy ball movement.
- Despite the assertion yesterday that he’s “not a star,” Carmelo Anthony was everything the Knicks needed him to be against the Celtics with 26 points, 6 assists and 9-of-10 from the foul line. He repeatedly found the open man when he was double and triple teamed, but you have to wonder how long his nascent appreciation for the system will last if his teammates can’t knock down an open shot.
- My man-crush on Tyson Chandler is reaching Shumpert-levels. Not only did he stuff the stat sheet with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 4 steals, but Chandler again brought a level of enforcement and intimidation not seen around here since the halcyon days of Oakley and Mason. If he’s not an All-Star, then I’m not the fifth-wittiest Knick writer on the Interwebs.
- For the second game in a row, New York took care of the ball with just 13 turnovers. They remain second in the league with 15.9 turnovers-per-game, but that average is somewhat deceptive since the Knicks are also second in the league in pace (96.2 possessions-per-game). D’Antoni’s club is thin and structurally flawed, so minimizing turnovers and continuing their proclivity for steals remains absolutely critical going forward.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- Toney Douglas was active. It doesn’t take a degree in psychology to guess that D’Antoni doesn’t want to erase what little confidence Douglas has left this season – how else to explain benching him for Lin in the first half, then flip-flopping the two during a critical stretch in the 3rd-4th quarter(s) – but winning should be the priority now, not any one player’s mental state. As for Lin, a world-beater he may not be, but again, he knows what to do out there and the limitations on his ceiling are far more acceptable than the disaster which is TD’s perpetually flooded basement.
- The Knicks had no answer for Paul Pierce (30 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists). The Knicks have never had an answer for Paul Piece. The Knicks will never have an answer for Paul Pierce.
- Kevin Garnett passed the 10,000 defensive rebound mark for his career. Coincidentally, he is also loathed 10,000 times more than any other player in the league.
- Tonight at MSG: the New Jersey Nets (7:30 p.m.)
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