Knicks-Sixers: What to Watch For

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pte5JqNYtJ4]

Last season, the Knicks went 2-2 against the Sixers. Knick fans got a snapshot of what Melo brings when he hit a game icing 3 pointer against Philly in a 97-92 victory.

Here are some things to watch for tonight:

  • The Knicks bench vs Philadelphia’s bench. Philadelphia boasts a deep bench with the likes of Evan Turner, Lou Williams and Thaddeus Young. The Knicks on the other hand have a scrub bench that scored 3 whole points last game against Charlotte. As much as I hate him, Bill Walker MUST give the Knicks some scoring tonight for the Knicks to have success. Toney Douglas MUST pull his head out of his ass at some point. Jorts and Bibby have to give the Knicks quality minutes tonight if they are called upon. The Knicks bench scoring has to show up tonight if they want a chance to win.
  • Shump vs Jrue Holiday. Holiday is one of the best young point guards in the game. His success offensively goes hand and hand with Philadelphia’s success on offense. If Shumpert gets in foul trouble, or is unable to slow down Holliday, Philadelphia may have a field day offensively.
  • How will the Knicks defend Spencer Hawes? Yes I just wrote that. Not because Hawes is a great scorer but it is Hawes’ style of play which may give the Knicks problems. Hawes has taken 28 mid range shots this season and has shot 57%. If Chandler is guarding Hawes, he may be drawn out of the paint. The Knicks are a far worse defensive team when Chandler is not patrolling around the paint and guarding the rim. I believe it would be wiser to place Stoudemire on Hawes and placing Chandler on Elton Brand.
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Notes from Knicks 91-87 Victory Over Charlotte

Last night at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks avenged their loss last week by beating the Charlotte Bobcats 91-87. The Knicks did some good things tonight but overall this was not a championship type effort. Despite outplaying Charlotte, the Knicks could not finish them off and let them linger the entire game. Eventually, it took a miss on a wide open 3 to seal a Bobcats defeat. Melo and Amar’e combined for 47 points but shot only 13-43 collectively from the field. Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert were fantastic tonight. Chandler finished with 20 points, 13 boards and 3 blocks. Shumpert had 16 points brought some great energy on both sides of the ball.

Here are some notes from the game:

  • The Knicks bench scored 3 points tonight. 3 points. Douglas had a basket and Jorts had a free throw. That was it. If this Knicks team wants to compete for a championship, they will need to get more  from the bench. Douglas is killing the Knicks right now because he is so out of whack that he cannot even shoot anymore. Jorts is going to be inconsistent on offense because he is more of a defender/rebounder. Walker is Walker. Novak can only shoot 3′s and Jerome Jordan isn’t rotation ready yet. The Knicks desperately need Jared Jeffries and Baron Davis to return to the lineup because right now the depth on this team is nonexistent.
  • Due to the lack of depth, Coach D’Antoni was forced to play the starters all more than 35 minutes last night. With injury-prone stars like Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire, playing those kind of minutes is dangerous. I understand that in this shortened season wins are very valuable but at the same time, D’Antoni has to keep the big picture in mind. Do you really need to play Amar’e 39 minutes against Charlotte? Why not put in Jerome Jordan for 3 minutes here, Jorts for another 2 minutes there? This team will be in the playoffs. It will be what they do in the playoffs that defines the 2011 Knicks. In order for them to make a run, the Knicks need all their stars healthy and fresh to go when playoff time rolls around.
  • Speaking of Tyson Chandler, he was fantastic last night. Chandler has actually played very well the last 5 games, recording 3 double-double’s and scoring over 20 points twice. The Knicks finally got him the ball on cuts and alley oops to the basket. If the Knicks want those shots, they are there all day with Chandler especially when Amar’e and Melo are on the court.
  • Amar’e Stoudemire is showing signs of improvement. Yes I know he was only 10/25 from the field. Yes I know, according to Hoopdata, he was 3-12 at the rim. I know he wasn’t great on defense (again). I will say this though. At least he got to the rim 12 times. He only took 5 shots from 16 feet and longer. Stoudemire is starting to realize that his best offensive trait is his ability to get inside. The midrange is important yes, but Stoudemire is starting to realize his constant driving of the ball opens up the midrange. He took 3 midrange shots and hit 2 of them. If he can continue to drive to the paint, his mid-range will come. Stoudemire still isn’t playing to where he needs to be but he’s improving.
  • I think Carmelo Anthony is more banged up then he leads people to believe. The last two games, he hasn’t dominated. He hasn’t been bad and he did step up in the clutch against Charlotte but I think his back is really bothering him. Against Philly, he will be guarded by Andre Iguodala who is a pretty good defender. If Melo isn’t 100% then he may be in for a long night.
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Knicks-Bobcats: What to Watch For?

The Knicks and Bobcats kick off in about 20 minutes. Here are some things to watch for:

  • The Knicks can’t let Boris Diaw dominate again. Last week’s loss to Charlotte was pitiful. Boris Diaw’s 27 point performance was even worse. Amar’e Stoudemire showed zero defensive energy trying to slow Diaw down, hence Diaw’s 12 for 15 performance shooting from the floor. Tonight, with Tyrus Thomas returning, Diaw will probably play a lot at the center position. If the Knicks are going to return the favor from last week, they will need to find a way, wether its Harrellson, Stoudemire or Chandler, to slow down Boris Diaw.
  • What if Shumpert struggles? The Knicks showed a lot of great energy the last few game with Shumpert on the floor. I think his defensive energy is refreshing and provides a spark to the whole team.  He has yet to play a poor douglas-esque game. This probably isn’t the game but I just want to know how Knick fans and the team will react when Shumpert truly struggles. I think tonight against Augustin and Kemba Walker, Shumpert could struggle a bit tonight because both opposing point guards are good players.
  • Can Toney Douglas get his head on straight? Douglas has been a disaster so far this year. Now that he has been relegated to the bench, Douglas should begin to improve his play on both ends of the court. However, he struggled last game against Detroit and then hurt his shoulder. Hopefully Douglas can get on track because he can be an absolutely lethal 3 point shooter when he’s on. Even last game, the Knicks only shot 28.6% from beyond the arc. The Knicks need his shooting and he needs to get going.
  • How will the Knicks defensive energy be tonight? Last week against Charlotte, the Knicks came out with absolutely no energy on defense and it showed. Tonight, I look for the Knicks to come out pissed and ready to go. I think the Knicks will play hard tonight on both ends and will pick up a win. If the Knicks defense sucks and is lazy, they could lose again to a Charlotte team that can score some points.
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Notes from Knicks 99-96 Win Over Washington

Tonight, the Knicks overcame an early deficit and rallied to defeat the winless Wizards 99-96. Melo was the star tonight with 37 including the game winning three with fifteen seconds left on the clock. The Knicks front court made the difference tonight as the Knicks guards, minus Shumpert, were outplayed by Washington.

Here are some notes from the game:

  • Shumpert made the difference. I usually do not give a lot of merit to the +/- stat in the NBA. However, tonight the +/- ratio for two particular Knick guards is very telling about how the game went. Starting point guard Toney Douglas played only 12 minutes and  was a -12 on the night. Rookie Iman Shumpert played 37 minutes and was a + 20. The Knicks level of play overall was much higher when Shumpert was in the game as opposed to when Douglas was in the game. Douglas could not stay with John Wall but Shumpert pretty much shut Wall down. I thought the offense had nice flow to it when Shumpert was running the point and I thought the defense played more energized as well. Douglas was not good tonight. He was 0-5 and only played 12 minutes. I think right now, Douglas will be better suited off the bench for when Baron Davis comes back.
  • Melo was unstoppable. Carmelo Anthony tonight showed why the Knicks gave up everything in New York short of Spike Lee to get him. He had 37 points on 33 shots tonight. That doesn’t sound great but watching the game, Melo dominated whoever the Wizards tried to put on him. Melo had a few of his shots blocked but I didn’t think that was a huge deal. He was fantastic as he drove two spectacular “and-1″ fouls. Obviously when you take 33 shots, some blocked shots will occur but overall I thought Melo was excellent tonight.
  • Knicks miss Jeffries. Yes I know his limitations offensively but right now this team is missing him. Chandler and Stoudemire had to play big minutes again tonight and I think that is the wrong idea. I agree that the Knicks need to play with each other more in order to fully develop a chemistry but that being said, D’Antoni has to be very careful with his star’s minutes.
  • Stoudemire was lost again on offense tonight. His jump shot continues to fail him and he had 5 turnovers tonight. One positive for the Knicks is that Stoudemire was active in attacking the rim tonight. He was 7-7 at the rim tonight and 2-14 on all other shots. Right now, STAT is just in a funk but I was encouraged by seeing his activity down low tonight. He also recorded 12 boards which was huge.
  • Chandler seems to be settling in at center. He recorded 12 points and 15 boards tonight. If the Knicks get 12 and 15 from Chandler every night they will win more games then they lose. Chandler wasn’t real active in the pick and roll tonight but he kept a lot of balls alive, got to the free-throw line, and scored some second chance points. This is what the Knicks paid for. Chandler will continue to play like this in my opinion and tonight was a nice night for him.
  • There was a Bibby sighting tonight. Bibby dusted off his seemingly lost jump shot and hit some big shots for the Knicks tonight. He was 4-6 overall and 3-3 from beyond the arc. If Bibby can continually hit his 3 pointers, he will be a valuable addition off the bench.
  • Unfortunately, Bibby did tweak his back in the game tonight…
  • So did Melo… but Melo is expected to play tomorrow versus Detroit.
  • I noted before the game that the Knicks needed to play solid transition defense against John Wall tonight and they did anything but that. Washington’s offense was fueled by Wall’s continuous ability to get baskets in transition, especially early in the game. He absolutely ate up Douglas tonight. Shumpert faired far better against Wall in terms of just not letting him get to the hoop so easily. The Knicks were outscored by the Wizards in transition 31-15.
  • Bill Walker did have a nice dunk tonight but then offset that by having at least 3 or 4 other really bad plays.
  • Steve Novak recorded 0 minutes for the second straight game. I imagine he will get some run tomorrow against Detroit since the Knicks will be playing the second game in a back to back.
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Knicks-Wizards: What to Watch For

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4aphSftDok]

Last season the Knicks went 3-0 against the Washington Wizards. Tonight, the struggling Knicks will look to keep that trend going against the winless Washington Wizards.

Here are some things to watch for:

  • The Knicks transition defense must be good tonight. With John Wall, one of the most athletic point guards in the NBA, the Wizards will look to pick up some transition baskets tonight against the Knicks notoriously bad transition defense. The Knicks must limit transition baskets against an athletic Washington team if they want to handle the Wizards tonight.
  • Melo and Amar’e must be efficient tonight. The Wizards are not a strong defensive team and should not have the ability to slow down the Knicks stars. That being said, New York must get some ball movement and get Fields, Shumpert and Douglas going early in the game. Stoudemire and Anthony will need to get others involved and not play inefficiently tonight. Tonight shouldn’t be a night where Melo will be forced to shoot 30 times. This game is a great opportunity to get the offense going by involving everybody and collectively making shots.
  • D’Antoni’s Bench. Last game against Charlotte, coach Mike D’Antoni played a short 4 man bench (Jorts got 3 minutes so basically a 3 man bench). In this shortened, compressed season D’Antoni has to be careful with the minutes his stars play. Stoudemire and Chandler have had injury problems in the past and playing them each 40 minutes against bad teams is not a way to remedy that.
  • Fields/Shumpert. If Iman Shumpert shines again while Landry Fields falters, Knick fans will again be calling for Shumpert to replace Fields in the starting lineup. Hopefully Fields will begin to play better because I really believe Shumpert should be coming off the bench. His scoring ability is great to have off a bench that seemingly has nobody who can score with any consistency. I look for Shumpert to play about 25 minutes tonight coming off the bench.
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Notes From Knicks 118-110 Loss to Charlotte

Wednesday night, the Knicks continued their early season struggles as they lost to the Charlotte Bobcats 118-110. Boris Diaw (yes, that Boris Diaw) looked like a fat, french Larry Bird tonight. He was 12-15 from the floor in a 27 point performance. Carmelo Anthony was the high point man with 32 points and 6 boards. Amar’e Stoudemire returned to the lineup after missing two games with an ankle injury. Stoudemire had 25 points and 12 boards but was abused defensively. Rookie Iman Shumpert returned to the lineup after injuring his MCL on christmas day. Shumpert shined on both sides of the ball and brought some great energy tonight for the Knicks. Despite the returns of Stoudemire and Shumpert, the Knicks were unable to consistently get stops and were abused on defense.

Here are some notes from the game

  • Stoudemire finally got inside tonight. Early in the game, Stoudemire’s jump shot was off, as it has been this season. Unlike some early games, GSW and LA, Stoudemire adjusted and took his offensive game to the paint. Stoudemire was 7-8 on shots at the rim while he was only 1-4 on shots between 16-23 feet. The important thing is that Stoudemire ditched the mid-range and started getting to the rack. He is unstoppable when he wants to drive and tonight he was more aggressive getting to the paint. However, just a nitpick on my part, there were multiple possessions where he should have taken Byron Mullens, yes the big, white, weird looking, lanky, horribly mustached Byron Mullens, off the dribble and to the rack and he passed the ball out. Stoudemire still needs to be more aggressive driving the ball but tonight was a good start. As a result of playing the way he should, Stoudemire was an efficient 10-19 from the floor and picked up 3 offensive rebounds. It’s funny how these things work out.
  • Toney Douglas reverted back to, well Toney Douglas. After his great showing in Sacramento, Douglas has reverted back to the shooting guard from Florida State rather than the point guard the Knicks desperately need. He had only 5 assists in 39 minutes tonight. Thats an average of 1 assist per 7.8 minutes. By comparison, DJ Augustin, who was fantastic tonight (more on that later), had 10 assists in 32 minutes. Douglas is no where near where he needs to be right now. He forces bad shots, he stops his dribble too early and he has no concept of what a proper pick and roll should look like. Douglas shot 6-17 from the floor including 1-6 from 3. That won’t get it done. I love Douglas’ confidence shooting the ball but in nights like tonight, where he was clearly cold, he needs to stop shooting. To add insult to his already poor performance, Douglas missed a contested layup badly that would have put the Knicks down 5 with 40 seconds left. Poor game tonight for Toney.
  • Tyson Chandler got 4 shot attempts tonight. By contrast, Toney Bricklas took 17! Chandler was 4-4 from the field tonight. Early in the game, Chandler was very involved catching 3 alley oops. After the first quarter, the Knicks seemed to forget they had Chandler on their team and barely went to him at all. I said this after the Raptors game and I’ll say it again: Chandler needs to touch the ball on offense more. The team is better when they can run some pick and roll action through him or go to him down low. 4 shot attempts is simply not good enough and Chandler’s lack of involvement is a big reason the Knicks offense has struggled.
  • Speaking of bricks, Fields was poor again tonight. Landry Fields is a player that I think can be a great piece on this team. Unfortunately, Fields is giving me no way to defend him or claim his upside. Like Douglas, Fields has been horrid since his great performance against Sacramento. Tonight, he was 2-5 with 5 points and 3 turnovers. Fields was abused defensively by Gerald Henderson all night and struggled to get involved with any offensive efficiency.
  • Iman Shumpert was great tonight. In 30 minutes tonight, Shumpert scored 18 points on 4-6 shooting from 3. He brought energy on both ends and was aggressive in the offense. Shump even dished a little bit tonight with 3 assists and some other nice passes in the game. People keep talking about how Shumpert should be starting but I disagree. I really like Shumpert coming off the bench because right now he could be our scoring 6th man. We have no other consistent scoring option on the 2nd or 3rd units. Bibby has been garbage, Jorts is inconsistent and Walker sucks. If you move Shumpert into the lineup alongside Douglas, you lose that scorer off the bench. I think Shumpert’s aggressiveness in taking a high volume of shots would be disastrous if he was playing big minutes along side superior scorers Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. However, with the 2nd unit Shumpert will and should be encouraged to try and get the ball in the hoop. I’d rather see Shumpert put up 15 shots playing with the backups than see Balkman or Jeffries ever shoot the ball. Walker is purely a 3 point shooter and doesn’t do anything else well. Jorts and Novak only can really shoot the 3 ball and Bibby can’t seem to make much of anything these days. Shumpert off the bench would give the Knicks a versatile scorer that can keep the games close while Melo and STAT catch their breath on the bench.
  • DJ Augustin killed the Knicks. I thought the Bobcats point guard was excellent tonight. His 14 points and 10 assists were impressive but I really liked the manner in which he controlled the offense and distributed the ball. Augustin was everything tonight that Toney Douglas needed to be. Augustin tonight and the Raptors Jose Calderon Monday night both showed floor general ability that Douglas does not have. I think a big reason the Knicks defense struggled against Charlotte and Toronto is the play of the point guards. The Knicks last season showed the ability to defend isolation heavy teams like Miami and Atlanta. I believe that guarding isolation is just a matter of effort. The true measurement of strong defense is how you play against floor general point guards and so far the Knicks have been porous. Going back to last year, the Knicks still have no answer for Rajon Rondo. Baron Davis killed them last season with the Cavs. Early in this season, Jose Calderon and DJ Augustin have killed the Knicks. While these players aren’t slashers and scorers, they get their offenses in the right sets. Many times tonight, Augustin set up the offense in a way that resulted offensive mismatches versus the Knicks. Since the Knicks seem content to continue switching on every pick (*forhead slap), Augustin was able to get his team in sets in which they had size and quickness advantages (i.e. Boris Diaw being guarded by Toney Douglas and STAT guarding Augustin). The Knicks must adjust their defense *cough Mike Woodson cough* in order to not be caught in these bad match ups continually throughout games.
  • The Knicks do not seem to understand the concept of a four-quarter game. Against Golden State and Los Angeles, the Knicks got up early in each game only to fall apart in the second half of each game. Against Toronto and Charlotte, the Knicks have fallen behind early in each game and have been unable to complete second half comebacks. Their energy seems to fluctuate throughout games and I do not understand why. In the last two games, they seem to have only come alive in desperation times. The Knicks must find a way to balance their energy and play 4 solid quarters every game.
  • D’Antoni’s rotation tonight was very questionable. As you all know, I do support D’Antoni. I think he is a very bright coach, I think Knick fans give him a raw deal for being unsuccessful in his first 2 years. Nobody could have gotten those teams to the playoffs. However, my support of D’Antoni does not make him exempt from criticism. Tonight, I must criticize him. His rotation tonight was dangerous and made no sense to me. He played Shumpert, just coming off an injury, for 30 minutes tonight that resulted in Shumpert cramping in the 4th quarter. He played Stoudemire, coming off an injury, for 41 minutes. D’Antoni played Chandler 40 minutes for the second straight game. D’Antoni’s bench was too short tonight. Balkman, Walker and Shumpert played rotation minutes. Bibby and Steve Novak, who have gotten rotation minutes, did not play tonight. Josh Harrellson, who has been serviceable the last few games, played all of 3 minutes tonight. YOU WERE PLAYING CHARLOTTE IN GAME 6 OF THE SEASON. Why the hell is D’Antoni playing with a short bench and playing injury prone players 40+ minutes. It is so early in the season and these games are important but not crucial. The NBA regular season, if you are a good team, is more of a formality than regular season in other sports. I understand trying to get the guys to gel together, I understand trying to win the game but this is a regular season game against Charlotte. There is no conceivable reason why STAT, Chandler and Shumpert should have played the minutes they did. There is no conceivable reason why D’Antoni, coaching against the worst team in the NBA, played a short bench tonight. I am a D’Antoni fan but I am not in support of the minutes he relegated to his players tonight and I hope that I am not blogging about this issue throughout the season. This type of rotation management is dangerous and D’Antoni must be careful with his players.
  • The Knicks perimeter defense was horrible tonight. The Charlotte Bobcats were 21-40, or 52.5%, on shots from 16 feet and beyond. They were 7-11 from 3 point range. Your eyes do not deceive you. The CHARLOTTE BOBCATS, losers of 4 straight coming into the game, shot 7-11 from 3 point range. That is unbelievable and unacceptable. Mike Woodson, who for some reason is being called for by some Knick fans to replace D’Antoni, has to get this defense playing better on the perimeter or else games like this are going to plague the Knicks all season.
  • Speaking of defense, why the hell do the Knicks continue to switch on every pick? Every once in a while, this is a good strategy to make sure a shooter coming off a screen isn’t wide open but for the most part this defensive strategy is killing the Knicks defense. DJ Augustin abused the Knicks all night by getting good offensive match ups for the Bobcats. The Knicks have done this all season and they continually put themselves in tough spots. This team is already mediocre defensively. They aren’t helping themselves by putting themselves in a worse position to defend.
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Notes From Knicks 90-85 Loss to Toronto

Tonight the Knicks lost to the Toronto Raptors 90-85. Unlike New Years Eve in Sacramento, Josh “Jorts” Harrellson was unable to make up for the absence of injured star Amar’e Stoudemire. Carmelo Anthony was hot and cold all night, shooting 13-31, despite finishing the game with 35 points and 11 rebounds. The Knicks came on strong in a fourth quarter comeback but ultimately fell short in the final minute.

Here are some notes from the game:

  • Jorts was bad tonight. There’s no getting around it. He was 0-4 from the field and only collected 5 rebounds. Maybe the worst aspect of his game was his inability to guard Raptors center Andrea Bargnani who finished with 21 points on 7-13 shooting. By adding a measly 2 points tonight, Jorts was a complete non-factor on offense. He did have a key blocked shot late in the game that would have been huge in a Knick victory and he did draw 2 charges but he was not good enough tonight. Stoudemire is scheduled to return this week but even in a bench role, Harrellson has got to contribute more than he did tonight.
  • Toney Douglas and Carmelo Anthony were hot and cold tonight. Douglas played a great 3rd quarter but then tailed off in the 4th. Melo had a solid first half, tailed off in the 3rd and then the fourth came. Anthony looked poised to take over the game early in the 4th but then went cold for the rest of the game.
  • With 17.7 seconds left, the Knicks were down 3 and were inbounding the ball. Clearly, the Knicks did not run any semblance of an inbound play which then resulted in Melo shooting a 3 pointer on a desperate look with 10 seconds left. The 3 missed, ex-Knick Anthony Carter got the rebound and the game was essentially over. D’Antoni was pissed in the huddle afterwards because clearly the play was not run like it was supposed to be. It seems like Douglas was the one who screwed up the play but nobody really knows. It will be interesting to see if anything comes out about this tomorrow…
  • I talked about this in my game preview, but the Raptors have been a good team shooting the 3 ball this year. I talked about how the Knicks needed to close out successfully or it was going to cost them. Tonight, the 3 ball was huge for the Raptors. They were 7-17 from 3 and hit some clutch ones late in the game.
  • After reviewing the advanced box score from TrueHoop, one stat really stuck out to me. The usage rate, a statistic estimating the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was on the floor, for the Knicks players stuck out to me. Carmelo Anthony had an astonishing usage rate of 45.1% tonight. By contrast, Tyson Chandler had a very low usage rate of 10.1% tonight despite his 3-4 shooting from the floor and his 5-6 shooting from the free throw line. Chandler was used on the pick and roll last game to put away the Kings in the 4th quarter and I believe he should have been featured more in the pick and roll tonight. Against the Raptors, a team that is not a strong defensive post team, Chandler was barely used tonight. His usage rate tonight was higher than only Jorts’ tonight. It is not like Chandler only played 20 min tonight. He played 43 minutes tonight and only was used 10% of the time on offense. That has to change, especially in STAT’s absence.
  • Bibby was useless tonight. His defense sucked and he was 0-3 from the floor, all 3 shots being from beyond the arc. If Bibby is not going to hit shots then he has no use for this Knick team. He was absolutely a liability tonight in the 15 minutes he was in.
  • Just to keep an eye on minutes, and with STAT out the team is very thin on depth right now, Chandler and Melo played 43 and 42 minutes respectively. Melo looked winded at times and Clyde even mentioned it on the broadcast. D’Antoni has to watch their minutes as the season goes on or its gonna be an early exit from the playoffs.
  • D’Antoni was furious with Bill Walker all night and he should have been. As usual his defense was horrible but there were two specific offensive possessions that stood out to me. There was a possession in the game in which Walker did not happen to know how much time was on the shot clock and passed up a wide open spot up 3 to try and repost Melo as the shot clock hit 0. D’Antoni was seen on camera screaming at Walker after that play. On the other possession, Walker passed up an open 3 and wildly drove the ball only to have hit shot blocked. Unfortunately, Fields was also very bad tonight so his 32 minutes were about equal to Walker’s poor 24 minutes.
  • The Knicks ultimately lost the game tonight because they did not make shots. The defense was solid all night and very good in the 3rd quarter. The Knicks shot 35% while Toronto shot 44% from the floor. The Knicks were out gunned from the 3 point line as well. Toronto shot 41% on 17 attempts while the Knicks shot 28.6% on a whopping 35 attempts tonight. Their inability to expose Toronto in the post tonight is what did the Knicks offense in. They settled for way too many outside shots and did not hit enough of them to win the game tonight.
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Knicks-Raptors: What to Watch For

 

  • Toney Douglas’ progression as a point guard. Douglas must continue to show improvement running the show with the Knicks. He played a nice game in Sacramento and I look for him to continue playing well against a weak Toronto squad. According to Hoopdata (an amazing site for anyone who hasn’t visited) the Raptors are 5th worst in the league in defensive efficiency. If Douglas can improve on the Sacramento game, the Knicks should roll tonight. Toronto cannot match up with the Knicks defensively and the Knicks should take this one in a laugher. If Douglas sucks, which he might, Knicks may be in for a battle because Toronto is not a bad offensive squad.
  • The Knicks must close out on the perimeter tonight. Surprisingly, the Raptors are 5th in the league so far in 3 point shooting. If the Knicks notoriously weak perimeter defense is unable to close the air space on the Raptors shooters, the Raptors may have a field day.
  • Josh Harrellson must continue to shine in Stoudemire’s absence. Stoudemire will not play again thus giving Jorts his second career start. He had a great game in his first start against Sacramento but he must continue to build on this. If Jorts can knock down some 3′s and force Toronto to guard him out there, the Knicks spacing should allow them to dominate the game in the lanes tonight.
  • Anthony Carter’s long awaited return to the garden!!! Just kidding, Carter probably will be inactive but I do love AC and was sad to see him go.
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Notes From Knicks 114-92 Win Over Sacramento

On New Years Eve, the Knicks overcame the absence of Amar’e Stoudemire to defeat the Kings in a laugher 114-92. Jorts was the main attraction, scoring 14 points and pulling down 12 boards. Toney Douglas showed flashes of being an actual point guard and finished with 17 points and 8, count ‘em 8, assists. Melo had 23 points, Chandler had 22 and Fields had 21.

Notes from the game:

  • Jorts was a beast. He had a solid all around game. Harrellson hit 4-8 shots from beyond the arc and shot 5-11 overall. His ability to hit the 3 ball created some nice spacing on the floor thus opening up the lane for Chandler and the rest of the Knicks. He also did a fantastic job guarding “the crybaby” DeMarcus Cousins. Jorts held the former lottery pick to 9 points on 2-10 shooting.
  • Tyson Chandler had his best game as a Knick, scoring 22 points and pulling down 7 boards in 24 minutes. He still got in some early foul trouble but played through it to help New York put the game away in the 4th. Him and Douglas found some rhythm in the pick and roll game which is huge for the Knicks. Chandler showed his violent finishing ability at the rim that Knicks fans have been waiting to see. Chandler also had a monster block in the 3rd quarter and 3 blocks in the game. This game showed exactly why the Knicks wanted to get Chandler and why they paid a king’s ransom for him.
  • Toney Douglas actually played a solid game as the point guard. He had flashes of brilliance in the pick and roll game. He still picked up his dribble too early at times and missed a couple open cuts but he showed improvement. That is key for Douglas. If he can continue to improve as the season progresses, I think he will be good enough for this team.
  • THE KNICKS FINALLY MADE SHOTS!! In their last two losses, the Knick offense was putrid. They could not move the ball effectively, they did not fight for second chance points but most importantly they did not make shots. Against Sacramento, the Knicks finally made shots. Against Golden State and Los Angeles, the Knicks shot 40% and 31% respectively. Against Boston and Sacramento, both wins, the Knicks shot 47% and 45% respectively. This team is not good enough defensively and they are not efficient enough in the pick and roll and in the post game to miss shots and win games. Right now, this is a mostly jump shooting team. They must make shots in order to win.
  • To his credit, I actually think Bill Walker had a very nice game. He had a foolish fast break turnover but I thought he played well.
  • Landry Fields had a great game. Fields scored 21 and was a +40 on the night. This game showed why, either on here or on various spree casts, I have defended Fields. Much like Stoudemire and others, Fields is still adjusting and getting confident in this new system playing with Carmelo Anthony. I think if Fields is given patience and time, he will eventually be a very efficient player. He is tall, long and athletic. Already he is a good defender and I think the offense will come.
  • They called a horrendous flagrant on Bibby for grabbing a guy’s arm… and then didn’t call a flagrant when Jason Thompson threw Bill Walker to the ground.
  • Jerome Jordan picked up 4 fouls in 7 minutes.
  • Jeremy Lin didn’t look very good…
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