Game Preview 12/18: Knicks at Kings

The New York Knickerbockers return to action tonight as they take on the Sacramento Kings (or Queens if you are Shaq) in Sacramento and continue their western swing. The Knicks are coming off a thrilling win in Phoenix on Wednesday night thanks to a J.R. Smith buzzer beater. Smith also hit the game tying shot moments before. The Knicks got 50 points combined from Smith and Jason Kidd on a night where they were without Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton. Felton is out 4-6 weeks with a broken pinkie and Anthony is still listed as day-to-day, and is unsure if he will give it a go tonight. Leave it to the Lakers to hurt Carmelo yet again.

The Knicks did get some solid minutes out of Marcus Camby, a good sign going forward as they need depth up front especially with the length of Rasheed Wallace’s absence being unknown. Pablo Prigioni will also need to see extended minutes with Felton out, and this is a good stretch to evaluate just how deep the Knicks are as a team.

Based on Carmelo’s comments and saying he was barely able to walk yesterday, I am going to assume he is going to sit out tonight. The Kings aren’t exactly the best team in the league and they were without Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans in their last game. The Kings have the second to worst record in the Western Conference and have been just a mess all year. Cousins was suspended indefinitely a week ago for conduct detrimental to the team, a.k.a whining and complaining over and over again. He was reinstated to the team but did not play in their previous game as clearly him and head coach Keith Smart do not see eye to eye.

So the Knicks head into Sacramento a little banged up with a record of 21-8, and should go in and take care of business. The Kings are just 3-7 in their last 10, and rank in the bottom of the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency. If the Kings are going to be without their top two players in Cousins and Evans then the Knicks should have no problem getting win number 22. If Cousins does play then Chandler and Camby will both have their hands full with the young big man as he is one of the top big guys in the game when keeping his head. It will be key for Chandler to stay out of foul trouble, and to work Marcus Camby into the rotation.

 

Follow Brian on Twitter @bcoles1029

 

Knicks 99, Suns 97 Recap

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Greetings fellow Knicks brethren! I hope everyone had a good Christmas Day J.R. Smith Day. The Knicks defeated the Jared Dudley led Suns (Boy is that an awkward statement.) 99-97 on a game winner by Earl III Smith, and I ran outside and immediately jumped into the snow that built up on my backyard. The Knicks were without Ray Felton (welp) and Carmelo Anthony (Please be ok, Melo.) which opened the door for James White to get his first start with the Knicks and had Kurt Thomas reinserted into the starting lineup. The Knicks and Suns decided to take a strong stance against playing defense in the first quarter, and the Suns ended the frame with a 29-27 lead. During the second quarter, the Knicks tightened up their defense, holding the Suns to just 15 points while scoring 27 themselves. Marcus Camby played good minutes backing up Chandler, the ball moved well , and the rotations where on point, leading to the Knicks taking a 10 point lead into halftime. Also, J.R. undercut Goran Dragic on a layup attempt that led to Dragic taking a scary fall and J.R. receiving a flagrant foul. Dragic did not return. The Knicks got out to a 14 point lead in the third quarter, but then silly shots and turnovers, coupled with bad rotations led to the Suns tying the game up going into the fourth. In that final quarter, both teams exchanged small leads until the final seconds. The Knicks, down two, with a little more than 30 seconds remaining, ran a play out of a timeout that the Suns defended perfectly and resulted in a J.R. Smith isolation at the top of the three-point line. Earl was harassed by P.J. Tucker for 5 seconds and then threw up a ridiculous 20 foot turnaround fadeaway that had almost no arc but went down. I proceeded to screech like a little girl.  On the following Suns possession, Sebastain Telfair was forced out-of-bounds after Tyson Chandler chased him like a madman over a pick leading to the Knicks getting the ball back with one second remaining. And finally, to end the game in the proper “WTF”-manner it deserved, J.R. hit a leaning fallaway jumper from the corner as time expired. Swishsanity? Indeed. Some notes:

  • Jason Kidd–-basketball magician, wizard and connoisseur–-was absolutely wonderful. 23 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds on 8-16 from the field and 5-8 from three-point land. Also, he was a game high +13. There may not be enough crow left to eat after everything he’s done, but if there is I’ll gladly have another helping. I could try to describe all the things he did, but it would just be incoherent rambling because there was no rhyme or reason as to how he was doing them. Also: Kidd got switched onto Michael Beasley at one point, leading to a match-up of arguably the smartest basketball player ever versus Michael effing Beasley. The result? Kidd tying up Beasley on a drive leading to a jump ball. Jason Kidd is 15 years older than Michael Beasley. 
  • As mentioned EARLier, (Puns!) JR was great. Sure, he took his fair share of bad shots, but without Melo playing, he had to. JR helped the Knicks out-rebounded the Suns (6 bounds), had some nice pocket-passes to Chandler off the pick and roll, and came up with back-to-back steals that led to the Knicks tying the game and then taking small lead.
  • Tyson Chandler bounced back very nicely, recording 14 points and 12 rebounds while providing some great help defense all over the court. Also, he swatted away a Marcin Gortat three-point heavy as the shot clock expired and it was glorious. Good stuff, Tyson!
  • Krazy Eyes Kurt Thomas started, played 12 minutes in total, made two mid-range jumpers and wore orange shoes. Nothing new here.
  • Ronnie Brewer finished a nice layup, but also got called for a carry at half court and missed two jumpers pretty badly. Regression, thy name is Ronnie.
  • Marcus Camby played some nice minutes for the second straight game, grabbing 9 boards in just over 12 minutes and sending a Telfair layup into a camera man/media person sitting under the basket. Camby missed a couple jumpers, shooting with his ridiculous motion that made me laugh every time I saw it. Having someone like Camby to back up Chandler is going to be a big help for the Knicks defense, which has been pretty bad of late.
  • Not starting but still playing 30 minutes off the bench was Chris Copeland, who was 6-12 from the field for 14 points, including some very timely buckets. He continued to get lost on rotations, leaving many a Sun open in the corner for a three. Still, Copeland has been shooting the lights out of the ball recently, and canning a lot of catch-and-shoot threes. Good job Cope!
  • Side note: The Suns court is horrible. After seeing the Knicks all-orange Christmas uniforms yesterday, my eyes to exception to the bright orange key on the hardwood . That combined with Flight White’s bright orange kicks has made me scarred by the color orange. It might be the worst color ever.
  • The Knicks often ran a new set, where Tyson Chandler gets the ball in the high post, and the two guards ran different types of action around him. The set worked very well, and as pointed out by the great Jared Dubin on the ol’ twitter, it was a set that the Lakers ran against the Knicks just two night ago. Make sure to follow Jared if you aren’t already here.

Well, that seems to be it. The Suns aren’t a good team, however the Knicks were missing their top two scorers and managed to pull out a win. Twas’ entertaining to say the least. The Knicks play the Kings led by totally-not-suspended-but-still-kinda-suspended Demarcus Cousins on Friday.

Notes From the Knicks 100-94 Loss to Los Angeles

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY7js1lxgkM

This one hurts. For me personally, this one hurts especially bad. The Lakers have always been my least favorite franchise in the NBA, for various reasons. More importantly, this loss hurts for the Knicks. After the magical start to this season, the Knicks have come crashing back down to earth. In their last five games, New York is just 2-3. The offense has not performed well as of late, led by the struggling Raymond Felton. Defensively, the Knicks have yet to patch up the problems that have plagued them throughout the season. These problems all came to fruition on this Christmas day in Los Angeles. Carmelo Anthony’s gritty 34 point performance wasn’t enough on this day. Nursing a one point lead through three periods, the usually strong 4th quarter Knicks faltered down the stretch. Riding a disgusting amount of Raymond Felton wasted possessions, the Knicks scored just 16 fourth quarter points and were unable to stop the Lakers down the stretch when they needed to.

Here are my notes from the game: More

Recap: Knicks 94 Timberwolves 91

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Sl8ZL

Okay *clears throat:* In a world where bad shooting and lead changes are not excepted in the first three quarters of a basketball game. One man, one desire for lead changes; scoring in down-to-the-wire basketball games; fans hailing the eminence of this scoring deity by chanting the three letters M, V, and P and the rest being history. Carmelo Anthony stars in: “Crunch Time.” In theaters tonight. This little made-up movie trailer guy monologue summarizes what Carmelo Anthony exactly did in the 4th quarter. But first: With a Loveless, (and I don’t mean loveless as in being lonely, I mean without Kevin Love. Sheesh) Timberwolves team that’s whiter than white bread (Timberwolves-being-white jokes commence!), the Knicks still had a difficult time trying to get past the pack of Wolves. The Knicks looked cluttered in the first quarter. In a quarter where Alexey Shved was indeed Shveding if you will, you’re not going anywhere. The Knicks ended up losing that quarter, 29-22 because of slow defense. Same thing in the second quarter. Even Shved was turning into J.R Smith on one possession. It was all kinds of WTF and crazy. When the Knicks switch their assignments, I would gag. The Knicks did improve in the second, but were still outplayed by two points, trailing 55-46 at halftime. But the Knicks limited the Wolves to 18 points in both second half frames. When Carmelo Anthony hit a three to propel the Knicks into a 88-86 lead in the fourth, that was the only the Knicks second lead change. Then, Melo exploded in the final minutes of the fourth. Like their game against the Bulls, the Knicks played some crummy basketball, except, tonight they won and had couple of lead changes unlike having no lead changes against Chicago. It certainly is a recent Knicksian trend. Here are some notes:  More

Recap: Bulls 110 Knicks 106

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Bill Cosby on drugs

Let’s see…where should I start? Picture yourself walking down the street one night. You slip on a few banana peels because you had a bad day and your vision is really bad because it’s really dark out. One of the banana peels you slipped on was located on a crosswalk. So, you slip on it, and Dick Dastardly and Muttley from Wacky Races run you over from out of nowhere. It was that kind of night. The Knicks didn’t grab the Bulls by the horns by any means, the horns went up their asses. This was probably the biggest basketball mindfuck yet. I really haven’t seen a game so outlandish in my life. Special shit-covered confetti was released from the rafters because thank god that game finally ended after an elongated period of yet another valiant Knicks comeback effort, except, it didn’t succeed in the end, but it almost did. Even without Derrick Rose, the Bulls still put the smackdown on the Knicks for a second time this season (and also those pesky RockLins). The first quarter was filled with grogginess. The Bulls went on an early 14-2 run in the first, until Carmelo Anthony broke the run by hitting a three with 5:39 to play in the quarter after missing 10 of their first 11 shot attempts. The “Good” J.R Smith hit a buzzer beater shot that was SO J.R, leaving the Knicks trailing 30-23 at the end of the first. Some progress was made in the beginning of the second quarter, but then the Bulls went on a 12-2 run to end the second. The Knicks trailed 54-39 at half. Then, the third quarter was basically just a reiteration of the previous two quarters in that the Knicks performance was sloppier than a food fight. However, that reoccurring valiant comeback gene did happen in the 4th quarter, but fell short. The 4th quarter was filled with loads of fun and rage, including a whopping 45 Knick points, a mini-brawl, technical fouls and insulting of the refs. The Knicks didn’t lead the game once, but the fact that they got within 4 playing such chippy, sloppy, shitty basketball is amazing. Whitey Duvall would of dropped dead from singing so much if he saw all of the technicals. Here are some more notes and technicals:  More

Next Day Recap: Knicks 100 Nets 86

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I seen the lights go down on Broadwa— *record needle halts* wait, THAT’S WAY TOO MAINSTREAM. WHERE’S MY NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL? Oh yeah, that’s right. I don’t even know any of their songs or lyrics *goes on YouTube and looks up their most popular song  (wait, what?).* I STILL DON’T KNOW ANY OF THEIR SONGS OR LYRICS. TOO UNDERGROUND *brain fries.* Billy Joel is too cool for the Brooklyn Nets err…I mean hipsters. Mhm, yeah. So, according to Jay-Z, “the city was under new management when the Nets beat the Knicks at the Barclays Center in the inaugural Knicks-Nets showdown. Well, I have some news for you, Mr. Shawn Carter: Cool story, bro. You don’t have to tell it again because you are the absolute worst troll ever. Maybe it was the NetsDaily guy aka Satan controlling your account. I highly doubt it, but still. Maybe you were in a conference room with jolly ole Mikhail and the NetsDaily guy at the same time while sipping shots of Russian Standard (they hate Ciroc) proclaiming that “THE KNICKS ARE FUCKED” watching all seven of your concerts at the Barclays Center before the season started on a movie projector screen that was recently built in the conference room.

Alright, that was my Nets mocking vent session. But seriously, though, Jay-Z is hilarious. He needs to stop wearing his Nets hat so tight, yet I digress. Anyways, the Nets arrived at MSG last night to try and get their revenge after Jason Kidd used his three point prowess in crunch time to defeat them back at the Barclays. In the end, the Knicks routed them, leading the hipsters (I had to) to the exits early. The Knicks started out well, outscoring the Nets in the first quarter 26-23. Despite winning the second quarter, only by one point, the Knicks were doubling the left post, leading to a crapload of wide open looks from the right side of the court in the 2nd. The rotations were really terrible. Joe Johnson hit a couple of wide open threes, while Keith Bogans was Mayansing it up. Then the Knicks trumped the Nets to 19 points each in the third and fourth quarter, which contained a 23-7 run from the end of the third going into the fourth, leading to mocking of the “BROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKLYN” chant (needs more O’s, right?) at the end of the game. Oh, and that’s without the PA announcer telling them to chant it. Notes and stuff:  More

How Amar’e Stoudemire Fits Into the Knicks Offense

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At 19-6, the New York Knicks have been just fine this year without Amar’e Stoudemire. New York runs the second most efficient offense in the NBA, scoring 110.5 points per 100 possessions. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a clear role or a need for Stoudemire in the Knicks offense. The monkey in the room looming over New York’s dream season has been the issue of whether the Knicks $100 million big man would accept a role coming off the bench. Over the past few weeks, Stoudemire has indicated that he would be accepting to come off the bench. Mike Woodson has indicated he will bring Stoudemire along slowly in terms of minutes played. All signs point to Stoudemire as a bench player, which is a really good sign for the Knicks.

In today’s NBA where player athleticism allows defenders to cover ground quicker than ever before, offensive spacing has become increasingly important. Teams are getting smaller and smaller with lineups, featuring more “stretch fours” (power forwards that can shoot and stretch the floor) than ever. The Knicks are no different. It is no secret that Carmelo Anthony is far more productive as a power forward, and has excelled to arguably an MVP caliber of play in New York’s wide open attack. New York employs a “four out” offensive system, based around four shooters and a big man setting pick and rolls. More

Knicks-Nets: What to Watch For

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In less than an hour, the Knicks will be facing off against the Brooklyn Brooklyns Nets in Madison Square Garden. It will be the first time these teams play each other in MSG, so in the words of Terrell Owens: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3SdjqNz85M. A couple of things to watch for:

  • The Knicks are coming in a little injured, and by “a little” I mean “battered, beaten and wounded.” Carmelo Anthony will play, after missing the past couple of games with a sprained ankle. (An injury that could have easily been avoided if Dwight Howard wasn’t a moron. Seriously, screw that guy.) Steve Novak is out with the flu, because it’s quite cold outside in New York right now and he forgot to bundle up. Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace are out with plantar fasciitis and oldness, respectfully.
  • Getting more playing time because of these injuries? Chris Copeland and James White, probably. That should be interesting.
  • Having Melo back will certainly help the Knicks, but I’d like to see Woodson keep his minutes down tonight if Melo really looks bothered by that ankle. Or at least not play him the entire second half, like he did the last time these teams played.
  • Raymond Felton has had some horrific games against the Nets this year, mainly because he starts shooting long 2s at an alarming pace and trying to do too much off the dribble. I pray to my Festivus Pole that he settles down, doesn’t do this, and attacks the Nets big men of the pick and roll.
  • I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Knicks lost to the Rockets for the second time two days ago. The Knicks had plenty of issues, mostly on the defensive end. They were horrible yet again in getting back after missed baskets, and they gave up an absurd amount of dribble penetrations and easy baskets at the rim. In fact, this has been a trend for the majority of the season. The transition defense should be better simply because the Nets don’t get out and run (they’re currently last in pace, averaging 90.44 possessions a game) however the half court defense will be a major concern. Speaking of…
  • Joe Johnson has been playing much better recently, averaging 20.8 pts and shooting 49% over his last five games. The Knicks will probably start out with Jason Kidd on him, which is a favorable matchup for the Nets. Johnson has 6 inches on Kidd, and is 8 years younger. Last time these teams met, Johnson took advantage of Kidd in the post during the first half and drew double teams that had the Knicks defense scrambling.
  • As mentioned earlier, the Knicks are thin in the frontcourt tonight. Rebounding will be a big issue, with the Nets having Brook Lopez back, as well as Reggie Evans, Kris Humphries and Andray Blatche. Krazy Eyes Kurt Thomas will likely play some minutes at center, and I will likely throw things during those minutes.

The previous game between these teams was a nail-bitter that the Knicks managed to pull it out due to Melo being engulfed in flames for the majority of the game and Jason Kidd being a 39 year old basketball wizard. However, the Nets were missing Brook Lopez and have him back tonight. Keeping Tyson Chandler out of foul trouble will be important for the Knicks, and having Lopez back will make it much more difficult for Chandler to stay foul-free. This is a game the Knicks can win, and might depending on Melo’s health and Felton’s decision making. Tipoff is a little after 7pm EST. Enjoy!

Follow Dan on the Twitter @thedanstein 

Notes From the Knicks 109-96 Loss to Houston

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Don’t let Chris Copeland’s garbage time buckets fool you, the final score doesn’t indicate how poorly the Knicks played tonight. Houston’s offense dominated the Knicks all night, namely the starting Houston backcourt. Shooting guard James Harden and this guy named Jeremy Lin killed the Knicks all night. JR Smith carried the Knicks offense in the first quarter, but was forced to the bench due to early foul trouble. New York led 31-29 after one quarter, but the Rockets dominated the rest of the game. Houston scored 27 points in each the second and third periods, while the Knicks score 29 points in the two frames combined. The fourth quarter was basically garbage time where Chris Copeland excelled. Because of him, the Knicks lost by 13. Without him, the Knicks lose by 40 probably. This was not a good game for the Knicks. Losing to Jeremy Lin sucks, the Knicks are 0-2 against him now, but we have to remember it is one game. However, the Knicks defensive struggles are real. Coming into the game, New York rated out 16th in defensive efficiency and they gave up a 111.2 offensive efficiency to Houston tonight.

Here are my notes from the game: More

Game Preview 12/17: Rockets at Knicks

It’s the game we’ve all been waiting for. Well, not really, but it is the long awaited return of Linsanity to the Mecca, the arena where Jeremy Lin became a house hold name practically overnight. Lin has struggled mightily this season though, averaging less than 11 points and 6 assists per game, to go along with his abysmal field-goal percentage (under 40%). The backcourt tandem of Lin and Harden has been questioned because of their styles of play and has left many wondering if they don’t click well. It hasn’t effected James Harden however, as he is averaging 25 points per game, the fifth most in the league.

This game is a lot bigger for the Knicks then Jeremy Lin’s return, as they should have some revenge on their mind. The last time these two teams got together the Knicks got ran out of the gym, giving up 131 points to the Rockets in Houston en route to a 28-point blowout, by far the Knicks worst defeat of the year. In that game Harden had 33 and Chandler Parsons added 31, and in the wise words of Bart Scott, the Knicks couldn’t stop a nose bleed. The Rockets knocked down 14 of 25 threes, something the Knicks cannot allow to happen again. The Knicks have gone 10-2 since that game, and have allowed 100 points in only four of those last 12 games. Their three-point shooting and lack of turnovers has been the catalyst all season, and could be tonight as well.

The Rockets allow opponents to shoot 38.9% from behind the arc, the fourth highest in the league according to HoopData.com. The Knicks shoot over 40% from downtown and lead the league in 3-point rate. The Rockets are just behind the Knicks in 3-point rate, so be prepared to see a lot of three-pointers tonight from both teams. With Carmelo Anthony questionable with a sprained ankle, the three-point shot will again be huge for the Knicks. Both Harden and Lin like to get out in transition, so the Knicks transition defense will be crucial tonight. The Rockets average 16.8 fast break points a game, and the Knicks need to make sure they get back on defense and force the Rockets to beat them in the half-court game. As we saw when he played in New York, Lin is susceptible to turnovers in the half court and could allow the Knicks to get out into their own fast breaks.

Keeping Omer Asik in check tonight will fall on Tyson Chandler. Asik killed the Knicks last meeting with 18 and 14, and is averaging over 11 boards a game on the season. With Rasheed Wallace likely out again, Chandler’s interior defense and rebounding will be essential to limiting Asik’s effectiveness.

Tonight will mark the return of another former Knick point guard, Toney Douglas. Douglas played well for a brief time a couple years ago and was the Knicks starting point guard against the Celtics in the playoff series, but seemed to regress significantly last season. Douglas was a part of the deal that brought Marcus Camby back to the Knicks, and has played pretty well for the Rockets this season.  He is averaging over 10 points per game over his last 10 games in 22+ minutes. The hard-working point guard was pretty much ran out of New York at the end of last season, and has found a decent fit with the Rockets.

This is a huge game for the Knicks even without the return of Jeremy Lin. That is the last thing on the Knicks’ minds as they want to avenge their worst loss of the season. Raymond Felton told reporters this morning that they owe the Rockets something, and I expect them to come out firing at the World’s Most Famous Arena.

Follow Brian on Twitter @bcoles1029