Knicks 102, Bucks 88 Recap


Hey now! The Knicks defeated the Milwaukee Bucks  102-88, overcoming an incredibly potent and efficient back court of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, as well as freakishly athletic Larry Sanders and his formerly popular television show. (I was told that I had to get at least one Larry Sanders Show reference per post.) The Knicks were down 23-26 at the conclusion of the first quarter, but then proceeded to make a nice run to close out the half and take 58-48 lead into the break. In the third quarter, the Knicks exploded, in major part because of Mike Woodson changing up the starting lineup and bringing in Steve Novak for Kurt Thomas. The Knicks built up a 20 point lead very quickly in the third. The Bucks fought back a bit and brought the lead down to as low as 14, but ultimately the Knicks kept them at arms length and left with a win. Below are some notes n’ things: More

Mike D’Antoni’s Quote is a Complete Non-Issue

Enough time has passed now that D’Antoni can admit where he went wrong. It’s not one of those plays he regrets, it’s a decision.

His decision to leave.

“I shouldn’t have gone to New York,” he says, looking down at the sideline in Memphis, pacing on that unstable right leg.

“I should have stuck in there and battled. You don’t get to coach somebody like him [Nash] too many times. It’s pretty sacred and you need to take care of it. I didn’t.”

D’Antoni has never told Nash this.

It feels good to confess.

“I think we got frustrated and I got frustrated. That’s why I left. We were there, it seemed like we deserved it, and then it seemed like something happened all the time. Maybe we weren’t good enough either. We have to understand that.

“I probably irrationally made a decision right when the season was over. You should take a month to figure it out. I shouldn’t have left. That was my fault.”

The story I’ve always heard is that it was a mutual parting. The Suns’ ownership group and new general manager Steve Kerr pushed him to hire a defensive assistant. His system was questioned. Everything was.

Sure the Suns could outscore everyone, but could they win a championship? Could D’Antoni? Was the team flawed? Was he? Did they just have horrible luck? Did he need to change? Could he?

When the Knicks job came open in the spring of 2008, the Suns let him go.

“No. It was me,” D’Antoni admits now. “I initiated it and I probably shouldn’t have.”

Via ESPN NY

For some reason, Mike D’Antoni’s quotes have sparked outrage throughout the Knick fan base today and I don’t really understand why. Well, I do understand actually. Many Knick fans dislike D’Antoni and blame much of the team’s underachievement on him. Fine. People are entitled to their opinions and D’Antoni wasn’t perfect in New York. Having said that, to get outraged over these quotes is completely asinine.

If you actually read what D’Antoni said and the context in which he said it, it is pretty obvious that he isn’t taking a shot at the Knicks. If you actually read what he said, you’d see that he is talking about the remorse he has for leaving Phoenix. D’Antoni talks about how he should never have left Steve Nash and the good thing they had going. He talks about regretting his decision to initiate conflict with Suns management that ultimately led to his departure.

Nowhere in these quotes does D’Antoni ever go into his tenure in New York. He already spoke about this during his introductory press conference. The Lakers coach took the high road and was as classy as could be about his previous job. This is a classic case of the media turning a non-story into something that it isn’t.

The headline has been “D’Antoni regrets taking Knicks job” but very clearly that wasn’t the point of what he actually said. So for all you Knicks fans that are outraged about this, pump the breaks on your anger. These quotes aren’t a big deal, they don’t attack James Dolan, Carmelo Anthony, or the Knick organization. This is D’Antoni expressing remorse for leaving the Suns, not for taking the Knicks job.

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Game Preview 11/28: Knicks @ Bucks

        Two nights after the Knicks lost the first Battle of the Borough’s to the Nets they are back in action on the road against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Knicks are in need of a win and have dropped three of the last four games since jumping out to a 6-0 start. After losing their third straight road contest to the Nets at the Barclays, the Knicks travel to Milwaukee. Jason Kidd will miss his second straight game and did not travel with the team to Milwaukee because of back spasms. They face a Bucks team that sits atop the Central Division in the Eastern Conference at 7-5 and can really score the ball, something teams have been doing with ease against the Knicks the past several games.  The Knicks did hold the Nets to 96 points in an overtime game on Monday night, but gave up 100+ points the three games prior. A bright spot that came out of the Nets game was the reemergence of Tyson Chandler, who poured in 28 points and grabbed ten rebounds, demonstrating some of the energy and intensity we become used to seeing with him.

The two teams enter the game under different circumstances. The Knicks have lost 3 of 4, while the Bucks are fresh off a 27-point comeback victory over the Bulls on Monday night. The Bucks are second in the league in field-goal percentage, and are led by their two star guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis. Ellis leads the Bucks in scoring with 19.1 per, and Jennings is second to him averaging 16.5 per but leads the NBA in steals at a little over three a game. Those two are the engine that makes the Bucks go, and the Knicks perimeter defense will be crucial tonight to avoid the Milwaukee guards from peculating (Clyde voice).  Here are a few keys/notes/things to look for:

Bench Scoring: The Bucks come into the game second in the league in bench scoring, getting 42 points from their reserves this season. On the flip side, the Knicks are only allowing 32 points per game from the opposition’s bench.  In Milwaukee’s comeback victory over the Bulls the other night, their bench outscored the Bulls 56-10, clearly turning out to be the difference in the contest. The Knicks will have their hands full with the two starting guards of the Bucks, so it will be crucial for them to win the battle of the second units tonight. J.R Smith could never get going offensively the other night against the Nets, and the Knicks offense struggled because of it. Chandler and Anthony scored a combined 63 points against the Nets and the Knicks scored 89 as a team; they need J.R. to add some scoring off the bench.

Play of Raymond Felton: We all know how poor Felton shot the ball the other night. He was 3 of 17 from the field and couldn’t find his jumper all night. He also seemed to be a little hesitant on some pick and rolls with Chandler, caught in between whether he wanted to drop in an eight-foot floater or throw Chandler a lob. He and Tyson connected on a few real pretty pick and rolls that led to easy Chandler dunks, but overall Felton played easily his worst game as a Knick. With Kidd out for the second straight game, the play of Felton will again be under a microscope, and they will without a doubt need a better shooting performance from him. I’d also like to see him and Tyson run that high pick and roll more often, and Felton improving on the decision-making. His defense will also be put to the test against the two electrifying guards, especially since Kidd will miss his second straight game and Ronnie Brewer ailing with a dislocated finger.

3-Point Shooting: The Knicks come into tonight averaging just fewer than 12 threes per game to lead the NBA. It has been a major part of their offense so far this season. They were able to knock down only six against the Nets on Monday night, and it is no coincidence they lost the game. Novak looked like he regained his stroke in the game prior against the Pistons, but barely showed up against the Nets as he attempted only three shots. Steve Novak is a key part of this offense when he is able to spread the floor, but he is obsolete on both ends of the floor when he isn’t hitting the three ball. I look for him to hit some big three’s tonight to help the second unit along with J.R. For the Bucks, they shoot under 30% as a team from behind the arc, so the Knicks will need to keep them around that number tonight.

The Bucks are also a pretty good rebounding team with Samuel Dalambert and Ersan Ilyasova who both attack the offensive glass. While the Knicks outrebounded the Nets in the fourth quarter on Monday night, they were outrebounded for the first three quarters, and got abused on the glass by Reggie Evans who grabbed 14 boards in 17 minutes. Rebounding continues to be an issue for the Knicks, so I would like to see Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby show up and help on the rebounds.

Follow Brian on Twitter @bcoles1029

Notes From the Knicks 96-89 Loss to Brooklyn

EVERYBODY STAY CALM. It is just one basketball game, contrary to Jay-Z’s asinine tweet of “The city is under new management.” Troll so hard Mr. Z, troll so hard. Anyways, the Knicks and Nets played a hard fought game Monday night. Reggie Evans willed Brooklyn to a two point halftime deficit. New York’s offense really fell apart in the second half and overtime. The Knicks scored just 20 third quarter points, 17 fourth quarter points and mustered a mighty 5 point performance in the overtime period. New York held an 84-81 lead with 1:38 to play in regulation, but a series of Knick miscues allowed Brooklyn to push the game to overtime. In extra time, the Knicks offense was unable to do anything and they were outscored 12-5. Deron Williams, despite his shooting struggles, played a masterful game. His 16 points and 14 assists led Brooklyn to victory. Tyson Chandler broke out of his early season doldrums with a 28 point 10 rebound performance. Carmelo Anthony also had a great game, scoring 35 points on 25 shots and grabbing 13 rebounds, but ran out of gas along with the Knick offense.

Here are my notes from the game: More

Key Matchup Tonight 11/26: Chandler vs. Lopez

Well it’s time to redeem myself in this post. The last time I wrote about the matchup between Raymond Felton and Jeremy Lin and how Felton was going to outplay the former Knick point guard. Turns out I was wrong, completely wrong, as the Knicks didn’t even bother showing up in a 131-103 route to the Rockets. So here is another attempt at writing about a matchup, this one about the big men down low (pause..) for both the Knicks and Nets, Tyson Chandler and Brook Lopez.

One of the major storylines for the Nets this season has been the play of Lopez. He leads them in scoring with 19 points per game and shooting 55% from the field, and has shown a more aggressive side to his game that has been lacking in his young career. Brook can be a dynamic center because of his ability to step out and hit the long jumper, making Chandler’s defense tonight that much more important.

Chandler won the DPOY award last year in deserving fashion, but so far this season hasn’t been the defensive force Knick fans have become accustomed to seeing. He has been nagged by illness and some injuries early on, and the Knicks need him to get back to being the anchor of that defense going forward. Early on, defense was the Knicks catalyst, but lately it has been their Achilles heel. They gave up 65 second-half points to the Mavericks last Wednesday, 131 points to the Rockets on Friday, and then despite winning yesterday, allowed the lowly Pistons to drop 100 at the Garden. The Knicks need to get back to playing the defense that allowed them to jump out to an undefeated start, especially against a Nets team that can really score.

One of the keys to tonight’s game will be the pick and roll defense of the Knicks. As Taylor pointed out in the game preview, the Knicks have allowed 1.08 points per possession to roll men, and the Nets run both Humphries and Lopez off pick and rolls. In order for the Knicks to be successful tonight, Chandler, Sheed and Camby will all have to do a good job of chasing Williams out of the paint and getting back to defend the big men. Easier said than done obviously as the Nets have some formidable scorers down low, but that is why Chandler needs to play a key role tonight.

It should be a great game tonight, and despite whatever hatred you may have for the other team, it’s good to have two relevant basketball teams in New York…But who am I kidding, I dislike the Nets very much, and hope the Knicks beat them down tonight.

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Knicks-Nets: What to Watch For

The 9-3 New York Knicks face off tonight against the newly minted 8-4 Brooklyn Nets. This matchup brings us the first Knicks-Nets matchup since the Nets uprooted from Chris Christie-territory and made the magnificent Barclays Center their new home arena. What makes this matchup fun is that both teams are good. This isn’t Knicks-Nets of the recent past, where New York has won 6 of the last 7 meetings between the teams. Brooklyn poses a formidable opponent for the Knicks and actually match up quite well with them. Taking into consideration that the Knicks are floundering as of late and that the Nets are 6-1 at home, we should have a good game on our hands.

Brooklyn and New York are pretty evenly matched across the board. New York boasts the NBA’s most efficient offense with a 111.5 offensive rating, while Brooklyn rates 6th at 104.4. Defensively, the Knicks and Nets are incredibly similar as they rate 17th and 19th respectively in defensive rating. Both teams play at incredibly slow paces and rank 28th (Knicks) and 29th (Nets) in that category.

Here is what to watch for: More

Knicks Face Off Against Linsanity, Reminder of Solid Off-Season Moves

      

   The Knicks will wrap up a mini three-game west coast trip tonight when they take on the Rockets in Houston. The Rockets have the league’s top scorer in James Harden who is averaging 24.5 points per game through the early part of the season (just fractions ahead of Carmelo Anthony), but the bigger and more obvious storyline coming into tonight’s matchup is Jeremy Lin’s first game against the team that helped put him on the map last season.

                The biggest decision the Knicks had to make last season was whether or not they were going to retain Lin, who burst onto the scene last year when he averaged 24.4 points to lead the Knicks on a seven-game win streak. You can attribute Lin’s success last season to whatever you want (there was no film on the guy, they played a weak schedule, there was no Carmelo Anthony, etc.), but you cannot deny that he played extremely well and helped Mike D’Antoni keep his job for the time being.  The Knicks decided (wisely) to not match the lucrative offer Lin received from the Rockets, and instead brought in three new point guards to help anchor the backcourt.

Coming into the season Raymond Felton declared he was the better point guard than Jeremy Lin, and so far has done just about everything to prove that. He is averaging 15.7 points per game to go along with 6.9 assists, compared to Lin’s 10 ppg and 6.3 assists. Felton is also shooting 10% better from the field. Felton without a doubt came into this season with a chip on his shoulder having to answer to all the Jeremy Lin fanatics who thought the Knicks made the wrong decision in letting him go. The Knicks also brought in Kidd and Prigioni to help anchor the backcourt, providing them with guard depth that they did not have last year. Kidd currently ranks 17th in the league in PER at 22.62, and Prigioni has been a formidable floor general with the second unit.

The defense at the guard position is also much improved with the new additions. Lin was a turnstile last year and has been exposed early on this year with his on the ball defense. While I think Lin can be a solid point guard in this league, he’d be the first one to tell you he has some things he needs to improve on. I think Felton still has that chip on his shoulder, and will come out tonight with a lot of intensity and attack Lin. He is quicker and stronger than Lin, and I’d like to see him utilize the pick and roll, something that gave Lin fits defensively last season with the Knicks. I look for Felton to have a very nice game tonight as the Knicks look to avoid consecutive losses for the first time this season.

 
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Ball Still Don’t Lie: Rasheed Wallace’s Surprising Success With The Knicks

Throughout 10 games, Rasheed Wallace’s return to the NBA has been a lot more better than many people expected it to be (yes, even his spectacular garbage time games against the Heat and the Sixers count). No one, well, maybe some exuberant people such as me, would believe that last sentence. People believed that Sheed would have a crappier season than his one game with the Hawks. Okay, maybe not that eerie. I’ll make a compromise because his one game with the Hawks is clearly not fair compared to his other stints (he did shoot 8-24 in his lone game against the Nets, though. SMALL SAMPLE SIZE. AM I RIGHT?). “We the fans, of the National Basketball Association, believe that power forward Rasheed Wallace had a far more sub-par season with the Boston basketball Celtics than the Atlanta basketball Hawks, after being traded by the Hawks to the Detroit basketball Pistons, thus winning the Pistons an NBA title in 2004, due to the bantam, tiny, petite sample size of one game.” Deal, delegates? Deal. *shakes hands. *delegates sign document.  More

Recap Mavericks 114 Knicks 111

Another epic comeback was almost sealed in heart-attack inducing fashion, but the Knicks couldn’t quite pull out of Dallas with a second win against the Mavericks. The first half was filled with lots of ball movement and unselfishness that propelled the Knicks into an early 54-49 lead at halftime. The Mavericks romped ahead of the Knicks in the third quarter 35-26, leading the Knicks to trailing by 4 at the end of the third 84-80. The Knicks showed life in the fourth quarter like they have in previous games, but despite the “good job, good effort,” they fell short because of poor decision making in the latter. Notes from this game are brought to you by…me:

  • Despite his smart fundamental play in the first half and his team leading 23 points, Carmelo Anthony had a typical mediocre shooting night shooting 7-16 from the field. Melo played 41 minutes and fouled out, resulting in a dose of “Hit The Road Jack.” Melo was rolling early. He continued to pass out of double teams finding the open man, but got sloppy with the ball later, reverted back to iso ball and committed 7 turnovers. On one possession, Melo attacked the rim, did a 360, and converted a mesmerizing layup. Unfortunately, the circus shot was called off and Melo was tagged with an offensive foul, which was absolutely not a foul because looking back at the tape, Vince Carter clearly moved and Tony Brothers happened to be brothers with Vince Carter deciding that it was an offensive foul against Melo, leading to fans denouncing the refs. The subject of the 4th quarter, as well as the whole game, was Melo’s shot selection on the very last possession of the game. Melo, who was being guarded by lockdown defender, Shawn Marion, beat Marion off the dribble and pulled up for an extraneous double-clutch jumper that hit short rim. I was facepalming right after Melo missed the shot because I knew that it wasn’t the decision I wanted Mike Woodson to go to. Prior to that, to prevent the Knicks from taking the lead in the fourth quarter, Chris Kaman sucked the venom out of one of his pet snakes he brought with him that he was hiding under the hardwood floor tiles, smacked the bejesus out of Melo’s face, and hissed at everyone in transition. More

Knicks 100 Hornets 82 Recap

The Knicks avoided a potential let-down game in New Orleans, coasting (except for some select moments) past a banged up Hornets team. After jumping out to a 29-17 lead in the first quarter, the Knicks stalled in second, getting outscored 31-24 and taking a 5 point lead into the break. Everything started to click in the second half (as it has for almost every game this season) and the Knicks ran away with it, 102-80. Below are some notes on what went right and what went left wrong:

  • Carmelo Anthony led all players in scoring with 29, and got the majority of it in the first quarter. The Meloman shot 8-9 from the field and 2-3 from deep, scoring 19 points. The Hornets started out with Al-Farouq Aminu guarding Melo, with Ryan Anderson also taking a crack at stopping him. They, um, failed and Melo outscored the Hornets in the first quarter by himself. Melo relentlessly backed down the smaller Aminu in the post, either passing out to the perimeter after the defense collapsed, or scoring over Aminu if no help came. When Anderson was matched up against him, Melo blew by him into the center of the defense and did the same. His one miss in the first was a heat-check PUJIT that missed badly. I wasn’t pleased with that particular shot, but had it gone in I would have done a cartwheel, and I don’t even know how to do a cart-wheel. He finished the quarter with two brilliant plays as well: First, Melo had a beautiful spin move from the left block , and then in one motion drew a blocking foul and put up a 6-ft floater. The floater went down, and Melo knocked down the free throw ending his scoring for that period. On the next possession, Melo set up on the left-wing, reading the help-defense. As the shot clock reached 3, he threw a laser cross-court pass to Steve Novak who buried a corner 3. That was a pretty cool sequence. It’s worth mentioning that Melo shot 4-13 for the rest of the game, but he’s Melo so it’s fine.
  • Jason Kidd kept the troll-bus rolling, as he played as ridiculously as he looked. Although his stat line doesn’t look spectacular (3PTS, 5 REBS, 4ASTS, 2STLS, 1 poorly positioned head-band) he was stellar. There was one stretch where Kidd intercepted a pass, then in one motion threw a touchdown pass to Melo all the way down court, followed by Kidd again playing the passing lane, throwing the ball out to Felton on the break only to then get it back for a spot-up 3. His best moment, however, was when Aminu was coming full speed to the hoop on the break, started gathering for a layup, and Kidd ripped the ball cleanly out of his hands and threw a behind-the-back outlet pass all in what seemed like a split-second.
  • Raymond Felton had 15 PTS by making 5-6 3s. I believe all but one of his attempts was wide open, and the one that I am referring to was an amazing shot, beating the clock while double-teamed and falling away. The Knicks didn’t run too much pick-and-roll, as the ball was in Anthony’s hands for the majority of the time the starters were on the court, and in turn, Felton became a spot up shooter.
  • Tyson Chandler went through a spell in the second quarter and played very tentatively, most likely because of the 2 quick fouls he had picked up. At halftime, Herb Williams was interviewed and said the coaches were encouraging Tyson to play more aggressively, which for some reason made me think of this. Needless to say, Tyson came out fired up in the second half and finished with 7 PTS and 12 REBS.
  • Clyde was wearing a suit that was the same color as a crushed blueberry. He also called Tyson the “MVP of the Defensive Player of the Year.” Or, as I call it: Clyde things.
  •  During that second quarter where the lead shrunk, the Knicks bench played poorly. Prigioni had a poor game, throwing away a couple passes, and the overall defense was poor. Whatever.
  • James “Flight” White came in the 3rd quarter, which caught me off guard. Flight proceeded to steal a pass and then through down a monster tomahawk. Also, he wore incredibly bright orange shoes.
  • Steve Novak shot 2-10 from 3, but most of those came in garbage time and Steve was just chuckin’. He’ll be fine.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd, that’s about it. Woodson rested the starters in the 4th, getting them ready for the second game of the back-to-back, which is against Dallas. Jason Kidd returns to Dallas! And Tyson! It should be a good one.