The New York Knicks had their 5 game winning streak snapped at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats at the Time Warner Cable Arena on Tuesday night.
-The Knicks were on the second game of a back-to-back and they looked like a team that went into overtime the previous night against the Phoenix Suns. The start of the game was fine for the Knicks as they hit their first four shots, but the defense never caught up with the offense. Although the offense did sputter in doses as well, the Knicks allowed the offensively challenged Charlotte Bobcats to shoot 50.7% from the field and 42.9% from three.
-The Knicks were without a doubt tired from the game a night before, so one would have to wonder why Carmelo Anthony would play 38 minutes again, and the simple answer would be because no one else was aggressive or looking for their shot all night. Three members of the Knicks starting lineup, Iman Shumpert, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler, took a combined 11 shots on the evening, connecting on 7 of them (63.6%). Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton took 34 shots combined, connecting on just 14 of them (41.2%). No other Knicks starter was looking to get involved on the offensive end which forced Anthony and Felton to take contested jump shots from outside of 15 feet, clearly not what you want for offensive balance and versatility.
-Tyson Chandler returned after missing the past 5 games with an upper respiratory infection and he looked like someone who was out of rhythm on the court. Normally Chandler is the Knicks’ rock in the center, but tonight Al Jefferson had his way with Chandler, Andrea Bargnani and Amare Stoudemire. Jefferson finished with 35 points and 8 rebounds. While he might be a good player that is simply unacceptable from an interior defensive standpoint, but without Chandler at 100% the Knicks will be at the mercy of skilled big men.
-Tim Hardaway Jr. (12 points) and Amare Stoudemire (17 points) provided the scoring punch off the bench with a combined 29 points, but for all the good they did offensively they were abysmal defensively as was the entire team. For Hardaway Jr. he is still learning the NBA game and is a work in progress on that end, but he’s been so consistent scoring that you need to give him the minutes to learn on the floor. Stoudemire has never been known as a good defender, but rather average at best. He always seems to try to stay with his man rather than even be involved as a team defender and rotating to help.
-J.R. Smith was benched again after playing in the past two games and playing pretty well. He was improving from that early season slump and it’s surprising in a game that the Knicks needed a scoring punch at some point that he wasn’t inserted. Tim Hardaway Jr. was the first guard off the bench, which is usually Smith’s role, and he started 4-4 in the first, but cooled considerably missing his next 6 shots. At that point Mike Woodson should have at least seen if Smith could give the Knicks some sort of spark to be in the game, but nonetheless the situation with the disgruntled guard continues to be puzzling. After the game Smith referenced that he had no idea about the benching and was certainly upset by it, something to keep a close eye on.
-The only Knicks starter to finish positive in the +/- was Iman Shumpert with a +5. Raymond Felton and Andrea Bargnani finished with a -21 while Carmelo Anthony finished with a -20 and finally Tyson Chandler with a -7. Plus/minus of course calculates the overall impact that player has on team success and tonight the Knicks’ bench players were more effective than the starters, which could be attributed to fatigue. Although a lot of experts don’t pay much attention to the plus/minus it is an important part of finding the problems a team is having night to night.
-Another key stat of the night is the Knicks are now 0-4 on the road in the second game of back-to-backs this season. The Knicks are an older team, at least in the starting lineup, and they show it when it comes to fatigue. They don’t seem to have the exuberance to play well on limited rest, especially since Mike Woodson won’t trust his young players to play significant minutes.
-Next up for the Knicks is another road game Thursday against the Indiana Pacers and that will be a pivotal game for the Knicks. After defeating the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, the Knicks need to prove they can beat the best team in the league that knocked them out of the playoffs. Also the Knicks are right on the cusp of a playoff spot and need another win streak to try and secure one of said spots. What better way to do that than a signature win vs. the Pacers, not to mention 8 straight home games after the trip to Indiana.