Every Thursday Matt Fritz will break down how the New York Knicks bench has performed in the preceding week. Make sure to give Matt a follow on Twitter here and follow Turn On The Knicks on both Twitter and Facebook.
Where to start? The Knicks suffered their worst loss of the season last night in Indiana, losing to the Pacers by a final of 125-91. At first, it didn’t look like there would be even much of a bench report, simply due to the fact that there was just not much to report on. Turns out, with the Knicks’ being down by such a large margin in the 4th quarter, head coach Mike Woodson was able to empty his bench completely, for the majority of the final period. So I will try to give my best assessment of how the bench performed in what was just an overall sloppy, and extremely disappointing loss for the Knicks.
Statistically, The Knicks’ bench collectively shot 12 of 33 from the field, and 4 of 12 from the beyond the arc, for an overall FG percentage of 36%. Believe it or not, the Knicks outscored the Pacers in the final period by a score of 25-23, and their bench was a part of most of it. That is about the extent of the good news when it comes to the Knicks’ bench tonight. Collectively as a team the Knicks had a total of 15 turnovers, considerably more than their league best average of 11.6 a game. Last night, the bench contributed to 8 of those turnovers.
The overall ball movement did however improve when the Knicks reserves were in the game, and Knicks color commentator Walt “Clyde” Frazier hinted on that towards the end of the game. PG Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland had a solid little two man game going in the fourth quarter, which made for some positives. One huge disappointment however that jumped out at me with the bench was that nobody made a commitment to rebounding the ball. Last night, the Knicks were out-rebounded by a margin of 54-39, and had endless amounts of second chance opportunities.
Most Productive Bench Performer – Chris Copeland- Truthfully, nobody deserves any sort of accolades after last nights debacle, but if I had to pick a top performer out of the Knicks’ reserves, I would have to give it to forward Chris Copeland. In just over 10 minutes of playing time, Copeland shot a very respectable 6 of 11 from the field, finishing with a total of 13 points. He was actually one of the few players out there that looked like they had a little bit of passion and pride. He had just one rebound, but in his limited amount of playing time, he made the most of it, and was very aggressive, especially when attacking the basket.
Least Productive Bench Performer – J.R. Smith- Well, this was a no-brainer. J.R. Smith almost had as many technicals as he did points last night. When the Knicks are most successful, J.R. is usually a huge part of it, and they greatly rely on his perimeter shooting, which certainly was not there last night. Smith was an overall 1 of 8 from the field last night before getting ejected from the game after arguing a call towards the end of the third quarter. Surprisingly, he attempted just one three point field goal the entire night, and missed it like he did the majority of his shots. It wasn’t just his offense that lacked however, it was the overall disinterest he had in playing defense, like much of the team did. Instead of making a commitment to playing tough defense and getting a hand in shooters faces, he decided it would be more important to try and get chippy with Lance Stephenson, as well as argue with the refs throughout the majority of the game.
Suggested Rotation Changes – There aren’t really any necessary changes that I believe need to be made to the rotation of the Knick bench, however, it is tough to judge after a night like last night. It’s also coming to fruiting to the fact that the Knicks desperately need Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace to get back and healthy for the Knicks to get more production out of the bench. A big problem the Knicks have always had to fight with is the fact they just do not have a legit backup to center Tyson Chandler. They also greatly lack the toughness inside that Camby and Wallace would give them when healthy. In last nights broadcast, the Knicks’ announcers mentioned that Wallace may be coming back sooner rather than later, something we’ve been hearing for a while. Hopefully it actually does happen…sooner rather than later.