Nine straight losses. Seven straight losses at home, which ties a team record for futility at MSG. Times of trouble, my friends. Let’s get to last night:
- The Knicks’ defense continued to be frustratingly bad, allowing a lot of open looks from a foot away off pick and rolls (especially when Andrea Bargnani and/or J.R. Smith were tasked with defending it). They treated 3-point specialist Ryan Anderson like an afterthought, and he bombed his way to 7-of-11 from downtown and 31 overall points. But I still find myself with an eye fixated on the offense, because it was ugly again. The Knicks have only cracked the 100-point plateau twice this season, and were unable to again despite a career game from rookie Tim Hardaway, Jr. Iman Shumpert isn’t chipping in enough. Neither is J.R. Smith. After a great first half with 10 points, Raymond Felton finished with just 12.
- Carmelo Anthony didn’t shoot a lot in the fourth quarter, thanks to some sticky defense by Al-Farouq Aminu. But throughout the game he found some success getting to the rim and was consistently hitting his mid-range jumpers. The problem was that the 3-ball betrayed him. He had that rushed-but-good-look late that would have tied the game, and it went agonizingly halfway down before rolling out. The Knicks’ best player had a another pretty solid overall outing, adding 10 rebounds (he’s averaging 9.9 per game) and 3 assists, but the losses continue.
- Re: the whole Shumpert “blow up” at Carmelo. I wasn’t in the huddle, so I don’t know what Shumpert said to Melo after the failed rotation that led to an Anderson 3, but I do know that the ensuing foul by Shumpert was a bad play by him (it was a nice football play, I suppose) and ended up being his 4th foul. Late in the 3rd quarter, that’s a good time to sit him. The problem was that Mike Woodson never went back to Shumpert, probably because Hardaway went on another run in the late 3rd/early 4th portion of the game, so the coach decided to stick with the rookie. Now, everyone with a brain and a properly working pair of eyes knows that Shumpert should have entered the game at some point for J.R., but Woodson obviously felt otherwise. So I’m going to posit that Shumpert sat the rest of the game after the “blow up” because of Mike Woodson’s ineptitude. I think that right now there is more evidence to support that than the whole “The Knicks hate Iman Shumpert” thing that’s going on with the fanbase right now. How about he sat because the coach isn’t very good? Not because he yelled something at Carmelo Anthony, something that nobody who was on their couch last night heard?
- Want more evidence that Woodson is a bit lost these days? Pablo Prigioni played 10 minutes. During those ten minutes, the Knicks hit five of their 13 3-pointers. They hit a bunch early on in the fourth quarter with Prigioni on the floor, but Woodson pulled him, inexplicably, and never went back to him. Prigioni can’t play every minute of every game, or even 30 minutes a game because of his age, but he is able to and should play the majority of 4th quarters, especially in close games.
- Anthony Davis only played 10 minutes before leaving with a fracture in his hand. It’s a terrible and unlucky injury for the Pelicans, and makes the Knicks’ loss to them even that much worse.
- Andrea Bargnani continued to show that he is pretty good at defending 1-on-1 but is pretty much useless when part of the tandem defending a pick-and-roll. I still contend that hes playing too much, and the second Tyson Chandler can play, Bargnani’s minutes shoudl be cut severely. He can still help on offense with his versatility in the pick-and-pop, and now the seemingly perfected pick-and-roll-and-pullup, but he should be able to continue to help on that end in about 20 minutes or so a night.
- You really have to wonder how much longer Mike Woodson has before the ax falls. While the Knicks clearly are a very flawed team, I still think they have way more talent than any 3-13 team should have. It’s not like they’ve lost to great teams, either. This is a league where half the teams aren’t even trying this season, and the Knicks can’t seem to beat anyone. Perhaps they just need a shakeup and/or a new voice. A loss to Brooklyn on Thursday might be enough to turn things over to Herb Williams for the remainder of the season, and look to hire a new full time coach in the offseason. If we’re not there yet, we’re certainly getting there. Onwards and upwards, Knicks!