Rockets 102, Knicks 100: Game Recap

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A good portion of the Knicks’ 22 losses this season have come down to the wire. In almost all of these games, the Knicks have been the ones to screw something up – rarely has it been their opponent out-executing them. In the loss against Indiana, it was a poor foul by Iman Shumpert. Against Washington, it was a terrible defensive possession followed by utter chaos and a 25-foot chuck when the team had two timeouts left. Even in a victory, in Milwaukee, Andrea Bargnani nearly torpedoed the game by taking the most ill-advised shot one could imagine. Well, maybe until last night:

- Here’s the thing about J.R. Smith’s 3-point attempt, with the game tied, and the Knicks having just grabbed an offensive rebound and a new possession with the shot clock off: It was a fantastic look. Quite honestly, it was likely better than any look the Knicks were going to get had they rightly held the ball for the final shot. J.R. Smith is a good catch-and-shoot guy, who was dead on and wide, wide open. But it’s a terrible play. No matter the look, you never, ever take that shot – especially on the road against a superior opponent. The correct play is to hold the ball for the last shot. Everyone knows it.

- While 99.9% of the blame goes on J.R. Smith for the aforementioned shot, am I allowed to place a tiny bit of blame on Beno Udrih as well? When Tyson Chandler gets the rebound and taps it out to Udrih, he quickly fired to the open Smith at the top of the key. Why did he do that? I’d give anyone else on the court a pass on this, but Beno is the point guard. Of everyone on the floor he should know the situation, and when he gets the ball he should immediately settle things, not quickly fire a pass to the shooting guard. Regardless, J.R. should have never pulled the trigger. But ask yourself this: does Jason Kidd make that pass? Heck, does Aaron Brooks?

- The Knicks’ inability to manage late-game situations is now an epidemic. The Knicks have proven themselves to be a low-IQ team. Last year they were great in these situations, but often Jason Kidd was on the floor, and the Knicks clearly lack some on-court veteran leadership and smarts. Still, when you have this many glaring, late-game blunders, you have to point your finger to the coaching.

- The Knicks had an 8-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. It got erased quickly, as the Knicks again struggled when Amare Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani shared the floor. It’s a combination we all know is terrible, but with Kenyon Martin unavailable and Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony needing some rest, Mike Woodson is in a tough spot. Bargnani and Stoudemire have been so bad together at the 4 and 5 that you can make a case for the Knicks to go uber-small – perhaps even using Iman Shumpert at the 4. Or maybe there was a 4 or 5 minute window that Jeremy Tyler could have been used?

- On to something good: Shumpert. The dude is completely on fire, a total 180-turn from his previous slump. Shumpert won’t score 20+ every night from now on, but you can see in the past two games how different a team the Knicks are when Shumpert gives them offense. The Knicks are 10-22 for a bevy of reasons, but it’s fair to argue they’d have a much better record of Shumpert was awake for most of the season, not just these past two games. If Shumpert was averaging, say, 13 points a night, are the Knicks this bad?

- Wasn’t there a severely low amount of Jeremy Lin talk yesterday and during the game on Twitter? At least that’s how it felt to me. Weird, because he played pretty well (despite not playing at all in the 4th quarter). And now the Knicks won’t play the Rockets again until next season. Thank goodness.

- James Harden is really, really good at, um, “drawing contact”.

- Charlie Ward was at the game, and he looks like he could still play. The Knicks could use a point guard, too.

- There is a Carmelo Anthony-for-Blake Griffin trade rumor floating around this morning. This deserves it’s own post and discussion, though I personally think this is highly unlikely to happen.

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