Knicks 109 Lakers 120

	Pace	Eff	eFG	FT/FG	OREB%	TOr
NYK	93.8	118.8	49.4%	22.2	29.8	12.0
LAL		125.1	57.7%	27.4	32.6	13.6

The first quarter was pretty much all David Lee. He didn’t enter the game until 6:48, but by the end of the quarter he had 9 points. The only shot he missed was blocked by Turiaf, but Lee recoverd and made the second. He made a nice one-handed pass to Zach Randolph who blew the shot. Randolph would later miss a dunk off a nice Lee pass in traffic, costing him two assists. Curry was in foul trouble all night, which gave Lee lots of burn. His second quarter wasn’t as good, on one possession Lee badly missed a jumper. But he still went into the locker room at halftime as the Knicks leading scorer with 15 points. Throughout the night, Lee played the pick & roll exceptionally well. In previous years the Knicks pick & roll consisted of Marbury passing to a jump shooting forward like Keith Van Horn or Kurt Thomas. But Lee ran the high pick & roll with Nate & Crawford and instead of staying on the perimeter, Lee cut to the hoop. Both guards were able to find him the ball of the screen & Lee’s excellent finishing skills led to easy buckets. Of Lee’s 8 baskets on the night, 6 were assisted.

Nate Robinson showed his best & worst during this game. Robinson was torching the Lakers; it seems his outside shooting touch is back. Robinson was 7-15, including 4-7 from downtown. He pushed the ball up court frequently, found his teammates with crisp passes, and even grabbed a few important rebounds. On one possession, Odom and Balkman were fighting for a rebound, until Nate came over and knocked the ball to a teammate. On another Knick miss, Robinson stole a rebound from the Lakers. But Nate let his emotions get to him in the fourth quarter. On a fast break, Robinson was the recipient of a hard foul by Vujacic. (Vujacic was retaliating from a Balkman elbow to the head.) Robinson forced up a bad shot a few possessions later, and was less effective running the offense. Up until this point, Robinson was playing a fantastic game.

The goat of the game was clearly Eddy Curry. Just about every time Curry stepped on the court the Knicks played worse. Curry was -16 in only 16 minutes. Isiah’s biggest mistake was substituting Curry for Lee in the final 4:31. New York was only down by 4 points at the time, and Curry was largely ineffective up to that point. Earlier in the game Curry left his man wide open for an easy dunk. On another defensive play he offered no resistance to a driving Kobe Bryant, but ended up getting called for a careless foul on the play anyway. On offense Curry couldn’t take advantage of a Bynum-less Lakers. So with Curry in for the last minutes of the game, the Lakers go on a 12-5 run, and the game is over.

Although you could blame Isiah Thomas for the move. Thomas seems to fall prey to something that hurts coaches in all sports: playing it safe. The conventional wisdom is to finish the game with your starters, so to Thomas it made sense to bring the “Low Post Charger” back in the game. But this was the wrong player at the wrong time. The Knicks carved out a lead during the middle of the game with defense and efficient play on offense, but in the end Thomas abandoned those things. Looking at the +/- the Knicks were the best with Lee (-1), Jeffries (-2), Collins (-4), and Balkman (-4) on the floor. (No Knick finished with a positive +/-). In other words New York played their best basketball when they had one or two guys that played defense and didn’t hurt the team offensively by giving possessions away. It’s disheartening that Thomas doesn’t understand that his team is best with a mix of players of differing styles. I’m not saying that the Knicks should have gone with that lineup, but having one or two of those players on the floor would have given the Knicks a better chance at winning.

What They Saying In the Mainstreamosphere

http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/basketball/knicks/blog/2008/01/fallibility_is_sexy.html

From beat the Newsday beat writer:

As for David Lee….I’ve often suggested to him privately that he needs to be more aggressive with his moves to the basket. David knows he’s not a top three option when he’s on the court. He’s an active rebounder, that’s his main role. I think he’s developed just fine. He had 13 boards last night. When he gets minutes, he gets rebounds. Sometimes with players you see them reach a certain point and that’s when you have to decide: is this what they are? Can they be better? I think David can be a double-double guy, but more of a 10 and 10, like last season, or, at best, a 15 and 10. I don’t know if he’ll ever be a 20-10. Not his game. But there’s a reason why a lot of GMs out there ask for him, first, whenever there is a discussion regarding personnel.

First it must be great to be able to talk to the players and give them advice. I mean it’s like you’re an assistant coach or something. Second it’s nice to know that a lot of GMs think David Lee has value for their team. Imagine the column said “a lot of GMs out there ask for X first” where X is: Jeffries, James, Randolph, Marbury, Richardson, Rose, Curry, etc. I can’t.

Now for the illustrious New York Post:

http://blogs.nypost.com/sports/knicks/archives/2008/01/jamal_nate_must.html

There was a lot of talk about Kobe at practice today but also a lot of talk about where Eddy Curry stands right now within the offense. Curry was ticked that he didn’t touch the ball in the fourth quarter in the Golden State loss. Jamal Crawford’s response: Curry wasn’t open.

Stephon Marbury was a much better post passer than either Nate or Jamal. The Knicks, who get the Lakers tomorrow night, are getting too comfortable with the idea Curry doesn’t have to dominate games.

The article was titled: “Jamal, Nate must find Curry” which is just wonderful for one reason: I didn’t know you could separate two entities with a comma. Wow, I’ve been typing out the word “and” all these years.

That being said I’m probably in the minority here when I say I agree that the Knicks should go to Curry just about every time he’s on the floor. That’s because he doesn’t do much else than score. So if he’s on the floor and he’s not scoring, he’s hurting the team. Of course I also think Curry should only be playing 15-25 minutes a game, coming off the bench.

The second odd thing is how Berman thinks Marbury is a better post passer than Jamal or Nate. That’s laugh out loud funny, especially in Crawford’s case. Jamal has a better rapport with Curry than anyone else, due to the pair being teammates for nearly their entire careers. On this issue I have to agree with Jamal. Despite facing a smaller frontcourt at Golden State, the Knicks bigs did a poor job getting open in the paint.

Knicks 104 Warriors 106

	Pace (Poss)	Eff	eFG	FT/FG	OREB%	TOr
NYK	94.7 (92.2)	105.1	45.9%	21.2	27.9	14.2
GSW			110.7	48.8%	26.5	31.3	14.0

Yet again the Knicks bobble, then catch up. They outscore the Warriors 59-47 in the middle two quarters, but are outscored 59-45 in the 1st & 4th quarters. The culprits: Curry & Randolph. The Knicks were -10 for the 18 minutes Eddy Curry was on the court and -12 for Zach’s 33 minutes. It really kills me that these guys played poorly, but I’m not surprised by it. Both players should have been able to score big against the smaller frontcourt of Golden State. They should have been able to draw double teams and opened up the perimeter for the Knicks. But Curry was unable to keep himself on the court, and didn’t notch a single assist. Randolph had 6 assists, but it seemed he was happy to stay on the perimeter for most of the night. He only hit 4 of 11 shots, hardly the results you’d expect from a low-post bruiser.

I like Mardy Collins getting minutes, especially at the start. This is because the Knicks are going to start Crawford, Richardson, Randolph and Curry. That group doesn’t need a scorer like Robinson, they need defense, badly. Personally I’d rather see Nate & Balkman in the starting 5, but I also wish my credit card bills were smaller. Before the game Collins’ PER was an anemic 2.6, but I think he brings defense and rebounding – something this team needs.

Robinson played well, despite his poor shooting. He’s probably still bothered by that cut above his eye given to him by David Lee. And I like the effort given by Balkman. He only missed one shot, and filled up the stat sheet like he typically does when given minutes: 11pts, 4reb, 1ast, 2stl, and 3blk. At times Balkman covered Davis, at other times he was the PF on the court.

All 5 of the Golden State starters played at least 35 minutes, with 3 of them surpassing 41. I guess you can throw out the notion that the Knick reserves only do well against the other team’s reserves, that’s if you had that notion in your head. The Knicks keep losing games by doling out the minutes by contract — but if that nets them a few more pingpong balls, I can deal with it for the time being. At times I tape the games when I can’t see them live. Maybe I should time it so that I only catch the middle half? This way I don’t have to depressed at the start or ending of Knick games.

Our New York Knickerbobblers

BOBBLE- (n.) A bad step away from the starting gate by a racehorse.

Every game I watch this year feels like it is has the same pattern. The Knicks play terribly in the first quarter, then spend the next three quarters trying to recover. As they did with their 2-9 bobble to start the season, they crush my hopes right at the outset. By the start of the second a deep sense of nausea has usually set in, compounded by feelings of guilt and shame as I check to see if Jose Calderon, Andrew Bynum, or the Blazers are available for viewing on League Pass.

As a stat junkie, I know these kinds of “feelings” and “intuitions” can often be deceptive. So with the help of Ben F. at APBRmetrics and his magic game log scripts I investigated further. It turns out my gut was correct. Our Knickerbobblers have been inept in the first quarter this season. At the end of the first 12 minutes, they have trailed their opponents by 7 points or more 16 times . They have managed to take a lead larger than 5 only twice. They don’t seem to be making many good adjustments coming out of halftime either. The raw +/- numbers by quarter tell the story.

1st Quarter: -155
2nd Quarter: -28
3rd Quarter: -70
4th Quarter: -2
In Overtime : -5
Total Pt. Differential -260

Games are said to be won and lost in “crunch time,” but 85% of the Knicks point differential this season can be attributed to their play in the first (-3.8 pts per game) and third (-1.7 pts per game) periods. They have been respectable in the 2nd, and have almost broken even in the 4th, perhaps due partly to the large amount of garbage time they have played this season. The simple conclusion I think is that in order to have a better second half to the season, the Knicks should focus on making a better start to each half of every game. Readers I am sure will have plenty of ideas about how they might do that.

My suggestion? Find a new jockey.

The Poison of 20 and 10

Nothing I am about to say here is all that new, but I keep seeing comments that seem to belie this point, so I figured it would be worthwhile to bring it up.

The focal point of this piece is why the Knicks are better off dumping Zach Randolph as soon as possible, even if it means trading him for players who are not nearly as talented as him (and why I would even consider it if the offer was Kenyon Martin, who is signed long-term to an awful contract, and has had surgery on BOTH of his legs).

The problem comes from the poisonous aspect of averaging twenty points and ten rebounds. Read More