Knicks 115, Wizards 106

Last night’s first quarter ended with the Knicks up by 7, and New York would extend the lead to 13 early in the second quarter. At first glance it appeared that D’Antoni’s group would sail on to victory. But the Wizards began to exploit a Knick weakness, the same one that sunk them against the Thunder: rebounding. Here’s some of the action from the play-by-play:

Young 3pt Shot: Missed 09:51
Booker Rebound (Off:1 Def:0) 09:50
Booker Layup Shot: Made (2 PTS) 09:48
[WAS 30-39]  
Booker Free Throw 1 of 1 (3 PTS) 09:48
[WAS 31-39]  
Shakur Jump Shot: Missed Block: Turiaf (1 BLK) 08:48
Team Rebound 08:47
Lewis Jump Shot: Made (2 PTS) Assist: Thornton (1 AST) 08:37
[WAS 35-43]  
Booker Turnaround Jump Shot: Missed 05:56
McGee Rebound (Off:1 Def:6) 05:53
McGee Tip Shot: Made (9 PTS) 05:53
[WAS 45-45]  
Booker Jump Shot: Missed Block: Stoudemire (1 BLK) 04:17
McGee Rebound (Off:2 Def:6) 04:15
McGee Slam Dunk Shot: Made (11 PTS) 04:13
[WAS 51-48]  
Lewis Rebound (Off:0 Def:2) 03:30
Booker Jump Shot: Missed 03:25
Shakur Rebound (Off:1 Def:2) 03:23
Shakur Jump Bank Shot: Made (4 PTS) 03:21
[WAS 56-51]  
Young Rebound (Off:0 Def:1) 02:05
Young 3pt Shot: Missed 01:59
Booker Rebound (Off:2 Def:1) 01:57
Booker Turnover : Out of Bounds Lost Ball Turnover (1 TO) 01:56

I count only 3 Washington possessions in that quarter that end in a Knick rebound, and one was off a missed throw. The Knicks ended up winning the game, due to a slight edge in shooting (51.6% to 50.6% eFG) and a huge edge in turnovers (9.6 to 15.1 to%). They lost the rebounding battle, but made it close (31.6 to 28.6). Although Amar’e Stoudemire led the team with 5 offensive boards, every Knick except for Raymond Felton and Bill Walker secured a miss off the glass.

This is yet another game in which the Knicks got beaten on the glass. New York is 25th in offensive rebounding and 26th on defensive rebounding. According to the four factors, it’s the only major weakness the team has, and something the team should look to address before the trade deadline.

Two Weekend Tidbits

The Knicks dropped two road games this weekend. The first against a superior Spurs team that the Knicks beat just a few weeks ago. The second against another Western leader Oklahoma. Unfortunately the pair meant New York has now lost six in a row. If they don’t beat the Wizards tonight, the streak could easily extend to 8 or 9 with the Miami Heat and Hawks on the road coming up.

However there are two small things from this weekend that I do want to talk about today. The first was a Mark Jackson comment during the Knicks-Spurs game. The announcers were talking about New York’s defense and said that it had improved from the year prior. One of them casually mentioned that part of D’Antoni’s teams giving up so many points per game was partially a function of the fast pace the team runs. To wit, Mark Jackson replied “Would you guys please come back to me? [The Knicks] give up 106 plus points per night. It’s not because of the pace, it’s because they’re not a good defensive team. And please don’t tell me it’s acceptable.”

Image by jjani/Flickr Creative Commons
Mark Jackson's pondering the relationship between defense and pace.

The Knick defense is ranked 23rd, which isn’t great. However it’s better than their ranking of 27th when using points per game. The difference between the two is no doubt attributable to pace. Saying the opposite is like saying Roy Halladay was a bad pitcher for allowing a league leading 231 hits last year, without accounting for his 250.2 innings pitching and ignoring his 2.44 ERA.

Back when Donnie Walsh became the Knicks President, one of the first things he needed to do was hire a head coach. It was rumored that Mark Jackson was the top candidate. However Walsh ended up going with D’Antoni, which lead to a segment of Knick fans critical of D’Antoni’s shortcomings and speculating what the team would be like under Jackson’s watch.

Since that time I wondered if Jackson was such a good coaching prospect, then why hasn’t he latched on elsewhere? Perhaps Jackson’s comments shed some light on the situation. Listening to his commentary, I find the former point guard to be more cliche than substance. And his inability to understand the concept of pace or to separate it from defense might reveal why he remains at the scorers table and not at the front of the bench.

Secondly was the four factor results of the Knicks-Thunder game. New York had a decided lead over Oklahoma in shooting and turnovers, but they lost the game due to rebounding and free throws. Statistically teams don’t often loose when they have the shooting edge, especially one so pronounced as 48.3% to 41.5%. When it does happen, it usually means that either the opposing team did exceptionally well in the other areas or the game was close and came down to a last second shot. With regards to the Thunder game, it appears that both occurred. Oklahoma killed New York on the glass with 22 offensive rebounds, at the line with 28 free throws made, and Kevin Durant hit an off balanced three pointer with Gallo on him as the buzzer sounded. Perhaps instead of a second scorer, the Knicks more pressing need is a big man who can rebound and defend. Especially one that D’Antoni will give minutes to.

What’s Your Non-Melo Trade Idea?

I’m kinda shocked at New Jersey’s public statement on the Carmelo Anthony negotiations. It’s one thing to take a deal off the table, but it’s another to announce to everyone that you are doing so. They truly painted themselves in a corner with that move. Even though I think, as said by Kevin Pelton, that Melo is a poor fit for New York, I believe there are other teams that he would be have a beneficial effect. New Jersey seemed to be the most obvious for most parties. Carmelo would have guaranteed that he’d be in the New York area for half a decade. Sure a rebuilding team may not be what Anthony had in mind, but there is no guarantee that the Knicks will attempt to sign him for the maximum salary that he wants. And even if he does, there are a lot of reasons to think he won’t make the team as good as some in the mainstream would believe.

Chauncey Billups said it seemed as if Carmelo Anthony was in the movie “GroundHog Day”, due to his reliving the same questions each day. That’s how I feel about Carmelo to the Knicks. I think all the arguments for/against Carmelo and the wondering which players New York should/shouldn’t trade have been discussed ad nasuem. Additionally it’s possible that Denver trades Carmelo elsewhere. Hence Donnie Walsh would be wise to keep in mind other deals he’d like to make.

In that spirit, here’s one trade that I thought might be beneficial to all teams.

Charlotte gets:
Toney Douglas
Andre Miller

Portland gets:
Eddy Curry
Shaun Livingston

New York gets:
Matt Carroll
Joel Przybilla

Charlotte gets a couple of PGs, one a young defender the other a veteran that can run the offense. Portland gets a ton of cap savings. And the Knicks get a true center, and a shooting guard that has hit nearly 40% of his threes over the course of his career. The one thing that I’m not crazy about is Matt Carroll’s contract, which can hurt the team going forward in free agency. Perhaps a better version is this one, which has the Knicks giving up Azubuike to Portland and receiving Przybilla & Diaw instead. Granted Portland doesn’t get anything on the court, but they save a ton of cash by getting rid of Miller (also due to Curry’s lopsided payments & Azubuike’s insurance).

Charlotte gets:
Toney Douglas
Andre Miller

Portland gets:
Eddy Curry
Kelenna Azubuike

New York gets:
Joel Przybilla
Boris Diaw

Granted in this second one, the Knicks still haven’t addressed their need at PG (and in fact make it worse by tossing Toney Douglas), but a second deal could be made. Or they could use Andy Rautins or grab a PG from the D-League that can run the offense. However the center position would be set for this year, and the Knicks would have lots of depth at the 5 to perhaps attempt a hack-a-Howard/Shaq if needed. (Although it seems that D’Antoni isn’t a big fan of that strategy.)

So folks, what is your trade idea if Carmelo goes to Dallas, Houston, Chicago, or anywhere other than New York? How would you get your favorite non-Knicks in a New York uniform?