Nuggets 98, Knicks: The Unnamable.

New York Knicks 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
97 Denver Nuggets

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Melo is/was right: we are in a dark place.

This is exhausting. I don’t know about you, but I’m just tired of writing the same dumb things about a dumb team that fails in painfully repetitive, dumb ways.

All of it so very Beckett-like (if the man had ever heard of or deigned to root for a team, this one would nestle in the cockles of his heart). Unnamable, yet totally familiar.

So yes, again there aren’t any individual grades tonight. The same small group of ‘Bockers (more or less) were good (but not good enough), and the same somewhat larger group of Dutch Short Pants were bad (just bad enough) in exactly the same fashion that they’ve been bad in the 14 prior games.

I’m not even angry (Okay, I’m a little angry), but whatever I (or any of the myriad smart people who watch basketball) might say about this game has been said before. I can say it till I’m chartreuse in the face, and yet I (and you can’t shake the gnawing feeling that it will never change; that our anguish and plaintive cries of dismay and desks/tables/ottomans pounded into kindling by our battered, blood-stained knuckles is the equivalent of trying to change the chemical composition of the Caspian sea by dumping bucket after bucketful of our collective bile.

We know, deep down in the dark places we don’t talk about at cocktail parties, that this cannot be fixed.

Woodson will not be sent packing, even if he makes somewhere between two and 5,367 strategic (for lack of a better term) decisions a game that make you seriously consider the idea that he’s shaving points or outright dumping games.

For example, if Prigioni is hurt (there’s been some idle chatter about plantar fasciitis and/or a wonky shoulder, via the un-whistled cross-block in Wednesday night’s meaningless exercise in masochism), how can you play him in the 2nd half? Sorta screws up the lie that he’s hurt (if it is a lie). Or if he’s being benched for shoddy play (really?), it’s largely due to the fact that (like many of his fellow ‘mates) he’s being used incorrectly and for ever-decreasing periods of time (And never in two-PG looks with Felton, because if something works, you should probably shatter it into a bajillion pieces, bury the shards in equidistant points around the globe and salt the earth so that nothing of hoops value ever grows there again.).

As with many (all?) things Knick, we are left to decide—Scylla and Charybdis-like—between incompetence and utter bullshit.

If Woodson hopes to maintain any credibility whatsoever as a coach that demands ‘Accountability,’ (Ha!) and does (for once) yank JR when he’s playing like he hoovered a bad dose of Dilaudid, why (Oh God. Yes, an indifferent [at best] God, and at worst a petty, juvenile, somewhat sadistic God) oh why do you put him back in the game with six minutes to go?

Yes, Hardaway got toasted by Ol’ Perfesser Andre Miller, but he was actually hitting spot up threes. He might have been fazed by “the moment” (as they say), but he wasn’t launching ill-considered isolation jumpers or treating the rock like it was an extra-large hunk of red kryptonite. Even Mike Breen, once a staid, truly objective play-by-play man, has been reduced to an apoplectic, spittle-flecked blogger in tone and temperament, unleashing such verbal bombs as, “How long do you let him keep playing if he’s not defending well and he’s not hitting shots?”

And yes, Woodson did go with Melo at the four for vast swathes of this game. This is a good thing. And he did keep Amar’e under his federally-mandated twenty minutes per game, because keeping him on the court in the 2nd half (after some passable [yes, the soft bigotry of low expectations rears its ugly, deformed, pock-marked head] play in the 1st) would have been declared cruel and unusual punishment, or at least employee harassment, even by as corporate-friendly a gang of Supremes as the Roberts Court.

But if you feel compelled to start hashtagging #FIREWOODSON like a fiend (and I’ll RT you like a mofo if you do), I have to ask, what then? They’ll only hire even more of a cow-towed lackey to take his place.

Phil Jackson and/or any members of the Van Gundy clan are not ever walking through that door.

And yes, our beloved ephebe, Iman Shumpert, was aggressive and damned effective. And he’s still a Knickerbocker (for now).

And yes, Bargs was deadly as a pick and pop shooter.

And yes, this was an awful game to watch (Be forced to watch, by forces unknown and unnamable?), and the Rocky Mountain Folk seemed to be doing their damnedest to hand it to the New Yorkers in a silver chalice. Why the Gold Miners didn’t run Ty Lawson (Never a Knick, Always a Knick-killer) on the pick and roll every single goddamned time, when said play yielded nothing but uncontested shots at the rim or wide open treys after a half-decent kick-out pass remains an impenetrable, monstrous mystery.

Are the Knicks so sad that they’re inspiring pity? Or is their basic, essential sadness a virus, infecting their opponent with a sickness, the symptoms of which are lethargy, indifference and perhaps the death of a few million of the brain cells that control b-ball IQ.

What happened to all the nifty plays from last season? Where are all the double and even triple screens? Where’s that set at the elbow that harkened back to the weaves of Auerbach’s hated Celtics?

Why are they gone? Has Woodson forgotten them? Or do the players on the floor refuse to run them, which again leads us back to a terrible, warped-mirror version of Sophie’s Choice. Then again, this quote is enough to call into question whether or not the man is operating with all his fac-ul-ties intact.

And after the game, he said, “I thought Iman and JR played better tonight.”

(Silence)

I cannot stop asking why, even though asking why is pointless. The answers will never come from the powers that be, and even if they did, if we were to be told why certain players start and others sit, and why some can seemingly do no wrong, while others are sent to the gulag/phantom zone for the slightest transgression, the answers (truth?) might prove just as or even perhaps possibly more hateful than the stony silence upon which we fling our endless queries.

But there they were, after JR Smith (finally) hit a three (because of course), as did Ray Felton (who seemingly pent as much time on his belly as his spirit animal), and Wilson Chandler (Hello, old friend. You are here. Of course you are. So is Nate, torching the Knicks like an imp of the perverse, and Timofey, Golem-like, not particularly effective but still there, reminding us of something forgotten, or something we forced ourselves to forget, that wasn’t really all that pleasant or loving or beautiful or even good when we had it [Did we have it?], but now that it’s gone—swept away by the zephyr-ic, ever-shifting gusts of our memory, we cherish it all the more. All memories are lies. Lies that grow in strength and intensity, for in the end, our lies about ourselves are all we have. WE DEFINE OURSELVES BY THAT THING WE NEVER WERE AND NEVER WILL BE.) stepped out of bounds, the deficit was 96-93.

And then they couldn’t inbound the ball, and Earl was falling out of bounds (twice) and somehow managed to get the ball to Shump, after it glanced tantalizingly off the hands of seemingly every player on the court, who drove and converted a layup (That shouldn’t be shocking. It is. Before tonight, he was only hitting 36% at the rim.). And then Lawson made one of two. And I was screaming. Not out of misplaced, impotent rage, but rather yawps of pure hope.

And though I swore I’d given up, that I didn’t care, my heart proved my head and mouth a liar. It was there, what we’d pined for (begged for, dreamed for) an actual (if ugly) win within their grasp.

Melo grabs the rebound and has the ball (because of course he does. Melo dribbles the clock down (why?). Melo’s facing four guards and Chandler, but he does not drive to the rim, even if he had been receiving the “superstar calls” that he’d been screaming from the highest mountain were his very birthright.

Instead, facing Randy Foye, he shoots a contested fadeaway. Was he fouled? Maybe. Could have gone either way. See here:

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UPDATE: As Brian Cronin ‘splained in the comments: “You’re allowed to block the shot and if, in blocking the shot, you hit the player’s hand (while the ball is in his hand) as well, then it is considered as if you’re just hitting the ball. Essentially, it is another way of saying that it is is incidental contact. As otherwise, every time you block a shot you’re likely to hit the opposing player’s hand, ya know?

Here’s the specific rule in the NBA rule books (Rule 12 (B)(I)(e):

Contact which occurs on the hand of the offensive player, while that hand is in contact with the ball, is legal”

Poop. And of course:

Melo was at 44% in those situations prior to last season (the league average is 28%). But Heroball doesn’t allow for questions. Heroball merely is.

Is hope less preferable than despair? I don’t know the answer. We’ve lived with the latter for so long (How long? All season? The past decade? All our lives? Before that, even?) such that the former feels like a cruel, sadistic joke.

But we go on. Another game (loss? Yes…) looms on Sunday.

Where now? Who now? When now? Unquestioning.

I, say I. Unbelieving.

Questions, hypotheses (call them that).

Keep going, going on (call that going, call that on).

Can it be that one day (off it goes), that one day I simply stayed in (in where? To watch yet another Knick loss) instead of going out, in the old way, out to spend day and night as far away as possible? (It wasn’t far.) Perhaps that is how it began. You think you are simply resting (the better to act when the time comes, or for no reason) and you soon find yourself powerless ever to do anything again but watch yet another bad game.

No matter how it happened. (It, say it, not knowing what.) Perhaps I simply assented at last to an old thing. (But I did nothing.) I seem to speak (it is not I) about me (it is not me).

These few general remarks to begin with.

What am I to do (what shall I do, what should I do?) in my situation? How proceed? By aporia pure and simple? Or by affirmations and negations invalidated as uttered (or sooner or later)? (Generally speaking.) There must be other shifts. Otherwise it would be quite hopeless. But it is quite hopeless. (I should mention before going any further – any further on – that I say “aporia” without knowing what it means.)

Can one be ephectic otherwise than unawares? I don’t know. With the yesses and noes it is different: they will come back to me as I go along. And now, like a bird, to shit on them all without exception.

The fact would seem to be (if in my situation one may speak of facts) not only that I shall have to speak of things of which I cannot speak, but also (which is even more interesting) that I shall have to… I forget, no matter. And at the same time I am obliged to speak. I shall never be silent. Never.

I shall not be alone, in the beginning. (I am of course alone.) Alone. That is soon said. (Things have to be soon said.) And how can one be sure, in such darkness? I shall have company. In the beginning. A few puppets. Then I’ll scatter them, to the winds, if I can.

And things? What is the correct attitude to adopt towards things? And (to begin with) are they necessary? What a question! But I have few illusions: things are to be expected. The best is not to decide anything (in this connection) in advance. If a thing turns up, for some reason or other, take it into consideration.

Where there are people (it is said) there are things. Does this mean that when you admit the former you must also admit the latter? Time will tell. The thing to avoid (I don’t know why) is the spirit of system. People with things, people without things, things without people – what does it matter? I flatter myself it will not take me long to scatter them, whenever I choose, to the winds. (I don’t see how.)

The best would be not to begin. But I have to begin. That is to say I have to go on. Perhaps in the end I shall smother in a throng: incessant comings and goings, the crush and bustle of a bargain sale. No, no danger. (Of that.)

Carmelo is there. Of his mortal liveliness little trace remains. He passes before me at doubtless regular intervals. (Unless it is I who pass before him? No, once and for all: I do not move.) He passes, motionless. But there will not be much on the subject of Melo, from whom there is nothing further to be hoped. Personally I do not intend to be bored. (It was while watching him pass that I wondered if we cast a shadow. Impossible to say.)

He passes close by me, a few feet away – slowly, always in the same direction. I am almost sure it is he. The cocksure headband and orange shooting sleeves seems conclusive. With his two hands he props up his jaw. He passes without a word. Perhaps he does not see me. One of these days I’ll challenge him. I’ll say… I don’t know, I’ll say something… I’ll think of something when the time comes. (There are no days here, but I use the expression.) I see him from the waist up: he stops at the waist, as far as I am concerned. The trunk is erect. But I do not know whether he is on his feet or on his knees. (He might also be seated.) I see him in profile. Sometimes I wonder if it is not Woodson. Perhaps it is Woodson, wearing Melo’s headband. But it is more reasonable to suppose it is Melo, wearing his own headband. (Oh, look, there is the first thing! Melo’s headband!)

I see no other clothes. Perhaps Woodson is not here at all. Could he be, without my knowledge? (The place is no doubt vast. Dim intermittent lights suggest a kind of distance.) To tell the truth I believe they are all here (at least Toure’ Murry and some other useless 7-footer on the bench, taking up space). I believe we are all here. But so far I have only seen Melo. Another hypothesis: they were here, but are here no longer. I shall examine it after my fashion. Are there other pits, deeper down? To which one accedes by mine? (Stupid obsession with depth!) Are there other places set aside for us – and this one where I am, with Melo, merely their narthex? (I thought I had done with preliminaries.) No, no, we have all been here forever, we shall all be here forever. I know it.

No more questions.

Is not this rather the place where one finishes vanishing? Will the day come when Melo will pass before me no more, exiled to Los Angeles via free agency? Will the day come when Melo will pass before the spot where I was? Will the day come when another will pass before me, before the spot where I was? I have no opinion, on these matters.

Were I not devoid of feeling, Woodson’s beard would fill me with pity. It hangs down, on both side of his chin, in one giant tuft of impenetrable hair. Was there a time when I too revolved thus? No, I have always been sitting here, at this selfsame spot, my hands on my knees, gazing before me like a great barn owl in an aviary. The tears stream down my cheeks from my unblinking eyes. What makes me weep so? (From time to time.) There is nothing saddening here. Perhaps it is liquefied brain. Past happiness in any case has clean gone from my memory, assuming it was ever there.(If I accomplish other natural functions it is unawares.) Nothing ever troubles me. And yet I am troubled.

Nothing has ever changed since I have been here. But I dare not infer from this that nothing ever will change. Let us try and see where these considerations lead.

I have been here, ever since I began to be a fan of the Knicks (my appearances elsewhere having been put in by other parties). All has proceeded, all this time, in the utmost calm, in the most perfect order (apart from one or two manifestations the meaning of which escapes me). (No, it is not just their meaning escapes me, my own escapes me just as much.) Here all things… No, I shall not say it, being unable to.

I owe my existence to a sad basketball team. These faint fires are not of those that illuminate or burn, like Steph Curry and his ilk. Going nowhere, coming from nowhere, Melo doesn’t pass.

These notions of forbears, of houses where lamps are lit at night, and other such: where do they come to me from? And all these questions I ask myself? It is not in a spirit of curiosity: I cannot be silent. About myself I need know nothing.

Here all is clear. No, all is not clear. But the discourse must go on. So one invents obscurities. Rhetoric. These terrible rotations, for instance (which I do not require to mean anything): what is there so strange about them, so wrong? Is it their irregularity, their instability, their shining strong one minute and weak the next, but never beyond the power of one or two candles? JR Smith appears and disappears with the punctuality of clockwork, always at the same remove, the same velocity, in the same direction, the same attitude. But the play of the lights is truly unpredictable. It is only fair to say that to eyes less knowing than mine they would probably pass unseen. But even to mine do they not sometimes do so? They are perhaps unwavering and fixed, and my fitful perceiving the cause of their inconstancy.

I hope I may have occasion to revert to this question. But I shall remark without further delay (in order to be sure of doing so) that I am relying on these lights (as indeed on all other similar sources of credible perplexity) to help me continue and perhaps even conclude.

I resume, having no alternative. Where was I? Ah yes: from the unexceptionable order which has prevailed here up to date may I infer that such will always be the case?

I may of course. But the mere fact of asking myself such a question gives me to reflect. It is in vain I tell myself that its only purpose is to stimulate the lagging discourse: this excellent explanation does not satisfy me. Can it be I am the prey of a genuine preoccupation, of a need to know as one might say? I don’t know. I’ll try it another way. If one day a change were to take place, resulting from a principle of disorder already present, what then? That would seem to depend on the nature of the change. (No: here all change would be fatal and land me back, there and then, in all the fun of the fair.)

I’ll try it another way. Has nothing really changed since I have been here? No, frankly, hand on heart… wait a second… no, nothing to my knowledge. But, as I have said, the NBA may well be vast, as it may well measure twelve feet in diameter. It comes to the same thing, as far as discerning its limits is concerned.

I like to think I occupy the center of the basketball-watching universe, but nothing is less certain. In a sense I would be better off at the circumference, since my eyes are always fixed in the same direction, at the game and yet another loss. But I am certainly not at the circumference. For if I were it would follow that JR Smith, wheeling about me as he does, would issue from the enceinte at every revolution (which is manifestly impossible). But does he in fact wheel? Does he not perhaps simply pass before me in a straight line?

No, he wheels, I feel it. And about me, like a planet about its sun. And if he made a noise, as he goes, I would hear him all the time (on my right hand, behind my back, on my left hand) before seeing him again. But he makes none. For I am not deaf, of that I am convinced (that is to say half-convinced).

From center to circumference in any case it is a far cry and I may well be situated somewhere between the two. It is equally possible (I do not deny it) that I too am in perpetual motion, accompanied by James Dolan (as the earth by its moon). In which case there would be no further grounds for my complaining about the disorder of the starting lineup and the pick and roll defense, this being due simply to my insistence on regarding them as always the same and viewed always from the same point. (All is possible – or almost.) But the best is to think of myself as fixed and at the center of this game-watching place (whatever its shape and extent may be). This is also probably the most pleasing to me. In a word: no change apparently since I have been here. Disorder of the lights perhaps an illusion. All change to be feared. Incomprehensible uneasiness.

That I am not stone deaf is shown by the sounds that reach me. For though the silence here is almost unbroken, it is not completely so. I remember the first sound heard in this place (I have often heard it since) it is Marv Albert and Hubie Brooks, extolling the virtues of Bernard King. For I am obliged to assign a beginning to my residence here, if only for the sake of clarity. Hell itself, although eternal, dates from the revolt of Jeff Van Gundy. It is therefore permissible (in the light of this distant analogy) to think of myself as being here forever, but not as having been here forever. This will greatly help me in my relation. Memory notably (which I did not think myself entitled to draw upon) will have its word to say, if necessary. (This represents at least a thousand words I was not counting on. I may well be glad of them.)

So after a long period of immaculate silence a feeble cry was heard, by me. (I do not know if Hubie heard it too.) I was surprised (the word is not too strong): after so long a silence a little cry (stifled outright). What kind of creature uttered it – and (if it is the same) still does, from time to time? Impossible to say. Not a human one in any case, there are no human creatures here (or if there are they have done with crying). Is Dolan the culprit? Am I? (Is it not perhaps a simple little fart? They can be rending.)

Deplorable mania, when something happens, to inquire what. If only I were not obliged to manifest! And why speak of a cry? Perhaps it is something breaking? Some two things colliding? There are sounds here, from time to time, let that suffice. This cry to begin with (since it was the first). And others, rather different. I am getting to know them. (I do not know them all: a man may die at the age of seventy without ever having had the possibility of seeing Halley’s comet.)

It would help me, since to me too I must attribute a beginning, if I could relate it to that of my abode. Did I wait somewhere for this place to be ready to receive me? Or did it wait for me to come and people it? By far the better of these hypotheses (from the point of view of usefulness) is the former, and I shall often have occasion to fall back on it. But both are distasteful. I shall say therefore that our beginnings coincide: that this place was made for me, and I for it, at the same instant. And the sounds I do not yet know have not yet made themselves heard. But they will change nothing. (The cry changed nothing, even the first time. And my surprise? I must have been expecting it.)

It is no doubt time I gave a companion to Ba. But first I shall tell of an incident that has only occurred once, so far. (I await its recurrence without impatience.) Two shapes then, oblong like man, entered into collision before me. They fell and I saw them no more. (I naturally thought of the pseudo-PG couple Felton-Prigioni.) The next time they enter the field, moving slowly towards each other, I shall know they are going to collide, fall and disappear, and this will perhaps enable me to observe them better.

Wrong. I continue to see the Knicks as darkly as the first time. My eyes being fixed always in the same direction I can only see (I shall not say clearly, but as clearly as the visibility permits) that which takes place immediately in front of me – that is to say (in the case before us) the collision, followed by the fall and disappearance. Of their approach I shall never obtain other than a confused glimpse, out of the corner of the eye. (And what an eye!) For their path too must be a curve (two curves), and meeting (I need not say) close beside me. For the visibility (unless it be the state of my eyesight) only permits me to see what is close beside me.

I may add that my seat would appear to be somewhat elevated, in relation to the surrounding ground. (If ground is what it is. Perhaps it is water or some other liquid.) With the result that, in order to obtain the optimum view of what takes place in front of me, I should have to lower my eyes a little. But I lower my eyes no more. In a word: I only see what appears close beside me. What I best see I see ill.

Why did I have myself represented in the midst of men, the light of day? (It seems to me it was none of my doing. We won’t go into that now.) I can see them still, my delegates. The things they have told me! About men, the light of day! I refused to believe them. But some of it has stuck.

But when, through what channels, did I communicate with these basketball-playing gentlemen? Did they intrude on me here? No, no one has ever intruded on me here. Elsewhere then. But I have never been elsewhere. But it can only have been from them I learnt what I know about men and the ways they have of putting up with it. (It does not amount to much. I could have dispensed with it. I don’t say it was all to no purpose. I’ll make use of it, if I’m driven to it. It won’t be the first time.) What puzzles me is the thought of being indebted for this information to persons with whom I can never have been in contact. Can it be innate knowledge? Like that of good and evil? This seems improbable to me. Innate knowledge of my mother (for example): is that conceivable?

Not for me.

The Knicks!

Game Preview & Thread: Knicks @ Nuggets

We noted in the Knicks-Blazers preview how rough this Western Conference road trip could potentially be and so far its been just that. The Knicks have fallen to the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers, and now must face a red-hot Denver Nuggets team.

To help get a better idea of what to expect out of the Nuggets-Knicks game tonight I brought in Nate Timmons from the SBNation site, DenverStiffs and Justin Faudree, a Nuggets fan, basketball observant and former Warriorsworld contributor.

The Denver Nuggets are currently riding a four game winning streak after getting off to a pretty rough start. What’s been the biggest reason for the Nuggets turnaround? 
Justin Faudree (@SmoothsHoops): The biggest reason for Denver’s turnaround is twofold: First, Ty Lawson has played like an MVP candidate, particularly on the offensive side of the floor. He’s basically averaging career highs in every statistical category. Brian Shaw’s pick-and-roll centric system has given him new life. Second, and perhaps most importantly, the Nuggets have gained a familiarity with each other and their coaches. Incorporating a mostly new coaching staff in addition to three new starters while dealing with injuries to those same players is not conducive to immediate success. Brian Shaw was going to need to be patient with this roster. And so far, it looks like that patience is beginning to pay off.
Nate Timmons (@Nate_Timmons) I think the turnaround can be attributed to the team gelling. Even with the guys returning from last year’s team, they are being asked to learn new things and to do things differently. Some old habits (switching everything) have been dying hard and just playing with new guys has taken some time. Also, the Nuggets are starting to shoot the ball better, they had some issues scoring the ball to kick things off and guys are now starting to hit shots that just were not falling in the first few games. And we can’t forget that adding Wilson Chandler and eliminating Anthony Randolph from starting at small forward has helped a lot too. Randolph is out of the rotation now and Chandler and Jordan Hamilton have been playing pretty well.
Ty Lawson is currently the only player on the Nuggets averaging more than 30 MPG, and the Knicks struggle mightily against great point guards. Is there anyway to really hinder Lawson from having a big night against the Knicks tonight? 
Justin: As mentioned above, Lawson is off to the best start of his career. The question is if he will be able to sustain such incredible production for the duration of the season. Against a defensively challenged team like the Knicks, he should have no problem. In my opinion, the only way New York can possibly slow Lawson is to give Iman Shumpert the assignment. In theory, limiting Denver’s offense shouldn’t be terribly difficult. That begins and ends with Ty Lawson. A defender with the size, speed, and strength of Iman Shumpert should do the trick. New York has very little chance otherwise.
Nate: The Knicks’ best bet would be to have Shumpert guard Lawson and ask Felton to guard Randy Foye. While Foye does move well without the ball and possesses a dangerous outside shot, he’s not going to kill Felton on offense. Putting a bigger guy on Lawson might work or it might be a disaster. I’m not sure Shumpert can stay in front of Ty, but if you can force Lawson to be a jump shooter or just a passer then you have a shot at keeping him somewhat quiet. Lawson’s attacking the paint game typically ignites his outside game, so do what you can to keep him from penetrating the defense. The Knicks’ biggest problem is going to be finding shot blockers to challenge Lawson once he gets by his man. His shot can be blocked, but without elite rim protectors … he should feast.
The Nuggets have the sixth best ORtg in the league, but are just 20th in DRtg. Where are the Nuggets liable defensively and how can the Knicks look to exploit those holes?
Justin: Denver has defensive liabilities everywhere — particularly in the starting lineup. While Lawson is off to a great start offensively, he provides very little resistance on the defensive end. The Nuggets give up around 16 extra points per 100 possessions with Ty on the court as opposed to when he sits. That’s the very definition of liability. The other position where Denver is most vulnerable is at power forward/center, where Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson give up points like they’re going out of style. How Brian Shaw continues to pair Lawson and Faried in the starting lineup when they give up so much defensively is a wonder. Denver has no one to guard Carmelo Anthony when Mike Woodson plays him at the four — unless Shaw counters with Wilson Chandler (which would render Faried unplayable, as no one wants to see him guarding Bargnani on the perimeter). Denver’s best defensive unit is their bench. It remains to be seen how Brian Shaw divvies up those minutes.

Nate: If Tyson Chandler was healthy, the pick and roll he runs with Felton would be one place that New York could thrive. So, the pick and roll is one spot. Denver has been doing a little more switching in the PnR department lately instead of what they were trying to do early in the season and that’s hedge-and-recover with the power forward and catch-and-recover with the center. I do not like the switching as it leads to mismatches … Melo being covered by Foye and Lawson will not be good for the Nuggets.

If the Knicks hit the offensive glass, they might be able to catch the Nuggets off-guard too as Denver’s bigs like to rebound with athleticism, not fundamentals, and they like to leak out a bit too. Denver’s perimeter defense has been okay, especially with Chandler back in the mix – but I always worry about open threes for the Nuggets’ opponents.
Besides Lawson, why do you think the Nuggets’ offense has been good as it has been, even with pieces that perhaps don’t necessarily fit into Brian Shaw’s scheme? 

Justin: This is an excellent question for which there may be no answer. I think Lawson is the be-all and end-all when it comes to Denver’s offensive success (especially in the half court). Like with George Karl, the Nuggets do most of their damage in transition, as you will see Kenneth Faried give up a basket on one end and then immediately leak-out for an easy dunk at the other. Other than that, Jordan Hamilton’s rebounding and shooting touch has been a bright spot.Nate: One reason why is Kenneth Faried. The guy just flat out plays harder than anyone else on the court. To play against him has to be super annoying. He’s a force on the offensive glass and can clean up a lot of mistakes. The Nuggets also have a pretty good thing going with their rotation. Lawson is the main feature, Foye hits threes, Chandler can do a little bit of it all, Faried rebounds, J.J. Hickson looks good in the pick-and-roll, in the post, and hitting jumpers for the starting unit. Off the bench: Robinson can come in and light it up, Andre Miller is still an offensive force (weird word, but true) in the post, driving or dishing, Evan Fournier can drive and he can hit threes,Hamilton has been consistent, Darrell Arthur plays the pick-and-pop well, and Timofey Mozgov has shown flashes in the post and away from the basket too.

It’s a fun team and a team that has been told over-and-over by the coach that they have to play really well every night if they want to win. They are not going to waltz in and win based off their superior talent because they don’t have that advantage. But the puzzle pieces have looked better than advertised.
Who ultimately wins tonight and why?
Justin: I give Denver the edge tonight for one reason: Home court advantage. I do wonder if the Knicks decided to stay in Denver for Thanksgiving. If so, that might give them a leg up over most other visitors in that they will have been acclimated to the altitude for at least one full night. Beyond the Nuggets’ home court prowess, I just don’t think New York has the defensive chops to keep Denver in check over a full four quarters. Lawson’s speed wears opponents down — particularly at home.
Nate: I think the Nuggets win this game. Denver will let teams back into games, so I’m expecting a close game. I think Denver’s ability to penetrate the paint is going to be a problem and I think their will to outwork teams is going to come into play. The Knicks’ defense is going to be a problem for the Melo man and his teammates and I expect the Nuggets to be able to get whatever shots they want.

Recap: LA Clippers 93, NY Dolans 80

New York Knicks 80 Final
Recap | Box Score
93 Los Angeles Clippers
Kenyon Martin, PF 24 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +17

Kenyon did what he’s supposed to do: rebound, play some defense, dole out some hard fouls, then give that Kenyon smirk at the player he just clobbered.

Andrea Bargnani, PF 39 MIN | 8-18 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 4 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | +3

In the first half, I thought Bargs was playing great. His shot selection was superb. I counted only 3 shots outside of the paint, and a couple of those were wide open. He was drawing fouls and scoring with ease, as well as rebounding the ball effectively. In the second half it was all long range 2’s and missed 3’s. As usual, Drea’s man to man defense was solid, but poor switching on pick and rolls left his man open too many times. But hey, anytime Gnani gets double digit rebounds, I’ll give him at least a B. I’m gonna keep searching for a decent nickname for him, too. I give myself a C.

Carmelo Anthony, SF 41 MIN | 9-23 FG | 9-10 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 27 PTS | -2

That was some ugly shot selection by Melo most of the night. The long range contested jumpers a foot inside the 3 point line were on full display. The frustrating part was that when he was aggressive and driving, he was getting to the line. Maybe it’s a conscious effort on his part to pace himself with the heavy minutes he’s getting. A jumper requires much less energy than wrestling in the post or getting hammered on a drive. I guess I really couldn’t blame him if that’s the case. Anyways, another nice night on the boards for Melo. If he keeps up that effort once Tyson gets back, this is going to be a solid rebounding team.

Raymond Felton, PG 35 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 12 PTS | -6

It’s good to have Felton back. He looked speedy and driven in the first half, coming up with some steals, throwing some nice passes and being the main facilitator of the 13-0 run NY went on in the 2nd Quarter. He kind of disappeared in the second half, but still had a solid game.

Iman Shumpert, SG 25 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | 0

Shump just doesn’t look particularly spry right now. He can’t hit a shot, he’s not moving much without the ball on offense, and he’s been pretty much invisible on defense. In this game he was so good at being neither seen nor heard, that I suspect he is a graduate of the Milford School. I’m not sure what to expect from Shump as the season progresses.

Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -29

Pretty much all of Amare’s offensive possessions in this game came out of isolations. Did everyone forget that this guy is one of the best pick and roll finishers in the history of basketball? Sure he’s lost a lot of athleticism, but it’s worth a couple of plays to see what’s what. But 2 rebounds in 20 mins is just unforgivable. So was the horrible defense.

Metta World Peace, SF 10 MIN | 0-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -16

Only 10 mins, but he still got off 6 shots. That’s not what you should be doing Metta.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -6

Really? Under 10 minutes for Prigs? That’s just ridiculous. There is absolutely no reason for that.

Beno Udrih, PG 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -1

Now, 3 minutes for Udrih is reasonable, considering he managed 2 turnovers and 2 fouls in that time.

Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -11

Nice dunk.

J.R. Smith, SG 26 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -14

I only noticed one really stupid thing JR did in this game. Near the end of the 3rd quarter, with under 30 seconds to go, Pablo made a nice steal, passes to JR, who takes an off balance jumper with a man in his face with about 20 seconds left on the shot clock. Otherwise, nothing that made me scream at the tv. The long 3 as the shot clock expired earlier in the 3rd was nice.

Cole Aldrich, C DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |

COME ON!!!!!!!

Toure’ Murry, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |

Could he be worst than Udrih? Probably not.

Mike Woodson

Any game that Cole Aldrich stays on the bench while Bargs gets almost 40 minutes playing center, Woodson gets an “F” from me. Also, 9 minutes of Prigs is inexcusable, especially with Shumpert and JR being as horrible as they currently are, and Felton being in his first game in 2 weeks.

One Thing We Saw

  1. This was my first recap! It took way longer than I expected and I really have to go to bed so I can get up in a few hours to cook a turkey. I’ve written enough! Everyone have a great Thanksgiving! Drown your worries in gravy!

Game Preview & Thread: Knicks @ Clippers

Well, this game should be fun. The Knicks travel to Los Angeles to take on the 10-5 Clippers, a bucket-getting juggernaut that ranks 2nd in the league in offensive efficiency. The Clips have high-fliers (Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan), sharpshooters (J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Jamal Crawford), and the best point guard in the world (Chris Paul). It’s not hard to foresee trouble for our beloved Knicks, who rank 28th in defensive efficiency and seem confused with how to defend the NBA’s latest newfangled craze, a play these nutty kids are calling  the “pick-and-roll.”

For some insight on the Clips, Fred Katz and Jovan Buha of the phenomenal ClipperBlog were kind enough to answer some questions. I should perhaps note that Katz was the only guy in my basketball team’s Senior Class who made it all the way to the storied heights of Division I ball—his elite high school bookkeeping skills got him a team manager job at Syracuse.

The Clippers, in a big offseason trade, added wing players J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. How are those two fitting in with the team so far?

Fred Katz (@FredKatz): Dudley got off to a slow start, but has strung together a few hot games to bring his percentages back up to respectability. Redick, meanwhile, is the ultimate staple of stability. Who works better with Chris Paul than a dominant spot-up shooter who is also an assassin running off screens?

Redick’s shooting numbers are a bit lower than what could have expected coming into this year, but that 36 percent 3-point shooting is going to go up. He’s yet to sustain the Chris Paul Bump, a jump in 3-point shooting numbers upon going to play with Paul, but it’s going to happen. It’s happened for everyone else. It will happen with one of the best shooters in the league.

Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha): Redick and Dudley have fit in about as well as expected, if not better. Offensively, neither is shooting as well as one would expect given their array of open 3-point looks — Redick is shooting 35.8 percent on 3s, Dudley 38.5 percent — but Redick has drawn significant attention from opposing defenses because of his hot first quarter starts, and Dudley is dealing with bothersome tendonitis in his right knee that has sapped his legs.

Defensively, both have exceeded expectations. Redick is particularly adept at denying entry passes to guards posting up, sticking with wings who run off tons of baseline screens, and pinching down on the post. Dudley is a much better on-ball defender than I remembered him being in Phoenix, and is almost always in the right position in help defense. Overall, I’d say it’s been a seamless fit.

It’s always fun to get an outsider opinion about certain Knicks players. How do non-Knicks fans see Iman Shumpert and Pablo Prigioni?

Katz: I love Prigs. There’s nothing not to love about Prigs and you can’t make me not love him. It doesn’t make much sense to me why he doesn’t play more. The Knicks’ ball movement is better when he’s on the floor, the defense is feistier, and he seems to help in the transition game on both ends, which is something with which the Knicks really struggle. On top of that, he’s been in the league for more than a year and he’s never taken a bad shot. That’s true. You can look it up.

Shumpert, meanwhile, is already a quality player and is someone who has the ability to become a top-of-the-line contributor on a good team. But I understand why the Knicks would throw him on the block. What I don’t understand is why the Knicks felt the need to throw him under the bus. If you think a player has a high ceiling, but you’re starting to worry that he may never reach that ceiling, then see if you can sell high on him. It’s Trent Richardson logic. But why in the world a team would let that situation become so public is beyond me.

Buha: I don’t have a strong opinion on either player, honestly, but I do think both are underrated and undervalued by the Knicks organization. Prigioni was clearly an integral part of last season’s success, as his plus-minus and lineup data showed, but I don’t think management and Mike Woodson views him as such.

As far as Shumpert goes, I think he’s an intriguing, versatile young player who has a decent amount of potential. I could possibly see him in a Thabo Sefolosha or Tony Allen role down the line, given that he continues to improve defensively and from deep. Those type of players don’t grow on trees. At the same time, I can understand the Knicks testing his market value in hopes of improving their frontline. It’s a complicated, nuanced situation, and I don’t think a clear answer has emerged yet.

True or false: The Clippers needed a rim protector during the offseason, and they still need a rim protector. If true, give us some possible trade targets?

Katz: True. Jamal Crawford is the guy whose name was thrown around before the season when it came to trade rumors, but Crawford has been so good this season (even for him) coming off such a weak bench that he’s becoming tougher and tougher to trade with each spot-up three he hits off a Chris Paul dish.

A Crawford for Samuel Dalembert made more sense at the start of the season, when the Mavericks were going to be a 38-win team, but now with Monta Ellis having it all, the Mavs may not be as willing to give away a quality center for another score-first guard. The Clippers’ best chance to shore up the third-big-man problem might be waiting for Emeka Okafor, who is injured now, but may find himself as a free agent if the Suns buy him out once he’s healthy.

Buha: False. The Clippers already have a rim protector, for better or worse, and his name is DeAndre Jordan. He’s shown considerable improvement defensively this season, even if some of the numbers don’t necessarily reflect that (i.e. opponents are shooting 62 percent against him at the rim).

What the Clippers do need, however, is an above-average defensive big man off the bench. Lamar Odom is an available and likely option, and a buyout candidate like Emeka Okafor could be a late-season addition. Either way, the Clippers need to address their lack of a third big before they can compete with San Antonio or OKC, because it’s that bad.

Do you understand just how lucky you are to be able to watch Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and most importantly Jamal Crawford on a nightly basis?

Katz: Before Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and (most importantly) Jamal Crawford, the best thing ever to happen in my basketball-watching life either ruined his career with a gruesome knee injury (Shaun Livingston), left after agreeing to a handshake deal with the Clips (Elton Brand), or had the nickname “Bad Porn” (Corey Maggette). Let’s face it: Clippers fans have seen some painstakingly depressing basketball. We’re just happy to be along for the ride.

Buha: Yes, I know. I’m extremely lucky. I would add DeAndre Jordan to that list of exciting players, because some of his in-game dunks (and dunk attempts) are actually more impressive than Blake Griffin’s.

I’m obviously biased, but I think the Clippers are the most entertaining team in the league to watch. Paul and Griffin are two of the 10 most entertaining basketball players in the world, plain and simple. I’m blessed.

A friend of mine said the strategy of intentionally fouling DeAndre Jordan (42 percent from the line this year, 39 percent last year) should be called Deck-A-DJ. Should the Knicks go to that strategy (assuming the Knicks employ any strategies/tactics whatsoever)? And, in a big game, can Jordan stay on the floor in crunch time before the last two minutes?

Katz: Deck-a-DJ! Can we make this a thing? I’ve been writing it for a year now and no one wants to keep it going. Thank you, Jon. This is the best thing you’ve ever done for me. Please, please, please will someone else write deck-a-DJ? Just for me?

And as for the actual strategy, the Clips are even more prone to it this year than they were last year just because they don’t have a legitimate replacement for Jordan when he leaves the game. So yes, fouling Jordan might make sense for the Knicks down the stretch if they need to create a few more possessions to mount a comeback, provided Mike Woodson doesn’t call it hack-a-Jordan or some other awful, non-alliterative, non-rhyming version of a phrase that only makes sense when Shaq’s name is at the end of it.

Buha: First off, I like the name. It’s catchy. Second, yes, the Knicks should absolutely use the strategy. Until Jordan improves his free-throw shooting into the 50-to-60 percent range, I completely understand teams using his greatest flaw against him. It messes with his confidence, to an extent, which has the ability to take him out of the game mentally and, sometimes, literally. Since he’s the Clippers’ most valuable interior defender — they have practically no rim protection when he’s off the floor — the opposition gains a considerable advantage when he’s sitting late in games.

I believe Jordan can stay on the floor, though, depending on the circumstances. By intentionally fouling him, the opponent is racking up team and individual fouls, so at some point it has to stop (or they’ll have to play their bench players more minutes, which will ultimately favor the Clippers). This isn’t to downplay the issue — Jordan’s free throw shooting is a problem — but I think its impact is slightly overblown.

Nearly 65% of shots for Byron Mullens, an awful 3-point shooter, have been 3s. That is a real statistic. He will also likely guard Andrea Bargnani if he gets into tonight’s game. Please talk about this situation.

Katz: It’s hard for me to decide if I love Mullens or Bargnani more. It’s such a simple sort of love, the kind that you’d have for your pet dog that keeps peeing all over the carpet. It’s not the love I have for Chris Paul. I love watching Paul the same way I love watching Citizen Kane. I love watching Mullens and Bargs the same way I love watching The Room.

Buha: I said this on Twitter a couple weeks ago, but the only difference between Andrea Bargnani and Byron Mullens is that one is Italian and one is American. Other than that, they’re essentially the same player. I don’t expect Mullens to play unless it’s for a couple minutes early in the second quarter and/or in the fourth quarter of a blowout, so the likelihood of them actually being on the floor at the same time is slim. But if they do end up facing off against each other, I expect it to be hilariously awful.

This game has all the makings of a truly ugly blowout. What weaknesses or advantageous matchups might the Knicks be able to exploit to keep this close or possibly even steal this game?

Katz: Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith have to combine for 60 (or close to it), but even then, that might not be enough. With Matt Barnes out, the Clips don’t really have anyone who can defend either of those two guys one-on-one. The Clippers have no wing stopper coming off the bench.

The Clippers will have to throw the kitchen sink at Melo. You’ll see Jared Dudley on him. You might see some Reggie Bullock or even Blake Griffin (who has admirably defended both LeBron James and Kevin Durant for short stretches this season). But ultimately, Anthony is going to get his points against a defense that has smart wing defenders, but ones who aren’t particularly athletic. If he can score at an efficient rate and Smith can find his stroke, which he hasn’t had ever since the Curse of Jason Terry consumed his basketball persona, the Knicks have a chance to pull out a road upset.

Buha: For the Knicks to keep Wednesday’s game close or possibly steal it, I think they have to attack the Clippers early with their perimeter scoring — i.e. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith — and then use the attention they draw to find open shooters (and hope the 3s rain down).

Already, we’ve seen the Clippers struggle to defend the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, etc. this season. If Carmelo and J.R. can get hot, and force the Clippers to adjust their defensive game plan, it’ll tilt the defense ever so slightly and the Knicks can find weak-side 3-point shooters.

Defensively, there isn’t much Knicks can do. They don’t have the size or acumen to hurt the Clippers on the glass or prevent Griffin and Jordan from living at the rim. Who exactly is going to contain Paul? Shumpert, maybe? I just don’t see it. The Knicks have to turn this into a shootout, as their only chancethe of beating the Clippers will be to use their porous defense against them. If they are unable to do so, though, it’s going to be a long night.

Knicks Morning News (2013.11.26)

  • [New York Times] Trail Blazers 102, Knicks 91: Knicks Drop Sixth Straight, Falling in Portland (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 07:53:42 GMT)

    The Trail Blazers took an early 22-point lead and responded to every run from the Knicks, who were led by Carmelo Anthony’s 34 points and 15 rebounds.    

  • [New York Times] Blazers Beat Knicks 102-91 for 11th Straight Win (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 06:42:31 GMT)

    LaMarcus Aldridge believes the key to the Trail Blazers’ early success this season is chemistry.    

  • [New York Times] Roundup: Lakers Finalize Deal With Bryant With Eye on 2014 Free Agents (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 05:20:26 GMT)

    Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers finalized a two-year contract extension that all but ensures he will end his career with the team.    

  • [New York Times] Burke, Jazz Beat Rose-Less Bulls, 89-83 in OT (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 05:18:54 GMT)

    Trey Burke made a key 3-pointer to help the Utah Jazz outlast Chicago 89-83 in overtime Monday night — the Bulls’ first game since learning Derrick Rose would again be lost for the season.    

  • [New York Times] Lawson, Robinson Lead Nuggets Past Mavs 110-96 (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 04:39:40 GMT)

    Ty Lawson had 19 points after a quiet start, Nate Robinson scored 11 straight for Denver in the fourth quarter and the Nuggets beat Dallas 110-96 Monday night, their second win over the Mavericks in three days.    

  • [New York Times] James Gets 35, Heat Top Suns 107-92 (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 04:30:42 GMT)

    LeBron James was even more efficient than usual, which says plenty. Dwayne Wade attacked early, distributed late and capped his night with a pair of cartwheels.    

  • [New York Times] Ginobli Scores 16, Leads Spurs Over Pelicans (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 04:18:33 GMT)

    Manu Ginobili had 16 points to lead seven players in double figures and the San Antonio Spurs beat the New Orleans Pelicans 112-93 on Monday night for their 11th straight victory.    

  • [New York Times] AP Sources: Wolves Trading Williams to Kings (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 04:12:35 GMT)

    Derrick Williams has been the subject of trade rumors practically since the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted him with the second overall pick in 2011.    

  • [New York Times] Pacers Roll Past Timberwolves 98-84 to Go 13-1 (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 03:54:29 GMT)

    The Pacers aren’t letting anybody keep up with the Georges.    

  • [New York Times] Rockets Rally for 93-86 Win Over Grizzlies (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 03:46:02 GMT)

    Chandler Parsons scored 17 points, Omri Casspi added 16 and the Houston Rockets overcame a double-digit deficit to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-86 on Monday night.    

  • [New York Times] Jennings, Pistons Rout Bucks 113-94 (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 03:27:40 GMT)

    Brandon Jennings made four consecutive 3-pointers in the first quarter against his former team, and the Detroit Pistons overwhelmed Milwaukee with a dazzling first half in a 113-94 victory over the Bucks on Monday night.    

  • [New York Times] Crawford, Wallace Lift Celtics Over Bobcats 96-86 (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 02:51:48 GMT)

    Jordan Crawford had 21 points, reserve Gerald Wallace added a season-high 17 points and the Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Bobcats 96-86 Monday night for their second straight victory.    

  • [New York Times] Chicago Bulls Star Derrick Rose Out for Season (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 02:48:24 GMT)

    Derrick Rose’s comeback turned out to be a cameo, and the Chicago Bulls’ worst nightmare became a reality again.    

  • [New York Times] To Offset Risks Inside, Blazers Star Improves His Outside Shooting (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 02:41:42 GMT)

    Playing point guard in the N.B.A. is a physically demanding job, and Damian Lillard knew he needed ways to preserve his career.    

  • [New York Times] Bulls’ Rose to Miss Another Year After Knee Injury (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 02:13:19 GMT)

    After missing all of the 2012-13 season while he recovered from an injury to his left knee, Rose now finds his 2013-14 season over after just 10 games.    

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Opening Tip: Trade rumors sinking Shump? (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 06:00:42 EDT)

    Monday’s loss to Portland left the Knicks with plenty of questions about the team’s present — and it’s future. One of the most pressing is this: What’s up with Iman Shumpert?Shumpert struggled mightily on Monday, going scoreless in 23 minutes. He went 0-for-3 from the field, had two turnovers and a steal. The Knicks were outscored by 22 when Shumpert was on the floor. In the seven games prior to Monday, Shumpert was shooting just 36 percent from the field.

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Rapid Reaction: Blazers 102, Knicks 91 (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 00:38:49 EDT)

    The New York Knicks look like a team that’s tanking. Problem is, they don’t have a pick in next year’s draft. So they can’t use that as an excuse. They lost 102-91 to the Blazers on Monday, their sixth straight defeat. They haven’t loss six straight since March 2012, when Mike D’Antoni was coaching the team. They have dropped seven of their past eight games and are just 3-10, tied with the Brooklyn Nets for last place in the Atlantic Division.

  • [New York Post] Knicks fall to Blazers as losing skid hits six (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 00:51:39 -0500)

    PORTLAND — Mike Woodson's first win as Knicks interim head coach was a blowout over the Blazers on March 14th, 2012. Woodson hasn't beaten them since. Woodson lost his third…

  • [New York Newsday] Knicks fall to Portland, 102-91, for sixth straight loss (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 01:51:41 EST)

    PORTLAND, Ore. — Carmelo Anthony admitted the losing is wearing on him, and you could see the frustration and despair in his teammates. You could hear it in their words, too.

  • [New York Newsday] A joking Mike Woodson wants to punch panic out of J.R. Smith (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 01:57:21 EST)

    PORTLAND, Ore. — The losing hasn't affected Mike Woodson's sense of humor. At least he seemed to be joking.

  • [New York Daily News] Worst Coast: Knicks start west swing with loss to Blazers, now 3-10 (Tue, 26 Nov 2013 06:33:33 GMT)

    The frustration and anger surfaced early in the evening when Amar’e Stoudemire, watching a replay of the Trail Blazers recent win at Golden State, admonished a locker room attendant for turning on the Monday Night Football game. “We don’t need that,” Stoudemire said. “We’ve lost five straight.”    

  • Knick Libs: [NBA TEAM] [NUMBER BETWEEN 90-120], KNICKS [LOWER NUMBER]

    Play along at home!

    This [A PART OF THE DAY], the Knicks suffered a [“Frustrating”/”Embarrassing”] loss at the hands of [NBA TEAM].  A rough start, characterized by [Choose at least three of “Poor shooting,” “Lackluster interior defense,” “A lack of ball movement,” “Inability to protect the defensive glass,” “Turnovers and fouls”] saw the Knicks fall behind by [NUMBER BETWEEN 8 AND 25].  The bench provided [“little”/”no]” help, as JR Smith’s performance was [“uneven”/”total dogshit”] and interior muscle was provided by [“nobody”/”absolutely nobody”].

    In the [“second”/”third”/”fourth”/”imaginary non-existent”] quarter, Carmelo helped make up some of the deficit through a nice stretch of [“scoring”/“defense”“scoring”/“passing”“scoring”] but the opponent quickly adjusted and the offense was left banging its head against the proverbial wall.  The Knicks [“ignored”/”possibly have never even heard of”] the pick and roll game and as a result took far too many threes off the bounce and contested long twos.  This came as a surprise to [“Only James Dolan”/”Probably not even James Dolan”].

    [NAME OF MARGINAL PLAYER ON THE OTHER TEAM] had a career night despite the fact that he had previously shown little ability to [“Carry a team on his back”/”Play passably at the NBA level”/”Walk 5 feet without crapping his pants”].  Cole Aldrich and Toure Murry did not play.  Pablo Prigioni played [Pick a number between 0 and 48.  Divide it by 2.] minutes.

    This was not an entertaining game to watch.

    After this kind of performance, the seat will inevitably get even hotter for [“embattled”/”distraught”/”downright unable to fucking believe this shit”] Knicks coach Mike Woodson, whose stay-the-course mentality was an asset during stretches of last season but who comes off as [“tone deaf”/”abjectly stupid”/”whatever guys, I’m just riding this one out”] with the [“ship taking on so much water” OR SIMILAR OVERLY DRAMATIC NAUTICAL METAPHOR].  It may only be a matter of time before Woodson joins so many coaches and executives before him: out of a job with false rumors about his propensity for [SEX ACT YOU’VE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF] echoing behind him from the corridors of MSG.

    [HOWEVER YOU SPELL AN ANGRY PRIMAL SCREAM]!

    Game Preview & Thread: Knicks @ Blazers

    You could make the case that every week of this season has been Hell Week for the Knicks. You definitely could. However, what the Knicks have in store for them this week is pretty heinous. The Knicks have the Blazers, Clippers and Nuggets all on the road this week. Weeeee! 

    First up in this week’s potential blood bath, the Portland Trail Blazers. To help get a better sense of what the Knicks are up against tonight NBA Writer Sean Highkin of USA TODAY and Chris Lucia of Blazersedge stopped by to engage in some light chin-wagging. 

    The Portland Trail Blazers are 12-2, which is pretty surprising, right? What has been the biggest reason behind their hot start? Can they keep it up?

    Chase Thomas (@ChaseThomasSBN) : The Blazers hot start is surprising to some degree. The Western Conference is incredibly deep this and year, and even though the Blazers haven’t had the most difficult schedule they’re still winning and doing so in a way that you can’t really call their hot start a fluke. Obviously their three-point shooting has been a big reason why the Blazers are 12-2, but their newfound depth may be biggest reason they keep it up all season.

    Sean Highkin (@highkin) : I’m not surprised that the Blazers are off to a much better start than anything they showed last season. Did I expect them to be this good? Certainly not. But going into the offseason, they had two major areas of need: a starting center who can play defense (i.e. not J.J. Hickson) and a bench. Last season, their best reserve players were Ronnie Price, Luke Babbitt and Sasha Pavlovic. When any of their starters came out of the game, it was a disaster. Having the likes of Dorell Wright, Mo Williams and Thomas Robinson on the bench this year makes all the difference in the world.

    Chris Lucia (@ChrisLucia_BE) : To be honest, I really didn’t see this hot of a start as realistic prior to the season. Blazers GM Neil Olshey added some much-needed depth to the Portland bench this offseason and signed Robin Lopez, a starting-caliber center. It was tough to not be excited about the new acquisitions considering the 2012-13 Blazers squad featured the least-productive bench in the entire NBA and coach Terry Stotts had no reasonable choice but to start 6’9” power forward J.J. Hickson at center.

    The defense was bad, the starters played too many minutes and Portland ended the season on a 13-game losing streak, so just about any free-agent trade or signing felt like an upgrade at that point.

    Stotts uses an offensive system that allows his outside shooters to consistently get open looks via ball movement and guard penetration that breaks down opposing defenses. Guards Wesley Matthews, Damian Lillard and forward Nicolas Batum have all been at or above 40 percent from downtown on the season, with Matthews making half of his three-point attempts. That means Portland has three deep threats in the starting lineup alone, with guard Mo Williams and forward Dorrel Wright coming off the bench, both of whom are capable of scoring three-pointers in bursts.

    Aldridge has continued his All-Star level of play, taking more shots than he ever has in a season and Lopez has had a huge impact on the boards, not only individually but also in terms of team-rebounding, as well. The defense opts to pressure the three-point line heavily and usually relies on guarding teams one-on-one without sagging much, sacrificing points in the paint and the mid-range shot. The philosophy is based on the notion that the three-pointer is the most efficient shot in basketball and mid-range twos are the opposite. So far, the Blazers have been hammered inside but have defended the arc better than any team in the NBA, and thus you see a 12-2 start to the year.

    Is this level of play sustainable? Not likely; Matthews has no doubt improved his game, but he’ll probably cool off a bit eventually. The Blazers have also been fortunate enough to largely avoid injuries – knock on wood – and at some point or another, rotational guys will miss some time. But Stotts has proven his gameplan is effective on both ends of the court, even with a fairly soft schedule to start the season. Portland probably won’t end the season atop the Western Conference, but they’ve certainly raised the ceiling of where most prognosticators had them, which was typically somewhere around the edge of the playoff picture, one way or the other.

    Wes Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Dorell Wright, Mo Williams, Thomas Robinson and Robin Lopez have done a nifty job complementing Lillard and Aldridge so far this season. Which role player is the most important cog in the Blazers’ stellar offensive machine?
    Chase: Wesley Matthews seems like the logical choice here. Matthews leads the team in PER, is lighting it up from beyond the arc, and is a great defender. Lopez does deserve a lot of praise as well for shoring up the Blazers frontline defensively. Lopez staying healthy may be the sneakiest most important piece to keeping the Blazers atop the Western Conference.
    Sean:  It has to be Matthews. He’s always been a good three-point shooter (somewhere in the 38-40% range every season of his career) but this season, he’s shooting the lights out. His 56.8% mark from the field is the sixth-highest in the league, and the highest of any guard. His 52.5% mark from beyond the arc is also sixth-best in the NBA. Outside of LaMarcus Aldridge, he’s been the single biggest offensive threat on this team.
    Chris: I’d eliminate Robinson and Wright from those considerations, mostly because neither plays more than 15 minutes a night on average. Williams has been an underrated signing as a sixth-man, as he brings ball-handling, energy, penetration and decent three-point shooting off the bench, but he has a propensity to be a bit streaky. Batum and Matthews have been the most effective perimeter defenders on the team, both chip in tremendously on the glass for their positions and both are accurate outside shooters.Batum is more of a “glue-guy” – though it’s a bit cliché, he really does fit that bill, doing a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball. Matthews is on fire from deep, though, and his defensive effort has been consistent and contagious. I’m not in the Blazers locker room, but I’d also venture to say he’s one of the emotional leaders on the team, setting a tone of hard-work and staying hungry.It’s hard for me to choose just one of those guys, but I’d say Portland’s best role player so far has been Matthews. His outside shooting has been insane to start the year and I think his effort and intensity has been infectious. He gets the edge over Batum, but it’s a slight one.
    The Blazers are 11th in the league in DRtg at 104.1, so there has to be some areas of weakness . What are they and how might the Knicks possibly exploit them?
    Chase: Disrupting passing lanes to keep the Blazers from getting good looks on the perimeter is going to be critical for the Knicks to stay in this game. Starting Prigioni-Shumpert-Metta makes a lot of sense in this matchup to try and inhibit the Blazers three-pointer assault.
    Sean: The Blazers’ success on defense this season has come from their ability to force teams to take long twos where they would normally take threes. The best counters are either to attack the paint and home to get Aldridge and Robin Lopez into foul trouble or shoot a high percentage from midrange. Expect a lot of Carmelo Anthony isolations in this game.
    Chris: Well, the Knicks can try to score easy buckets inside via guard penetration and establishing somebody efficiently in the post, though it appears those aren’t really strong suits for New York. Moving the ball well and forcing Lillard, Matthews and Batum to expend extra energy securing the perimeter would be a good start. Connecting on threes would be the second key, but the list of Knicks’ player shooting over 35 percent begins and ends with Pablo Prigioni.Taking the easy shots allowed by Portland’s defense – mostly inside and from the mid-range – plays right into their hands. Portland has been outscored in the paint almost every game this season, yet only two of the 12 teams they’ve played so far have been able to ride that strategy to victory. Scoring inside is almost always a factor, but to beat the Blazers right now it needs to be complemented with efficient outside shooting, and that’s a tough task against this motivated Portland defense.
    Matthews and Batum have been deadly from three-point range, especially catch and shoot opportunities with Matthews hitting 54 percent and Batum making 45 percent. Are most of the Blazers three-point attempts good looks, and if so, how should the Knicks defend the perimeter to try and make things harder for them?
    Sean: Terry Stotts’ offense is based primarily around ball movement. The high percentages the Blazers have been shooting this year aren’t luck — they come from working to turn good looks into better looks. Disrupting the passing lanes and forcing them to take long twos instead — essentially, beating them at their own game — as the Chicago Bulls did in the first half on Friday is the best way to take them out of that comfort zone.
    Chris: Stotts’ offense allows for a ton of open shots, and I think you’ve seen the positive overall results in the standings and the individual stats. Matthews and Batum’s shots are largely within the flow of the offense. Occasionally, they’ll fall victim to a case of “heat-checking” where they’ll attempt some step-back threes if they’ve made a few in a row, but really, it seems like they’re playing pretty unselfishly. Williams and Lillard tend to dominate the ball when they’re in the game, taking more difficult shots at time, but Lillard has established himself as a legitimate threat from outside and defenses cannot sag on him at all when he has the ball. He’ll launch a 25-footer with 10 seconds on the shot clock if he feels a defender isn’t respecting his outside shot, and he seems to make it enough to warrant a ton of defensive attention whenever he has the ball.If the Knicks could force Portland’s wings to dribble more than necessary, things might get a bit dicey for the Blazers. Fighting through screens, staying home on their individual assignments, not biting on pump fakes and generally being as pesty as possible around the arc should be effective. The Blazers will always make the extra pass if it means a better look for a teammate, so forcing them to use up the shot-clock could maybe punish Portland for being maybe too unselfish times, but it’s hard to string together an effort like that for 48 minutes against a team that sticks to its game plan, launching open outside shots whether or not they’re falling at the usual high-rate. So far, this gamble has paid off for Stotts and his offense.
    Who ultimately wins this game and why?
    Chase: I think the Blazers win this one in a blowout. Look for Damian Lillard to have a big night as I expect the fans to not be so kind to Felton once again, which could lead to a really erratic night from him. He also has a bad hip so Lillard should be able to penetrate and find open guys on the perimeter all night long, unless Woodson decides to play Prigioni-Shumpert-Metta together for most of the game. For the Knicks to win this game they’ll have to out-shoot the Blazers from beyond the arc and I just don’t think they currently have the personal to pull it off at the moment.
    Sean: The Blazers have all of the confidence right now, while the Knicks are a mess. They’re a completely different team defensively without Tyson Chandler out there, and the injury to Raymond Felton weakens their point guard position, meaning they don’t have a real counter to Damian Lillard and Mo Williams. I have to go Portland here.
    Chris: The Knicks are a weakened team and have been woefully inefficient offensively, owners of a 3-9 record and a current five-game losing streak. The Blazers, on the other hand, have won 10 straight behind their aforementioned outside shooting and effective defensive game planning. If one or more of New York’s players reverses the current trend of the season and can hit some shots with consistency, they’ll have a chance if they can also execute defensively and stifle the Blazers shooters.Portland could also go cold and start missing shots, but they’ve been on such a good roll lately and when implemented properly, this Blazers offense provides high-percentage shots for multiple players. Eventually, it seems like the shots always start falling and Portland has so many weapons from deep that it’s unlikely all their shooters would simultaneously lose their touch, but it’s happened before and could again if the Knicks do their part by playing disciplined defense.Really, though, it seem like New York doesn’t have much of a chance of winning in Portland on the road, especially considering the current opposite trends of both teams. I’d guess the Blazers have a great chance of picking up a win at the Knicks’ expense, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the final score isn’t decidedly close.