Philadelphia 76ers 101 – New York Knicks 95 – Game Recap

At last, a game where something akin to basketball happened with regard to the Knicks. Apart from the final score (that looks like it was ripped from 2005, in a League that’s been seeing the highest score average since… last year? No but seriously, this season is still seeing teams average 110.3 PPG, and without 2018-19 that would be the highest average since I was a kid, in 84-85), there were a few intense moments here. Most important of all, some of the protagonists were the youngsters, and not just the merc du jour who gets hot but won’t have any impact whatsoever on the outcome down the road in 2022 or so.

If was a game of two halves, with the Knicks gaining a comfortable lead in the first and then surrendering it in the second half (first lead for the Sixers after the 2-0 start: 67-66 on an Embiid free throw with just 1:25 to play in the third), which led to the obvious final result – a loss – because when things get dire it’s everyone for themselves and even when the ball finds a shooter on the corner the Friday Night Knicks legacy intervenes and makes a career .378 three point shooter miss everything by a foot and a half, setting the table for one of the most bonkers sequence of the year; I have to describe it just so you can understand the level of absurdity correlated with Fizdale’s tenure here.

Down 93-99 with 16.9 seconds to play (and after a timeout), the Knicks gave the ball to Randle at the top of the key to let him create something from the dribble*. Randle kinda beat his man, Tobias Harris, and went for the objectively useless layup, which would have put the Knicks down four with 12 seconds to play. Usually, in this type of scenario, shooting a three is the only choice available, since there’s so little time that cutting the lead to four is the epitome of the good job, good effort kid meme. Of course the Knicks chose this after a timeout. Inexplicably, Tobias Harris chose to contest the layup and fouled Randle, who went on to score and therefore gained the opportunity to cut the lead to three, giving the Knicks a puncher’s chance to tie the game if, for example, they’d have tried to go for the steal and the miracle three. I don’t need to tell you that these things happen, you just have to watch a TNT live feed with Kevin Harlan to be reminded of that by his awful color commentator. Well, ok. So here’s Randle at the line. By the way, Harris fouling Randle on that layup elicited in Mike Breen the same kind of astonishment you’d probably feel if someone stuffed your Thanksgiving turkey with lavender scented styrofoam. But anyway, I digress. Here’s Randle at the line. The most sensible choice there would have been to try to score, right? Ha! You’re not that familiar with Fizdale magic, it seems. Going totally against the current and the common sense, Fizdale urged Randle to miss the free throw, hoping for the Knicks to get an offensive board and… what? They would have been still down four!

Let me put my math teacher hat for a moment (I know, not all things are equal and I should probably conduct a deep research on Cleaning the Glass or something like that, and even then I’d come away with very empiric results, but bear with me, alright? It’s a terribly flawed calculation but it serves its purpose): solely based on this season, the chance that Randle intentionally hits a free throw is roughly 63%. Now the score is down three, and the Knicks have to come up with a steal (roughly 6.5%) and then hit a three (conservatively 28% – the Knicks are shooting 37% for the year but it probably would have been a contested, weird looking shot). It all adds up to a probability of 1.15% of tying the game. With Randle missing the free throw, you’re looking at the Knicks needing to secure an offensive board (26%), hitting a three (28%) and then steal the ball (same 6.5%) and make a two (not conservatively 45%) to win the game or hitting two twos to tie the game. You’re left with a 0.2% chance to win the game or a 0.3% chance to tie the game. Essentially, you’re betting on the strategy that gives you a 0.5% chance of a positive outcome instead of the one that gives you a 1.15% to do pretty much the same.

I’d looooove to play poker with Fiz.

Anyway, the Sixers grabbed the board and we lost.

*I’m so tired of writing this sentence.

***

The good:

– Marcus Morris (20 pts, 7 rebs, 1 blk, +8 +/-) is giving the Knicks almost everything they thought they would be getting when they signed him. I say almost because you’re insane if you think he’ll sustain this level of marksmanship for the season from three, but you’re not so insane if you think that his 2P% isn’t necessarily due to rise up a lot. What I’m saying, basically, is that his currently commendable .578 TS% is unrealistically buoyed by his unprecedented three point shooting prowess in the last few games (19/27), while his ugly two point shooting is very probably caused by the amount of hero ball Fizdale’s lack of offensive sets and imagination inflicts on him – not that Mook looks like he’s not liking the chance to play like that. If you ask me, I think his percentages by the end of the season will be something like 42/37/84, which aren’t bad but not the kind of numbers that spell out high efficiency (unless you’re James Harden and shoot like that on a monster volume of three pointers and free throws). I would have loved to see Marcus plugged into a coherent system as a Knick. I’m having trouble liking him because of his general demeanor, but a guy who defends in a capable manner and takes and sometimes hits the right shots will always have a place in my heart. Sadly he’s being used like he’s being subjected to the “Gonna fix you, Mudiay” treatment. Anyway, he played a nice game and he’s succeeding at looking dependable even in this mess. If these guys don’t trade him asap, they’re complete buffoons.

– RJ Barrett (18 pts, 3 rebs, 2 ast, +9 +/-) was good Rowan Jr last night apart form the foul trouble. He scored efficiently, he sort of worked as a primary option down the stretch and even fooled Embiid on a couple drives. I’m fairly convinced that if we had three or four sets where we run him through screens to secure a mismatch on the perimeter, or make him backdoor cut, or post him up against smaller and weaker defenders he’d already be a handful. Right now he’s a sinusoid of good and bad offense without so much of a middle ground. It has to be expected from a rookie, but looking at him and Mitch you’re left wondering if we’re already wasting time. A lot of time. You know what I’m talking about.

The bad:

– Dennis Smith Jr. (3 pts, 3 rebs, 2 ast, -12 +/-) is being misused and used too much at the same time. While I like the idea of playing him and Frank in the same lineup, playing him and Barrett is surefire recipe for failure, and since Barrett is very clearly the superior player, that means you have to alternate the two, which usually results in him being left on the court with Portis and Ellington (or Dotson) so that the defense turn into a crumbling dam – and exposes Mitch to even more foul trouble. In short: I hope Elfrid Payton comes back really soon. It’s not time to cut bait on DSJ, but this year he’s been simply abysmal. If this is who he is, try Kadeem Allen.

Fun-sized bits:

– Let’s talk a bit about Mitch. This was probably the most futile he’s been on offense since his NBA debut (1/5 from the field, 0/4 from the floor) and of course he fouled out, but even then he refuses to be a net negative. Yeah, he blocked two shots, but there were times in the first half when his presence on the court really made a difference on defense even without numbers popping up in the box score. If only we could figure out a way to have him on the court at least 24 minutes every game… But then again you remember the FO probably views him as the fourth best in-house prospect and your soul starts playing My heart will go on on a panflute made by tears and regrets.

– On the other hand, Frank had a pretty encouraging (if again slightly inefficient) performance. 13 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal but two crucial plays down the stretch that he probably wouldn’t have the confidence to make last year. Not a point guard? Ok. Probably. The same Frank? Nah, definitely.

– We started the game well. You what was happening in the first quarter? We gave the ball to Randle down low. That’s not a certain recipe for success, but it’s waaaay better that whatever else we try to do with him. Give him the ball down low, let him be double if it happens, and watch some nugget of beautiful ball movement. Or give him the ball more than 16 feet from the cup and let him improvise, put that thing in the microwave for 90 seconds, stir it and enjoy a flurry of turnovers and clogged offensive sets.

– Oh yes! Julius scored 22 points, grabbed 10 boards and dished 4 assist (while turning the ball over 4 times). Randle’s counting stats have on me the same effect of R-rated material after your 15th birthday: you know it’s not the real thing, so you stop considering it rad and just get over with it.

– No Knox today. The Dungeon is real (and for once very earned, not that probably anyone ever coached him on the right way to defend). Daily reminder that in order to avoid the dreaded tank we ended up drafting at the ninth spot in a draft where there were at least three amazing future players and a current superstar. Nice one.

Another loss, and the clock probably ticks faster for Fizdale. Well, the sooner the better.

2019-20 Game Thread: Knicks vs. 76ers

After that Marc Berman article, I probably should bring back the David Fizdale Coaching Death Watch, but honestly, after that article, it sounds like it is more like a question of when they fire him rather than if they fire him, so the Death Watch really doesn’t seem to be necessary, as that is more about if he gets fired.

Anyhow, the Knicks host the 76ers, a team that decided to do a rebuild and then continued to collect assets rather than, you know, sign veterans to one-year contracts and refuse to trade cap space for assets. It seems to have worked out okay for them.

But hey, the Knicks just outscored the Raptors in the first quarter, so maybe they’ll surprise me with a win!

Let’s go, Knicks!

NY Post: The Knicks’ failing youth movement is a David Fizdale fiasco

Something that we have all observed over the years is that while Marc Berman is not literally a Charlie Rosen/Phil Jackson-style mouthpiece for Knicks President of Basketball Operations, Steve Mills, he is certainly willing to be the guy that Mills can come to when he wants send a message through a Berman article. We’ve seen it a number of times over the years, most prominently during Phil Jackson’s tenure as the Mills’ predecessor as the PoBO, where Berman wrote enthusiastic things about Jackson early on and then tore him down later on, when Mills’ knife was stuck firmly in the Big Galoot’s back (Phil Jackson was terrible and should have been fired and Steve Mills backstabbed Phil Jackson to get him fired can both be true, ya know?).

So while most media ramblings can be easily ignored, a hit piece on David Fizdale from Marc Berman tends to have a bit more “heft” to it and that’s certainly what this is…

Knicks coach David Fizdale is not just being judged on the won-loss record, according to sources.

Progress is the company buzzword, which means a lot of things. But progress of their young players is the guts of it.

As the Knicks gear up for a Black Friday showdown vs. the 76ers following a brutal rout in Toronto on Wednesday in which they fell behind by 34 points, the advancement of their blue-chippers have seemingly hit a brick wall.

Fizdale’s desperation may have been revealed by staging a marathon closed-door meeting after the game.

The Knicks’ 4-14 record is the same as last season’s clip at this juncture. None of it bodes well for Fizdale finishing out his second season — unless owner James Dolan blows it all up in taking down president Steve Mills, GM Scott Perry and their staff.

Mills hired Fizdale because of his reputation as a player developmental guru. Firing Fizdale would make Mills and Perry look foolish for erring so famously on such an important hire after firing Jeff Hornacek.

Yikes.

And yes, as an article leaked by Mills shows, the fact that Mitchell Robinson is listed fourth on a “Here’s a snapshot of the eight young players who matter most (eat your turkey first)” list is damning of Mills (and perhaps Perry? Who knows?). Note that the players listed above them are the two lottery picks made by Mills and Perry and the guy they acquired in the Porzingis trade. In other words, players whose success or failure directly affects people’s perceptions of Mills and Perry. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

New York Knicks 98 – Toronto Raptors 126 – After the KB blackout

Lately I found myself more and more invested in reading every nook and cranny of the spoilerrific site Tv Tropes. If I have ten minutes to spare and nothing else to read, I’ll fire up the aforementioned site and see what it has to say about one of my favorite movies (or series, or cartoons, or videogames). I have discovered through the years that Tv Tropes is the vastest hoard of hidden meanings, mindblowing theories and genuine fun facts you’ll ever come around in the ‘Net. If there’s an Easter egg in a semi-unknown Korean movie you just happened to watch while browsing your phone, sometimes enthralled by the plot but driven to peruse at least five different tabs on your once potent (now only fatigued) iPhone 7 in a classic case of “too many things on the web” 21st century telematic boredom, well rest assured: Tv Tropes knows it, and you’ll feel better after having read it.

Why am I telling you all this? Because nowadays there’s nothing to say about the Knicks. Even in games where they improbably find themselves up eleven in the second quarter, they’ll find a way to disappoint fans and bystanders alike in the most bland and unentertaining guise available. Just a few numbers for the Canadian blowout we just witnessed: 37.5% (field goal percentage as a team), 29.3% (three point percentage as a team, it also doubles as RJ’s FG%), 51.2% (three point percentage as a team by the Raptors), -26 (Marcus Morris’ game-low plus/minus in just 20 minutes), 21 (three point makes by the Raps, the Knicks made only 12), +29 (OG Anunoby’s game-high plus minus – not coincidentally playing the same position as Morris), 0 (good ideas by Fizdale).

So I thought: let’s rip a page off of TV Tropes and let’s assign a trope to a few selected Knicks players, why not? If anything, it should be more fun than whatever ill-fated attempt at describing this Masked Singer-like contrived ugliness of a game. Let’s start!

Word of God: “Once they get in there maybe for whatever reason we don’t play as fast as we’d like,” Fizdale said. “How they measure pace as well is not necessarily conducive to how fast you’re playing. Because sometimes if you don’t get a shot on goal it takes away from what your actual pace is. So the actual speed we’re playing at, I think, is fine.” The result of this game makes this statement appear like the (weak) meme that popped up in a few Facebook feeds last month. “Hey, I ingested this pill that makes your brain go a lot faster!” “Oh, so are you now way smarter?” “No, I’m the same stupid me but at a much higher speed!”.

Abnormal Limb Rotation Range: Averted. While Frank Ntilikina has ultralong limbs, he wasn’t able to get a single rebound, steal or block in 21 minutes of action. The much sturdier VanVleet was running circles around him tonight.

Marionette Motion: Mostly played straight with Mitchell Robinson. He still moves in strange ways and acts weird as if he were controlled by a trigger happy toddler on a PS4 controller. In the third quarter he committed a goaltending so blatant that looked a giant F-Bomb to Fizdale. The same can be said about the totally useless, pretty classless foul committed with a few second to play in the fourth and the Knicks down 28.

Everybody Hates Mathematics: shout out to Team Optimist, y’all. Lampshaded with RJ Barrett, who threatens to be the fourth NBA player ever to hit at least a third of his three point attempts while hitting less than 52% of his free throws (minimum 3 3PA per game), after Ken Norman in 94/95, Dion Waiters in 18/19 and the Trope Namer Nick Anderson in 96/97.

Contrasting Sequel Main Character: (Over)Played with Marcus Morris and Carmelo Anthony.

Elite Mooks: Averted with Marcus Morris. Mook, yes. Elite? Nah. He totally sucked last night (7 points, 3 boards, 1 assist). Also played with Marcus Morris: he’s still shooting a blistering 51.9% from three for the season.

Hopeless Boss Fight: Haha. Did you ever think that Randle vs. Siakam would have ended well? Julius posted solid numbers (19 points, 8 boards) but Siakam was a beast (31 points, 8 boards, 5 for 8 from three and looked unstoppable).

Hollow Knight: Even if this Trope means an entirely different thing, I liked how its name applied to Randle. Every year, every bad team has at least a guy who posts “big” numbers that ring hollow and untrue. Enes Kanter and Tim Hardaway Jr. are poster childs of this misunderstood (by me) Trope, but Randle is very well growing in their footsteps.

Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Played straight with Bobby Portis (15 million dollars for this guy is simply preposterous). Averted with Mitch Robinson, who’s too awesome to be paid this little.

Karl Marx Hates Your Guts: from the Trope description: “[…] in such a way that it is impossible to make money by buying something and then re-selling it elsewhere“. Lampshaded by this board. Overplayed with the FO’s acquisition of one-year vets. Who would want them after they play like this?

Dungeon Maintenance: Probably played in the future with Kevin Knox or Dennis Smith Jr, especially as soon as Elfrid Payton comes back. In nights like this, those two are borderline unwatchable. In the second quarter DSJ committed two consecutive turnovers, with the second being the most egregious one: a full court pass attempt that went high above Bobby Portis’ head by at least ten feet.

A Wizard Did It: Subverted with David Fizdale. Whatever it is, Fizdale magic is working no wonders on the offseason acquisitions: every single one of them is posting a worse WS/48 than last year (with the exception of Elfrid Payton, who has only played 4 games though).

Blatant Lies: Played straight with Steve Mills and Scott Perry, who somehow tried to convince James Dolan that this roster was playoff-contention worthy.

Chew Bubblegum: Clyde is here to chew bubblegum and snark about failing Knicks players and sets. And he’s all out of bubblegum. Early in the third the Knicks wound up turning the ball over right after a timeout by Fizdale. Let’s just say Clyde wasn’t pleased with the subsequent play.

Leitmotif: Fire Fizdale.

***

Happy Thanksgiving guys! See you after the Sixers game. Let’s hope it’s better than this. Or not, if it helps getting ridden of a few guys.

Note: this was supposed to be published yesterday at 10:00 AM, before the site went off for several hours.

NY Post: David Fizdale desperately wants Knicks to play faster

From Greg Joyce:

David Fizdale wants the Knicks to pick up their pace.

Ranked 27th out of 30 teams in pace (98.65) — which measures the number of possessions per game — the Knicks spent Tuesday’s practice working with a 12-second shot clock to hammer the point across.

“We’ve got to get more possessions in the game to get over the hump and give ourselves more shots at the rim,” Fizdale said before the Knicks flew to Toronto for Wednesday’s game against the Raptors. “We’ve got to get to our stuff quicker. We’ve got to get up the floor faster, get into our actions faster. So hopefully there will be some carryover for that.”

The Knicks ranked 17th in pace (100.16) in Fizdale’s first season at the helm, and while it has been a big talking point during his tenure, the results haven’t shown. Fizdale said he didn’t know why they haven’t been able to play as fast as he wants, but he continues to push it as a point of emphasis.

“Once they get in there maybe for whatever reason we don’t play as fast as we’d like,” Fizdale said. “How they measure pace as well is not necessarily conducive to how fast you’re playing. Because sometimes if you don’t get a shot on goal it takes away from what your actual pace is. So the actual speed we’re playing at, I think, is fine.”

Gotta love it when the coach doesn’t know why they’re not doing what he wants them to do. Oh well, it’s not like he’s the coach or anything, what impact can he have on what style of play they run?

Brooklyn Nets 103 – New York Knicks 101 – Game Recap

Hey there, fellow Knicks fans! I guess you want to know why we lost last night against a pretty mediocre Nets team, right? Fear not, I’m your man and up to the task!

Here’s the reasons why:

Dolan. Dolan Dolan Dolan Dolan Dolan: Oh and Dolan. Did you Dolan that Dolan just Dolan? But Dolan Dolan, Dolan! And Dolan. So, Dolan Dolan Dolan. Dolan…

Seriously, when you consider how the loss (the game, actually) came to be, you can’t help but trace everything to the origin of evil that taints this franchise since 1999. The Knicks played pretty much the same game they play 60% of the time: put up a fake fight at the beginning, let the game slip a bit, try to cover the gap somehow, let the game slip another little bit, mount a fake comeback, play stupid ball in the last three minutes, come away with a loss and nothing new learned.

Against Brooklyn, they followed the script to a T. Here’s the score every 6 minutes: 15-16 (six minutes mark), 22-29 (end of first quarter), 33-34 (six minutes mark), 46-52 (end of first half), 63-66 (six minutes mark), 72-82 (end of third quarter), 82-91 (six minutes mark), 101-103 (end of game).

So, you might say, why all the doom and gloom this particular time?

Oh, that’s why: as I had all too easily predicted, the valiant (?) efforts of the night came from veterans who didn’t play team ball at all – not their fault I guess – while the youngsters were total horseshit. I’m actually happy we lost: to win this game would have added insult to injury.

And that’s where we come back to Dolan.

Our youngsters played very bad because they’re not coached. They’re not being trained to improve. No one’s grooming their tendences. No one’s teaching them anything. We could rave all we want about Frank’s improvement (?!?… but yeah, if Frank ends the season at around .050 WS/48 we should be thinking we had witnessed a borderline miracle) but how much is on Collet’s shoulders and how much on Fizdale’s? Do you remember our optimism about Knox and his improved shot selection? Do you remember when we thought Randle was a good signing?

I mean, everything could still happen. But do you see it happening with this coaching staff? RJ Barrett is out and their answer is putting a frigging power forward – who were clearly headed for the dungeon – at the 2 spot? While burying Trier and not starting Dotson and/or Ellington? WTF is wrong with them?

And if anyone thinks Fizdale is the problem, they’re not paying attention. Fizdale has no reason to feel that he has to held himself accountable for mistakes: the roster made no sense from day one, our GM has some strange talent evaluation bias and our POBO is widely thought to be the worst in the business, but has a very firm grip on his chair.

But this all starts from the top. Dolan’s the obvious culprit. I know, I’m preaching to the choir (especially here at KB), but it’s not like I can get semi drunk every night and fill half of the recap with my weak shenanigans, you know? So let’s state the obvious from time to time. It’s boring, but not hurtful. Who know, maybe one day Jimmy D will read this blog and some of our words will ring a bell in his head; you know, like a Christmas Carol thing where Jowles and JK47 take turns to get the right to play the snarky Ghost of Knicksmas Future, Brian plays the comforting and scolding at the same time Ghost fo Knicksmas Past and a beleaguered ptmilo finds unthinkable ways to express disdain at Guitar Jimmy with some careful worded assorted dissings.

Or maybe Dolan reads something and writes a wrathful letter accusing me to be an alcoholic. It would still be a nice result, since it’d be one of the few times he’d say something resembling the truth.

– Let’s talk about Mitch, shall we? It’s hard not to come away from his last few games very, very disappointed. The blocks are still there, but so are the dumb fouls. Also, wasn’t he supposed to shoot goddamn threes if left open? Defenses routinely sag eight feet off of him and he doesn’t even threaten to shoot the ball. He’s still jumping at everything even remotely blockable and leaves a ton of defensive boards on the table. Now, I mean, I still love Mitch with all of my soul, but those things are the ones that have to be coaxed by competent coaching. Fizdale’s approach to Mitch seems to be “let’s play him and just hope he doesn’t foul too much but anyway there’s still Bobby waiting on the wings hurr durr”. I hate it, and that’s reason number one why we need a change ASAP. His technical after his sixth foul also tells me his head really isn’t the right place. We. Can’t. Squander. His. Talents. Do something about it. Yeah, but there’s still Dolan who probably thinks Dwight Howard is still a better player (actually Dwight’s playing fine this year, but come on). If Mitch peters out like a few dozen

– Same goes for pretty much every other young player. You don’t like Knox’s defensive effort? Sure, neither do I. So why reward him with a start after three very inconcludent games? What’s the message? You suck at defending small forwards, so hey, let’s play defense on quicker and smaller two guards! That way, you’re way more prone at failing, and that opens up one of two equally bad scenarios: either you suck and get benched for it – to no fault of your own, though. It would be hard for Knox to defend two guards even if he were fully commited and focused – or you suck and don’t get benched for it, which in turn upsets the guys who might be trying their darnedest to stay on their defensive assignment. A real lose-lose scenario. Moreover, there’s nothing that Knox gives you at the 2 that Dotson can’t give you. Not even rebounding (just 1.6 REB% more for Knox).

– Lost in all of this is the fact that we keep on losing games where we shoot exceptionally well from three (18/35). When you lose these games, it means that a) your shot selection inside of the arc is terrible (true) and b) your opponent is shooting more/better from the line (also true). If it happens once, no problem. If it’s a trend, the only stat that counts here is the fact that you don’t know what is a good shot and what’s not.

– I kinda like Wayne Ellington. No, better. I don’t despise him. Ok? That said: 28 minutes for him and 17 for Portis. DNPs for Trier (again: Knox played 17 minutes as a shooting guard) and Brazdeikis.

– If you look closely, there are blatant contradictions in Fizdale’s general approach to his job. Playing veterans seem to suggest he’s coaching for wins and for his job. Playing Knox at the 2 looks like he’s trying to get fired in between those awkward Bill Pidto’s Subway commercials. Astounding and confounding.

– Marcus Morris is shooting 42% from the field and 51% from three. He’s shooting 36% from two on almost nine attempts per game. That’s simply atrocious. To put that in context, Frank is shooting 42% from two.

I’m sorry guys, no good or bad section, no fun-size. There’s no fun these days and honestly there’s not even good or decent. Let’s move on. let’s wait another year.