How Can You Be THAT Self Aware?

From an article by Frank Isola in today’s Daily News, here is Eddy Curry talking about how non-assertive he is, as compared to Shaquille O’Neal:

Thomas yearns for the day when Curry develops O’Neal’s mentality and exudes his confidence. That day, however, may never come. Even Curry acknowledged a major difference between himself and O’Neal by saying, “If I can learn to walk around with his demeanor it would turn into wins for the team.”

How can you be so good at identifying a flaw in your game like that and not be able to even slightly address it?

It is so bizarre.

“If I am more aggressive, we should win more…but ah, who wants to do THAT?”

So bizarre.

Now That Was More Like It…

If only every game could be like this past one, where the Knicks were clicking on both offense AND defense, and just dismantled the Washington Wizards, 102-82.

Outside of the sparkling play of David Lee (which we have come to expect), Renaldo Balkman was the clear story, scoring 18 points to go along with seven boards (FIVE of them offensive) and two blocks, in just 21 minutes of playing time. Lee’s 10 points and 15 bounds took place in 27 minutes of play. Talk about maximizing your minutes!

Meanwhile, the Knicks hounded Gilbert Arenas into a terrible shooting night.

Marbury had a decent game, and Q-Rich has officially, in my mind, gone into “I am not surprised that he had a good game” territory – which I never thought I’d say at the beginning of the season.

The Knicks won by twenty, and that was WITH a ridiculous third quarter where the Knicks fouled with reckless abandon! Without all the fouling, this game wouldn’t have been as close as it was!

Still, all in all, this was a solid win (and good to get one at home, eh?), and if Balkman can even remotely duplicate his performance tonight in future games – wow, that would dramatically change the Knicks’ fortunes, wouldn’t it?


KnickerBlogger’s take:

I’m really proud of how the non-Frye sophomores have developed. The other night against Cleveland, Nate Robinson had maybe the best drive & dish I’ve seen in a Knick uniform all year. Damon Jones was taking away Nate’s right hand, so Nate went left and sped into the paint. The moment the rest of the Cavs defense collapsed in on him, Robinson stopped in the paint on a dime, and gave a crisp bounce pass to the cutting Knick forward for the easy 2. The Knick forward was, of course, Lee.

Last night the Wizards got almost no contribution from their bench, while the Knicks bench outplayed their starters (again). It was nice to see that 3 of the Knicks’ best 4 players were Lee, Balkman, & Nate. Lee & Balkman were all over the boards. Granted the pair will not dominate like that every night, because Washington is one of the poorer rebounding teams. New York had a 36% to 23% offensive rebounding advantage. Lee & Balkman combined for 10 of 16 of the Knick offensive rebounds.

David Lee played 28 minutes yesterday, which is respectable for a bench player, but at this point his production is just screaming for more than the 23.9 min/g he’s averaging. He’s by far New York’s best frontcourt player this year, and it’s in the Knicks’ best interest to have him on the court as much as possible. The same could be said of Nate Robinson. Although Nate is a bit on the wrong side of the assist/turnover ratio for a point guard, he is shooting lights out (57.5% eFG% & 61.2% TS%) and is a fine rebounder for a guard (4.1 REB/40 with 1.8 OREB/40). Statistically Robinson has been better than Marbury, Francis, or Crawford.

Although there is value on having strong bench players, there comes a time that having your better players on the bench cuts into their minutes. And ultimately it’s simple mathematics: the guys on the court more have more of an effect on the team’s performance. Maybe my last column calling for the benching of both Curry & Frye was a bit early because of the politics involved. Isiah is trying to be a players coach, and it’s hard to be an optimist when you’re benching guys early in the season. However if anyone will bust into the starting lineup (without a major injury) it’s sure to be David Lee. It’s just a matter of time.

Leading the Blind

Hey folks, I totally missed last night’s game, so all I have to go on it is the recap and the box score, so how about you folks fill me in on the particulars?

Why did Isiah not go to Kelvin Cato or Malik Rose on Yao? Did he try them for a little bit and they looked awful?

Is T-Mac just in a huge shooting slump, or did the Knicks play good defense on him?

Did Marbury have as good of a game as his stats indicate (although what’s up with the downward trend with his free throw shooting?)? Same question for David Lee.

Did Channing Frye look awful again?

NEWS AND NOTES

* I know we all love reading about LB, so here‘s a column by Adrian Wojnarowski that basically says that LB is now “Artest in Armani.”

* Jermaine O’Neal might want back on Team USA. That’d be pretty cool.

* I saw a little bit of the Heat/Nets game last night. The Heat didn’t look that bad.

Okay, Maybe We Can Let Him Take the Last Shot…

I’ll have you know that that play happened just as Isiah diagrammed. It was the ol’ “Throw an insanely stupid cross court pass, then block the pass from the guy who stole the ball from you then recover the ball then take a crazy-looking 30-foot three pointer” play. I think Thomas learned that play when he was younger. He was a fighter back then. Did you know that? I did not. I wish someone would tell me more about Thomas’ fighting background. Maybe Thomas will talk about it some day.

That was such a crazy play, and the weirdest thing is that it was far from the most bizarre play in Wednesday night’s much needed 109-107 win by the Knicks over the Denver Nuggets (playing without Kenyon Martin). No, that play happened the previous Knicks possession, when the basketball somehow escaped from the Black Hole known as Eddy Curry to find itself in Stephon Marbury’s hands as he released a game-tying three pointer. And Curry was TRIPLE-TEAMED at the time!!

As this is the Knicks we are talking about, they almost blew the lead at the end by somehow allowing JR Smith (who Gus Johnson congratulated for a good game against his former team – do you think Gus thinks JR Smith is DerMarr Johnson?) to run all the way from the outside to have an easy game-tying layup as Carmelo Anthony intentionally missed the second free throw. Luckily, though, Smith (who seems a bit TOO hyper) blew the easy layup, and the Knicks came away with the win.

Still, it was a thrilling game, highlighted by the two crazy three-pointers and Jamal Crawford just lighting it up in the fourth quarter, pouring in a staggering TWENTY points in the quarter!

The Knicks also seem to have found that they really work better when they have a fifth player just to play defense and rebound. That they have decided that that player is Malik Rose is probably not a good thing, but hell, it seems to work, doesn’t it? Although there was a hilariously lame sequence in the fourth quarter where Crawford threw a pass away intended for Rose. What is he doing trying to FIND Rose in a close game towards the end of the fourth quarter?!?!

Also, it’s just about time to bench Channing Frye. Let him work out his problems during practice, because he both LOOKS awful and his numbers ARE awful. And the Najera play early in the game where Frye blocks a shot then just gets the ball yanked from his grip…that is unsettlingly bad.

Just start David Lee. He doesn’t get in the way, doesn’t demand the ball – he just lets the guards do their thing.

Oh, and how much better do the Knicks look without Francis?

Oh, and how the hell did Quentin Richardson reinvent himself as a good player?

In any event, the difference between 1-4 and 2-3 is only a game, but from a “feel good” standpoint, it is GIGANTIC.

What a good feeling. Let’s hope it carries over to Friday.

NEWS AND NOTES

*I love how quickly Zeke broke from “I won’t criticize my players” to “I’ll bench anyone!” Dude even NAMED NAMES!! Even LB didn’t usually name names.

*How the hell did Chicago give up on JR Smith for nothing?

*I like the Larry Brown decision. $18.5 million seems fair to me. I like how the coaches are all acting like this is some huge precedence. Please. This LB situation was a situation that will not be duplicated more than once or twice in the future – it was just too weird.

Four Games in and I’m Already Counting Moral Victories

Not a good sign. Especially as .500 makes it long trip away from the team’s sight.

Still, watching the team close within one was totally awesome to see.

Just that the rest of the game was a blight upon my eyes.

Please someone tell me that it is just, as John Hollinger said in his chat today, that Frye is just not in game shape yet.

Please?

Speaking of moral victories, when both Mardy Collins AND Malik Rose are important parts of the comeback – you know you got something weird going on.

New Addition to the Knicks “Pay To Not Play” Auxiliary

According to the New York Daily News, Isiah Thomas and Jalen Rose are working out a buyout of the remaining one year/$16 million left on Rose’s contract.

This will now make it a staggering $52 million that the Knicks will owe on the salary cap this year for five players who will not play for the Knicks this year (Allan Houston, Jerome Williams, Shandon Anderson and Maurice Taylor are the other four…you can stretch it to 6 players and $58 million if you want to argue that Malik Rose is essentially paid to not play as well).

However, seeing as how this money is already spent, I think it probably does make more sense to cut Rose loose than to keep him around. Unlike Malik, Jalen Rose likely would not be a good influence on the younger players, and like Malik, he wasn’t going to play any significant minutes, so if this can free up a roster spot for another player, then that’s okay by me.

What’s intriguing about this the most to me is who is the Knicks back-up small forward until Jeffries comes back? Is it Renaldo Balkman? Or David Lee?

Or will we see Jamal Crawford at the 3 in a three-guard lineup?