Who Do You Want Gone ? Who Do You Want Here?

Who Do I Want Gone?

Eddy Curry. Bold choice I know. He is the primary symbol what we have become and how we got here. And he is a really bad basketball player, worse than Zach Randolph by a mile.

Who Do I Want Here the Most?

Chris Paul. He was the best player in the league this year. And I would like to see the best player in the league take the court in a Knicks jersey. Amazing that it’s never happened before.

Lee 4:37

“And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.” John 4:37 (KJV)

The Knicks routed a Bobcats team last night that was without Gerald Wallace at the beginning of the game and lost Jason Richardson in the second quarter. The eventual 24 point victory was hardly inevitable. After a depressing first quarter I was preparing myself for the worst. But the Knicks battled hard, then turned the tide in the final four minutes of the second quarter. Sparked by a Jeffries dunk off an assist from Randolph and a Crawford three pointer, the Knicks used an explosive 15-0 run to turn a deficit into a 13 point lead. At the start of the second half, the Knicks went back to the starting rotation and started to falter. The Bobcats used an 8-0 run to get within 8 before David Lee replaced Eddy Curry. When Lee left the game for good at the 6:17 mark of the fourth period, the Knicks led by 29 points. They cruised home from there.

There was a lot to like in this game. The Knicks had 5 1st quarter turnovers, but thereafter protected the ball fairly well, while racking up 25 assist.. Almost everyone got some PT (although Randolph Morris still couldn’t make it off the bench). Every Knick who played scored except for Curry, who made his own highly unusual contribution with two early blocks. We got to see some Wilson Chandler, who loves to shoot, (seven shots in six minutes). We got some Renaldo, who was as fun to watch as ever, and who loves to foul as much as Chandler likes to shoot (5 fouls in 13 minutes). And we got a win, the kind of victory Knicks fans can use right now, lottery balls be damned.

What I liked most, (unsurprisingly, given my longstanding mancrush), was David Lee’s 4:37. He played 29 minutes, had 14 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists, 0 turnovers, but scored just 4 points. And despite his low volume of scoring, his +/- for the game was a team high +37. No other Knick was better than +21. On more than one occasion David “Good Things” Lee sparked the team with a quick outlet pass after a rebound that led to a fast break. On another play he ran into the crowd to save a possession.

Lee wasn’t asked to speak to the crowd after the game, didn’t get mentioned in the post game interview, barely got mentioned in the recap, didn’t get quoted, but was clearly the best player on the floor, as his Win Score of 18 indicates. Not that this is surprising. He was the best player on the Knicks last year, and entered the game with the best WP48 this year, the best PER, the best on/off on the team at +8, the best Roland rating, the most Winshares, and the best ORtg. The Knicks have been outscored by 329 points through 57 games, but have been outscored by just 54 points with Lee on the court.

Our New York Knickerbobblers

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

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

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

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

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

My suggestion? Find a new jockey.