|Kurt Thomas, PF 16 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +3
It’s not really getting any better for Kurt. Wasn’t bad tonight but he remains incapable of distinguishing himself on a very deep team. He’s shooting 35% on the year and doesn’t seem to be superior to Sheed in any facet of his game. The return of Amare — or even Marcus Camby — is likely to bump him out of the rotation completely. Did have one vicious swat on Marquis Teague in the third quarter. He started tonight but I suspect it was mostly to line Sheed up with the second unit for some extra scoring punch.
|Ronnie Brewer, SF 16 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Not as good as your typical Ronnie Brewer night. In fact, might not even have been as good as your typical Jamison Brewer night. Still had his game a step above Milwaukee mascot Bernie Brewer and SNL goat-boy portrayer Jim Breuer though. Hey, it’s something.
|Tyson Chandler, C 37 MIN | 4-8 FG | 6-9 FT | 18 REB | 1 AST | 14 PTS | -7
The best player on the court by a long way. Had a sequence at 11 minutes of the third quarter — 3 straight offensive boards, set Brewer up for an easy layup that he (of course) missed, ultimately drew a shooting foul — in which he looked like a teenager playing with a bunch of much younger cousins at a family reunion. His off-ball movement is such a vital component of their Melo-less offense; when they abandoned it in favor of a healthy portion of Felton isolation sets, the results were predictably bad.
|Jason Kidd, PG 29 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -15
Quieter day for Jason. He’s entitled to one of those on occasion. He had his 10th block of the year tonight which is as many as he had all of last year and one more than he had in the 2004-05 season when he played nearly 2,500 minutes. The more you know.
|Raymond Felton, PG 38 MIN | 9-30 FG | 8-9 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 27 PTS | -12
The good news is that he’s really embraced the alpha dog role with Melo out. The bad news is that he’s really embraced the alpha dog role with Melo out. WAYYYYYYYYYYY too shot-happy tonight but was the only guy out there looking to initiate action (everything they do right now is built on either the pick and roll or his dribble penetration to create space for shooters) and did an impressive job limiting turnovers considering how frequently he was steaming ahead into the teeth of a very good defense. I’m not gonna say it was good but to just look at his FG shooting numbers and declare it a disaster would be a mistake. Perhaps more importantly: he looked absolutely exhausted down the stretch and it isn’t a coincidence that the Knicks offense ground to an ultimately damning halt once that fatigue set in. The two-PG lineups have been effective but Woodson might need to start looking to reduce Felton’s minutes or risk a 2009 Chris Duhon situation. And that wouldn’t be good for anybody.
|Rasheed Wallace, PF 16 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -5
Plenty of ink has been spilled on Sheed this season and that is sure to continue. All things considered this was a pretty mediocre offensive night but his on-ball defense in the post remains incredible for a player of any age, let alone Sheed’s age. Watch the sequence of him forcing a Boozer miss at three minutes of the first quarter to see what I mean. The guy who played Cutty on The Wire is no doubt praying that Sheed’s dream season will continue to the point where it justifies a movie. Tonight didn’t really move the needle either way on that front.
|Steve Novak, SF 31 MIN | 1-4 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -4
Mostly invisible. Missed a clean look at the end of the shot clock that would’ve cut it to 2 with just over a minute left. Bulls scored the next time down and that was pretty much that.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 10 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | +4
Seems like he’s either very good or very bad most nights. Was bad in the first half of this one; his shot was off, he didn’t initiate much, and his open-floor foul on Nate Robinson veered dangerously close to bush league. A little better as the game went on but that was more about limiting mistakes than creating much positive value. A down night.
|James White, SG 12 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | +10
Tonight’s case study for my upcoming research paper: “Single Game +/- and Why It Doesn’t Mean Anything” (he was plus-10). Had one nice drive to the rim. Just 70 days til the Slam Dunk Contest.
|J.R. Smith, SG 35 MIN | 4-14 FG | 5-6 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -14
Not much to say about J.R. — he shot badly (although made some of that back at the line), didn’t protect the ball, didn’t do much of note on the defensive end. Blah.
Five Things We Saw
- It’s always great to be able to provide an insightful diagnosis after a loss but I think tonight was pretty straightforward: Raymond Felton took 30 shots, missed 21 of them, and nobody else looked particularly capable of creating anything. Meanwhile, the Knicks defense was decent enough but failed to get stops on a few key possessions down the stretch and, in a road game against a good defense, that was enough to doom them.
- Refs called this game extremely tight both ways. The Gibson ejection seemed like an extremely quick trigger, there were lots of fouls, and I think the officials might have been taken in by a handful of, um, “embellishments” over the course of the evening. Ultimately don’t feel like either team came out way ahead or behind, just something worth noting.
- Bigs who can hit mid-range jumpers seem to bother the Knicks. Their interior defense is so reliant on Chandler staying at home that they leave pockets of space open that can be exploited by shooters who are adept between twelve and eighteen feet. All things considered it’s a good place to be weak since long twos are the least efficient shots but Boozer is a bad matchup for them and I could see it hurting them down the road against specific teams.
- Luol Deng and Raymond Felton are basically living parallel existences as useful offensive players who are masquerading as first options while their star teammates nurse injuries. Here’s wishing Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose swift returns so that the next time these two sides meet it isn’t so ugly.
- I will forever love Nate Robinson no matter what uniform he’s wearing. Maybe it was just me but he looked a step slow tonight. Not getting the same incredible lift when he jumps (my girlfriend was actually the one to point this out while we were watching and I think she was absolutely right) and had a hard time pushing the tempo in transition (see J.R. Smith running him down for a block from behind with 1:08 left in the game; that never used to happen). Take away his elite athleticism and there isn’t much to keep Nate in the league so I hope this was just an off night.