Celtics 102, Knicks 96
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 37 MIN | 6-26 FG | 4-7 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 20 PTS | 0
Bad. Two silly fouls early stopped the Knicks from capitalizing on a lackluster Celtics’ 1st and forced them to play a number of lineup combinations (Prigs/Brewer/Novak/Cope/Amare????) that I hope to never see again. When he got back on the floor he settled for far too many contested jumpers, missing 8 of his 10 fourth quarter shots and 20 of 26 overall. Worst of all, he let his pride and his beef with KG get in his head and, by extension, in the way of the Knicks salvaging a winnable game. Despite a couple bright spots, this was all that needed to change about Old Melo on display in one game.
|Ronnie Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -1
Ronnie was fine. If the small lineup had gotten more run the Knicks may well have won this game.
|Marcus Camby, C 10 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | 0
Not really sure why he’s starting, to be honest. If the whole point of not starting Amare is that we want to play Melo at the four, then starting a big who can’t do anything outside of the paint makes less than zero sense. He played well, grabbing 7 boards and blocking a shot in just 10 minutes, but was misutilized.
|Tyson Chandler, C 41 MIN | 4-6 FG | 5-6 FT | 17 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS | +9
Monster effort on the boards and as the roll man. Defensively, Boston spent the second half forcing him into a lot of switches that let them prey on lesser defenders and take advantage of the Knicks desire to keep Melo from fouling out. Hard to say Tyson was “bad” on that end — he’s never bad — but Boston did a good job limiting his effectiveness and he didn’t do anything superhuman to overcome it.
|Jason Kidd, PG 33 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS | +11
Really a very good performance by Kidd, if not on the statistical level of some of his recent output. Effective as a spot shooter and, as the primary beneficiary of the Rondo suspension, as a defender. Has begun to attack a bit more with Felton out which is a necessary evil; he’s not the finisher he once was and we want him camped out deep, but if he’s completely unwilling to drive then it’s hard for us to initiate much offense without #IsoMelo.
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 28 MIN | 4-6 FG | 5-6 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -15
Honestly I have no idea what grade he deserves. He scored 13 points on 6 FGA’s and no turnovers. So that’s awesome. He was also minus-19 and thoroughly played to the level that number suggests. So that’s not awesome.
Right now, Stoudemire is moving well, his shot seems to be finding its way back, and his burst is better than I remember it being since his first season as a Knick. On the other hand, his defense and his ability to move off the ball remain, to my eyes, something of a horror show. He switches onto anything that moves, seemingly unable to weigh, for instance, the relative import of covering an open Kevin Garnett 10 feet from the rim or doubling an already-guarded Avery Bradley 28 feet out. He can’t be relied upon to guard the rim, bad news when we have a center who is better than any other in the NBA at straying from the paint to help guard perimeter players. And on offense, his movement off the ball has just one goal: putting himself in whatever position maximizes the odds that he will score, regardless of the effect this has on the Knicks’ spacing.
Stoudemire played nearly the whole fourth quarter tonight as a visible negative on defense and, while efficient when given a chance to finish, not enough of an offensive factor that the Knicks made any effort to run plays for him. All of this left me and many others on Twitter wondering what exactly the point of it all was. Here was a player with a minutes limit that was openly disregarded for the purpose of — what? Providing significantly worse defense than Marcus Camby? Less floor spacing than Steve Novak? An ability to finish so well-honed that none of the team’s primary ballhandlers made any effort to get the ball into his hands?
The window is not shut on Amare getting back to being the kind of offensive force that can make him a borderline star despite defense that will never be a plus in and of itself. But until he’s there, we better figure out what he is and how to use him. Because this wasn’t it.
|Steve Novak, SF 16 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | -5
Should have gotten a lot of Amare’s 4th quarter minutes tonight. His shot was going and he was extending the Boston wings enough to leave their smallish (other than KG) bigs isolated trying to contend with a rolling Chandler and a penetrating JR Smith. He’s not a worse defensive player than Stoudemire either; he’s easily beaten but he anchors to his man and doesn’t screw up the spacing.
|Chris Copeland, SF 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -19
Bad twice as often as he’s good, it seems, and when he’s bad he. Is. BAD. And he was BAD tonight. 0 assists, 4 turnovers, and a silly foul in 15 minutes. Seriously would have planted his ass on the pine for the rest of the game after his unconscionable ball-kicking technical in the third quarter. On a night when the Knicks as a whole didn’t have a great grasp on their fee-fees, a 35-year-old whose decision-making is supposed to be his primary asset allowed himself to stand in as the symbol of their immaturity and petulence.
|J.R. Smith, SG 39 MIN | 7-18 FG | 6-7 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 24 PTS | -4
If the last month is to be believed, JR Smith is:
1) The Knicks’ second best scorer.
All of this is improbable. All of this is unexpected. All of this is true.
|Rasheed Wallace, PF DNP SORE LEFT FOOT MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |
NOT. A MOMENT. TOO SOON.
Was he boxed into a corner by Melo’s foul trouble? Sure. Are the players largely to blame for their shot selection? Definitely. Should highly-paid professionals — to say nothing of adults — be trusted to deal with a little bit of pushback and physicality without losing their heads? Of course.
But you know what? I don’t care.
Broadly defined, a coach has three jobs. Game Preparation. Game Management. Motivation and Leadership. To my eyes, Woodson failed tonight on all three counts. The Knicks looked entirely unprepared for the kind of physicality the Celtics have only been known for since they traded Al Jefferson for Kevin Garnett. His lineups were baffling from wall-to-wall, starting with the decision to slide Melo from the 4 to the 3 to make room for Marcus Camby in the starting lineup and ending with his insistence on blowing STAT’s minute limit to smithereens to keep him on the court for the whole fourth quarter which I wouldn’t have much of a problem with if, you know, the Knicks weren’t a significantly better team with STAT on the bench right now. And the hot-headedness and immaturity on display in a game where, I hate to break it to you, most of the calls and breaks DID go the Knicks’ way, was inexcusable and part of a recurring pattern which, at some point, must fall at the feet of the coach.
This wasn’t all Woodson’s fault. But enough of it was.
Five Things We Saw
- This was a bad performance; a winnable game handed to an inferior team despite enjoying the lion’s share of the breaks and calls. The sense of entitlement that sometimes seems to take hold of this team has become the primary buzzkill in an otherwise wonderful half season.
- The Knicks exploded out of the gate this fall with a balanced small-ball offense that played to the strengths of everyone on the court and emphasized sharp passing, efficient shot selection, and low turnovers. When they’ve had anything resembling their full compliment of players, that formula has continued to work for them. When they’ve lost, they’ve lost by going away from those principles, focusing instead on isolation and employing big lineups that allow defenses to collapse on the rim and force the Knicks into pull-up jumpers and contested lay-ups. Carmelo Anthony is…wait, sorry, needs its own section…
- Carmelo Anthony is a power forward.
- This has been well-established. I don’t care if Amare plays the first minute, the 48th minute, the 19th minute, or any other minute. I only care that our best player plays the position that he is best at playing at that player is Carmelo Anthony and that position is power forward and every game that sees him playing most of his minutes at the three represents a significant tactical error.
- Tonight Mike Woodson started Marcus Camby at the 4, Carmelo Anthony at the 3, and brought Amare Stoudemire off the bench. In crunch time, he played Stoudemire at the 4 and Anthony at the 3 until the game was basically out of reach. This suggests that Mike Woodson is missing the entire point of the whole “Amare off the bench” thing. The point is NOT to make a statement to Amare that we don’t think he’s good enough to start. That’s actually the negative by-product that the Knicks have to stomach to achieve the ACTUAL point which is that Carmelo Anthony is our best player and the position that he is best at playing is the four and that our best player should play the position that he is best at playing for as many minutes as possible.