|Carmelo Anthony, SF 45 MIN | 8-24 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 22 PTS | -4
The guy who gives a 25 minute eulogy that goes nowhere and doesn’t leave anyone else time to say a few words.
Fair or not, the doubts will only get louder. Personally — and this is only personally — I don’t think Melo is overwhelmed by the moment or anything that neat and tidy. We’ve seen him rise to the occasion too many times to trot out such a tired excuse. The C’s know exactly what’s coming, they’re playing right up in his grill and stacking help behind his primary defender, and he’s continuing to shoot into it. The flaws of the design are, of course, compounded by a horrendous run of shooting even on wide open shots. But the plan has to change. Has. To.
|Iman Shumpert, SF 29 MIN | 4-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 12 PTS | +3
The well-meaning kid who has a few innocently profound things to say but nobody takes them seriously.
He was pretty great tonight. He really bothered Pierce on the defensive end, attacked with aplomb, made a couple jumpers. Physically, he’s all the way back and he did his job.
|Tyson Chandler, C 34 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +8
The pall bearer who supports 70% of the coffin so the other pall bearers can look like the weight is NOTHING to them.
Very good in the PnR game. The first option in the offensive set that has worked best for the Knicks all series. So, of course, he took 5 shots (and 2 free throws) tonight.
Defensively, he came out guns a-blazin’ but put himself in foul trouble with a really dumb recovery foul that had no chance of materially affecting a Brandon Bass layup. Then, after KMart followed suit, Tyson was forced to return to the game with far less of an edge; he focused on playing passing lanes and crashing the boards far more than defending tightly on the ball or contesting shots.
His offensive failings were largely Woody’s fault and his defensive failings largely KMart’s. But I can’t go above a B for someone who was simply not allowed to affect the game in the way he now (physically) looks capable of doing.
|Raymond Felton, PG 44 MIN | 10-19 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 21 PTS | -8
The widower who is “Handling this so well” and “Amazing us with his strength!”
Our best offensive player tonight, our key offensive option all series. Pick-and-roll action with Felton on the ball has been the best thing about the Knicks’ performance this series; he’s made the right drive/lob/kick decision nearly every time and the simple fact of the PnR action has forced the Celtics to react very quickly from their base set of overloading on Melo. Woodson’s too smart not to know that this is the offensive approach that should (still, despite everything) win us the series. He needs to step up and demand it. And then step up higher and demand it louder.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +9
The foreign cousin who leaves to get the sandwiches and is never heard from again.
Our best offense happens when he and Felton play together. This is true even when JR Smith is in #PipeStrong #EAARRRRLLLLLL #PIPPPPPPEEEEEEE mode. So for Pablo to play 13 minutes tonight, in a critical, winnable game, with JR three steps slow and a foot-and-a-half wide, is utterly inexcusable for any reason shy of an injury.
He didn’t shoot well. He didn’t even play well. I don’t care: it was 13 minutes. Should have had 25.
|Kenyon Martin, PF 13 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -13
The guy who only loosely knew the deceased but offends everyone by acting like they were REALLY close.
I love K-Mart. Love him for his brashness and not despite it. But he’s been a part of this team for a month, he ran his mouth quite a bit before this game, and then he played so recklessly that he marginalized himself through foul trouble for the second straight game. This resulted in Chandler playing through foul trouble and defending more tentatively as a result. All of the heat is gonna go to Melo and Earl (and maybe Woodson) but it should be remembered that KMart raised the stakes today. Raised the stakes, looked at his cards, and then promptly folded.
|Steve Novak, SF 3 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -2
Get well soon. And while you’re at it find your jump shot.
|Marcus Camby, C 1 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -1
The guy who shows up but nobody can remember who he is.
|Jason Kidd, PG 21 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -14
The old guy that nobody can believe outlived the decease but nobody wants to say it out loud.
He’s like that old guy because he was “here” but he wasn’t really Here, if you know what I’m saying.
|J.R. Smith, SG 36 MIN | 3-14 FG | 5-6 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -8
The cousin who sneaks in a flask to “take the edge off some of these intense emotions” and inevitably proceeds to overindulge. This leads to an uncomfortable episode in which he usurps the eulogist in mid-speech, tells patently inappropriate stories about the deceased’s sexual history and controversial political views, and finally vomits directly into the casket during what he expected to be a dramatic “Addressing the departed” moment.
I’ve been pretty high on Woody lately. I am on the record saying that I had him 3rd on my not-even-remotely-existent CoY ballot. So please know that, when I say what I’m about to say, I’m not saying it with an agenda, I’m not saying it rashly, I’m not saying “I told you so.”
If the Knicks lose this series behind 2 more games of ineffective, iso-heavy offense, Mike Woodson should be fired.
Let me be clear about my meaning. Woodson shouldn’t be fired if we lose this series just because we lost this series. The losing would be incidental and would surely have to do with any number of factors relating to talent, approach, luck, psychology, experience, etc. etc. etc. He won 54 games this year with an oft-injured group and that means more than any 7 game stretch possibly could.
We now have 5 games worth of evidence that speaks to exactly what kind of offense works against the Boston Celtics (a team that has trouble with the pick and roll, that is using the woefully under-qualified Jason Terry on the resurgent Raymond Felton; a team that has overloaded on Carmelo Anthony and collapsed into the lane to the point that it is essentially DARING the Knicks’ role players to beat it with threes) and what kind of offense does not. The things that are working — Felton/Chandler pick-and-roll, penetrating guard play, two-point-guard lineups, inside-out three-point shooting, catch-and-shoots for Melo and enough Iso to create foul trouble and screw up the defense’s spacing — are largely the things that have worked all year. And yet, when our most common lineups are on the court, Iso sets for Melo and (tonight, at least) creation of looks for an aboslutely overwhelmed JR Smith are the order of the day.
Mike Woodson has a smarter basketball mind than I do. He knows what works and what doesn’t. He KNOWS that sending a cold Melo into traffic against a team that’s BEGGING for the Knicks to do precisely that doesn’t make for a well-designed offense. He MUST know. And, I guess, that’s why I’m worried.
There’s a scene in “A Few Good Men” where a character — Col. Matthew Markinson — chooses to take his own life rather than testify at court-martial about his role in the death of a young soldier. While Markinson hadn’t committed a crime, he’d stood idly by while his superior officer ordered a disciplinary measure (called a “Code Red” in Sorkinese pseudo-military jargon) that ultimately ended in the soldier’s death by asphyxiation. Consumed by his guilt, Markinson puts a bullet in his temple, leaving behind only a suicide note addressed to the victim’s parents. The note concludes thusly:
“The truth is this: Your son is dead for only one reason. I wasn’t strong enough to stop it.”
If the Knicks win Game 6 or Game 7, whether it’s behind a pass-and-move offense that would do the ’73 team proud or a 60 point iso-heavy explosion from Melo, all will be forgotten, most will be forgiven, and the slaying of the once-mighty Celtics will be all that endures from this week.
But, if the Knicks season dies at the wrong end of an unprecedented playoff comeback, and if the murder weapon is a bunch of ill-advised hero-ball in place of the offensive style that we’re now 80-some games into KNOWING works better?
I won’t care who ordered the Code Red. The New York Knicks season will only be dead for one reason. Because Mike Woodson wasn’t strong enough to stop it.
One Thing We Saw
- This post-game video of Jordan Crawford saying…well…something to Melo that nearly led to a fight will get a lot of airplay the next couple of days. I know no more about it than you do and won’t pretend to. I’m presenting it here without comment.