Game Recap: Knicks 92, Bucks 99

For the fourth time in five games, the Knicks’ future played a more pivotal role in its present than its present played, portending that its present may belong in the past. Know what I’m saying? I made it sound complicated and confusing because I guess that’s how it ends up after it’s filtered through Derek Fisher’s earholes and formulated into thoughts in his brain. How else do you explain trotting out Sasha Vujacic, Lance Thomas, Calderon, and yeah, Carmelo Anthony when he’s having an off night and mentally checks out towards the end?

You fear for your job, Derek? You fear for the judgment that comes when you make changes and they don’t pan out? Or maybe you just remember being the washed up guy, so there’s some pent up frustration that you’re expressing by playing this assortment of wash-ups and never-weres.

I don’t think benching Calderon, Thomas and Vujacic is going to be some panacea. But like Clyde put it as the game clock wound down: “If you’re losing, you might as well lose with rookies.” When you’re raising kids, you don’t assume they’ll fail and so limit their responsibilities. You give them a chance to fail, and when they do, you give them the support they need to look at their mistakes as learning experiences rather than failures. Fisher is doing the opposite.

As far as this specific game goes, it was a close one. When the aforementioned Lance Thomas, who played fine last night and does look like a better player than last year, put in that long two to tie the game in the early 4th, it felt like the game was the Knicks’ to win. But then John Henson went bananas, and Fisher benched Grant, and the game slipped away.

One subplot of the game was Carmelo, who played a competent first half that felt like a continuation of the Cleveland game. He registered four assists (all to Robin Lopez, who seemed extra motivated after Monroe started hot against him) in that half. He wasn’t scoring well, so he tried to do other things. Then, the fourth quarter came along, and he seemed to lose interest. Carmelo didn’t check in until there was 6:39 left in the game and immediately missed a midrange jumper, then got blocked by the rampaging Henson (11 4th quarter points). He added two turnovers, a couple rebounds, and a couple more misses before the night was through.

Melo’s behavior made me think of the Herring article about how Melo always takes techs, even when Calderon is in. I understand and largely agree with the people who say, “The difference is negligible.” But I also see the other side. A player who demands that he take all techs because, as Derek Fisher explained, “Some guys, points are very important to them,” is revealing a character trait that potentially could hurt the team in other much more dramatic ways. If you see a connection between Melo shooting techs instead of Calderon and Melo demanding the ball in isolation every other fourth quarter play, then I can understand why you’d be upset.

The main point of interest for the Knicks once again was Porzingis, who continued to display superstar potential. The play where he recovered to the perimeter to block Copeland was yet another illustration of the crazy things his combination length and quickness allow for. Similar to Antetokounpo’s block on Derrick Williams earlier in the night, Porzingis made an open shot into a block in the time it took Copeland to complete his release. Then there were two more put back dunks, each accompanied by a Russell Westbrook style scream towards the baseline. There was a three. There were tons of huge offensive rebounds. And yes, there was a turnover in traffic and a couple misses late in the 4th. Altogether though, it was another night’s evidence that he has the chance to make James Dolan a lot of money for a long time. Quick, Jamie boy, trade him for Dwyane Wade.

Beyond Giannis, the Bucks didn’t look like anything special, at least not yet. All the fears about their poor three point shooting and Monroe’s need for space looked real last night. If Antetokounmpo doesn’t continue to play at an All-Star level, I could see them slipping out of the playoff race. Monroe is an interesting player because of his ability to pass, but his inability to defend anyone (even Robin Lopez!) and his lack of range and ability to do anything interesting while facing the basket make it tough for him to be impactful as a role guy. He has to be central to your offense or he’ll give up more points than he adds, and it’s tough these days with all the swarming defenses to run your offense through the post.

Whelp. Sunday it’s the Lakers, our first chance to see if this team can sustain its effort against a bad team. If you’re thinking of building a house, you might stop by MSG to collect the bricks that Kobe leaves behind. Will it be Bryant’s last game at The Garden?

Liked it? Take a second to support max fisher-cohen on Patreon!

max fisher-cohen

In addition to writing for Knickerblogger, Max teaches English at Tallahassee Community College and writes short stories. He recently finished a feature screenplay, and he is working right now to raise the funds to film it. You can check it out on Kickstarter.

57 thoughts to “Game Recap: Knicks 92, Bucks 99”

  1. Nice recap MFC. Do more in the future. A few observations:

    (1) I don’t think we’ll be able to really judge Fisher until Afflalo is back because our back-court is so thin at the moment. If anything, we should blame Phil for signing Seraphin instead of Shved and acquiring Calderon in the first place. I’m probably more hopeful about Fisher than anyone.

    (2) It seemed like Gallo had an off night from 3 but he ended up 40% 3FG%. If he shoots in the high 30s, watch out because the guy’s able to attack closeouts and create easy buckets.

    (3) I am so stoked about a future Grant/Galloway back-court. Notice Fish took my advice ;) and had Gallo guarding the 1 position and Grant the 2. Sooo important. Grant is an above average defender guarding SGs but average at best guarding 1s. And on offense, Fish is giving Grant the green light to attack the basket and execute PnRs. I get the feeling Fish would just trash the Triangle completely if he could but it’s a requirement of Phil. Gallo is not a natural 1 but he does have some play-making ability which, coupled with Grant’s excellent shot-creation skills, might lessen # of Melo ISOs.

    (4) When AAA returns, I’d like our primary lineup to be Grant/Gallo/Melo/Zinger and O’Quinn or Lopez. We’re playing with house money this season and this “vets first” mentality needs to go in the same trash bin as the Triangle (more Spurs-like offense). Grant’s NBA ready – let’s start building the chemistry now. Put Grant/Zinger and Melo/Zinger in the PnR.

    (5) Zinger’s been a revelation on defense and offensive rebounding but he’s got a long way to go on offense: 3FG%, pick-setting, post-up game, passing, attacking closeouts. Remember how everyone expected Ewing out of college to be a beast on defense and maybe averagy on offense but the opposite happened in his career? Are we perhaps witnessing a similar phenomenon in the case of Zinger? If he does improve on some of those offensive skills, OMG.

  2. Some posters may want to cut a valium pill in two and take half.
    Fisher
    If I’m Fisher, I give veteran players the benefit of doubt and let them play for 10-20 games. Popovich, when asked about is team, said he doesn’t do much of anything in the first 10 games or so because he really doesn’t know what he has or what he plans to do. He needs to see how people are playing together before he does.
    So making big fixes before a team has had time in the crucible of regular season play is just silly.
    The “fire Fisher” fans just need to think about the other half of that valium pill.
    Melo
    Carmelo does not have his legs at full strength. His explosiveness, never before off the charts anyway, isn’t there, nor is his elevation, and subsequently his shot is off to. Coupled with the strategy employed by opposing teams to throw doubles at him immediately and consistently, Melo’s leg issues are amplified. It makes sense that teams are looking to see if the rest of the Knicks can win without Melo. Sometimes they can; more times they can’t, not yet.
    Certainly they can’t because KP is young and prone to making mistakes, and our starting backcourt is also cold as hell. DWill can up his scoring. But the return of Afflalo will change the Melo dynamic. He will be a genuine No. 2 option, making it harder to double Melo everywhere all the time. With KP, Afflalo and Melo on the floor together, this team gets a lot stronger.
    Backcourt
    I said two games ago that it would take about 10 games for Fisher to move on his backcourt. I believe with Afflalo’s return, Sasha returns to the bench where he belongs. I also believe Galloway will become the starting PG. Grant will be the first off the bench. Calderon will become a spot up shooter in time, but even that role is in question if he can’t hit his shots.
    We knew these first 10 games were tough, filled with playoff teams. I have been very happy with the team’s play.

  3. I’m trying to figure out how 6th Man of the Year lock and Muppets heir John Henson went off on us in the 4th quarter. Who was guarding him? Was it Zinger?

    I also agree with an earlier poster who said he was glad we didn’t sign Monroe. Not that Lopez is looking like the answer at center, but Monroe does nothing for me. He’s got a decent post up game and midrange shot, but he’s barely there on defense and just doesn’t impact the game very much. I think we would have been lamenting that signing for a long time.

  4. Porzingis makes lots of rookie mistakes on both ends. He also seems too nonchalant on his shot from 3.

    But clearly, his floor has come up from frail, weak Eurobust to legit NBA starter. I mean, even if he plays like he’s playing for the rest of his career, he’s pretty much in that category.

    It’s crazy early, but thus far, Porzingis and Grant are 2-3 in WS48 for this rookie class (>100 min played) behind WCS. Looks like Grant is not gonna be a bust either.

    Bucks bloggers were pretty complimentary to ‘Staps:

    http://www.brewhoop.com/2015/11/6/9686262/bucks-knicks-carmelo-anthony-jabari-parker-giannis-antetokounmpo-nba

  5. Hard to blame a specific player (or even Fisher) for the loss. I guess the season will develop exactly as Jalen Rose recently described it: “The Knicks are not a good team; they will be competitive for most of the game and games but will lose a lot of them because the talent is not there”.

    I agree completely and feel the problem is made worse by Fisher’s suspect coaching.

  6. Knicks have got to watch the minutes of THE KRISTALLINE ENTITY (for non -Star Trek fans: a massive and unique lifeform, delicate in appearance while blindly and insatiably feeding off the life-force of beings). Like ptmilo noted, he didn’t have the same spryness in the 4th quarter. And I’d hate for us to overuse him in a bid to make the playoffs while jeopardizing our future. Euro ball schedule was a lot less demanding than the NBA. Fish’s challenge is to decide how he wants to allocate those minutes (25-30?). I strongly believe it should be against other teams’ starters and with Gallo/Grant/Melo.

  7. If I’m Derek fisher, I start grant,galloway,melo,kp and lopez. Also this is the time to test the waters for melo, would anyone here say no to, say, Julius Randle and an unprotected first for melo?

  8. I mean I don’t think there’s a point in getting 2 years off a deal for an even worse player and semi-minimal cap space. If you were to trade Melo you’d need to get a young player or a good-ish pick in return for it to be worth it IMO.

    This NTC is SO dumb though–Phil really fucked us and basically made it so we can only trade Melo to Chicago

  9. Meanwhile, in other NBA news, can you have a more perfect game than Korver did last night vs. the Pelicans?

    22 points, 8-8 FG, 4-4 3 PT, 2-2 FT, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 0 turnovers

    And while the Hawks keep chugging along at 6-1, New Orleans is 0-5.

  10. Nobody needs to take Melo either for us to win in this league. We won 54 games and a playoff series with the Amar’e contract. GS won a championship with the David Lee contract. One bad contract isn’t what keeps a team from being successful; it’s the compounded mistakes like the Calderon and Lopez deals that keep a team from improving. Say what you want about Carmelo , but there are more problems than Carmelo’s slow start on the roster. Calderon sucks, Afflalo hasn’t played a minute, and Lopez signed a big money deal and forgot how to rebound. This team has a lot it needs to fix, and I still believe we eventually finish above .500 when the season is all said and done.

    Through the first games of the season it appears we have a legit franchise player to go along with an actual starting level point guard and shooting guard, and all of them seem to be good 2 way players already. The issue is that in front of Porzingis and Lopez (who better get his shit together or it will be a long 4 years), we have three one way players who have been bad on their end of the court where they’re supposed to be affecting the game. If/when Fisher benches Calderon and Vujacic, I think that makes us a few wins better.

    What makes it easy on me is that I hope that Grant, Galloway, Afflalo, Melo, Porzingis, O’Quinn, Williams, and Lopez become our 8 man rotation with Calderon, Thomas, and Vujacic seeing 20 minutes total of the available 240. I also see some point where Melo and Lopez raise their level of play and make us really good. 43 wins.

  11. New Orleans is so terrible. You have the 2nd, maybe 1st best player in the world and you haven’t won a game. I really wish Anthony Davis never signed that extension, took a QO after his fourth season, and then left those suckers high and dry after five. He’s not going to play competitive basketball for a very long time when you look at that roster and how many bums they signed long term.

  12. I’d trade Melo for a used basketball as long as that ball had a shorter deal.

    As for the Pelicans, if they just didn’t panic they’d have an Anthony Davis/Nerlens Noel front court right now and whoever they would have drafted with the pick that became Elfrid Peyton. It would be fairly easy to build a competitive team around that core. Force that trade to the Knicks, Brow! It’s your only hope.

  13. I say let Zinger shoot the T’s and he can just dunk that shit.

    Agree we have to calm down. Afflalo will help tremendously. Calderon/Sasha are getting 45 mins / game now, Afflalo will get 30 of them cutting them down to a safe amount.

    Interesting point on Shved vs Seraphin, in hindsight looks like a bad move. But, Shved was nothing special on D and took more shots than he would get on this team. One thing Phil has been good at this year is hard working / chemistry guys; maybe Shved had some issues there?

    We are 2-4, every game so far vs. a playoff team from last year, we only lost 1 game by more than 10 pts. Our 10 man rotation has only 4 guys from last year, of which only Galloway was relevant all year. Lets get Afflalo back, get to 20 games, grab another guard then and play it out.

  14. The Lakers trade i suggested was merely a for instance and if you don’t think melo could fetch a young player on a rookie deal and a firstrong rounder, you don’t watch the nba, that’s expiring deal cost us a 1st..lol yes he has to approve a deal so let’s try this… would you guys hate melo for jrue holliday and a 1st, melo and brow make the pelicans a playoff threat in the wedt, the knicks get a talented combo guard and a 1st rounder to restock

  15. By the way kps ts% is .495 and his per 36 are 18 ppg and 12.5 rpg, please teach him to stop taking foils, with starters minutes he’s a 20 year old all star

  16. Curry is currently averaging more points per 36 (39.5) than Wilt did in his 50 ppg season. The next closest guy is Jordan (33)

  17. My proposed rotation once Afflalo comes back:
    PG: Grant (30), Galloway (13), Calderon (5)
    SG: Galloway (19), Afflalo (19), Calderon (10)
    SF: Afflalo (13), Williams (15), Anthony (10), Vujacic (10)
    PF: Anthony (21), Porzingis (12), O’Quinn (15)
    C: Porzingis (18), Lopez (30)

    Basically, put Zinger at the 5 and space it out. Also, we could really use another wing or two: Afflalo and Vujacic are the only true wings, and Vujacic isn’t very good.

  18. Why all the hate towards Lopez? He scored 12 points on 6 of 9 shooting with a blocked shot in 22 minutes. Yes 2 rebounds looks bad, but Zinger grabbed so many, maybe there weren’t that many available?? :-) it’s early and he seems to have played ok , especially on defense. Looking to trade him already as suggested seems a little premature. After watching Monroe last night I’m glad he didn’t sign in NY. That would have been the gift that kept on giving…..

  19. I like your rotation, @etsuke, but the Knicks are still apparently trying to go against the grain and play big. I think though Porzingis at center is going to be a monster. If he can be a plus defender and rebounder as a center, and he can just make open threes, he’d already be bordering on an all-star without needing to do anything else on offense.

    It’s also just hard to go small with this roster, which has only 3 rotation-worthy guards, and that’s only when you count Afflalo as a guard. If he’s a SF, then you just have two.

  20. His WP is like .700, which implies that he could play another team 1-on-5 and still beat them more often than not. At least I think that’s how WP works.

  21. According to Alan Hahn’s Twitter, the only other two players this decade with 70 points and 50 rebounds in their first 6 games were Blake Griffin and Anthony Davis.

    Franchise player Porzingis!

  22. I’m concerned with Lopez’s play so far because he’s earning over $12 million this year to play center. A $12 million center should average more than 4.6 boards a game and have a better TS% than .529

  23. Jowles brilliantly sums up the dubious nature of WP in a two-sentence post. Good job, professor!

    Wait, did you not get it

  24. I’m concerned with Lopez’s play so far because he’s earning over $12 million this year to play center. A $12 million center should average more than 4.6 boards a game and have a better TS% than .529

    I think the struggles scoring are a result of trying to use him as a post-up center. That’s not really his game- he’s a terrific screener and a pretty good roll guy so it’d be nice if they could pair him with Grant a bit more and let them play some pnr with Melo, Gallo/Afflalo, and KP spotting up behind the arc. If you want that first group running the triangle then OQ might make more sense as a starter- better passer and can hit jumpers out to 16-18. Of course it’s difficult to judge anything about the starters given just how awful the guards have been.

  25. I’d understand that argument in regards to his offensive performance, but the rebounding? He needs to get that shit together.

  26. I’d understand that argument in regards to his offensive performance, but the rebounding? He needs to get that shit together.

    When we signed him, didn’t several posters cite research showing that while RoLo’s individual rebounding numbers have never been that great, his teams always rebound much better with him on the floor than off, suggesting that he’s good at boxing out and creating opportunities for teammates to get rebounds?

  27. On a related note (and this is way too premature for me to say) but I’m SO glad we dodged D’Angelo Russell–I wasn’t as high on him as some others but he has looked pretty awful so far; no effort on D, and doesn’t know how to defend even when he’s trying. His offense is poor too: a lower TS than porzingis (.483) and doesn’t contribute in any other category really.

    Again this is all premature and small sample size and yada yada yada but I think D’Angelo is gonna have some serious problems transitioning to the NBA

  28. On a related note (and this is way too premature for me to say) but I’m SO glad we dodged D’Angelo Russell–I wasn’t as high on him as some others but he has looked pretty awful so far; no effort on D, and doesn’t know how to defend even when he’s trying. His offense is poor too: a lower TS than porzingis (.483) and doesn’t contribute in any other category really.

    How long before they start calling him Angelo Russell (no D)? BUT….help is on the way….after tomorrow’s game, if Calderon gets a lot of minutes and guards him, his TS% will spike to .55 and he’ll have looked like Chris Paul on defense.

  29. Off topic, but the Derrick Rose situation in Chicago is one I’m keeping an eye on. As a Knicks fan, I’m worried Melo and Dolan will push for a Rose trade and that we’ll trade some really good young players for Post ACL Derrick Rose (who has been horrible since the surgeries) and keep Melo. If it comes down to it, I’d offer Calderon, Early, Seraphin, and Lopez as a take it or leave it and be happy with whatever they say. Or maybe New Orleans will overpay for Rose to keep AD happy and we win by keeping all of our guys

  30. Maybe the veteran minutes thing works better with Alfalo back. I mean, we all basically assume that he’s broken forever and will never play again if he’s inactive. I mean, can you blame us? The K’s IR has traditionally been a black whole. I can see keeping Grant / Galloway on the bench a bit longer as long as plan A has a viable shot and until we know about Alfalo we won’t know.

    Obviously, we win that game if a few of Sasha’s shots go in but there almost seemed to be no chance of that. Wasn’t the knock on him defense? We’re close in these games. Most stuff has worked out better than expected. A loss to LAL would be a major disappointment. It’s kind of a gut check really. If they win I’ll be pretty happy with the start given the strength of schedule.

  31. That game really was nasty by Carmelo. .795 TS% on 28.7 USG%. Every other game he’s played has been complete dumpster fire. Fuck Carmelo and his stupid fucking watch collection.

    GO BLAZERS

  32. this board is nothing without hasty prognostication, particularly in the intersection of technical free throws attempted and streak shooting

  33. This board is the typical Knicks fan board: lots of bias and game-by-game look at the full picture.

    Afflalo, like Robin Lopez before him, is not the bad (formerly mediocre) Afflalo we have seen for several years – but it will all change once we get to see him play. We can win with Melo if he becomes the player he has not been for a second of his entire career. Vujavic is not one of Phil’s many mistakes, he is a savvy veteran who can mentor Porzingis on the intricacies of the legendary and exclusive Triangle. Fisher is a great communicator and you can’t ever underestimate Phil’s positive influence in the locker room. Our team is very deep and we really, really need to move two bench players (Grant and Galloway) into the starting rotation, because we are very thin in the guards department. Lopez plays like a journeyman NBA center but he is probably better than Chandler and if we can just package him and Calderon for Anthony Davis, we can go to war with LeBron because Kyrie Irving will not be so great when guarded by Gallo, Melo has a winning record against The King ( he is so good he must on steroids, look at the receding hairline – my father looked like that, even before steroids, so I know what I’m talking about – and the way he smiles in those commercials, the bastard only took a fake discount to win in Miami because there are no taxes in Florida) and O’quinn will put Love’s little ass on the floor. But none of that will really matter if the refs keep using that whistle against us – how can fuckin James Harden get more free throws than Melo, who constantly goes one-on-three, are you telling me three guys against one is fair and none of them is ever making contact?

    Here we are, 2-4, searching for answers inside a roster full of question marks. Such is life in the bizarro universe of Knicks fandom.

  34. I mean CNB negativity is totally justified (I agree with your assessment of 30 wins) but your tone is pretty adversarial and a little self-important (calling people delusional) and your schtick outside the game threads (where you actually comment on the basketball at hand and it’s pretty good!) is one-note–we get it, some people are overly optimistic, the Knicks stink, etc. But reading the same post as they get progressively longer and more bloated isn’t very fun and I doubt it’s going to change any minds.

    On the Russell thing hasty prognostication is fun and it accomplishes the secondary good of talking shit about the Lakers. If you really pushed me, yeah, I’m sure Russell will be really good eventually but he’s horrible now.

    But I’d still take Mirotic over Melo straight up!

  35. @49, obviously you aren’t capable of adding anything to this blog but blanket statements steeped in negativity. If anything, THAT”S what makes this board typical…there’s always a poster who thinks he’s smarter and wiser than everyone else, and that his calling in life is to slap everyone in the face and wake them up to his/her own version of harsh reality, which must be the truth because he/she says so. That poster is incapable of understanding how rude, disrespectful and obtuse it is to say things like “This board is the typical Knicks fan board: lots of bias and game-by-game look at the full picture.” Not to mention inaccurate and pointless.

    I read most of the Knicks fan blogs (only this one and P&T regularly, TKB frequently, and other NBA SB nation blogs from time to time.) I can say definitively that there is not a blog out there that compares to this one. KB has a broad range of posters, from pie-in-the-sky optimists to, well, you and your ilk. For every Melo apologist there is a Melo hater. There is no pattern here, only a exchange of ideas. And by definition, it’s a FAN BLOG…why else would anyone waste their time discussing whether Jose Calderon should be in the starting lineup in an early season game between two bottom-feeding team? Of course there is going to be some bias, but if you look carefully (start with your own posts) there is plenty of bias on both sides of every argument.

    A while ago, some posters were discussing their academic and professional credentials (I believe it started with a non-basketball post by ephus.) There’s some pretty smart people who have been here for years, and their opinions vary on nearly every topic we discuss. I don’t think any of them have a problem with your pessimism or anybody else’s, so long as it’s not polluted with condescending rhetoric.

  36. Afflalo, like Robin Lopez before him, is not the bad (formerly mediocre) Afflalo we have seen for several years – but it will all change once we get to see him play.

    The reaction to the Afflalo signing was quite different to the reaction to the Lopez signing on this board, and rightfully so. Grouping them together like this is bizarre.

    Vujavic is not one of Phil’s many mistakes, he is a savvy veteran who can mentor Porzingis on the intricacies of the legendary and exclusive Triangle. Fisher is a great communicator and you can’t ever underestimate Phil’s positive influence in the locker room.

    Has anyone here said any of these things, ever?

    Lopez plays like a journeyman NBA center but he is probably better than Chandler and if we can just package him and Calderon for Anthony Davis, we can go to war with LeBron because Kyrie Irving will not be so great when guarded by Gallo, Melo has a winning record against The King ( he is so good he must on steroids, look at the receding hairline – my father looked like that, even before steroids, so I know what I’m talking about – and the way he smiles in those commercials, the bastard only took a fake discount to win in Miami because there are no taxes in Florida) and O’quinn will put Love’s little ass on the floor.

    What did that poor straw man ever do to you?

  37. I don’t claim to know the truth. Just stating my opinion about the nature of your posts, as someone who has reading and posting here a lot longer than you, and who knows more about the nature of the dialogue here over the years than you do. In my opinion, and totally apart from your take on the Knicks’ players, management, ownership, games, future, etc, your characterization of this blog and its posters is both wrong and rude.

Comments are closed.