[Today's entry comes to us from KnickerBlogger.Net's Head Scout David Crockett, Ph.D who attended the Knicks/Bobcats game in person. He is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of South Carolina, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Anyway, not having looked at the box score or other numbers yet some general impressions. Marbury had a very poor game. First and foremost, he simply did not pass the ball well. One play was indicative of how off he was the entire game. In the third quarter he threw an underhanded shovel pass – one that had some mustard on it – right of Nazr Mohammed‘s face. It wasn’t clear if he was trying to throw the ball somewhere else because Mohammed was no more than 5 or 6 feet away from him in the high post. In another instance he threw the ball on the break to Mohammed, forcing him into a turnover when he had to put it on the floor.
The reason I mention this is because, although Crawford was unconscious for most of the first three quarters he got a fair number of those shots outside the offense. The other players stood around and looked. Once Jamal went cold there was nothing else to run. Starbury just didn’t orchestrate the offense well. Tim Thomas, who was contributing, was the only player who could score in the post. We went away from that and became a jump-shot only team. The team also wasted what appeared to be a decent first half defensive effort, at least in terms of FG% defense. Frustrating loss.
On the other side Charlotte, a team I have paid little attention, actually has an impressive young front line. Charlotte had superior overall athleticism. You could really see it in their quickness to loose balls and ability to get to the foul line. Primoz Brezec played quite well for them. Okafor has more game than I’d given him credit for. He wore Kurt Thomas out in the post early in the game, and displayed range on his jump shot. Steve Smith also gave them huge minutes down the stretch with his ability to hit the open jumper and to score in the post.
Thanks Dave, since I have the option of looking at the box score, it’s absolutely clear that the turnovers are what have killed the Knicks recently. Last night marks the first time that the Knicks outshot their opponent (54% to 46% eFG), and lost. In fact it was their biggest shooting advantage of the year (+8%). Unfortunately it coincided with the Knicks worst turnover difference (-13%) of the year. As far as the stat sheet is concerned no individual Knick is largely responsible, although the good doctor’s eyes were sharp because Marbury and Mohammed lead the team with 4 a piece.
It’s amazing that the Knicks couldn’t create any turnovers on defense. Brevin Knight dished out 18 assists, and only coughed up the ball twice. They forced only 6 turnovers, their worst team effort to date. When the Knicks are on the wrong side of the ledger in respect to turnovers, they’ve lost 6 of 8. Four of these have occurred in the last 6 games, so maybe the Knicks have lost their offensive flow and their defensive intensity.
While the Knicks were a one man show (Crawford 17-25, 76%eFG, 41PTS), the Bobcats spread the ball around. Charlotte had 7 players with double digit scoring figures, and Knight was a point short from making it 8. Their top scorers were the youthful Okafor & the ancient Smith who had 20 points apiece. This further confirms my suspicion that SG & PF are the weakest defensive positions for New York. Dave confirms this above with his comment about Okafor wearing Thomas out, and Smith hitting shots down the stretch.
This is the second time in a row the Knicks have lost despite leading at the half. Against the Magic they were stymied by a second half zone defense. New York’s offense just ground to a halt, as they lacked good ball movement and confidence in hitting an open jumper. When Houston’s deadly jump shot returns, the Knicks will have better success against that style of defense.
Unfortunately these losses came against two teams that the Knicks should have beaten. Although the Magic were a first place team, New York had a 10 point halftime lead, and they were still in it right up until Marbury missed those two foul shots. Having a tough time scoring against the #4 ranked defense (Orlando) is understandable, but going cold against an expansion team that ranks 26th overall is unacceptable. Over their next 5 games, they only have one opponent that is among the bottom third (New Orleans) in defense. They’re going to have to get back to playing 48 minutes of solid offense & defense, or suffer a few more bitter defeats.