Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Knicks 102, Bucks 88

New York Knicks 102 Final
Recap | Box Score
88 Milwaukee Bucks
Kurt Thomas, PF 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -4

I for one am in full support of these four-minute honorary starts, even if Kurt hasn’t made a shot since the Polk administration. It’s almost comical, really, waiting to hear what a slightly short-handed Woodson’s going to do lineup-wise, only to hear him burp out something about “waiting to see what the other team’s gonna do,” when we all know perfectly well he’s going to start Kurt Thomas and then yank him within half-a-quarter for being a slightly more mobile version of a taxidermied sperm whale.

Carmelo Anthony, SF 30 MIN | 9-18 FG | 8-9 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 29 PTS | +13

Who knows how much longer Melo can keep this shit up, but another 95 or so games would be tit. Once again the opposition took a “let’s throw similarly sized bodies at Anthony and hope something works” with Tobias Harris and Marquis Daniels being the most oft doom-summoned. To which Melo responded with measured murder – treys, takes, and trips to the strip as regular reward.

Really the most encouraging number on the ledger was 30, as in minutes played – something that will hopefully become more of the norm as we hit a relatively smooth patch of season stretch over the next few games.

Tyson Chandler, C 27 MIN | 4-4 FG | 9-10 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +16

Emboldened once again with a shot chart vaguely resembling a clump of popcorn chicken breading, Tyson’s 17 points on FOUR field goal attempts paced the ‘Bockers beautifully – particularly during the late second and early third quarters. That makes 32 of his last 35, for those of you keeping score at home (I’ll wait here and knit you some new drawers while you read that again). Through 14 games, Tyson is on track to smash last year’s record breaking clip of 68% from the field, and solidify his legacy as one of peerlessly freakish efficiency. The low-post rotations were much quicker; the hands lathered in tar; the energy palpable. On his way out of the stadium, Tyson could be found eating the feebler, more helpless attendees without chewing, which in all honesty is about as close as you can get to a salad in Milwaukee.

Raymond Felton, PG 32 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 12 PTS | +12

How exactly does one bounce back from 40-plus minutes of running around the house like a child sticking quarters into electrical sockets? By the homeowners putting plastic plugs in all the outlets, basically. After an opening sequence punctuated by an early shot-clock brick followed by Jennings beating him down the other end for an easy chip, it looked like Ray was headed for an evening ending with being tagged and donated to a local dairy farm. As feed.

Instead, Felton dialed it back the perfect number of notches, taking what the defense was giving while doing an admirable job – particularly in the second half – of keeping Jennings from going through with his usual put-our-faces-in-a-blender routine. Of most encouraging import were the four steals, three of which (by my count, anyway) came by way of plundered passing lanes. All told, Ray did what most professionals – regardless of trade – should be expected to do: Forget about the bad game or failed sale or missed shipment or accidentally sending a porn link in a mass email to clients and fight back, damnit.

Ronnie Brewer, SG 31 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 PTS | +4

Getting your fingers stapled together doesn’t sound very pleasant, but big ups to Ronnie for fighting through it anyway. The jumper was a hair flat, and he got caught and beat on a few early mismatches, but Brew’s 31 minutes – the most in quite some time – were eminently encouraging if for no other reason that it means his knees probably aren’t on the verge of melting.

Rasheed Wallace, PF 15 MIN | 2-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | 0

So long as we’re solidly above .500, we’ll probably force ourselves to tolerate these mostly defense-free, 2-for-some-number-greater-than-ten outings, because sooner or later you know Sheed’s going to do something incredibly stupid or funny — or both. Like, say, catching a pass on a cut and trying to dunk from the free throw line. To his credit, even Sheed himself seemed to realize what he’d just done, immediately demanding to be taken out and re-retiring from the N.B.A. for the next 35 minutes. We just have to come to grips with the fact that Wallace will be an adventure every time he’s out on the floor, and that – like most adventures – timely heroics will seldom come free of slips off the cliff.

Steve Novak, SF 40 MIN | 7-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 19 PTS | +13

Oh man, I’m almost too giddy to even type this. First, remember that our Marquette-whelped marksmen made his name on this very court. That, coupled with the requisite parental presence (Steve’s dad, Mike, wore this sweater, with which I’m determined to swathe my firstborn), meant this had all the makings for a breakout performance. Nineteen points (including five triples), a handful of solid defensive stints, and one steal-into-fast-break-layup-with-no-one-near-him-he’s-almost-seven-feet-that’s-ridiculous later, it’s sure seems like Steve’s latched himself back to the tracks.

Or perhaps he just read this.

Chris Copeland, SF 11 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +3

CHRIS COPELAND ANAGRAM FUN: PILCHARD SCONE

Pablo Prigioni, PG 28 MIN | 4-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 11 PTS | +11

It seemed like Pablo hadn’t hit a three since the ’04 Olympics, so what a relief to watch his two early tries from deep fall true. Prigs’ first half play was so solid, in fact, that he was actually tapped for the halftime interview with Tina Beervase (Cervasio in English?). Which, I mean, I’d listen to Pablo talk all day, every day – even if his interpretory struggle face is that of a man being explained in detail how he owes $450,000 in back taxes. Priggy continued his excellent second unit orchestration during the final frames, in the process regaining a confidence that seemed to be lately waning. A career-high seven assists (that still sounds really funny) later, Woody might yet have a stopgap solution for when Ray decides to drop acid right before tipoff.

J.R. Smith, SG 18 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | +2

@netw3rk was the first to point this out, but it sure as shit seems like there’s a direct correlation between Earl tweeting post 2AM and the next day’s game beginning with three fouls in less than two minutes of court time. Plus, dude just can’t hit the broad side of a thong these days — this after arguably the greatest stretch of his eight year career (this still weirds me out to no end). But give J.R. props for not forcing the issue; five shots in 18 minutes does not a chucker make, and his fresh legs down the stretch (more on this later) helped thwart a number of Milwaukee possessions at a time when a couple more buckets could’ve made this one a barnburner.

James White, SG 4 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | 0

garbage time burn > burn garbage time

Five Things We Saw

  1. So the three point shooting was pretty effective (11 of 21 for the orange and blue vs. 5 of 13 for the Yucks). More importantly, they were generated– with few exceptions – within the flow of the offense, with only a handful of hoists coming at the tail end of the shot clock. Obviously anything north of 40% is probably not sustainable in the long term. But the discerning approach most certainly is, which in many ways is the product of the kind of spacing that’s been lately forgotten in the face of tempting old habits. Not tonight, however – almost all of our looks were clean, and so too was the snap of the nets.
  2. The word’s long since gotten out that the Knicks are really into anal (sorry), and the early bushels of backdoor buckets only hammered (sorry!) this point home. BUTT (SORRY!) The Knicks finally said “no mas,” denying many a Buck cut during the third quarter run. Now, “always see the ball” is, like, the second thing they teach you in youth basketball right after “Velcro your shoes” and “stop sucking your finger,” but that’s precisely where the Knicks have gotten burned these past few tilts. Tonight, by comparison, the ‘Bockers finally had their heads on swivels and their arms and hands outstretched, which led to a number of poke-aways, outright swipes, and killed possessions.
  3. For as maligned as he’s been during the recent 3-4 swoon, Woodson orchestrated some pretty stellar in-game adjustments tonight. First, he took Thomas out after four minutes, which, I mean, give the man a roast beef sandwich for that one. Whether by design or blind-ass luck, Woody’s second quarter unit of Prigs, Brewer, Novak, Cope, and Sheed was surprisingly effective. Then – and this one was probably the strangest / most pleasantly surprising of all – Coach decided to start Novak at three for the third quarter, a brilliant move meant to capitalize on Novak’s solid start and home floor feel. We’ll have to see whether this kind of creative flexibility holds going forward, but I for one think much of the criticism heaped on Woodson thus far has been a bit misguided, if only because he – like every other coach – needs to figure out how to sketch a still life before he can go all Picasso with lineups and matchups.
  4. LOL so the Nets and the Celtics totally got into a fight tonight. I still haven’t seen anything beyond this 40-second video clip, but it sure looked to me like KG and Rondo were the real instigators in this one. Obviously when I first saw this on Twitter I was all like “EVEYRONE FIGHT PICK UP A CHAIR GO FIND SCALPALS IN THE TRAINING ROOM GOUGE OUT EYEBALLS!” – though sadly it doesn’t look like anyone will get anything more than a five game suspension. Still, not sure how I feel about the Celtics stealing our rivalry thunder like this.
  5. I won’t lie, I thought we were doomed in this one – Jennings always seems to have our number, and the Bucks look pretty fleet-footed out of the gate. But getting back to first principals – defense, discerning shot selections, and generally not pissing ourselves at the first sign of trouble – ultimately won out. With three eminently winnable games (Buzzards, Suns, and Robertcats) ahead of our next tough stretch, nabbing our first road win in four tries, combined with the ‘Zards winning their first game of the season at home against Portland earlier tonight, hopefully means less of a chance for a Friday letdown…. Oh, right, about that: the Knicks went and scoured the city subways and found a bucket drummer named Randolph Robert to do the song. So we’re all set.

24 comments on “Knicks 102, Bucks 88

  1. ruruland

    This is neither JRs nor Melos best stretch of their careers, believe it or not. Kind of heard that one too many times. Both have had more than a few stretches where they were better all-around players. JR is doing everything solidly, maybe rebounding better than ever,but he’s had better defensive, playmaking and certainly far more explosive scoring stretches than this. I wish he’d get more time with Melo and Felton where he’d get better shots and wouldn’t have to create so much.

    Also, Melo’s never had a stretch like this from 3 but I’m not the least bit surprised. Off-ball/catch -shoot was far and away biggest emphasis of off-season, and the tens of thousands of shots are paying off , but the 4 year trends pointed to this. I just thinking he needed to tick up the emphasis on the 3 to get to this point– he did and he’s there now.

    He won’t shoot 45%, but he’ll be in 40 range on record high attempts, top ten in 3pt field goals overall.

  2. Kurt

    To build on Robert’s double entandres: if the teams penetrate the Knicks backdoor any more, santorum will come out…

    Ruru: you mentioned that you’re writing something about STAT with Melo and Chandler. When will that come out? I was also thinking that the three of them not working well together last year was more of a result of bad point guard play and bad coaching.

    I really don’t see how a good coach couldn’t design enough good plays for the three of them to last the 12-15 minutes they’d all have to be together. Considering that Woodson has used a lot of off-ball screens, you could run a lot of plays involving one of the three screening for the other with either Melo on the weak side wing or Amar’e on the weak side cutting to the basket.

    Alternatively, I don’t see why the staggered screens couldn’t work using both stat and Chandler.

    Regarding the sustainability of the three point shooting: even if the exact percentages won’t end up remaining this high, it’s still relatively sustainable as long as the ball keeps on moving. The same for Melo, since more of his threes now are spot-up/catch and shoot rather than off the dribble.

  3. ruruland

    Kurt:
    To build on Robert’s double entandres: if the teams penetrate the Knicks backdoor any more, santorum will come out…

    Ruru: you mentioned that you’re writing something about STAT with Melo and Chandler. When will that come out? I was also thinking that the three of them not working well together last year was more of a result of bad point guard play and bad coaching.

    I really don’t see how a good coach couldn’t design enough good plays for the three of them to last the 12-15 minutes they’d all have to be together. Considering that Woodson has used a lot of off-ball screens, you could run a lot of plays involving one of the three screening for the other with either Melo on the weak side wing or Amar’e on the weak side cutting to the basket.

    Alternatively, I don’t see why the staggered screens couldn’t work using both stat and Chandler.

    Regarding the sustainability of the three point shooting: even if the exact percentages won’t end up remaining this high, it’s still relatively sustainable as long as the ball keeps on moving. The same for Melo, since more of his threes now are spot-up/catch and shoot rather than off the dribble.

    I’ll have it done befroe he returns. I like your thoughts.

  4. nicos

    Remember the Knicks had the best offense in the league the second half after the Melo trade and they played a fair amount of a Melo, Amar’e, Turiaf frontcourt. And that was with a Billups/bad Fields backcourt- Felton/Kidd will certainly move the ball better and given how poor Fields shot after the trade, should shoot better as well. A big key was Melo hitting the three and thus far it looks like his three point shot is better than ever. I also think people forget that Amar’e actually passed the ball pretty well that year- especially hitting cutters from the elbow.

  5. nicos

    Also, while Copeland didn’t accomplish much, having a big who actually rolled on the pnr really helped both ball and player movement on the second unit- it certainly helped Prigioni get moving and get into a decent rhythm.

  6. Juany8

    nicos:
    Remember the Knicks had the best offense in the league the second half after the Melo trade and they played a fair amount of a Melo, Amar’e, Turiaf frontcourt.And that was with a Billups/bad Fields backcourt- Felton/Kidd will certainly move the ball better and given how poor Fields shot after the trade, should shoot better as well.A big key was Melo hitting the three and thus far it looks like his three point shot is better than ever.I also think people forget that Amar’e actually passed the ball pretty well that year- especially hitting cutters from the elbow.

    If Amar’e is willing to do the little things like boxing out every time, being in the right position on defense and at least helping, even if he’s not elite. He also needs to be a willing passer, he doesn’t need to create points like Gasol does but he does need to hit the open man quickly when doubled, that’s the entire point of drawing defensive attention. If he can do that and his jumper comes back, I do like how he fits on the team. Most teams guard Melo with their small forward at this point anyways, the real question is whether Amar’e is more helpful to have out there finishing games instead of Felton, JR, and possibly even Shump and Brewer if both can shoot well throughout the year from 3.

    Simply put, I think the spacing and elite perimeter defense gives this team a better chance to win late in games as their best lineup. I’d love to see Amar’e play around 30 minutes as a destructive pick and roll weapons when Chandler sits and as more of a worker when he and Chandler are together. There’s also a tiny part of me that wishes Amar’e would suddenly become as good on defense as Chandler and the Knicks are straight up finishing with Amar’e instead of Chandler. This offense will put up video game numbers if that happens… but it won’t

  7. ruruland

    nicos:
    Remember the Knicks had the best offense in the league the second half after the Melo trade and they played a fair amount of a Melo, Amar’e, Turiaf frontcourt.And that was with a Billups/bad Fields backcourt- Felton/Kidd will certainly move the ball better and given how poor Fields shot after the trade, should shoot better as well.A big key was Melo hitting the three and thus far it looks like his three point shot is better than ever.I also think people forget that Amar’e actually passed the ball pretty well that year- especially hitting cutters from the elbow.

    Amare and Melo are both good passers for their respective positions when they are out on the wings and can see the defense. Neither of them are good passers on the drive, both guys force shots into the paint, which is good and bad.

    Neither guy is long or tall enough to pass over the top of the defense.

    That said, this will be the year they become a dominant offensive combination because there is always going to be playmaking, passing and shooting around them.

    They will each get sections of the game to themselves with optimal spacing.

    Melo at the 4 with Amare as the dive man is basically the most unstoppable play in the league. Melos efficiency either catching and shooting or driving from the slot is off the charts. And Amare might be the best in the league at finishing as a dive man even against the extra help defender. While Chandler might technically be the best dive man in the game, there’s a lot he can’t do that Amare can.

    Remember, we’ve seen very little of Amare and Melo with a true penetrating pg making the puzzle fit.

    IAmare gives the Knicks a chance at the best half-court offense in the league, and there’s not only evidence that Amare is capable of playing solid defense as he did under Woodson, but that he’s actually been much better than his reputation…

  8. ruruland

    I wouldn’t be so sure, Juany.
    He’ll never approach what Chandler can do on defense, but I think he can be at least average defensively, which might be better, considering rebounds, than what Brewer has given so far ( but there were glimpses tonight that Brewer is on the path of finding his old form)

    There’s a hell of a lot that will be in Amare’s favor when he returns.

    Foremost, the guys wounded pride and competitive spirit. I’m not sure if there’s another player as talented as Amare who’s got as much backed-up emotional energy just waiting to be unleashed on the league.

    Melo had an incredible offseason, you all can see that by now. It’s possible Amares was even better. The chip on his shoulder might be bigger.

    Almost as important, he’s coming into a culture where there are high expectations on defense and teammates hold each other accountable.

    He’s never played in such an environment. He cant get away with consistent mental lapses, and there is less expected of him on offense, so there will be no excuses.

    I just think the guy is going to explode, and that all of the past failures and frustrations have actually harmonized Melo and Amare in some way.

    I get the sense that both guys have not just accepted the fact that their careers will largely be defined by what they can accomplish together this year and next, but that the persistent outside doubt that they can work together will forge an indomitable determination to prove it can.

    I’m not just saying that to make people feel good, I have goud reason to think it so.

  9. daJudge

    Ruru, I agree with much of the above, given that Stat stays healthy. I still think he would be more effective off the bench, limiting his time with Melo. I agree with what you are saying about his prowess as a dive man, but I don’t see he and Melo running multiple P&R with Chandler on the court. If Stat were at the 5, yes, I can see that working, with Melo or Felton or Prigs or even JR. Don’t forget Shump will be back soon too. I guess what I’m asking is do you think Stat should jump into the starting line up in lieu of Brewer right away?

  10. Kurt

    There was one year before Woodson that he played for a coach who held him accountable for defense: the 2009-10 Suns with Alvin Gentry. In terms of defensive rating, I don’t think that team was much better than D’Antoni, but don’t remember for sure. Then again, it was the year they swept the Spurs and gave the champion Lakers a run for their money.

  11. jon abbey

    yeah, one thing is that Amar’e has always been needed on the floor for his offense, so he’s spent his career trying to stay out of foul trouble which can quickly lead to sieve-like defense. with this team, he doesn’t have to worry about that, since he’s not going to be playing huge minutes and if he does get into foul trouble, it’s not a big issue.

  12. d-mar

    I think Woody gets one of the game balls for this one. We all agreed beforehand that this was going to be a tough game coming off the Brooklyn loss, and he recognized that he needed to make in-game adjustments to keep the Bucks at bay. Yanking Thomas early and starting Novak in the 3rd quarter were really smart moves that paid dividends. That’s what coaches are paid to do, but I like that Woodson isn’t afraid to pull the trigger when necessary.

  13. Juany8

    Simply looking at the facts, I agree with Ruru that while this is the most consistently well Melo has ever played through a season, he’s played just as well before. Nothing I’m seeing is surprising me, other than the fact that he is making the right play 85%+ of the time whereas before it was closer to 60-70%. I’ve seen Melo make all these passes, all these plays, and playing defense this hard. Amar’e…. I’ve seen him actually hustle on defense occasionally but never at an elite level, and never for even an entire game. He doesn’t seem to understand that he has to box out, and for the life of me I don’t see how he would have suddenly picked up a fundamental skill like team rebounding principles over the summer. He can be a fantastic offensive player, but there is no getting around the fact that he can’t shoot 3’s, has never been a serious post player, and can’t pass well enough to work with Chandler from the high post or pass it when he’s cutting after his man leaves to stop a diving Amar’e.

    Melo and JR just needed to buy into a team concept and consistently play at the level they had showed they were capable of. Harder to hope for Amar’e to magically transform into something he’s never been. Even if he plays the best offense of his career it only really helps the bench scoring, when Chandler and Amar’e are both on the floor it simply makes more sense to run pick and rolls with Chandler since Amar’e is actually capable of spacing the floor and keeping a man out of the paint, Chandler isn’t. If you’re mostly going to be using Amar’e for spacing and cutting in any lineups with Chandler, what the hell is the point of playing him instead of JR at the end of games? Amar’e is NOT a better rebounder at the 4 than Melo, he gets 6 defensive rebounds a game to Melo’s 5, and since he doesn’t box out his rebounds actually overstate his impact. Just like shot creation exists, rebound creation exists too

  14. jon abbey

    those 6 defensive rebounds a game look better once you see that Chandler has only been getting 4.8 so far this year.

  15. JC Knickfan

    I concur with Juany, Amare is one of the worst team rebounder I’ve ever seen at PF. His PNR defense also leaves very little room for desire. I think you can find several video’s on youtube highlighting where he let guard drive by him after a pick and he provides no help defense.

    If Woodson can correct, he better be coach of year.

  16. johnno

    daJudge: I still think he would be more effective off the bench, limiting his time with Melo

    I think that there is waaayy too much emphasis on whether Amare starts or comes off the bench. Let’s say that, once he is in game shape, he plays 30 minutes a night (either starting or off the bench) and Melo plays 35 minutes a night. Woodson will always have one of them on the floor (just like D’Antoni did), so that means that Amare will get 13 minutes without Melo, and Melo will get 18 minutes without Amare. They will be on the court together for 17 minutes. I think that they will be able to work together for 17 minutes, especially if Chandler is sitting for part of the time and Amare is playing the 5. You don’t think that a lineup of Amare, Melo, Novak, Kidd and Felton will space the floor enough for both of them to be effective? Don’t forget — for the 25 or so games that they played together after the trade, Melo averaged 26 points and Amare averaged 24 on 50% shooting. The problem then was defense, not offense.

  17. max fisher-cohen

    @Johnno, I agree there. If the Woodson really carefully orchestrates things so that Melo, Chandler and Amare (particularly amare and chandler) don’t spend a lot of time together, I could see Amar’e being a help to the team. Big if though, especially if all three start and close the game together, the two things most players get worked up about.

  18. Juany8

    jon abbey:
    those 6 defensive rebounds a game look better once you see that Chandler has only been getting 4.8 so far this year.

    Ha! To be fair Chandler hasn’t been consistently good this year, but he looked great the past 2 games, overtime loss and all. And I Don’t mean that he got a high percentage of putbacks in, his defense was a lot better than it has been. The rebounding is becoming a serious issue though

  19. maxwell_3g

    ruruland: Amare and Melo are both good passers for their respective positions when they are out on the wings and can see the defense. Neither of them are good passers on the drive, both guys force shots into the paint, which is good and bad.

    Neither guy is long or tall enough to pass over the top of the defense.

    That said, this will be the year they become a dominant offensive combination because there is always going to be playmaking, passing and shooting around them.

    They will each get sections of the game to themselves with optimal spacing.

    Melo at the 4 with Amare as the dive man is basically the most unstoppable play in the league. Melos efficiency either catching and shooting or driving from the slot is off the charts. And Amare might be the best in the league at finishing as a dive man even against the extra help defender. While Chandler might technically be the best dive man in the game, there’s a lot he can’t do that Amare can.

    Remember, we’ve seen very little of Amare and Melo with a true penetrating pg making the puzzle fit.

    IAmare gives the Knicks a chance at the best half-court offense in the league, and there’s not only evidence that Amare is capable of playing solid defense as he did under Woodson, but that he’s actually been much better than his reputation…

    ruru. no offense, but this is just crazy talk to me. its like saying, “If we can convince all of our oponents to agree to a dunk contest to determine who wins the game, James White will be MVP of the league.” Yes, running pick and rolls with amare as the screener at the 5 and melo as the ball handler at the 4 sounds like a great plan….in a vacuum. however, as is always the conundrum with amare, if we had a 5 in with him, he could not dive to the hoop, as the lane will be occupied. if he is the 5 (as you proffer), then our defense is going to…

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