Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Knicks 102, Cavs 97

New York Knicks 102 Final
Recap | Box Score
97 Cleveland Cavaliers
Carmelo Anthony, SF 14 MIN | 1-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | -15

Well ain’t that just a barrel of squid shit. There’s nothing about Melo’s actual performance that warrants much more than a hyphen-hugged recap – he couldn’t hit Lake Erie from a barge and checked out immediately – so we’ll cut to the chase: As of this printing, we don’t know the extent of Melo’s second quarter knee injury, which he sustained after tripping at half court while attempting to break off an outlet pass. The fall looked career ending or relatively benign, depending on whom you ask; it’s hard to tell whether Melo merely tripped over his own foot, or if the dime stop caused his knee to buckle. His walk off-court wasn’t a heavy limp, but we’ve all heard enough in the way of anecdotal horror stories to know that doesn’t really amount to much when it comes to knee injuries. (Remember when Rajon Rondo WARMED UP before that game with the Heat, only to have word leak his was season ending? Again, nothing to screw around with.)

Part way through the third, Tina Cervasio relayed word that the Knicks had “no plan to conduct on MRI on Melo’s knee because their medical staff consists of nothing but oral hygienists.” Now, that could easily change tomorrow, when the Knicks – who travel tonight to Detroit – have had more time to watch Melo move around, hopefully without having to crawl. Still, this kind of media voodoo is getting to be a bit old, with this particularly terrifying instantiation inviting the inevitable question: If a Knick knee breaks on the court, and no MRI is there to scan it, did it really happen?

Iman Shumpert, SF 19 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -1

There’s a whiff of doghouse about Shump’s lack of playing time, though the specific straw remains unclear. A pair of early threes – each of which exhibited the textbook form and full extension accessible to him – started things off on the right foot. There weren’t many obvious defensive transgressions, but then again I barely remember where I am half the time. The limited burn he spent on Irving met with mixed reviews; the on-ball fundamentals and quickness were there, for the most part, but so was the all-world talent on the other end of the string.

Tyson Chandler, C 35 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +12

Chandler’s early struggles served as the team’s nightmare start in miniature: a bunch of botched bunnies, late rotations, and unfortunate give-ups. The difference, of course, being that Tyson was actually TRYING to swim out of the bloodbath, while his teammates seemed content to drown. The stat line might not incite popped eyes, but the last-ditch dump Chandler took on Irving Irving – textbook low stance, speedy shuffle, and perfectly time swat on a crafty lean-in three – was monstrously gorgeous and smelled like angel food cake. And yes, I realize it doesn’t make sense to love Chandler for his defensive stop while blasting Felton in spite of his. So I’m giving Tyson an F, just so y’all will feel better.

Raymond Felton, PG 33 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 10 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +16

I don’t care if he dropped ten dimes. I don’t care if he came up with another clutch block at the end of another wire-tight game against yet another all-world match. RAYMOND FELTON’S BEEN TERRIBLE! In fact, here’s a short list of things I’d rather have than Raymond Felton right now:

1) The flu
2) Jamaal Tinsley
3) Felton Spencer
4) Donald Trump’s child
5) Raymond Felton

In a sense I feel bad for the guy – for 28, he looks about as fluid as a pile of rust flakes. His 10 assists where wholly misleading (very few came off of prodding penetration) and his jumper couldn’t be more broken. He can’t convert layups in traffic – the lack of touch just sends the ball careening into orbit – and his defense is slow and flat-footed far too frequently.

A thirty second stretch sequence encapsulates perfectly what’ I’d like to call The Raymond Felton Experience: Foul Kyrie Irving on continuation; grab the defensive rebound; turn the ball over; block Irving’s shot in transition; turn the ball over; grab another defensive rebound. Again, the block on Kyrie was coldblooded, and his offense play showed flashes of penetrative poise. It’s not that he’d beyond redemption — he’s not. I just…. I need to lie down.

James White, SG 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | 0

James White Angram Fun: JAM EH SEW IT

As a side note, someone needs to tell Woodson that this isn’t a Harlem Globetrotter Old Timers Tour – you’re not required to give anyone honorary seven minute starts. Particularly if they don’t require a Rascal.

Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 32 MIN | 10-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 22 PTS | +13

On any other night, STAT performance would’ve amounted to the typical give-and-take – offensive splendor coupled with the occasional glimpse into the defensive rigor of a waterless moat. But with Melo felled and his team desperate, Amar’e beasted the Cavs at just the right times, showcasing a vintage repertoire and reminding everyone anew that Melo isn’t the only power forward capable of blowing stuff up.

Remember Woodson saying he was instituting a strict 30-minute limit on STAT because if he went over his head would roll off? Mike Woodson is a filthy liar. He only went three over, but it’s hard not to argue that – offensively, anyway – the Knicks needed every nanosecond. His final bucket – a hard-nosed take, near miss, perfectly-timed OREB, and eventual put-back – was mensch enough to make me sweat just sitting on my couch. I have no idea what getaway car the Knicks fired up to get the hell out of Ohio, but whatever it is, Amare’s driving it, and he’s blasting Fiddler on the Roof as loud as he fucking wants.

Steve Novak, SF 20 MIN | 4-7 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTS | -3

If Novak’s four-point play with the team down 22 was the comeback flint spark, his three to give the Knicks their first lead – 79-78, and what felt like 50 years after the opening tip – was the apocalypse. In a good way. The defense was as cartoonishly crippling as always, but the stroke was mostly pure, with the makes snapping instead of rattling.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that tonight we bore witness to Novak’s most athletic display ever: A rip-through foul-draw towards the end of the third quarter which saw Steve do three things in sequence: 1) jump; 2) flail all four limbs wildly; and 3) land without dying.

THAT happened after this.

Marcus Camby, C 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -6

Not much of note from Old Man Cambs, although his brief first half appearance included by far the Knicks’ best strategy for combatting Cleveland’s silly run up to that point: Punting the ball into the stands.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 8 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | +1

Having plucked butt splinters the last two games, it seemed everyone was pretty pleased when Prigs shed the warm-ups. He looked fairly spry, which hopefully dispels the injury rumors. A timely three, faint hints at a newfound tin-attacking aggressiveness, avoiding having Kyrie Irving eat him and used the bones for meat stock – can’t really ask for much more than that.

Jason Kidd, PG 30 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | +5

Fresh off Sunday’s sickening loss, it wasn’t exactly shocking to have Kidd’s first on-screen moment be greeting his bewildered mates out of a timeout down a thousand points holding a heating pad and clip board. Truth told, Kidd himself was witness to much of the early massacre, before tides turned and the ‘Bockers burnt getaway rubber out of town.

Saying this was Kidd’s best performance in a long while – and it was – is like saying DMT makes you feel weird. Whether the solid stat line means Kidd might be finding his niche off the bench, it’s far too early to say. But for a second night on a back-to-back 30 hours after starring in the Heat’s latest snuff film, J-Kidd looked downright vivacious. The off-balance dagger late in regulation might win on heroics, but the steals, deflections, and timely boards are what made his +5 the final tally’s mirror.

J.R. Smith, SG 38 MIN | 6-17 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 18 PTS | +3

I’ll be honest – I’m too tired to write about J.R. Smith right now. Haiku?

Our hero felled by air
Now the ball belongs to Earl
Save the children first

Five Things We Saw

  1. At one point early in the second quarter, the Cavaliers – after going 14-19 (including 3-4 from deep) in the first – were shooting 81% from the field and looked poised to send the Knicks back to New York in hanging out the back of a Waste Management truck. Thunderous dunks, wide open threes, contested mid-range jumpers– the Cavs just couldn’t miss. Mareese Speights made his first 10 shots for god’s sake, almost all of them on horrible 17-20 footers. Even Mike Breen was at a loss for comps, calling it “one of the most spectacular shooting performances I’ve seen in a long time.” The Cleveland Cavaliers. In 2013.
  2. Both teams were being flagrantly irresponsible with the ball in the early going – throwing worse deep balls than Joe Kapp and dribbling off their own tongues to the tune of 11 combined first quarter turnovers. But the Knicks were able to limit their transgressions down the stretch. Which, yeah. There’s another bullet point.
  3. Advantages in two realms proved the undercurrent to tonight’s win: Rebounds (40 to 31 in favor of the good guys) and threes (the Knicks hit on 12-30, the Cavs just 6-20). The Cavs field the league’s 28th overall defense, after all, so getting buckets – and open threes – was probably never going to be the chief struggle. Both teams entered the game in the middle of rebounding pack, however, so it was good to see the guys pounding glass, especially Kidd (8 boards) and Smith (7).
  4. We all know Melo is irreplaceable – on this team, anyway. And it stands to reason that, even if he’s out a while, J.R. Smith’s will be a flawed facsimile. But for a few stretches in the second and third quarters, units featuring Smith and STAT generated some pretty nifty stuff. I’ll have to take a gander at the play-by-play numbers a little more tomorrow, but if we’re going to sans the services of number seven for a stretch, it behooves Woodson to tape as far as feasible into whatever juju Smith and STAT have.
  5. I’ll spare you the Rockne rah-rahs and Ewing Theory platitudes: If Melo’s injury is as serious as some seem to suggest (and by “some” I mean “people whose Twitter avatars include flipped bills and enormous scorpion bowls with all seven straws in their mouth”), we’re screwed harder than a Louvre chandelier. That’s not to say we wouldn’t rattle off to hold fast to a top-five seed; I still think we’re deep enough – and boast enough fresh legs unduly benched (Copeland) – to make it interesting. But there’s just as good of a chance that whatever failsafe Woodson leans on will be solved in a second, and that our offense – as of this point our only ticket past the first round – might sputter and stall completely. Obviously such speculation is as morbid as it is moot, at this point, and as such means less than squat. For now we’ll take the win and Steve McQueen getaway and move on to Detroit, where Wednesday the Knicks take on the Plucky Pistons. The East race fast becoming vise tight, it’s another we’ll need to bag, Melo or no Melo.

11 comments on “Knicks 102, Cavs 97

  1. jon abbey

    too high on Tyson, it’s becoming increasingly clear that he makes a lousy target on offense if his defender keeps a body on him, a lot of passes that don’t make it to him and the majority of that is on him overall, I think.

    big credit on that final play on Irving, though, that was DPOY stuff there (not that he should be a candidate again this year, way too inconsistent).

  2. JoMo

    Great write-up, Jim. Though, I think Stephen A. Smith might take exception to your Jason Kidd revival/DMT analogy after having used it (screamed it, really) repeatedly on “First Take.”

    I don’t think Felton has been wholly ineffective as of late. Am I correct in saying that poor shooting from the guards on any team is going to shut down pretty much all of the versatility of an offense? No matter how it’s structured? His shooting has looked, at times, as piss-poor as Kidd’s, but at least he’s able to open up a little daylight with his penetration (still leading to a decent number of easy OREB’s and conversions).

    I dunno. I’m clearly not as savvy as a Ruru or a Flossy, but it seems evident that a large percentage of our problems are emanating from the backcourt as of late.

    As much as people want to shit on Woodson’s rotations and switching, he doesn’t seem to have much to work with if guys are in slumps. Dog-house or no, I’m virtually sure Shump’s absence is still precautionary to keep him primed for the playoffs.

  3. nicos

    I’d agree with JoMo on Felton- up until that horrific two-turnover sequence late I thought he played pretty well. He certainly didn’t shut down Irving but I’ll take holding him to 22 points on 9-20 shooting and not having him living in lane any day. I thought Felton did a pretty good job getting into the lane and has done so fairly consistently lately- the problem is those kick-outs for three pointers are turning into good but passed up looks unlike earlier in the season- even tonight Kidd passed up three or four open looks in favor of passing to a less open guy. And with the Knicks perimeter struggles he’s facing a lot more traffic on the high screen and roll so he’s had to turn the corner quicker and his passing angles to Chandler have largely dried up.
    He has done a nice job hitting Amar’e on cuts though- and how Amar’e seems to be wide open under the basket so often is beyond me- the second his guy turns his head he’s in the lane waving his arms around (he may not elevate like he used to but his first step is still a killer) and if anyone other than JR has the ball it usually winds up as a dunk. On that note- maybe JR feels like he’s playing for a contract and doesn’t want Amar’e taking shots away from him because he sure seems overly reluctant to get Amar’e the ball.
    Of course it goes without saying the big issue is Melo’s knee- I think the Knicks might survive a week or two without him but I never want to have to watch that Prigs, Kidd, JR, Novak, Camby lineup ever again.

  4. JoMo

    nicos: I never want to have to watch that Prigs, Kidd, JR, Novak, Camby lineup ever again.

    Post-game interview about this went something like, “Again, I was having a stroke, and next thing we knew, that lineup was on the floor.”

  5. nicos

    I’d also add that one big positive about Amar’e's game that I’m not sure has been mentioned is that he didn’t use Melo’s absence as an excuse to start jacking up shots. He really didn’t change what he’s been doing offensively at all- he just got more minutes. A good sign that all his team-first talk wasn’t just putting on a good face for the press as some have suggested here.

  6. AHouston20

    I think Melo’s injury, if not serious, could be a good thing in the long run. If he can get his legs back under him some with a little rest and Woodson learns to trust Amare more this could be beneficial to Knicks. Melo shouldn’t be playing 40-42 minutes a game anyway. Maybe some rest helps him get back to early season form for this ridiculous two and a half week stretch, just look at the back to backs alone:

    3/14 and 3/15: @Nuggets and @Blazers
    3/17 and 3/18: @Clips then @Jazz
    3/26 and 3/27: @Celts then home vs Grizz
    4/2 and 4/3: @Heat then @Hawks

  7. er

    LAst night was the ballsiest win of the season. This team has always shown that they never quit but damn why do thy have to play like shit in the first halves so many times

  8. lavor postell

    The thing I don’t understand about Woodson is his insistence on playing lineups and players that everybody knows will put the Knicks at a disadvantage. Why does James White need to get 5 token minutes a game where the Knicks become an atrocious offensive team with terrible spacing and he manages to commit at least 2 mind bogglingly stupid fouls as well as miss at least one jumper horrifically.

    His managing of STAT’s minutes has been the single most frustrating thing as well as his sudden decision that Amar’e should not play major minutes with Melo. Pretty funny coming from a guy who said that he views STAT as a starter, paid a shit ton of lip service to those saying they were a poor fit and also said a starter should never lose his place to injury. If STAT doesn’t hurt his knee before the season I highly doubt that he is a bench player and considering how he has played since being back, it’s weird that it took a Melo injury for him to crack the 30 minute mark.

    I just want to say Woodson’s biggest weakness as a coach so far this season is his tinkering with lineups at extremely weird times. The one that really set me off was against the Clippers at home with the Knicks down 6 and a little over 2 minutes left he takes Chandler out of the game coming out of a timeout. Obviously the Melo/STAT frontcourt got lit up and the Clippers ran away with it.

    Also on JR Smith it’s reallly hard for me to evaluate such a player coherently. There’s little question that in terms of effort JR brings it every night and I love the fact that he genuinely seems to relish being a Knick and all the pressure and insanity that entails. I do not love possessions where he aimlessly dribble for 20 seconds before taking some idiotic turnaround from 18 feet while STAT is literally begging for the ball after pinning his man underneath the hoop. For bad or for worse JR is an extremely important Knick and I can only hope he gets hot at the right time for us to make a run.

  9. Frank

    great win last night –
    agree that assuming this Melo injury is nothing too serious, it might actually be a good thing in the short term — we need to learn to play without the iso-Melo again. When the ball is moving like it was in the 2nd half last night (and for the 1st half against Miami), the Knicks are tough to beat. The Iso-Melo (which without a doubt we have slipped into more of late) seems so much easier to defend.

    Still in small sample size alert! territory but the second unit with Tyson+Amare is just looking fantastic. When those two are playing together without Melo, here are the #s per nbawowy:

    81 total minutes, PPP-for 1.207, PPP-against 0.890.
    Rebounding #s – ORB 43.9, DRR 81.1, TRB 63.6

    Mind you- Memphis leads the league in ORB currently at 32. The difference between the Amare/Tyson ORB and Memphis’s is the same as between Memphis (#1) and the last place team in the NBA (SA at 20.1%). We are already the #1 defensive rebounding team in the NBA at 75.5, and the difference between the Amare/Tyson crew (81.1) and the our leading percentage (75.5) is greater than the difference between the #1 and #30 D-rebounding teams.

    That unit is just killing it – granted playing many of their minutes against the other team’s 2nd units.

    Would love to see Amare/Tyson play together more often, and would love to see Melo and Tyson’s minutes come down to the mid-30s. We need these guys fresh for the playoffs, and they’re not taking PEDs supermen like Lebron.

  10. Nick C.

    Hahaha on the edit. Anyone care to enlighten me on how a team that leads the NBA in defensive rebounding percentage gets killed constantly for not being able to rebound (other than lazy reportage, three year old script etc.)?

  11. mcliff05

    Great to see this team fight back like that on the road. I couldnt believe we were 0 for our last 10 trips to Cleveland, it really makes you appreciate how improved this team is over past Knick teams. So lets just keep some perspective of what this team is and what it is not when we criticize. It is not the favorite to win the East. It is a very competitive team that will be a tough out in the playoffs. It is a deep team at certain positions but very thin at others.

    Speaking of Felton specifically, lets keep in mind that he will never be CP3 or Tony Parker, but he is a solid PG who can run the PNR well, knock down open jumpers at a decent clip and take it to the hole. Felton is an average NBA PG who happens to be the best option on the team. And with the trade deadline in our rearview, like it or not, we’re stuck with him.

    Another thing that struck me was the similarities between the last two games. The favored road team starts slow falls into a large 1st half deficit, and then they clamp down on defense in the second half and pull out the win. I just hope the ratio of the Heat:Knicks is not as wide a gap as Knicks:Cavs.

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