Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Knicks 104, Spurs 100

New York Knicks 104 Final
Recap | Box Score
100 San Antonio Spurs
Carmelo Anthony, SF 41 MIN | 3-12 FG | 3-4 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 9 PTS | -2

It was more than a little terrifying seeing that pre-tap graphic pitting Melo opposite Dujuan Blair, even though the latter was denoted as “center” (little known fact: in Texas, football and basketball positions are used interchangeably). After a few early Blair-on-Melo isolations on the block, it wouldn’t have surprised me if the final buzzer found arena crew shoveling Melo’s remnants into a wheelbarrow for a trip to the Beef Con Queso wing of the Pace factory. Such was the shoulder-and-elbow violence with which Blair attempted to loose-meat Melo.

Alas, our hero was met with an endless barrage of bodies (Blair, Leonard, and Trill being chief among them) wherever he wandered, as Coach Pop essentially dared someone else – anyone else – to best his troops. To his credit, Anthony fought back not with stubborn heroics (although his instincts got the better of him at times), but rather the kind of prescient passing and conscious decoying indicative of a star truly gaining a groove. He lunged for boards, dove for loose balls, and – with the exception of a few early half-assed hedges – manned up on D. It might take some time for Melo to command the low-post respect and the requisite stripe trips he deserves, but it’s nice to know that the presence of a formidable foe can keep him from trying to pout his way to calls.

Ronnie Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | +6

After spending the last few days locked in a death-dark dungeon with a robotic octopus strapped to his swollen knee, Ronnie Brewer could’ve done little more than tie Gregg Popovich’s sandal straps together and it would’ve been found money. As it turns out, Brewer’s early buckets — two of which came off beautiful fed cuts from up top — helped ease his team into things. He would play sparingly down the stretch, but his handful of lane-hawks and superior overall D in the second half helped forestall a couple of would-be Spur runs. LOL “runs.”…. Wait, Clepto Bismol? That shit’s trademarked.

Tyson Chandler, C 33 MIN | 4-8 FG | 5-7 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +8

It’s been bandied about more than a bit that Chandler seems a step or six slow in the early going, and tonight – at times anyway – only seemed to compound that notion. It’s not so much the one-on-one defense as it is the switches and help, although a team as wildly proficient as the Spurs could probably make Achilles look flat-footed.

…. This was written before the last half of the fourth quarter, in which Chandler did pretty much the opposite of all that. Both of Tyson’s pinnacle offensive moments came courtesy of Raymond Felton — first when the keystone pivot responded to Tim Duncan kneeing him in the balls by doubling over in obvious pain for a good five seconds on the baseline, in-bounding the ball to Felton, pausing again, and letting the ball roll harmlessly back to Felton at half court without a second lost before thrashing home an oop on the other end moments later; and with an equal opportunity clot-out flush off a Ray-Ray missed free throw in the game’s chaotically waning seconds. Both of which I’m pretty sure make up for getting pistol whipped by Tiago Splitter on eleven straight possessions and generally moving like you’ve eaten nothing but baked beans for five days.

Jason Kidd, PG 34 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 14 PTS | +2

Those first few minutes were pretty unnerving, if only because Kidd looked to have hopped a mental time machine to a YMCA Co-Ed League future where dudes aren’t allowed in the paint, spotting San Antone’ four early points via Danny Green back-door buckets.

But holy shit, those crunch-time threes. Say what you will about a “veteran leadership” meme that’s had the meaning fracked out of it — sometimes that shit really does matter, even if “sometimes” don’t dance with the stats. Fact is, we wouldn’t have been sitting here slapping our keyboards in incoherent code had it not been for JKidd’s impossibly timely threes at the start of that epic closeout run. Ditto the crafty late-shot-clock steals and trio of wiley blocks. It’s almost as if Jason’s played the Spurs before.

Raymond Felton, PG 35 MIN | 10-20 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 25 PTS | +1

Let’s get this out of the way first: Raymond Felton was huge tonight. If any one of his clutch D on Parker (this was late in the game, after Parker had piroutted around him like a concrete traffic cone for the better part of three quarters), powerful takes to the tin, or — most wizardly of all — brilliant spin-around dish to J.R. Smith for a late lead-taking three hadn’t happened, I’d be making nothing but totally unfair fat jokes right now.

Caveat: I could be wrong here, but if teams really, really want you to shoot, you probably shouldn’t be shooting all that much. It’s true that Iso Fatso (Just put that one in your pocket for later) has been kind of a trend the last few games, as teams are realizing that, for all the legit merit behind this year’s resurgence, Felton’s supreme brand of confidence can easily morph into a hero ball far more disastrous than Melo’s bouts of heat-checks. It didn’t get quite that bad tonight — and credit Ray himself for pulling back from the urge a few times down the stretch — but Woodson shouldn’t be hesitant in imploring his renaissance soldier that there’s a big difference between “good shots” and “better shots.”

Caveat to a caveat: I’d totally have sex with Raymond Felton right now.

Rasheed Wallace, PF 15 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS | -4

I can’t decide whether the fact that Rasheed Wallace had missed 13 consecutive three pointers (like, in actual NBA games) says more about Rasheed Wallace as a basketball player or me as a basketball analyst, mostly because I honestly hadn’t noticed — like, at all. Both of his two second quarter trays were much-needed, however, as was that preposterous, momentum-staving third quarter dribble-drive that is still producing mild geological aftershocks int he Metro San Antonio region as we speak.

It must be noted that Tiago Splitter — who torched Sheed and Chandler in equal measure during a magical fourth quarter spurt — went 4-4 from the stripe during Wallace’s rocky fourth quarter stint. Really? Not even a “YEAH SPLIFFER”? “YEAH SPAULDING”? “YEAH RIO DIJON MUSTARD”?

Steve Novak, SF 21 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -1

Basketball zoologists have been charting the charmingly clockwork behavior of the Novak — a rare, bi-pedal hoofed beast with a spit strong enough to light a candle and propensity for relying on no more than three, very specific grazing spot– for years now. But nothing could’ve prepared them for what they saw tonight, when a full-grown rut-ridden male shrugged off a would-be mounter and thundered to fill the lane — like a beached manatee trying to run down a Frisbe — on a 2-on-1 break, converting a pump-fake lay-in mid-way through the second quarter.

Which would be great, if that’s what we were paying him for. Unfortunately, Novak’s done gone sticking his hand in the dog biscuit jar. Cold spells happen to the best of us, sure. But when the “take” to your sweet-shooting “give” is a Jain’s defensive urgency, slumps can’t last longer than the Six Day War.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | +4

I had to zip over to Synergy to make sure Prigs’ 15-footer turning off a P&R in the second quarter didn’t melt the site, but damnit if he didn’t actually hit that. Pablo made a couple nice reads on offense, but it didn’t take long for Popavich to recognize the armor’s crack and turn Parker to barbecue poor Prigs over a heap of candied hardwood.

J.R. Smith, SG 37 MIN | 6-13 FG | 4-5 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | +6

Honestly, I’m not sure what I would’ve done last year had I known J.R. was going out to party “every other day.” What kind of in-game signs does one look for in that scenario? Baggy eyes? Booze breath? Tiny zygotes wandering out on the floor?

What’s funny about J.R.’s narrative about-face is that, had he put up a game like this a year ago — or two years ago or five years ago, for that matter — we’d have been singing the poor man’s praises. Don’t get me wrong, we’re still doing just that, and his HUUUUUUUUUUGE three, psychotic D, and overall wolverine’s tenacity are the reasons why. But it’s interesting to see precisely how rapid these kinds of shifts in expectations can move. I’ll sure as shit keep watching.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Given how finicky (great, just not consistently so) both offenses had been to date, I expected this one to assume a pace akin glacier sex. Glacial sex? Glacier sex?… Anyway, that’s not what happened, at all. The teams combined for a video game first quarter points of 64% on 9000% shooting. The pace thickened quickly, however, with both sides clamping down on D and the zebras following suit by eating their whistles…. Just in time for a gangbusters fourth quarter that helped make this easily one of the best games of the year. For all the schizophrenic about-shifts in pace, neither team marshaled a lead greater than 10 points the whole way through. It may be that it’s only after you’re matched up on a team that so epitomizes discipline that realizing it in yourself becomes acceptable, but a mere seven turnovers and six Woodson puke sprints later, that’s exactly where we seem to find ourselves.
  2. Holy shit are the Spurs good at forcing mismatches. Every time I saw a San Antonio picking action (on-ball, off-ball, whatever) end up with Jason Kidd on Tim Duncan or Steve Novak on Tony Parker I just wanted to cry tears of vomit. They made us pay a number of times, but thank Prince those 9-foot rafter-grazers stopped falling down the stretch, otherwise even my tantrum-proofed living room — replete with wall-stapled pillows — wouldn’t have stood a chance.
  3. Let me tell you a little something about Tiago Splitter. Two years ago I took him in like the fifth round for a fantasy league that couldn’t have had more than six teams. Needless to say I’ve been voodoo stabbing him ever since, which is a big reason his ridiculous fourth quarter stretch was so fucking infuriating. There’s just something about watching a rigid, seven-foot blond-haired Kraut-Brazilian make mincemeat of your front court that makes you not want to live on this planet anymore.
  4. Can we talk about rebounding? Great, let’s talk about rebounding. Well, we’re not very good at it — tied for second to last with Crapramento, as a matter of fact — and tonight was no exception (48-40 was the final tally). It’s probably too early to push the panic button on this front, as any combination of pace, offensive efficiency, defensive efficiency and the fact that the Spurs also suck at rebounding can be used to discount tonight’s numbers. But what happens when a team like Memphis (currently 5th in the league in that category) abuse us like Tecmo Super Bowl Patriots on the windows? We might soon find out.
  5. Robert: Wow

    Jim: I’M PREGNANT WITH THIS TEAM’S LOVE SPAWN

    Robert: Good point. Please proceed

    Jim: that’s it. that’s the argument

    Robert: No, I meant “proceed with your acceptance of the Knick-sperm to
    form your weird basketball love-baby in a non-weird way”. Duh.

    Jim: luckily the body has ways of shutting the whole thing down

    Robert: BOOM

    Jim: Seriously though, this team…

    Robert: But you weren’t legitimately sacked by the Knicks. You were askin’ for it
    And yes, time to let this go
    Unreal
    A SMART TEAM
    That’s a new thing

    Jim: are you calling mardy collins unintelligent?

    Robert: If the Knicks are good. And not just good, but a smart, composed
    team that doesn’t beat itself, I may have to reexamine every other
    tenet or ethos I’ve clung to for the first x years of my life.
    Maybe God does exist
    Maybe I should vote Republican.

    Jim: Stop it Robert
    ROBERT STOP IT

    Robert: I’M QUESTIONING THINGS, DAMMIT
    Black is White
    Up is Down
    Dogs and Cats, living together

    Jim: Afflalo is Aflac

    Robert: EXACTLY. Maybe every baller secretly has an insurance-based
    nickname. And Sheed should have yelled out “GEICO” when Splitter was
    at the line. AMIRITE? I’m back in the Lin-screamy place where my roommates
    think I’m either strangling someone or injuring myself
    I keep waiting for the Sword of Damocles that’s been hanging
    over this team’s collective head since time immemorial to drop.
    BUT IT HASN’T. IT’S GETTING BETTER

    Jim: can you strangle yourself without injuring yourself?

    Robert: Yes. David Carradine would say no, but yes, it’s doable.
    You see, you need a good, strong, leather belt. Wrap it around
    your neck and then…I should probably stop. This is a family blog,
    after all.

    Jim: all i kept thinking was what kind of havoc a healthy Shumpert
    (or a healthy Brewer for that matter) could’ve wreaked on Parker. He
    very near killed us, no?

    Robert: I was writing the Dime Recap and I had a whole bit on how the
    Knicks’ inability to keep Parker out of the lane (or any PG this
    season so far) has been the one weak link in their stout D. That and
    how the EFFING FREE THROW SHOOTING in the fourth killed the Knicks.
    But they clamped down in the last seven mins. Having Shump to sic on
    players like that is gonna be yoooooge. Especially if he’s paired
    w/Kidd in the backcourt. Or even opposite Ray-Ray, who did cover
    Ginobili for much of the final frame tonight I was semi-thinking
    (pre-run) that it might be smart to go uber-small. You know, A
    Felt/Kidd/Brewer/Smith/Tyson unit, just to stop the pick and roll
    havoc that Parker was wreaking. Mais non. Il n’était pas nécessaire.
    Parce que les Knicks ont gagné!

    Jim: This is no time for Dutch, knock it off
    .
    Robert: Thanks. These wooden shoes are killing me.

    Jim:I feel like that would’ve played right into Pop’s hands, though.

    Jim: You cover yourself on most switches, but that just means a
    rolling Duncan doesn’t have to worry about lengthy help defenders.

    Robert: Size-wise, it’d only be a Brewer-Melo swap on my itty bitty
    Knicky committee team. Melo’s D was sterling and he certainly was a
    swell decoy on offense, but I don’t think you’re losing that much in
    terms of length. Plus, Duncan was pretty cold entering the fourth.
    It’s a moot point, anyway. I’ll be really interested to see what they
    come up with v. Mike Conley, who’s been killing it this season.
    Plus they’ve got that Grizzly Beef frontline. That’s right, I’ve already
    forgotten this win and I’m moving on to tomorrow. And there’s absolutely
    nothing at all homoerotic about the phrase “Grizzly Beef.”
    That’s not true. Do NOT Google search “Grizzly Beef” if you’re reading
    this recap at work

    Jim: You don’t just say “don’t Google something” and expect it to
    not be Googled. All I got were pictures of bears and Randy Savage anyway.
    Why can’t I copy and paste this convo?

  6. Six bullet points tonight, because why not? Because the motto of this team should really be Why Not?. Not We Persist, like they’re proud of the fact that they have one quality in common with dirt. Why Not? There’s a difference, you see. The former assumes an almost moral deference of one’s lot in the world — an acknowledgement of a failure to meet expectations. Why Not?, on the other hand, is by almost by definition inviting — it practically begs you to prove it wrong. That’s what’s made this team so gosh darn special so gosh darn quickly: They’re busier defending the rim when it counts than their own reputations when it doesn’t; more sure than scared of the spotlight; and more eager than any I can remember to bring us along for the ride, questions and all.

23 comments on “Knicks 104, Spurs 100

  1. jon abbey

    I did not know Stephen Jackson had the nickname of ‘Trill’, which made this whole recap worth reading. it makes perfect sense, though, Port Arthur represent! RIP Pimp C, UGK 4 Life.

    when am I going to start to read articles about rebounds being flat out overrated?

    the collective W/L record right now of the top five teams in the league in rebounding differential: 21-20

    the collective W/L record right now of the bottom five teams in the league in rebounding differential: 21-20

    some rebounds are undoubtedly very valuable, but they’re a distinct minority to the others, I think.

  2. EB

    I think you’re oversimplifying it a little too much, while I agree that rebounds are overrated by WP,

    I do believe that the three teams with a negative record in those

    top five rebounding teams are affected by the fact they’re in the

    bottom five in TO differential. And the bottom five are propped up by the Knicks with their insane TO differential.

    Taking out the Knicks even with the Spurs still left, the record drops to 15-20.

  3. jon abbey

    well, with a few more minutes of research, it becomes obvious that the issue is offensive rebounding, not defensive (NY is 15th in the league in defensive rebounding percentage, so right in the middle). here are the four teams with the lowest offensive rebounding percentage:

    Thunder
    Knicks
    Spurs
    Celtics

    we all know that in recent years, the Celtics have chosen to not pursue offensive boards in favor of getting back on D. judging from how those four teams have done so far, that seems like a good strategy, meaning it’s possible that better offensive rebounding actually hurts a team over the long haul.

  4. jon abbey

    the Spurs only lost two regular season games at home all last season when Parker and Manu were both healthy, amazing.

  5. jon abbey

    and another great factoid:

    “It was the Spurs’ first loss after leading by at least a dozen points in the fourth quarter since November 2004, when they squandered a 19-point advantage in the final period in a 96-91 defeat at Toronto. “

  6. BigBlueAL

    I was surprised the Knicks last win in San Antonio came in 2003 since that season the Spurs won 60 games and the title while the Knicks won 37 and missed the playoffs (Knicks actually won both games vs the Spurs that season!!). Found the ESPN game recap for those who want to take a trip down memory lane. Thank Allan Houston for the win:

    http://espn.go.com/nba/recap?id=230318024

  7. ruruland

    Nice stat, Abbey.

    My thoughts:

    Take a deep breath after reading this: Prior to the Knicks win last night, the Spurs were 68-9 at home in the regular season dating back to 2010.

    68-9. That’s close to 90%

    Who did the Spurs lose to in that time span?

    Portland (No Duncan, Parker or Ginobli)

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201103280SAS.html

    Lakers (a night after San Antonio thrashed Miami by 30)

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201103060SAS.html

    New Orleans with Paul
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201010300SAS.html

    Chicago (no Ginobli)
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201202290SAS.html

    Denver
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201203040SAS.html

    Clippers (No Parker, no Ginolbi)
    http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201203090SAS.html

    Lakers http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201204110SAS.html

    Boston http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/201103310SAS.html

    Sacramento (No Ginobli or Duncan)

    In other words, you can make the case that beating the Spurs at home (at least in the regular season), with their big three in the lineup, is the hardest thing to do in proffesional sports right now.

    Now, I don’t know how many of those losses came when the Spurs were lacking energy or didn’t come out sharp, but I don’t think anyone here will dare overlook this win because of some mitigating factors that some have so loosely applied to the Knicks first 5 wins.

    In my opinion, it’s already too late to jump on the bandwagon. The way the Knicks won is WAY more important than the fact that they won.

  8. ruruland

    Trying to sort through my thoughts on this one…. might take a couple days.

    I’ll say this for now in terms of Melo. Chandler went out of his way to say he was the most important player on the floor last night, controlling “the pace”, dictating the defense and his overall energy really changed the dynamic of the game in the Knicks favor.

    He deserves all the criticism he received for the 4 poor transition sequences in Orlando. Leaders can’t do that (Wade does it all the time though haha) and even though Melo recovered in that fourth quarter, it was definitely a concern because that’s been a problem before.

    Melo’s been in a few wars in San Antonio before. A lot actually. Popovich consitently defends his post-ups/isolations with overloaded looks, and the times Melo’s teams have won in SA it was when the weak-side offense made Popovich pay.

    And believe it or not, he’s played for long stretches like this before in terms of the overall player, and not because he’s been coaxed into it. In 2009 especially, felt that he broke down as the season wore on. That’s one reason getting Amar’e back is so important.

    The right culture is important for 7. Melo is responding to it, but he also helped create it. You can’t have a great defensive team if your top guy doesnt do the litle things everyone else does. Melo, IMO, was the best defensive player for the Knicks last night for long stretches. ANd his prescence on offense created great look after great look.

    Melo was brilliant last night.

    This is a team that’s creating its own breaks with smarts, effort, cohesion and most importantly trust.

    This would never have happened with MDA on the sideline.

    I don’t want to hear about the Knicks 3pt percentage. I want to talk about the eye test.

    We can talk about what the advanced stats are telling us over Woodson’s 30 games, but so many far more important things are happening right now.

    Enjoy what’s is happening right now. This is…

  9. njasdjdh

    Haven’t read anything but I think a B for Melo is too low. I felt he was at least a B+ and maybe an A-. The shot wasn’t falling but he did just about everything else you could ask for and this was honestly one of the most impressive I, as a Melo Hater, have ever seen him play. Hats off to him and to ruru’s predictive skills because thus far…he’s nailed the team’s performance.

    As an aside, the NBA needs to do something about the refereeing situation. I’m not sure why, but at this point it seems clear that the referees have taken the league’s Stop Flopping edict to mean that they are not allowed to call fouls on anything ever. Guys are getting murdered on forays to the paint and….really, all over the court and whistles aren’t being blown which is leading to awkward, sloppy play and poor percentages.

  10. ruruland

    Also, is it possible for an NBA player to get a worse whistle than Melo has the last two games?

    Great looks, great drives, getting mauled. Nothing.

    I’ve seen Melo get jobbed before, but not two straight games like that. If you’re not getting to the line on more than 20 percent of your drives with contact, something else might be going on.

    I used to think GK was full of shit when he would talk about energy and smarts and “teamness” eventually creating special games for individual players, and breaks at the end of games for teams, but I’ve seen enough to know that his philosophy on that stuff is far and away the most important thing I’ve ever learned about sports.

    Call it karma or whatever, but the way you work and stay together when things are down almost always makes the difference for a team.

    The WCF Nuggets were like this, not this good, but you knew after a few games in November and December what was going to happen in April and May.

    I honestly think of a basketball team as single organism that creates its own habits and muscle-memory. You can call it identity.

    Melo just earned himself a gigantic game from the basketball gods last night, and I have a sneaking suspicion that this win puts the Knicks on a pretty spectacular run where Melo really starts to go off.

    Honestly, I think they win on adrenaline Friday night and am not sure when this streak ends.

    IF they lose, it’ll be because it wears off, but there will be another long one right on top of it.

  11. ruruland

    I understand the perspective of a Knicks fan who had only really wached Melo play with MDA, and missed when Melo did this before an who didn’t really pay attention to those Dnever or Team USA squads.

    I also understand some of the skepticism of the overall team. But I think if people had really put thought into it, dug deep and really paid attention, you’d have reached the same conclusions I had.

    Jason Kidd is not going to shoot like this all year, but he’s still going to a be great player. He’s doing all of the things he did last year. Like I said when we signed him, there’s a reason Carlisle couldn’t keep him off the floor.

    JR Smith: He’s always had this in him. Karl and Scott were personality mismatches. JR is a kid who would have done great in college in a disciplined situation where everyone is accountable to leadership and teammates. He has complete player skills and as I said years ago and used to get laughed at — all star potential. He’s playing line one of the 3-5 best shooting guards in the NBA right now.

    Brewer’s skill set complements every level of the team outside of floor spacing. But he can make the corner shot and he’s getting it with this offense.

    Felton’s numbers are always going to undersell what he brings. Felton is a total stud, who makes the right decision most of the time.

    And yes, he NEEDS to take wide-open jump shots when teams go under on screens or don’t rotate off their man.

    HE’s a solid spot-up player whose percentage likely goes up in uncontested situations. Trying to drive into a defender playing off you is a horrible recipe for the offense.

    Felton’s penetration, passing and ability to make open jump shots is everything the Knicks needs.

    Tyson Chandler isn’t playing well yet.

    People familiar with Rasheed Wallace should have known that a) he’s always been known as a great teammate b) could lose 3 steps and still be incredibly effective because of smarts, length and skills

  12. ruruland

    Also, contrary to what Juany keeps talking about, the Knicks need Amar’e, and Amar’e is going to be a new player on the defensive end when he gets back. It might take a couple weeks, but the stretch he had under Woodson isn;t going to be a mirage.

    Amar’e has everything to prove, and when a special athlete with a great work athlete is as hungry as Amar’e is and is immersed into a winning culture, you’re going to get spectacular results.

    Adding Shumpert to address the other major weakness makes the Knicksthe mos complete team in the NBA.

    The Knicks don’t have th best 2,3 or even 4 players, but if they’re healthy, they’ll have the best team.

    the way the Knicks won last night convinces me that they’re going to take Miami deep — and if people continue to say the Knicks can;’t win that match-up, I think they will.

    They have the size, speed, shooting, scoring and continuity to beat the Heat and any team in the west.

    They are a rich man’s 2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks.

  13. njasdjdh

    ruru, haven’t read the rest of your post but I glimpsed you complaining about Melo’s whistle. As I said in my previous post, I don’t think it’s a Melo issue. It’s league wide and it is, in my opinion, comical at this point. No one is getting calls. Watch any game.

  14. ephus

    Thanks for the thoughts, Ruru. Here are my contributions, paltry though they may be:

    1. Jason Kidd really is a great PG security blanket. He bailed out the Knicks last night late in the fourth quarter with his shots, but it his ball movement that has been so spectacular.

    2. The pass that ‘Melo made for the hockey assist after the Kidd steal was my favorite play of the night. ‘Melo made a great spin move to break down the transition defense, and then a better pass to lead to the kickout for the three.

    3. JR Smith’s irrational confidence is incredibly important to this team, particularly in Amar’e’s absence. JR made a floater in the lane followed by a killer three to help trigger the run.

    4. The only clunker right now is Novak. He looks out of sorts on offense. I am amazed the Knicks are shooting so well from three despite Novak, instead of because of Novak. Makes me think that the current % might be sustainable, although I expect Novak to improve and others to cool off.

    This team is dangerous.

  15. Juany8

    Ruru, Amar’e does provide some essential skills this team could really use, but the simple fact is that I have a hard time counting on him to suddenly play inspired defense, pass well, rebound hard, and shoot well from mid range when he’s sucked at most of those things his whole career. He’d be a big upgrade over Rasheed as the 5th big off the bench (even though Sheed’s been a stud) and if he does ever play good defense, he might even be finishing games instead of Chandler.

    My problem is that this current Knicks team has taken Miami’s small ball model on offense while still managing to keep a monster, sustainable offense. Wide open, in rhythm 3′s tend to drop pretty often, I can’t be the only one who remembers Miami role players shooting roughly a million % on 3′s in the Finals when they kept getting good looks, or Dallas the year before to Miami. However, no matter how you try to twist it, Amar’e can’t space the floor as well as Melo, or even Sheed. He’s also never been a good passer, something that is very underrated considering Melo is the one of the best playmaking PF’s in the league right now (assists are dumb) Hell, Melo has the same Defensive rebound % and roughly the same number of defensive rebounds as Amar’e had, the only difference in rebounding between them is that Amar’e is better at offensive rebounding, which this team doesn’t bother with anyways.

    Amar’e is still a good player, but if he HAS to play in important moments, he limits the absolute potential of this team. You really want him chasing Battier around the perimeter in the playoffs? You want to trust him to play pick and rolls against Miami and Boston? All while lowering the spacing from what it currently is? Unless he gets good enough at defense and rebounding that he can replace Chandler instead of one of the shooters, I don’t see how this team’s chances at a ring are increased with Amar’e (and yes it’s time to start talking contender)

  16. Juany8

    As far as offensive rebounding, the Celtics and Spurs seem to do just fine despite the fact that they purposely ignore offensive rebounds in favor of getting back on D. Chicago is a notable exception, but they have super fast and young players 1-5, the Knicks, Spurs, and Celtics don’t, and nobody tries as hard as Chicago during the regular season.

  17. ephus

    Juany8: nobody tries as hard as Chicago during the regular season.

    I would put any Scott Skiles coached team up against the Bulls as far as effort. The defensive scheme is nowhere near as strong, nor is the talent, but Skiles gets his players to sell out in every game.

  18. Thomas B.

    Gerald Green? I’m pretty sure that was Danny Green, whom you would know all about had you read my preview. ;-)

  19. Thomas B.

    jon abbey:

    when am I going to start to read articles about rebounds being flat out overrated?

    That is a good point. That was one thing I wanted to address in the preview, but I ran out of time. I was kinda shocked to see NY in the bottom third of the NBA in rebounding, but just did not have time to explore why that is or why that isn’t not hurting them.

  20. johnlocke

    Sweet, sweet win. Watched this thing on DVR at around 11 last night after a late night at work, and probably pissed off some neighbors in the 4th quarter rally with the yelling.

    If you had told me that Carmelo would have 9 points, and that the Knicks would still score over 100, I wouldn’t have believed you. Keys to the win –> JR Smith and his normal efficient self (can’t believe I just typed that). Felton picked up the slack and played efficient Batman to JR Smith’s Robin, which was a nice surprise.

    Also, Novak’s timing and stroke has just been off this season — have to think he’ll regain the touch. Not sure I’d say Tyson has been playing the same defense he was playing last year. His help rotations haven’t been very quick to challenge drives and watching Splitter spit him up and chew him out and hit FTs in the 4th was infuriating.

    But that’s what’s promising, we are still not clicking on all cylinders offensively and we still got a win on the road in San Antonio. We also got Chuck on the bandwagon for about 15 minutes last night, until Spike Lee called him out and he jumped off it…

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