Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Knicks 106, Suns 99

Phoenix Suns 99 Final
Recap | Box Score
106 New York Knicks
Kurt Thomas, PF 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | +13

I’m still not sure what the arrangement is here, but at least Kurt contributed things with actual statistical relevance – a nice charge-take in the early going and a 16-foot jumper that would’ve been far more impressive had Kurt not used the same force and trajectory on a wide open layup a few moments later.

Immediately after the game Kurt could be found in a darkened corner of the MSG hallways accepting a satchel full of cash from Woodson, which apparently constitutes the other half of the deal.

Ronnie Brewer, SF 25 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | +7

I haven’t seen someone do this many little things since The Wizard of Ass AMIRITE!?!?

… Following up missed jumpers for and-ones, hawking dribble-drives, keeping possessions alive – this is why we signed Brewer, and he’s delivered in spades so far this season. Plus, you could easily make the argument that he’s still not fully recovered from that preseason meniscus tear. Plus, Landry Fields is making six million dollars this year, is averaging 2.4 points and 3.2. rebounds with a PER of 1.3. Plus, we’re paying Ronnie Brewer his entire salary in cans of vegetable stock.

Carmelo Anthony, SF 38 MIN | 11-27 FG | 8-8 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 34 PTS | +16

If you’re going to throw caution – and good ink – to the wind and come out chucking, I suppose this was as good a day as any. Yet another torrid start was followed by 30 or so minutes of heat-checking, but damn if a number of them didn’t fall through anyway. And really, we needed pretty much every one of Melo’s 34, just like we needed his pair of loose ball dives (the first of which Melo smiled his way through, court burn and all) and chase-down blocks. With Ray-Ray ailing and the slate about to get a lot tougher, Melo’s all-around brilliance might soon include polishing up on his point-forward skills, upon which the Knicks haven’t had to depend since our one-time mustachioed generalisimo was calling the shots.

Tyson Chandler, C 31 MIN | 6-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS | -1

Another day, another blood clot shot chart (pretty sure that’s just one of J.R.’s eyes hanging out on the three point line). It’s not simply the efficiency at, near, or inside the rim; it’s the uncanny deftness with which every non-dunking tip-in is finessed – the perfect amount of spin and English every time. He had his hands full with Gortat (who played an astounding 41 minutes), and was left a few too many times to clean up the mess of lost assignments (Shannon Brown’s put-backs off of misses come immediately to mind), but all in all not too shabby after a pair of early fouls.

Raymond Felton, PG 39 MIN | 10-17 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 23 PTS | +4

By far Ray’s greatest performance since 25-cent wing night at B-Dubs a few weeks back. It wasn’t just that the J was singing; but that said jumper seldom came with more than half the shot clock remaining. When he wasn’t cookin’ poop from outside, our burly bellwether time and again put pressure on the Phoenix D with his purposeful takes, which almost always resulted in good things.

Now for the shitty part: It looks like Felton was favoring that left hand after inadvertently slapping the weed grinder hidden under Beasley’s knee skin – both at the end of the game and in the locker room afterwards. He’ll likely have an MRI done later today or tomorrow, and holy hell let’s pray that doesn’t reveal anything serious like a fracture or a fully formed twin in his stomach. With two days rest ahead of Wednesday’s tilt in Charlotte, hopefully Ray can keep it under wraps (literally) and be ready to go.

Rasheed Wallace, PF 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2

Sheed just assumed the a make your own Mimosa station and half-off corned beef benedict brunch was a better use of his time than playing basketball, and garnered two immediate first quarter technicals to see that plan through. The first one – an unnecessary hammering of Luis Scola after the former had already been whistled for a foul – was certainly legit, but I’m not sure I want to live in a world where “Ball Don’t Lie!” can get you summarily tossed from the arena.

Steve Novak, SF 32 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | -4

The shaky shooting that pocked the early part of the season has seemed to vanish into the rear-view mirror, and Stevak continued his pinpoint shooting – sparked anew in his Wisconsin homecoming barrage a few days ago – with four fingers worth of net-snapping shots. Tack on a pair of ‘bounds and steals, you have yourself a veritable tour de force outing from our pasty marksman.

Chris Copeland, SF 10 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS | +6

Called to early action thanks to Sheed’s ballistic freakout, Cope was as responsible as anyone for helping extend the Knicks’s second quarter lead and giving them the necessary cushion to coast the rest of the way. He hit a few outside jumpers, swiped a steal (which he very nearly nullified by trying to throw it back across the half court line to Prigs), and swung the ball nicely on offense, which made up for a few flat-footed stands at the other end.

Weirdly, Woodson refrained from calling Cope’s number the rest of the way, a move Coach didn’t go too in depth in explaining. While we’re understandably dealing with a pretty small sample size, I don’t think there are many out there who’d argue with more than passive flair that Thomas deserves to start over Copeland. To the extent that continuing to bring Sheed off the bench will give you a presence at once stabilizing and potentially lucrative scoring-wise, it makes sense to keep Wallace as the sixth or seventh man. But Thomas has shown almost less than nothing, while Copeland – for all the flashes of green clumsiness – seems ready to contribute. I’m hopeful there’s a method to this madness; it’d just be nice to know what, exactly.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 9 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +3

With Felton’s late-game hand injury, Pablo’s narrative went from one of charming luxury to “holy shit he’s our starting point guard” rather quickly. After nine minutes of mostly spotty play, Prigs’s nose was busted open by an errant Sebastian Telfair arm, and that was pretty much the last we saw of him. I tried to interview the blood after the game for a little insight, but MSG PR personnel insisted on being present so I just left.

Let’s hope Felton’s OK and Prigs can remain in his spot-duty role, because it’s difficult to say what exactly he’d be able to provide if forced into 30+ minutes of regular action.

J.R. Smith, SG 37 MIN | 1-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 4 PTS | -7

J.R. didn’t just go out last night: He went out after pre-game warmups, during all full and TV timeouts, at halftime, and – amazingly – even when on the court. To give us a much-needed window into J.R.’s thinking (and speaking) on these often rough Sunday matinees, MSG was kind enough to mic up the mercurial guard for parts of the game. Let’s take a listen:

“AYH waiASECondz I thot WOODz wzz cALLin my numberon tTHHat one!”

“AAhhe COpE! i’Z just STOopin in Thez PAYNT fo, BuT AAAY! YOU GOTTDSA git ofer FASTER!”

“MmAN I NEEed some NACHOZ Y’all! AYHH COPE! Get a BrutHEr some ChIPZ ‘N CHeeeeze ‘n BriNG ‘EM BACK here in theBarBIe bag.”

“AYHH WoODZ! YEE shuLd STHart thz Kid not CrZY EYs!”

Three Things We Saw

  1. Critics of New York’s often raccoonshit-level defense will point to two things: the Knicks’ late-game near-collapse; and the fact that the lowly Suns shot 49% from the field (they were above 50 most of the way). But that’s OK if you’re forcing 17 turnovers and taking care of the ball at the other end (my math says the coaches will have to run six sprints tomorrow, or the equivalent of half a cup of coach sweat gravy). Even when it got close down the stretch, the ‘Bockers demeanor was one more of bemusement than legitimate fear. Sooner or later that kind of approach is liable to get you smoked. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen when it matters.
  2. The Knicks were once again tickling twine, knick down 12 of their 29 attempts — right around their season’s average in both hits (11.7 per game) and clip (41.4% today, 41.9% on the year). Last season it felt like our three point shooting was a devil’s gamble; we’d live by it or die by it, and very rarely be close without it being a go-to arrow in the quiver. Contrastingly, this time around the threes seem like an added bonus; the cherry on an already smoothly flowing sundae. And while it’s not unreasonable to expect a gradual – or even sudden – flee towards the mean, the shots we are getting from deep are for the most part coming within the flow of the offense or by way of fairly consistent movement.
  3. The Suns being a terrible basketball team ought not detract from the fact that – in years past – there would’ve been a 50% chance of the Knicks completely barfing away a game like this. Prior to Woodson’s ascendance last year, the Knicks were 10-10 at home. Since then, they’ve gone 18-1. Credit Woody’s insistence on protecting Garden turf, a much-improved personnel, more engaged crowd – whatever you want. But even when Phoenix commenced its stubborn second half runs, the outcome never really seemed in grave doubt. In short, the Knicks expect to win at home, even on slow Sundays when the play is lazy and the Saturday night bass is still throbbing in the dome.

30 comments on “Knicks 106, Suns 99

  1. Z-man

    From Nate Taylor in NYT article:

    Raymond Felton injured his left thumb in the second half. A few hours after the game, the team announced that a magnetic resonance imaging scan revealed Felton has a contusion and bone bruise. He is listed as day to day. The Knicks’ next game is Wednesday at Charlotte. “It’s swollen now, in a lot of pain, but we’ll see what happens,” Felton said after the game. “It got jammed between another player and I. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t miss any time. I was able to finish the game with it not wrapped, so I should be just fine.”

  2. Mr.RIGHT

    How come no coverage of Baltimore Bullets or Milwaukee Bucks where Prigioni carried the team and gave the team a spark? …and Felton (no Jeremy Lin by any stretch being “Lin can play the “2”) And Felton more “John Starks” shot brick after brick after brick???? …Felton erractic shooting a break downs and tiring out will be the death of the Kickerbockers!

  3. daJudge

    Recorded the game. Great win and I think Copeland will get more burn, as he should. I thought Felton broke his hand, but I guess he didn’t. Great line by Felton, BTW. Melo took a few bad shots, but tried hard and made some nice passes. JR…….it was last night…..right? Wish I were there. But really, I hope this guy gets his house in order because he can be great. Nevertheless, Isn’t this the game the Knicks certainly lose in the recent past?

  4. JK47

    This year’s Knicks are amazing on offense but have been backsliding on defense. They held the Suns under 100 today but the game was played at a very slow pace and the Suns ended up with a .538 eFG% for the game. Allowing a high eFG% has been an Achilles heel for this defense… I hope Son of Wood can figure out some way to improve on that.

  5. Z-man

    Looking at our schedule, we have a tough stretch coming up, so 10-5 for the month would be very solid, 9-6 would be OK, 11-4 would be tough but we would have to win several very tough games for this to happen. Today got us off to a good start. for the rest of the month, we have the following “tough” games:

    Miami
    Chi x 2
    Lakers x 2 (Christmas Day @ LA)
    Nets x 2
    Minny
    Denver

    We should beat:
    Houston
    Charlotte
    Cleveland
    PHX
    Sac

    if we can go 5-4 in the iffy games and 4-1 in the others, that would be 10-5 for the month, would you sign for that right now?

  6. jon abbey

    Z-man:
    if we can go 5-4 in the iffy games and 4-1 in the others, that would be 10-5 for the month, would you sign for that right now?

    an optimistic runthrough gives me 10-4 from here, that long homestand should be possible to sweep if they stay fairly healthy, no back to backs there.

  7. Z-man

    Yeah, I saw that and agree, but most likely we lose to Miami, split with Bulls, Nets and Lakers, and split with Minny and Denver, making us 4-5. So even 9-5 from here on out is not “pessimistic.” Going 10-4 or better would be HUGE!

  8. jon abbey

    Rip Hamilton is out now with a torn plantar facia, so presumably will miss the two Bulls games. their already weak guard rotation gets even weaker without him, those two seem sweepable. the one in Chicago is a back to back for them and not for us.

  9. Z-man

    All in all, a fun stretch, and when it’s over, STAT should be back and Shump will be close. No matter how it turns out, I could see us having a great January-March run.

  10. d-mar

    16 games in, and our 4 losses were all on the road. Only one of those teams is below .500 (Dallas), and 3 of the 4 were the 2nd night of back to backs. In the meantime, average margin of victory in our 12 wins is a whopping 15.7.

    There’s really not a lot to be unhappy about right now as a Knick fan, plus we’ve been missing Kidd for the last 4 games and have 2 more rotation players waiting in the wings.

  11. ruruland

    Lakers give up 113 to lOrlando at home. Their pick and roll defense is atrocious.

    You know Howard’s defensive numbers on Synergy are amazing in pick and roll, but I think there must be something missing because attempts against on the roll are very low. It’s most likely that SVG asked Howard to stay back in the paint and let the ballhandler shoot off screens. MDA is asking Howard to come out on screens, and the Lakers interior defense is awful behind him.

    Did you know that Howard has a negative defensive +/- in his career?

    He’s probably the best rim protector and post-up defender in the game, but he’s lost in space. It seems like Stan Van gundy always did a great job of hiding him. Naturally, this will be lost on MDA for however long he lasts.

    When teams take him out of the paint and force him to ty to defend screen action he’s terrible. Orlando of all teams had at least 6-7 dunks from what I saw in the second half.

    To me, the key to beating the Lakers is really quite simple, and really isn’t much different than it’s ever been.

    Clog the pick and roll with Dwight (and I don’t think he’s an amazing pick and roll player) and bait Kobe into a 25-30 shot game.

    I find the fact that there are literally no built-in post-ups for Howard in the offense absolutely hilarious.

    Wait until the media starts to pick up this as the Lakers continue to struggle.

    I’ve always felt that Howard’s post-ups were one of the most dangerous half-court offensive plays in the game.

    Seems like his offensive impact was more often bigger than his defensive impact.

    Now MDA is using Howard as his free throw shooting closer.

    Absolutely no adjustments on a team completely overloaded with talent and ways to play. How do you continue to let teams foul Howard in the critical stages of a game when you have Gasol?

    Steve Nash does not solve the Kobe/Dwight/Pau problem. In some ways, he makes it worse. And you’ll be able to run high pnr on…

  12. StatsTeacher

    @ Z-man, did you see the Lakers lose to ORL at HOME? Unless something drastically changes in the next few weeks, gotta think that xmas day game is quite winnable.

    Ruru is right, the media reckoning in LA is coming, the narrative is gonna stink to — it’ll all be negative.

    A bone bruise and he’s day to day? Either Felton is truly a tough SOB, or it’s a little worse than day to day I would guess.

  13. lavor postell

    I completely agree with ruru’s post. This scenario being painted by the media that Nash and Howard pick and roll will be some unstoppable has become an irritating story. If he can roll unimpeded to the rim he’s great, but anytime he has to dribble, sidestep a defender or make a pass because the defense has collapsed he struggles. STAT and Tyson are easily ahead of Dwight in that role offensively.

    It’s funny because he regularly gets burned for his post game, but he’s really improved that aspect of his game and has really perfected the lefty hook this season.

    D’Antoni is a one trick pony. If you have the pieces he had in Phoenix you have a chance of being successful, but his teams that competed deep into the West playoffs included having a top-10 pg of all time, one of the most devastating pick and roll big men ever in his prime and a unique two way defensive stopper in Marion that I think was criminally underrated on those teams.

    Marion virtually anchored that defense which graded out to about league average after adjusting for pace. That team much like D’Antoni’s teams here exemplified little cohesion or understanding of their defensive roles. Good defensive players help, which we lacked for much of D’Antoni’s tenure, but it was the idiocy of the defensive scheme that was the most frustrating. Constantly switching creating mismatches to exploit, missed rotations and a complete inability to play pick and roll defense at even an average level.

    Look at Popovich who is constantly evolving his team’s style around the strengths of his players. D’Antoni has a brilliant offensive concept, but is unwilling to cater to the strengths of his team. I honestly believe if D’Antoni had coached us the entire year and Lin had never emerged he would have gone the entire year with the Melo point forward experiment hoping that all of a sudden he would become Magic Johnson.

  14. StatsTeacher

    Ruru, did you see the Gasol/MDA dynamic when he got pulled with about 4 minutes to go? That is one frustrated team right now.

  15. jon abbey

    what was even crazier was that ORL scored 31 in less than 6 minutes down the stretch. on the road! Orlando! go, Mike D’Antoni… :)

  16. Brian Cronin

    Looking at our schedule, we have a tough stretch coming up, so 10-5 for the month would be very solid, 9-6 would be OK, 11-4 would be tough but we would have to win several very tough games for this to happen. Today got us off to a good start. for the rest of the month, we have the following “tough” games:

    Miami
    Chi x 2
    Lakers x 2 (Christmas Day @ LA)
    Nets x 2
    Minny
    Denver

    We should beat:
    Houston
    Charlotte
    Cleveland
    PHX
    Sac

    if we can go 5-4 in the iffy games and 4-1 in the others, that would be 10-5 for the month, would you sign for that right now?

    Definitely. Really, though, what I was looking forward to this whole offseason was the fact that this is the first Knick team we’ve been able to root for for awhile where we could pick any game and think they had a realistic shot at winning it. I love it.

  17. ruruland

    StatsTeacher:
    Ruru, did you see the Gasol/MDA dynamic when he got pulled with about 4 minutes to go?That is one frustrated team right now.

    And they’ll often be frustrated because they’ll never develop an identity.

    Identity is what maximizes talent and wins close games.

    I hate to reference the Nuggets so much, but they remind me of a much more talented version of the ’07-’08 Nuggets with Iverson.

    That was one of the greatest front-running teams I’ve ever seen, I believe they scored 176 point in regulation against Seattle.

    But when it came down to running a coherent offense down the stretch it was a total mess, and the offensive frustration always carried over to defense.

    That’s what I see happening with the Lakers.

    You’ve got 3 guys who will go to the HOF because offenses ran through them. The problem is that all 3 guys operate in disparate modes that aren’t very synergistic.

    And because MDA is so inflexible with his system, you’re going to have Steve Nash with the ball in his hands a lot at first. But that isn’t going to last long with Kobe, who has always been the highest usage (and least efficient) Team USA players playing alongside great playmakers.

    He simply is no comfortable consistently playing off the ball, and I’m not even sure he’s conscious of his ego.

    That’s before you even get to Gasol and Dwight eventually wanting to get more involved.

    T

  18. ruruland

    Nice post, Lavor. Agree with much of it. I always felt that the Suns middling efficiency was partially attributable to Marion, but also to the pace the Suns baited opponents into, which often meant a lot of quick, forced shots.

    To me that explains why the Suns defensive efficiency was so much worse in the playoffs, even against teams like Memphis.

    they are one of the worst defensive playoff teams IIRC

  19. Juany8

    I think the problem is not that Dwight has defensive issues as much as the fact that SVG designed a defense that properly utilized every player on the floor and was designed around producing poor looks in general. The Lakers don’t have a defensive philosophy, and guys like Gasol and Artest don’t look consistently interested on that end. I think it is very possible to build at least a top 10 defense with these players, but MDA might literally be the worst coach in the league to try to figure it out. He’s already fallen with love with Jamison purely because of his ability to shoot.

  20. Juany8

    By the way, I just want to point out that the Lakers management signed off on the decision that MDA was better for their offense because Dwight and Nash had never played in the triangle and it’s a tough system to learn. Never mind that Phil Jackson wasn’t exactly a scrub on the defensive end, how do you not notice that Gasol and Kobe are terrible fits for MDA’s system? Did Melo and Amar’e seem to work with Lin and Chandler? MDA’s system requires a ball handler, a good roll man, and a bunch of shooters. As with the Knicks, superstars don’t buy into a system where they’re being relegated to spot ups and cuts, not when they’re fully aware how talented they are. Now Nash has enough respect from other players to possibly make it work, but Gasol is not going to be very happy being benched for Jamison entirely because Jamison can shoot 3’s better

  21. JK47

    Antawn Jamison is mediocrity personified. Even in his prime he was pretty wack. He’s the perfect example of a guy who looks sort of like a “star” player because he had some seasons with lots of PPG, but who doesn’t do anything particularly well.

    This article sums up Antawn’s game pretty well:

    http://deadspin.com/5960701/deadspin-nba-shit-list-antawn-jamison-captain-of-failure?tag=nba-shit-list

    Here’s the money quote: “If you peel away the team-captain rhetoric, the audience-pleasing curmudgeonly complaints about the underachieving young pups around him, you are left with Antawn Jamison as a pure basketball type—the type who heaves up a ton of low-value shots, pumps up his numbers, shies away from contact, and categorically refuses to play defense. He is, in plain basketball terms, the living caricature of what fans are supposed to hate about the pro game.”

  22. Frank

    Not sure why anyone is surprised at the Lakers’ struggles so far under MDA. This is basically the same team construction as the Knicks team that struggled so badly pre-Linsanity. No PG play, high-usage swing trying to play PG, ill-fitting pieces in the frontcourt.

    The whole world is going crazy right now, but they will be MUCH better after Nash gets back (not exactly a revelation). D’Antoni’s system is inflexible, but man does it work when he has the right engine to make it run.

    The greater concern is how terrible their defense is. Nash does not make that defense any better. And watching MDA try to use MWP as a Marion-like utility defender is pretty nauseating to watch. Afflalo just killed him yesterday.

  23. d-mar

    Kobe told Gasol to “put your big-boy pants on” or in more direct terms, you’re a big pussy.

    Can things get any more dysfunctional in Laker land? Enjoying every minute of it.

  24. JK47

    I don’t know what to make of the Lakers, who are just a jumbled mess at the moment. They probably would have been better off with a plain old vanilla coach instead of Mike “Square-Peg-Into-Round-Hole” D’Antoni, but:

    -They’re playing below their Pythag record, which is 11-6
    -They rank 8th in SRS
    -They’re missing Steve Nash and have been using sub-replacement level PGs like Chris Duhon and Darius Morris
    -They rank 9th in offensive rating and 10th in defensive rating
    -They are quite solid in the four factors on both offense and defense, except for turnovers in which they are horrible on both ends

    On the flip side,
    -They’re getting unsustainably hot shooting from several of their key players, especially Kobe Bryant, MWP and Jamison
    -Nash himself is turnover prone, so he does not automatically solve their turnover problems
    -Their strength of schedule has been about average and figures to get tougher since the West is the deeper conference
    -D’Antoni seems hell bent on destroying Pau Gasol’s career
    -Their bench is very thin

  25. StatsTeacher

    Jamison was drafted by GS — I watched him a ton in his early career. He plays like a bigger version of Monta Ellis, less driving even more chucking. Can GS get some credit for drafting the least efficient players ever? (How the hell are they leading their division right now? Might have to go to some games again)

  26. Brian Cronin

    By the way, I just want to point out that the Lakers management signed off on the decision that MDA was better for their offense because Dwight and Nash had never played in the triangle and it’s a tough system to learn. Never mind that Phil Jackson wasn’t exactly a scrub on the defensive end, how do you not notice that Gasol and Kobe are terrible fits for MDA’s system? Did Melo and Amar’e seem to work with Lin and Chandler? MDA’s system requires a ball handler, a good roll man, and a bunch of shooters. As with the Knicks, superstars don’t buy into a system where they’re being relegated to spot ups and cuts, not when they’re fully aware how talented they are. Now Nash has enough respect from other players to possibly make it work, but Gasol is not going to be very happy being benched for Jamison entirely because Jamison can shoot 3?s better

    I believe this is because they decided that of their current players, the only one they feel that they have to keep happy is Howard, since he is a free agent after the end of the year and is the best player of the bunch. I am certainly not saying that they are right to think so little of Howard that he might be put off by having to learn a “hard” system, but I do think that that is their motivation here.

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