Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Knicks 99, Pistons 85

Detroit Pistons 85 Final
Recap | Box Score
99 New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, SF 37 MIN | 10-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 27 PTS | +16

I’m trying to imagine what the non-basketball equivalent of seeing Kyle Singler or Rodney Stuckey line up opposite you must be like for a guy like Melo. Most of the images I’m having involve virile, half-starving beasts and diseased, three-legged pray, but I’ll go with this: Having a plate of fresh fish ‘n chips thrown in front of you after a three-week Torah cleanse.

Melo mixed it up nicely in the early going, with catch-and-shoot bull’s eyes, determined drives, and smart swings (the early skip pass to Shumpert for an open three made me moist) all a part of the first half recipe. The momentum garnered from a bevy of buckets early in the third threatened to stall in tech mud after a few no-calls, but – and this is not insignificant – Melo shrugged it all off, feeding Amar’e for a beautiful baseline feed to help stave off a Detroit mini-run late in the third. More importantly, at no point did Melo continually force the issue, choosing instead to trust in his phalanx of wingmen off of dribble-drives and elbow isolations. Focused, efficient, deadly. Just like early Foghat.

Tyson Chandler, C 36 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 20 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +15

Another night, another Knick record up for the breaking. This time, it was Willis Reed’s consecutive 20-plus rebound games (3), which Chandler tied with an animated haul-in mid-way through the fourth. True to form, the Garden crowd – never knocked for knowledge – began serenading Tyson before his fingers even found the seams.

The couple of botched first half lobs were more than made up for by a few thunderous throw-downs during the second and third stanzas, including two beautiful feeds from Felton. There were some help lapses along the way, but Tyson — like the Knicks writ large — generally proved himself hellbent on meeting All-Star weekend on a tear.

Jason Kidd, PG 20 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +10

The J was colder than a Nurse Ratched reach-around, but Kidd more than made up for it with a silly number of defensive deflections. As an aside, I can’t imagine what back spasms after 13,000 NBA games must feel like. I just imagine hundreds of tiny Isaiah Riders jumping on the muscles like trampolines.

Raymond Felton, PG 34 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 9 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | +11

There are certain qualities in an opposing point guard that tend to spell doom for Raymond Felton. Chief among them: speed, quickness, and a head whose quaff isn’t reinforced by toe knuckle hair. Luckily, Jose Calderon is none of these. In perhaps the finest four-point outing of his career, Felton orchestrated the offense admirably, finding a rolling Chandler for a number of pinpoint feeds and keeping the aforementioned Calderon from going Spanish Bombs all over the joint. There were a couple of unsettling shakes of the ailing hand here and there, but the few jumpers Ray did take looked anything but belabored.

Iman Shumpert, PG 17 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +9

Shump’s impact continues to be rendered beyond the box score. His corner jumper remains eminently more smooth than Ronnie Brewer’s glorified shot-put, and his perimeter D is coming along at as quick a pace as can be expected, but there’s still an undeniable hesitation there. Particularly on offense, where Shumpert can’t even be bothered to feign interest in threatening a move to the basket. We’ve probably been spoiled by Amare’s seamless reintegration (we have), and really, it can take months — if not years — to come back from something like this. Just saying, if he rolls his ankle or sprains his finger or whatever and gets run through the full-body x-ray machine and it shows the skeletal base of NASA’s next space shuttle on top of his head, we’ll know what’s dragging his lift.

Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 28 MIN | 8-14 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -2

Forty-eight hours removed from an awe-inspiring 10-10 performance that had Knick Knation finally reeled back from seat’s edge to on-guard comfort, STAT introduced himself with a flurry of another kind – tapping out a missed throw for a wide open JR three, a beautiful post-survey pass out of a double team, and engaged, vocal D at the other end. Eventually the offense would come around, too, highlighted by a laser drive past Drummond for a layup and a baseline fadeaway that was worth the entire $50,000 he doled out to Hakeem.

The defense got a little lazy in the second half, but I mean, that’s kind of par for the course for these clowns. What’s become eminently clear, though, is that the fear surrounding his reintegration need not reapply for entry. Whatever this is, it’s working, Woodson’s managed it beautifully, and STAT even more beautifully.

Chris Copeland, SF 2 MIN | 1-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -2

Chris Copeland Anagram fun: ACHED CORN LIPS

Steve Novak, SF 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +4

What’s a Knick three-point barrage without some sweet twine twangs from our Troubadour of Triples? One bar, to be exact. The on-ball defense is still flimsier than gluten-free cake batter, but with so many threats at so many positions, “spot minute specialist” might not be such a woeful fate for Stevak.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 14 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | +3

The burn was a little more limited, but Pablo hoisted the rigging rather nicely while connecting on his lone three-point attempt.

J.R. Smith, SG 30 MIN | 5-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +10

Apparently 10 first half points (three triples and a free throw – the back end of a pair beginning with an air ball that yielded this, the worst-selling Mr. Potato Head accessory expression ever) weren’t enough for Earl, who spent halftime running around the MSG court with a bunch of eight-year-olds, trying really hard to bat away an in-bounds pass and waving frantically for the ball at half court. Which, I mean, I’d probably try and avoid eye contact with the screaming tall dude with neck tats, too. (Props to Jonah Kanner, @TheKnicksWall, for the splendid .gifs.)

J.R. cooled off considerably in the second half, clanking nearly all of his tries from distance. But he remained eminently active on D, getting his mitts in passing lanes and managing to not completely self-destruct on offense.

Five Things We Saw

  1. Clyde celebrated Super Bowl Sunday by slaughtering either a malnourished tiger or a steroid addled horse with veins popping out everywhere – can’t really figure out which. (Big ups again to @TheKnicksWall for the screen-grab.)
  2. In what’s become a dog-eared page in New York’s unlikely playbook, the Knicks connected on 14-34 (including three from Melo and five from J.R. Smith) from distance, while holding Detroit to just 3-13.
  3. The Pistons looked like a team that played the Lakers on Sunday afternoon and then flew to New York City for the Super Bowl. Just a total slop-pond of shit for the first 36 or so minutes — little to no penetration, late shot-clock heaves, the whole nine. In fact, Detroit’s 13 first quarter points were the fewest given up in any quarter by the Knicks all year. Chalk it up to what you will – Super Sunday hangovers, a pair of back-to-back marquee matchups, whatever – the Knick D snuffed the Pistons out in the early going. Even when the on-ball effort faltered, fortuitously flailing hands – resulting in a slew of fast-break opportunities (although very few actual fast break points) – saved the day.
  4. Unless you’re Radiohead or Will Farrell, you’re not allowed to coast. Those are the rules. And yet, it seems like — with the exception of Saturday’s stomping of the Kings — most times the Knicks have a middling opponent’s neck beneath their razor-spurred boot, they let them up breathing and bleeding only gently. Until it really comes back to bite them in the ass – like in the season’s last week with the Atlantic title on the line, for instance – I’m not sure what’s going to compel them to not let this happen. Part of it has to do with conserving energy. I get that. But it doesn’t take much for bad, garbage time habits to metastasize. Just something to keep an eye on.
  5. That said, at least we solved the poor start puzzle – temporarily, anyway. Woodson has clearly grabbed hold the company’s ear and made it known that pre-All Star break momentum can be a big thing. Just ask those dickheads from Up North*.
  6. *The Boston Celtics

35 comments on “Knicks 99, Pistons 85

  1. jon abbey

    “And yet, it seems like every time the Knicks have a middling opponent’s neck beneath their razor-spurred boot, they let them up breathing and bleeding only gently. ”

    heh, did you miss the previous game?

  2. Kurt

    http://www.nba.com/games/20130204/DETNYK/gameinfo.html?ls=iref:nbahpt6b

    I wasn’t able to watch most of the past three games. I was wondering if anyone could tell me if the above play was used before.

    Obviously, STAT’s finish is beautiful, but I think the usage of the two man game is really interesting. Amar’e and Melo are on one side, with JR, Felton, and Novak behind the arc on the other side.

    On the ball side of the court, Melo has the ball on the left wing, where he is most dangerous. STAT is in the corner on the baseline.

    The court is spread well enough that STAT’s man has one of two options. Either help on Melo and give up a deadly STAT cut down the baseline. Or don’t help on Melo and let him drive to the rack unobstructed. Since Melo is making the pass in these situations this year, the play works really well. Since STAT is getting better about passing out of double teams, the defense also can’t just double off the corner shooter (in this case, Novak).

    It’s a great use of the two man game without STAT and Melo even needing to screen for each other.

  3. citizen

    jon abbey:
    “And yet, it seems like every time the Knicks have a middling opponent’s neck beneath their razor-spurred boot, they let them up breathing and bleeding only gently. ”

    heh, did you miss the previous game?

    The Kings are hardly even “middling”……

  4. flossy

    Kurt:
    http://www.nba.com/games/20130204/DETNYK/gameinfo.html?ls=iref:nbahpt6b

    I wasn’t able to watch most of the past three games. I was wondering if anyone could tell me if the above play was used before.

    Obviously, STAT’s finish is beautiful, but I think the usage of the two man game is really interesting. Amar’e and Melo are on one side, with JR, Felton, and Novak behind the arc on the other side.

    On the ball side of the court, Melo has the ball on the left wing, where he is most dangerous. STAT is in the corner on the baseline.

    The court is spread well enough that STAT’s man has one of two options. Either help on Melo and give up a deadly STAT cut down the baseline. Or don’t help on Melo and let him drive to the rack unobstructed. Since Melo is making the pass in these situations this year, the play works really well. Since STAT is getting better about passing out of double teams, the defense also can’t just double off the corner shooter (in this case, Novak).

    It’s a great use of the two man game without STAT and Melo even needing to screen for each other.

    How many big men in the NBA can make that finish? Blake Griffin, and, uh…

  5. Frank

    ruruland:
    http://espn.go.com/blog/new-york/knicks/post/_/id/35319/woodys-words-spark-tysons-torrid-play

    Gotta love Woodson. Tyson is an NBA champ, DPOY, All-Star, Olympic gold medalist, and he calls him out just like he would call out Copeland. These are the things that D’Antoni just doesn’t know how to do , and doesn’t want to do.

    One thing that bears noting though, is the effect that Amare has had on Tyson’s rebounding. Tyson’s ORB% is 50% higher (21.6) with Amare on the court than when Amare is off it (14.3). Just to put that in perspective, according to B-R, Varejao currently leads (all qualified players in) the NBA in ORB% with a 16.7. I don’t think there’s any question that when Amare is there, the defensive attention he draws helps Tyson crash the boards.

    And wow is this defense all different when Tyson really comes to play. Hats off to TC for how well he’s playing, and extra hats off to Woody for pushing the right buttons.

  6. Frank

    Re: Woody and button-pushing — how about him asking Amare to go and learn how to play in the post? After 10 years in the league. Awesome.

  7. Kurt

    Frank: Amen to both points!

    On your second point: Grantland (don’t remember who) a number of months ago did a piece on the Kobe assist, in which misses from particular players are more likely to lead to offensive rebounds. I don’t remember if he discussed the aspect of defensive attention.

    I think your point makes the better case: it’s not a matter of who misses but if anyone is enough of a threat to the defense to draw their attention away from boxing out effectively, which, in turn, leads to O rebounds.

    Frank: Gotta love Woodson. Tyson is an NBA champ, DPOY, All-Star, Olympic gold medalist, and he calls him out just like he would call out Copeland. These are the things that D’Antoni just doesn’t know how to do , and doesn’t want to do.

    One thing that bears noting though, is the effect that Amare has had on Tyson’s rebounding. Tyson’s ORB% is 50% higher (21.6) with Amare on the court than when Amare is off it (14.3).Just to put that in perspective, according to B-R, Varejao currently leads (all qualified players in) the NBA in ORB% with a 16.7.I don’t think there’s any question that when Amare is there, the defensive attention he draws helps Tyson crash the boards.

    And wow is this defense all different when Tyson really comes to play. Hats off to TC for how well he’s playing, and extra hats off to Woody for pushing the right buttons.

  8. Kurt

    I definitely agree with that too. I realize that I’m a STAThead (just made it up and I’m trademarking it), but I’ve always found it fascinating how Amar’e can finish with a high percentage around the basket without dunking. I think that’s something that people forgot about when they asked whether Amar’e “lost it.” Even last year, his paint percentages were pretty high.

    flossy: How many big men in the NBA can make that finish?Blake Griffin, and, uh…

  9. d-mar

    I think lost in all the 3′s and great ball movement (at least in the 1st half) was that the Knicks seem to have their defensive mojo back. I thought the rotations were solid, and you saw very few open looks for the Pistons. Just looked like we were really closing hard on shooters and Tyson is back to clogging up the paint.

    PS Kurt, not sure why your quotes are ending up in reverse? When you want to respond, just hit “quote” and type underneath where it says “blockquote”. Just some friendly advice (-:

  10. Frank

    d-mar: I think lost in all the 3?s and great ball movement (at least in the 1st half) was that the Knicks seem to have their defensive mojo back. I thought the rotations were solid, and you saw very few open looks for the Pistons. Just looked like we were really closing hard on shooters and Tyson is back to clogging up the paint.

    Actually I thought the transition defense was beyond awful. But the halfcourt D was good minus a few give and go’s baseline.

  11. Frank

    Not sure if anyone heard Dave Rothenberg’s show last night with Alan Hahn (boy is Hahn everywhere nowadays– good for him!), but they spoke a bit about needing a penetrating PG as a backup for Felton after this year. Seriously – the Knicks are 6-6 without Felton and 25-9 with him, and there’s no question the offense (and especially Melo and Novak) suffers when Felton is off the court. Melo’s TS is 5 points less without Felton (58.4–>53.4) and Novak’s is fifteen points worse (71.4 –> 56.9).

    Maybe it’s just because he keeps on torching us when we play, but Will Bynum is a FA after this year and could be a mini-MLE kind of guy. He’s sort of having a career year this year but is averaging 18p/7a per 36.

    Other guys that might look good for us as backups would be Telfair, Aaron Brooks, and even Nate Robinson. In fact I think Nate would be fantastic here – and we all know he loves MSG. D’Antoni and Larry Brown are gone so maybe he would come back for the mini-MLE. I think the fans would embrace him – I know I would. He’s playing so well this year.

    Never too early to be thinking about next year… =)

  12. chrisk06811

    Jim…how does it feel when you make a Foghat joke, and the first bakers-dozen posters don’t even notice? Are they too young? Are they just bball nerds? Do you bust it back out in 6 weeks like the groundhog says? I bet it’s disappointing…..I hope someone gets it.

  13. Frank

    btw the trio of Amare/Melo/Chandler is now + 19 per 100 poss (1.185 PPP on offense, 0.998 PPP allowed on defense). They are absolutely dominating on the glass and if extrapolated to a full game would lead the NBA by wide margins in offensive, defensive, and total rebounding.

    another development of note – Iman Shumpert still can’t seem to find the basket when he’s in the paint (37.5% at the rim!?!?!) but he’s shooting 44% from 3 point range (only 25 attempts so far). Gotta figure the troubling finishing is due to hesitancy or not being 100% after his injury – he shot 61.6% from there last year. But re: the 3 point shooting – totally changes this offense when it’s him rather than Ronnie Brewer out there.

  14. Kurt

    Frank, I remember noticing too how much they’ve missed his penetration. After Melo, I think Felton’s penetration off the pnr was the most critical component to the torrid start, as well as being the most critical difference from last year (aside from the coaching).

    Even if Kidd and Priggie Smalls are better passers, they don’t force the D to rotate in the same way.

    I haven’t seen Will Bynam play, but I don’t know if you want to just give next year’s backup job to a penetrator. There’s a reason why Devin Harris and others haven’t been too successful as pg’s.

  15. lavor postell

    A healthy STAT really is a game changer in our championship equation. Even with a probable dip in his shooting efficiency he projects as a massive net positive for the Knicks in his current form. Notice how many more spot up threes JR is shooting? Those opportunities will be presenting themselves more often as long as Amar’e continues to look for the open man when the defense doubles on him in the post.

    I’d expect JR and Felton to be the biggest beneficiaries from his return. They both will be relieved of some of their shot creation duties and will be exchanging contested mid-range pull ups for spot up threes off of ball rotation. I’m not sure if there is a more difficult team to defend right now in the league. No reason we can’t push Miami all the way.

  16. jon abbey

    Foghat were terrible, I chose to ignore that.

    yeah, the funny thing about THCJ complaining about Amar’e's rebounding the other day is what a factor he’s been on the boards, whether he’s the one who ends up with the ball or not (usually not). yet another massive gaping hole in the joke of a “system” that is WP…

  17. JK47

    The Knicks are slowly but surely climbing the ranks in Defensive Rating. They now rank 16th in the league in D-Rating at 105.4, just a shade off the league average of 105.3.

    Some of this has been because they have been playing soft opposition lately, but some of it is legit improvement. The Knicks have held 7 of their last 10 opponents under 90 points.

  18. Count de Pennies

    jon abbey: Foghat were terrible, I chose to ignore that.

    Agreed.

    Foghat, at its best, was never more than a slightly above average bar band.

    Lauding an A-game from Melo by comparing it to “early Foghat” is the very definition of damnation by faint praise. The NBA equivalent of a Foghat would be someone like Jamal Crawford – a dime-a-dozen talent who’s capable of brief moments of transcendence once every blue moon or so.

  19. JK47

    Count de Pennies: Agreed.

    Foghat, at its best, was never more than a slightly above average bar band.

    Lauding an A-game from Melo by comparing it to “early Foghat” is the very definition of damnation by faint praise. The NBA equivalent of a Foghat would be someone like Jamal Crawford – a dime-a-dozen talent who’s capable of brief moments of transcendence once every blue moon or so.

    If Jamal Crawford is the Foghat of the NBA, butt rock is the high volume shooting guard of music genres.

  20. flossy

    jon abbey:
    Foghat were terrible, I chose to ignore that.

    yeah, the funny thing about THCJ complaining about Amar’e’s rebounding the other day is what a factor he’s been on the boards, whether he’s the one who ends up with the ball or not (usually not). yet another massive gaping hole in the joke of a “system” that is WP…

    Also, it’s pretty clear that Tyson has started stat-padding because he gets a kick out of getting 20 rebounds. Which is cool, I also like it when he gets 20 rebounds. But last night he was gobbling up every single “gimme” rebound that could have gone to any of a number of Knicks, and Amar’e was certainly not trying to get in his way.

  21. d-mar

    I am now very pessimistic about the Knicks going forward, no less a basketball authority than Mike Francesa said on the FAN today that Amare’s inability to defend the pick and roll and having him on the court with Novak on the defensive end will spell doom for NY.

    I just dumped my season tickets for 50% of face value.

  22. chrisk06811

    Count de Pennies: Agreed.

    Foghat, at its best, was never more than a slightly above average bar band.

    Lauding an A-game from Melo by comparing it to “early Foghat” is the very definition of damnation by faint praise. The NBA equivalent of a Foghat would be someone like Jamal Crawford – a dime-a-dozen talent who’s capable of brief moments of transcendence once every blue moon or so.

    My appologies…..I was thinking of “little feat”

  23. DRed

    I like Mark Jackson having his guys foul constantly to stop the Rockets from setting a record for 3s in a game. Crazy game.

  24. Brian Cronin

    Is that seriously what happened in that game? That’s hilarious. That’s totally something Van Gundy would do.

    EDITED TO ADD: Although reading about the game now, I don’t think he’d have a guy foul a guy that hard, though.

  25. Frank

    Crazy Rockets game yesterday – they had 9 guys attempt at least 1 3 pointer and ALL of them shot 50% or better from 3.

    GS shot 48% from the field with a FTR of 35% (league average is 27), had a TO-R of only 12, and lost by thirty-one. When that Rockets team gets out and runs, they are tough to beat. we should know.

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