|Kurt Thomas, PF 13 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +11
That’s a pretty damn good backup four. The best idea Woodson had today (and there was not much competition for this title) was using Kurt on Howard when Gasol stationed himself away from the rim, allowing Chandler to stray off Gasol and help liberally. Thomas competed gamely in those stretches, hit his shots, and provided some help defense of his own. He and Camby put up a 12-7-1-2-1 in 21 minutes combined.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 43 MIN | 13-23 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 34 PTS | -7
Deserved better teammates today. Little else to say. Once the Lakers’ turned their attention to denying him position, space, and the ball, nobody else could do much to burn then.
|Tyson Chandler, C 40 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | -9
‘The whole “Pull your man out and sneak through the backdoor when he’s not looking! Finish alley oop! Profit!” act is perfectly adorable but, seriously, what’s your real plan? Oh. Um…yeah good idea. Do that. No way I’ll just be able to break up the pass every time. Try it. Oh, I got lucky that time. Keep trying, no way that I’ll be able to easily stop it every single time due to my unique combination of length, quickness, and hops. Definitely no need for a Plan B.’
|Jason Kidd, PG 34 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 6 PTS | -1
Don’t know how much of this falls on Woodson and how much (if any) has to do with Kidd not being assertive enough but on nights like this he really needs to be at the controls for stretches when Raymond Felton decides to try to play like he’s Derrick Rose. Everything Kidd did was fine (his help defense was actually excellent and he’s the only person who did anything to slow Kobe down) but there are things he didn’t do that could have made a difference.
|Raymond Felton, PG 36 MIN | 5-19 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 10 PTS | -4
Really terrible today. Lots of bad ideas and lots of poor execution. It’s not an F only because he somehow managed to get through the game without any turnovers but this is largely because missed shots don’t count as turnovers. Missed 13 of his 18 TWO POINT attempts. At the start of the year he had success as a drive and kick creator and a spot-up shooter. Somewhere along the line, probably aided and abetted by Melo’s absences, he seems to have decided that it’s his job to create a lot of his own shots. Hopefully, on a team that spent the entire offseason collecting “veteran leadership” and employs both a 40-year-old “coach on the floor” and an “actual coach,” someone will disabuse him of this delusion. Soon.
|Ronnie Brewer, SF 8 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -2
Oof. Ronnie is at roughly the “Milk was a bad choice” scene in the “Anchorman” plot of his Knicks’ career. Let’s hope it’s more “We’ve been coming to the same party for 10 years and in no way is that depressing” than “I immediately regret this decision” from here on out.
|Steve Novak, SF 15 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS | -7
Hit his first three to open the second quarter and then never made another. A red and green tinsel-covered Christmas bummer.
|Marcus Camby, C 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +3
Yes. More of this please. Needs a full-blown audition between now and the time either Sheed or Amare comes back so we can get the pecking order figured out in this frontcourt. Made more big plays in 8 minutes (a great pass to Melo, a vicious weak-side swat on Jodie Meeks) than Chandler did in 40.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +4
Not sure what the point is of having this guy on the team if he can’t get in when Felton plays like he did today. Depth only matters if you use it. His grade is really more on Woodson than on him.
|J.R. Smith, SG 37 MIN | 10-23 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 25 PTS | -18
Pretty clearly the best guard on the team right now and, yet, you can only say that with all the usual JR Smith caveats. His technical foul was both predictable and inexcusable. His hurried spinning fadeaway heave in the dying moments was lifted from a page of the Jamal Crawford handbook that I wish had been thrown into the fire around 2006. But his shotmaking and defensive effort both remain
|Rasheed Wallace, PF DNP SORE LEFT FOOT MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |
Not a moment too soon.
In a season when he has pushed the right buttons on nearly every occasion and gotten more out of this group than I thought possible, he sure did put up a dud on Christmas. Systematically, foundationally, and bafflingly bad. Going up against a supersized Lakers team that his squad had run out of the building just 12 days prior with speed and shooting, made the head-scratching decision (an overreaction to Gasol’s return, I can only guess?) to try to beat them at their own game. To the extent that the goal of this approach was to slow down Howard and Gasol, he can claim some small measure of victory. But the cost was a team bereft of an offensive identity and — lacking Brewer and asking Melo to play far too much three — unable to stay in front of the Lakers’ perimeter players. Stayed with Chandler and Felton far too long on night’s when they couldn’t get it going and viable change-of-look options (Camby, Prigs, Brewer) were in evidence. And, seemingly, has begun to lose his players to a level of sniping at the refs after every iffy call that does not befit a 20-8 team. He’s had a great calendar year and, if this is my last recap before we ring in 2013, I can’t say I feel good about saying goodbye on this note. But this was a winnable game, the Knicks lost it, and there were things Woodson could have done to keep that from happening.
Three Things We Saw
- Breen and Van Gundy could do every national Knicks game from now until the day one of them retires from the business and I would not complain.
- Camby’s court awareness on both ends has become so, so good even as he’s lost his once otherworldly burst. He’s basically the exact opposite of what he was the first time the Knicks had him. This isn’t really surprising, of course, but it’s interesting to watch him play next to Kurt who is essentially the same player he was back then, just not quite as good.
- I love Melo’s apparent willingness to guard multiple positions but he’s just better at guarding post-oriented guys than perimeter players. Strong enough to handle all but the biggest fours (did a great job on Gasol today) but not really quick enough to guard most elite wings. All the more reason he should be playing the four as much as possible.