Miami 116 New York 110 OT
[The analysis of last night's game against the Heat comes from KnickerBlogger head correspondent David Crockett, Ph.D. David is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of South Carolina, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
What a tough loss tonight in overtime to Miami. I suppose that Marbury’s 6 free throw misses deserve to be the story. That’s a rare poor night for him from the charity stripe. It was a good opportunity to steal a game though, especially with Shaq having an off night offensively.
A Couple Of Thoughts:
The Knicks need to display more diversity in the halfcourt. Right now the Knicks score the bulk of their points on two plays: the screen-roll and off Marbury’s penetration. When the Knicks really need a basket they don’t have anything else to go to. Tonight was a repeat of an earlier game. Teams simply trap Marbury, blowing up the screen-roll, and the Knicks have no response. The last time this happened Marbury and Crawford tossed it back and forth. This time Kurt Thomas at least got a shot off, although it didn’t hit the rim.
When they need one basket at the end of the game New York must put Sweetney or Tim Thomas in the post. They’re the only two post-up players on the roster. You cannot have Marbury and all jump shooters on the floor. Yeesh.
On the bright side, Trevor Ariza gets a little bit better each week. He’s still got a lot of holes in his game (no mid-range game, suspect handle, limited strength.) Like any kid who hasn’t played a lot of basketball there’s much he doesn’t recognize until it’s already too late. Nonetheless, he’s better now than he was a month ago and much better than when the season began. He starting to put together some decent games.
[End David's part]
Dave, it’s amazing how “Air-Riza” gets better by playing more. What’s even more amazing is the Knicks can’t apply this philosophy to Mike Sweetney. Trevor can get in 36 minutes despite his Swiss cheese game, and yet Sweetney plays only 18 despite being the more polished of the two. You’d think the Knicks could find him more time, especially when they’re running a 7 man rotation in an OT game, and the starting PF ended up with 6 fouls.
The only reasonable theory for further delaying Sweetney’s growth is the window dressing of Kurt Thomas for other GMs. The trade deadline is February 24th, so benching Thomas so close to it might decrease his worth. Maybe I’m seeing things through my blue & orange shaded glasses, but despite his salary Thomas should bring in some decent value in a trade. How many teams couldn’t use a blue collar power forward who can rebound on the defensive end, finish the pick & roll with a sharp jumper, and hasn’t missed more than 5 games in any of the last 7 seasons?
To finish off my rantfest, the Knicks should take a serious look at Jamal Sampson. Sampson will turn 22 in May, is 6-11, and can rebound like nobody’s business. His career reb/40min is 15.0 which is Evans/Fortson territory. If given 40 minutes he would also block 2.1 shots, which is triple what that duo combined would give you in the same amount of time.
Sampson’s shooting is a liability (45% eFG, 59% FT), but Jamal won’t kill you with his turnover rate (about the same TO/min as Nazr Mohammed). Sampson’s shot blocking alone would be great for the “paint-allowing” Knicks, but consider his phenomenal rebounding skills, and it’s a no-brainer. Certainly this poor-man’s Ben Wallace can’t be worse than Vin Baker or Bruno Sundov. A sign of a good GM/coaching staff is the ability to find guys like Sampson for cheap, and turn them into useful players.