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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mozgov’s Preseason Garden Debut

After a European Road Trip, the Knicks finally returned home for their first preseason game against the Celtics. The significance of this game was Timofey Mozgov’s first start for New York. The Knicks have been looking for a starting center to play alongside Amar’e Stoudemire, and it seems that Ronny Turiaf may have played himself out of the starting role for now.

Mozgov started off his Garden debut on the right foot. He made his first shot, an 18 foot jumper with 9:40 left in the first quarter. As Felton had the ball cross court dribbling towards the foul line, Mozgov was unguarded on the weakside and stepped into an open spot to receive the pass for an easy shot. Twenty four seconds later he made another open jumper, this time along the baseline. With 7:07 remaining, he showed great court vision and hit a wide open Felton in stride for an easy basket. Less than a minute later, he forced a driving Pierce into a turnover and was rewarded with the ball on the offensive end.

His first quarter wasn’t all positive, as Mozgov picked up a careless foul on a Jermaine O’Neal drive, and got a silly technical walking to the bench. The rest of the game was less impressive. He picked up two fouls in the second quarter. One nullifying a block on Pierce (Erden recovered and scored despite the foul). He came back in the third quarter, but back to back turnovers ended his night on a sour note.

Its too early to drink the Kompot on him being an NBA quality starting center. At the end of the night he only saw 15 minutes, netted 5 points and 3 rebounds along with 4 fouls. From a strictly statistical standpoint it’s what you’d expect from a rookie backup center. However a visual perspective showed him to be athletic for a big man with flashes of ability. Against Harangody, Mozgov closed out nicely on a perimeter shot attempt. His pass to Felton was Sabonis-worthy. And at least once he fought for a rebound tipping it to a teammate. In the end, Mozgov showed more potential than you’d expect from a player who flew under the NBA scouts radar. However he also reminded New Yorkers that he’s not quite ready for prime time.


More game notes:

  • Amar’e finished with 30 points (on 13 shots) but the Knicks still lost. I wonder how many times I’m going to repeat that phrase?
  • On the flip side, Felton had 7 points on 11 shots. He didn’t have a particularly good defensive game either.
  • Bill Walker had 11 points (on 9 shots) and hit half of his threes. But he had 0 rebounds and 0 assists.
  • Randolph led the team in rebounds (6 tied with Gallo), but coughed it up 5 times. On the court it looks like he’s trying too hard.
  • After Amar’e the best players for the Knicks were Wilson Chandler and Landry Fields. The latter only played limited minutes, but you figure he’s working himself up the rotation, especially with Roger Mason’s poor night. Ill-Will looked great, hitting 2 of 3 treys and attempting 5 free throws. If he can do that consistently…
  • 26 comments on “Mozgov’s Preseason Garden Debut

    1. nicos

      Mozgov’s touch has been a really pleasant surprise- if he can hit consistently from 15-18 he could have a long career as a mid-level starter once he gets the stupid fouls out of the way (which may take him a year but should get done eventually). Add a post move or two and clean up the defensive glass and we might really have something.

      Anybody else wish D’Antoni had come back in with Stat for the final few minutes? While I can understand wanting to finish it with the kids, I’d have liked to see him come in for Turiaf (who wouldn’t have had his confidence shaken by being replaced like AR might have). I know it’s preseason but I think it’d have sent a nice “this season is going to be all about winning” message. Of course if Amare gets hurt… but it might have kept Pierce from doing that annoying little dance after hitting the go-ahead shot.

      Finally, is too early to start the inevitable clamoring for TD over Felton?

    2. Z

      BigBlueAL: Turiaf looks like he has hands as bad as Jared Jeffries.lol  

      Yeah, he’s just as advertised– “As bad as Jeffries, but at half the cost!”

    3. Robert Silverman

      Yeah, Turiaf’s been really underwhelming (though I do appreciate the beard/hair combo). And I think starting Douglas over Felton’s going to be a year-long obsession for this blog, as in, “Why does MD’A wait until they’re 10 points down in the 1st before putting in TD? Then when TD gets the lead down to 3-4 points, he puts Felton back in to end the half and we’re back down 12!!”

      Of course,we’ll then get to hear quotes from Coach Mike like, “I like Toney in the role he’s in.”

    4. latke

      Let’s be honest here –– Rondo, Allen, and Pierce all played 37-41 minutes. No knick played over 28, and the lineup for most of the fourth quarter was douglas, fields, randolph, walker, and turiaf/fields. Even so, the knicks were up for almost the entire game, and it took some big plays from pierce to pull the game out.

      I thought the game was promising. THe ball movement looked good in the 1st half when we saw a lot of the rotation players. I remember looking at the box score mid-second quarter and the knicks had 13 assists on 15 field goals.

      Here’s how I feel watching AR play. He seems to play like a 12 year old kid would if he was given the chance to play a game inside 22 year old mega athlete’s body. I can just imagine him thinking, “let’s see what happens if I try this!” as he runs through into the paint, spins, and tries to bank in a fade away 12 footer. He doesn’t seem to have a great sense of the game.

      That said, I thought it was really smart of D’Antoni to leave him out there and let him make those mistakes (even if I was cringing at all the bad shots and turnovers, and that missed dunk!). The only way to make a person mature is to give them that responsibility. Nothing like 20 thousand fans and 14 teammates all relying on you, cheering your wise decisions and going quiet at your mistakes, to get you to try to repeat the successes and avoid the mistakes.

    5. Ted Nelson

      Really good analysis of Timo, Mike. There’s the good and the bad at this point, but the good is really promising.

      So far you get a good feeling for why the Warriors gave up on AR, but also a good feeling for why the Knicks are high on him… him and Timo (and AJ Burnett…) are sort of in the same inconsistency but plenty of promise boat.

      re: the Turiaf discussion in #2-4… There’s a reason he’s a 20 mpg player, but he does have strengths as a passer and post defender. He also has a clear-cut position–and one where talent is pretty scarce. On the other hand Jeffries can’t really be counted on at any one position–defends the wing, but can’t score or handle the ball… too skinny to play inside–but plays on the wing where talent is available in abundance, so I wouldn’t really compare the 2. If Turiaf is the Knicks’ 5th best guy on the court for 20 mpg I’m not going to complain… they could also just cut him out of the rotation if Timo holds his own and use Amare/AR at the 5 and I probably wouldn’t complain either.

      nicos: once he gets the stupid fouls out of the way (which may take him a year but should get done eventually).

      He should improve, but I don’t think there’s any guarantee he ever becomes not foul-prone (?un-foul-prone?). Could happen, but could always hold him back a little.

      nicos: Finally, is too early to start the inevitable clamoring for TD over Felton?  

      Never too early for that… Pretty much started the day they signed Felton…

    6. ess-dog

      I’ve been one of his biggest critics so far, but I think Ray Felton is slowly coming around. His activity level was a little better this time and his shot looked a little better. He moves the ball around fairly well. I’m going to reserve judgment until we get to the regular season. He arrived at camp pretty late so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt – for now.
      Chandler looks pretty great so far but he needs to bring it the whole game and not fade in the 2nd half. That could be just a matter of getting into game condition after a summer not running. A good year from him would be great.
      I also want to cut Randolph some slack since he is the youngest Knick (younger than Fields and Rautins.) I agree that he needs to play a lot and work through mistakes on the floor. I really think that if D’Antoni can get away with playing Amare at center for half his minutes – sometimes going with a Felton/Chandler/Gallo/Amare/Timo lineup and sometimes with a Felton/Chandler/Gallo/AR/Amare lineup – we would be in pretty good shape. I think that along with TD and Fields that should be our primary 8 guys. I think either Rautins or Mason will be on the outside looking in. They both do similar things on the floor, but Rautins seems to be a better passer.

    7. DS

      @1 – “Anybody else wish D’Antoni had come back in with Stat for the final few minutes?”
      I thought about it and then I realized that in 2 weeks we’re going to care a lot about where in the rotation guys like Turiaf, Mason, and Fields fall, so it’s good that D’Antoni got an extra look at them. No one will still care about a pre-season loss The Lakers have lost to the T-Wolves and FC Barcelona so far this pre-season, so it’s fair to say no one should take the results seriously.

      @6 – I’d love for TD to start — his defense and shooting are clearly better than Felton’s but I don’t see MDA making that switch now or ever. TD he averaged 3.7 assists per 36 mins last year and I think that still suggests “combo guard” to D’Antoni.

      *I’d deal anyone except Amar’e for Luke Harangody.

    8. chrisk06811

      I just went to the kitchen to pour myself a cup of coffee and I think I got fouled by Tim Mozgov.

    9. Frank

      I saw LOTS of positives out there. Granted it is preseason so the energy level is not exactly playoff-level, but that WAS an NBA finals team that we played against last night, with Rondo, Allen, and Pierce basically playing the whole game.

      Defensive activity was FAR superior to what we’ve seen in the past. We forced 23 TOs, most of which came from Rondo/Allen/Pierce. Lots of defensive intimidation in the paint — even though Timo and Turiaf only blocked 2 shots between them, there were lots of shots changed and not taken due to their presence.

      I feel reasonably comfortable that we would have won that game going away if D’Antoni had really wanted to win it. Put Amare out there the last 5 minutes and the outcome is totally different. I love how STAT forces the action and gets to the line. 30 points on 13 shots is not bad at all.

    10. Z

      BigBlueAL: Turiaf looks like he has hands as bad as Jared Jeffries.lol  

      Guess who led the Rockets in minutes yesterday: 6-9 shooting, 8 boards…

    11. DS

      Guess who led the Rockets in minutes yesterday: 6-9 shooting, 8 boards…

      12 points in 36 mins. against the Nets. Let’s revive the Curry-for-Jeffries talks!!

    12. ess-dog

      DS: Guess who led the Rockets in minutes yesterday: 6-9 shooting, 8 boards…
      12 points in 36 mins. against the Nets. Let’s revive the Curry-for-Jeffries talks!!  

      I think we’d have a better chance of trading a duffel bag of unwashed socks for Jeffries at this point…

    13. DS

      @14 – Prob. right, but I was also being sarcastic about wanting Jeffries because he scored 12 pts. in 36 mins. in a pre-season game against the Nets… the Knicks should have a rubber room for Isiah-era holdouts like NYC has for bad teachers.

      On a more serious note – I think the best lineup that played best last night was the one that started the 3rd quarter; Felton, Fields, Gallo, Chandler, and Sta. It prob. had a lot to do w/ Lasme playing instead of KG, Shaq, or Perkins… but I like Amar’e at center, esp. if it bumps Azubuike, TD, even Fields or AR (if he can play under control) up in the rotation.

    14. Ted Nelson

      Sort of interesting that maybe the Celtics were trying to make a statement that this is still their division… Or maybe they just want to give guys extended run…

      ess-dog: his shot looked a little better

      3-11…

      ess-dog: I’m going to reserve judgment until we get to the regular season.

      I don’t really mind having Felton given that there were few other options and he’s on a short-term deal… but he’s been in the league 5 years already so I think he can be judged. We already know he’s not good, it’s just a matter of whether he’s at least a “good fit” for the Knicks. Not showing up to camp early when you’re expected to be somewhat of a leader and your big strength is greasing the wheels of the offense… not a great start.

      DS: I’d love for TD to start — his defense and shooting are clearly better than Felton’s but I don’t see MDA making that switch now or ever.

      Yeah, I pretty much agree. It would probably take a combination of Felton playing really awfully and TD playing really well… Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but I would like TD to eat into Felton’s minutes a bit and if necessary replace him. Felton is really durable, but an injury would also give TD a chance… maybe, either him, Mason, or Rautins…

    15. ess-dog

      “3-11″

      I just meant the ball looked better coming out of his hand – I read the box score.

      “Yeah, I pretty much agree. It would probably take a combination of Felton playing really awfully and TD playing really well… Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but I would like TD to eat into Felton’s minutes a bit and if necessary replace him. Felton is really durable, but an injury would also give TD a chance… maybe, either him, Mason, or Rautins… ”

      Felton is still a much better passer than TD – as of now. But TD might already be one of the best defensive point guards out there. He’s clearly better than Felton who acutally has a reputation as a defender.

      Not to harp on the Fernandez thing, but having Fernandez would allow TD to be out there as more of a shooter/defender and Fernandez would do much of the playmaking: sort of like a kobe/derek fisher thing.

      And obviously he’s too green for major minutes, but I like Rautins’ passing A LOT. If he can shoot at a good clip, he could be really useful down the line.

    16. Robert Silverman

      Yeah, I pretty much agree. It would probably take a combination of Felton playing really awfully and TD playing really well… Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, but I would like TD to eat into Felton’s minutes a bit and if necessary replace him. Felton is really durable, but an injury would also give TD a chance… maybe, either him, Mason, or Rautins…  

      Alas, considering how awful Duhon was last year and it took until Feb/March to get him out of the starting lineup, I can’t imagine how abominably Felton’d have to play in order to get yanked. He’d probably have to start blowing his nose w/the Italian flag.

    17. Robert Silverman

      One thing that’s gone un-commented upon is the play of Landry Fields. Maybe we’ve grown accustomed to it (oh, a pox on our jaded pitiless hearts!), but once again, when he’s on the floor, good things happen.

    18. Caleb

      I am getting a little nervous about Felton… I was ok with his signing, assuming that he would be a really strong defender. The rest we could live with. If he’s not making an impact on D, we’ve got problems. Unfortunately it’s getting to be a pattern.

      I am not too worried about AR, but he sure is getting a lot of rope from the coaching staff. Maybe they reel it in when the season starts for real. Otherwise it will be frustrating. Don’t get me wrong – I think he’ll do plenty on defense and the boards, to make us glad we have him. But he needs to play a lot smarter, be a lot more selective, to become the star we’re hoping for. Optimist: “He’s only 21, odds are in his favor.” Pessimist: “There are no guarantees.”

    19. latke

      Thought ya’ll might like this D’Antoni quote on Anthony Randolph: “He should be a stat magnet,” D’Antoni said. “He should go on the floor and have three blocks, five rebounds get to the line three times, have two dunks, come out and he’s only played five minutes. And you’ll say, ‘Whoa, look at that.’ He has to have so much energy that he’s changing the game.”

      from here: http://offthedribble.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/14/knicks-trying-to-figure-out-their-rotation/

      Note that nowhere in there does he mention three pointers, spinning fadeaways, or anything to that effect, so it seems like D’Antoni is going the more practical (IMO) route of trying to mold AR into a defensive player and finisher around the rim, rather than working to round out his game, which I think is wise. The number one thing in terms of improving is getting into games, and to get into games you have to have a positive net-impact on the game. Right now, that’s the best way for AR to do that.

    20. Ted Nelson

      Latke,

      I don’t think it necessarily follows from that quote that D’Antoni doesn’t want AR to round out his game, just that he wants him to emphasize his strengths.

      It is a matter of degree. The quote does suggest D’Antoni realizes where AR’s strengths are (and hopefully AR does too). The part about him not wanting AR to jerk around “rounding out his game” at the expense of the team… I agree 100%. But I think D’Antoni is exagerrating and doesn’t expect 22 blk/36, 36 reb/36, and between 50-80 pts/36. Hopefully D’Antoni gets AR to concentrate on his strengths-as he has with others in the past–but hopefully AR also proves that he’s not totally incompetent in other areas of the game. It’s a matter of degree. I don’t think D’Antoni envisions AR as his Ben Wallace.

    21. Z

      Is it standard for teams to play 4 games in 5 nights in the preseason? Seems unnecessarily tiring and inviting to injury. When you only play 7 games in one month, why not space them out a bit more?

    22. Frank O.

      @10
      HAHAHAHAHA!!!

      Felton worries me, too. His shot may have looked a little better, but that’s like saying bad is an improvement over abysmal.
      I like his passing. He penetrates and dishes well, but he will be far less effective doing that or running PnR if teams know he’s going to miss far more often than not.
      What bothers me is the Knicks made him a team captain…I mean, not a game played, barely into camp, and they make him a captain.
      Crap.

      On Mosgov, I hope he can control his fouls. He’s got something about him that makes me think he could be good.

    23. ess-dog

      Tumbleweeds over here.

      And Mike D.’s getting itchy with the lineups:

      http://www.nba.com/knicks/features/shootingguard_101015.html

      Should be interesting to see extended minutes for Walker/Mason/Fields not to mention Chandler at the 4 spot. Although I think Walker will sit out w/ injury.

      Also hearing rumblings of Amar’e starting the season at center. I can’t imagine this unless Randolph is at the pf for rebounding. I know he wants more shooting, but at the expense of interior D and rebounding?

      I think what’s also less written about is that coach D probably wants more of a ‘veteran presence’ in the starting lineup which is why he could be favoring Mason/Chandler over Fields/Walker/Randolph.

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