Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Raptors 100, Knicks 98

Magic.

When you have it in basketball, magic can make the fleeting sublime seems permanent and the ball borderline sentient – its path through the basket more a matter of gravity than chance. Magic turns mere men into agents, of a calling and cause at once closer to god and further from us.

But what happens when the magic runs out?

To which church do we turn when the cottage comes down?

In the bosom of what brothel wench does one bury his head when the switches and double-teams have singed his soul?

Towards what port does one steer a wayward ship, when its highest mast meets mayhem in a gale?

From which grain of grit are we to mold a defense capable of playing a full 24 seconds without bailing the other team out?

To where does one retreat when even an earnest effort on D includes Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay having at you like snacks they just grab from the cupboard at will before their parents come home?

Down the standings, for starters.

The ‘Ptors handed the Knicks a 100-98 loss on Robert Randolph, the team’s fourth straight and 14th in their last 28. Toronto, meanwhile, has won six of their last seven, proving once and for all that Andrea Bargnani secretly owns the team.

Carmelo Anthony and Rudy Gay scored 32 points each, shooting a combined 22-47 and exchanging a few big buckets down the stretch.

Unlike in the Indy Inquisition (it’s the best I could do), the Knicks started the game engaged and enraged, as Earl Monroe might have to start saying if Clyde never comes back – a sluggish first quarter was quickly covered up by a second rife with perimeter clampdowns and terminated possessions.

Unfortunately, the Knicks offense wasn’t much better, dependent as it was on timely spurts from J.R. Smith and that seems like the right place to end that sentence.

Despite connecting on 10 three-pointers – the Knicks were November-0 when hitting as many prior to tonight – New York’s offense never assumed a consistent flow, and many possessions ended accordingly, either in turnovers (16) or horrendous shots (thousands).

For Melo, a rough start from the field (1-5) became a brief photonegative of the torrid starts of yore, with his 17 first half points being the chief impetus for a 51-48 halftime lead. He cooled off quickly down the stretch, however, missing wide-left on the Knicks’ last-ditch attempt at a tie in the game’s closing seconds.

He even held the follow-through.

The game was close from tip to buzzer, with neither team enjoying a lead greater than 13 and both showing the ability to cover ground quickly in stretches throughout.

The Knick offense remains a shambolic shadow of its halcyon self, but by far the most disconcerting trend – more obvious than the Bubonic Plague at this point – is the #@$!%^USgVODaf GGA KLRJG:LSGJD ; SWITCHING!, which the Knicks once again wielded like a limp dick in a sword fight.

J.R. Smith’s relatively disaster-free night (19-4-4 on 12, mostly reasonable shots) proved a couple things: 1) J.R. Smith is still capable of playing good basketball, and; 2) Even if he went out last night, he probably forgot to exchange the currency ahead of time.

A Cossack-vicious throw down off a sweet Melo feed aside, Tyson Chandler might as well have had eggbeaters for hands for much of the game – at least on offense. For someone who routinely rises above some of the world’s most monstrously huge people to grab a rebound, Chandler has a tendency to treat offensive passes in traffic like balls of spent uranium covered in Vegemite.

But credit Tyson also for helping establish something resembling a defensive presence during the second quarter – by far the Bocker’s best effort on that end since…. I can’t count that low – while contributing a pair of vicious blocks (DECEASED: Gay, Valenciunas) that had the considerable Knicks contingent in attendance being generally obnoxious, I’m sure.

With the Nets falling at home to the ascendant Rockets (Jeremy Lin is better than Raymond Felton), the Knicks stood pat in the Atlantic and still hold a one-game lead over their cross-river rivals.

That, unfortunately, is bound to be the silver lining in what was yet another skull-crushingly brutal Bocker performance. That’s how low we’ve come.

Actually, this is how low we’ve come:

Screen Shot 2013-02-22 at 10.12.32 PM

Seriously. Someone consciously took the time to create a new Twitter account, just to tweet that. And a few hundred other no doubt awful things that disappeared – along with the account – after I asked him what he’d do if someone I knew had IP tracking software.

Why?

Because we’re not allowed to criticize Raymond Felton?

Because we think that giving up open three pointers is something that happens when you double team off of bad switches?

Because when Kurt Thomas asks you during a presser (or a funeral – doesn’t really matter which as long as you shut up and listen) how you’re tweaking the starting lineup, and then you don’t tweak the starting lineup, we worry what’s going on in the clubhouse? Because Kurt Thomas deserves answers?

Because some of us think there’s such a thing as lazy chemistry?

Because that person is an asshole. Plus maybe some of those other things.

This much is clear: The Knicks have been found out. The offensive poise and patience that marked the season’s start, and the wins that woke in tow, have fallen by many a wayside. Fatigue, distrust, confusion – there’s likely a dash of each in this crap casserole, and a great many more unnamed.

Whether Woodson can rein it in, who #@$&!%& knows. There’s certainly something to be said for having the ears – and the respect – of dudes with millions on the line. If nothing else, Woodson has that with these mysterious, mercurial Knickerbockers.

But that’s a far cry from having a plan – a plan to salve, if not solve, the switching issue. A plan for Iman Shumpert and Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin for crying out loud. Something to juice the nerves and spark the offense. A move to shame us as well as shake us. A real game-changer….

…Oh, right, almost forgot: Amar’e Stoudemire had 16 points on 10 shots with six rebounds in 27 minutes. Forgot about that….

Sorry, which panic level were we on?

22 comments on “Raptors 100, Knicks 98

  1. Robtachi

    Grab the nearest flotation device (whether that be the hot air-filled cranium what sits atop Jim Dolan’s head or perhaps Ray Felton’s extra buoyant neck fat), this ship be sinkin’.

  2. Z-man

    I’m not panicking over any road loss. The upcoming home games will be more telling.

    Woodson looks like he wants to punch some guys in the mouth. He’s being stubborn about the starting lineup and rotations, though. I think Amare has to start, but he should be yanked quickly for defensive lapses, like that inbounds play. Mybe even start Smith. Really, when was the last time we dominated a first quarter?

  3. er

    This may sound crazy but I have a weird feeling history will repeat and we will have a torrid march and April like last year. A guy can have hopes right??

  4. jon abbey

    er:
    This may sound crazy but I have a weird feeling history will repeat and we will have a torrid march and April like last year. A guy can have hopes right??

    I see history repeating also, a first round exit again. :(

  5. maxwell_3g

    the switching has infuriated me at this point. i yell at the tv. chandler is repeatedly stuck guarding point guards on the perimeter. its like team are actively using it against us strategically, just to set up the most absurd matchup (this usually involves novak when he is in the game). my angst comes from not only the obvious strategic issues, but the effect that is seems to have on our defenders individuals. there is not accountability. i have no doubt that shump can still stick his man like few others. i think jr can still d up. i dont think felton is as bad as he shows. i think chadler can still prtect the rim in a situation where there is reasonable resistance put up on the perimeter. but when there is constant switching, there is no feeling of “this is MY MAN and I aint letting HIM SCORE”. its all fluid with zero individual accountability. clearly, our individuals are not buying into the team accountability idea, so we need to get back to basic defnense, 4 guys with the mindset that “My MAN aint going to score” and Tyson roaming around to cover up any individual lapses the best that he can

  6. d-mar

    This board really can be annoyingly predictable. Knicks go into a slump, certain posters magically re-appear (referring to last thread) and start rehashing the Melo trade, the Nuggets glittering future, blah blah. I don’t mind healthy debates about players, teams, etc., but you’ve gotta be consistent. You can’t just disappear when the Knicks are 18-5 and then come crawling out of the woodwork when things go south.

    Just one man’s opinion.

  7. maxwell_3g

    d-mar:
    This board really can be annoyingly predictable. Knicks go into a slump, certain posters magically re-appear (referring to last thread) and start rehashing the Melo trade, the Nuggets glittering future, blah blah. I don’t mind healthy debates about players, teams, etc., but you’ve gotta be consistent. You can’t just disappear when the Knicks are 18-5 and then come crawling out of the woodwork when things go south.

    Just one man’s opinion.

    why would people need to be consistent? you learn through experience and by witnessing things play out. i would hope that fans would observe what is happening and process that data to challenge their previous beliefs. I for one, was 100% against the stat signing and the melo trade. i have never wavered about the stat signing. earlier this year, when melo seemed to be establishing himself as a leader and better all around player, i began to feel that maybe I was wrong about the nuggets trade. maybe melo was really a top 8 player. maybe the good players the nuggets got, 2 of which were approaching the end of their rookie deals, wasnt that big a haul, i thought. now, with the benefit of seeing things play out, im not sure what melo is and if a team ever really contends with him as the leader. i see our lack of young talent. i see gallo as improving everyday. and now Im not at all sure what was smart and what wasnt, but i am not close minded and stuck in my beliefs just because they were my beliefs. maybe if more fans (and our management) acknowledged evidence as it mounts instead of clinging onto previous beliefs in the name of “consistency”, we wouldnt “consistently” repeat past mistakes as a franchise

  8. jon abbey

    what fans want doesn’t matter in terms of personnel moves. fans wanted Lin to be kept, overwhelmingly. how did that work out?

  9. Z-man

    When Chandler was signed, there was all this talk about the MTA front line, how we had the biggest, most imposing front line in the league. That seems like a long time ago, no?

    I don’t understand why Woody doesn’t go back to that lineup. First, we are already losing, so there is nothing to lose. Second, we are getting hammered in first quarters game after game. Third, when any 2 of Wallace, Camby or Martin are available, they would fit in nicely on the bench, so why not get prepared for that now.

    It no longer seems like there is, or should be, a minutes limit on Amare. He needs to start and to get an opportunity to succeed in that role, or to fail. I would also start JR Smith. He could play 40 minutes a night and he is capable of being an all-star on both ends. At least try it. Let’s see if we can actually build a lead with our supposed best players on the floor: Tyson, Amare, Melo, JR and Felton. Kidd has lost confidence in his shot and is not athletic enough to keep opposing guards from getting off quickly. Shump is just not ready yet.

    Then, bring guys off the bench systematically. Bring Shump in for JR, then bring JR back in at SF and Kidd for Amare, then Amare back in for Chandler and Cope for Melo, Then Melo back in for whoever needs a breather or is in foul trouble, and Prigs for Felton, etc. It just seems that we are playing to the other team’s strengths all the time, especially at the start of games. Novak should only be used in situations where his defense is not a huge liability. He might be the worst defender in the NBA.

    Amare needs to start. You simply can’t justify starting Shump and Kidd right now. If anything, at least start Copeland.

  10. Douglas

    maxwell_3g: the switching has infuriated me at this point. i yell at the tv.

    I, too, yell at my TV. Individual effort on defense is wasted when the opposing team knows they can keep screening to get the offensive matchup they want. I saw Gay shoot over Felton and Chandler on the perimeter against Lowry and DeRozan too many times.

    One thing I noticed was that in the 4th quarter after Chandler picked up his 5th foul and went to the bench, guards STOPPED SWITCHING (or didn’t switch as much,) actually going over screens. The Knicks put the screws on their defense, made some shots, and pulled to within 2. Then… well, you know the rest.

  11. chrisk06811

    As an everyday reader for years, and on and off poster, my feeling is not panic, but concern. As Cavan says “In the bosom of what brothel wench does one bury his head when the switches and double-teams have singed his soul?” Well, I am mind-deep in those titties right now and I have a few basic and obvious thoughts.

    1. Love Kidd, but he’s our 2 guard. He CANNOT pass up wide open, 4q 3 pointers. Name me another 2 guard worth any playing time in the league who does this.
    2. The next guy who talks back to the refs should lose his cable. All it does is show our frustration, which is a huge sign of weakness. How about getting back on D?
    3. By the way….Melo…..start playing D again. We have a coach who will actually stand up to his stars. He needs to do that.
    4. Shumpie is lost. Brewer was playing like shit, but trading him was wrong, unless he’s just a giant douche in practice or something like that. We are forced to let Shump play thru it, and God forbid a guard gets hurt….It’s James White time? he sucked last weekend with nobody guarding him.
    5. What has happened to the pic and roll?
    6. When Martin is ready, whose minutes does he take? I think it has to be Novak….not sure who else on the 2nd unit could sit to make room for him
    7. Why not start Novak at the 3? let Shump come off the bench until he’s right.
    8. Don’t panic!! One game at a time. We are going to make the playoffs. Seeding is relevant, but playing well together when it counts is more important.
    9. Back to Shump….if the knee is healthy? what else has changed? That’s right. The fro has got to go. that thing has to be A LOT of work; he probably has to sleep standing up so it doesn’t cave in or simply smoosh. It has to go.

  12. d-mar

    My question about all the switching (which drives me as crazy as everyone else) is whether it’s based on a directive from Woodson, or is it just players being too lazy to try and get around screens?

    It’s sickening to think of opposing coaches during their pregame telling their players: “Look, the Knicks switch on every screen, so we’re going to set screens early in possessions and set up a mismatch between our best scorer and their PG or center” And then they go and do it.

    There has to be a better way.

  13. GHenman

    I believe the switching is due to laziness by the players. I’ve seen Woody complain about it during interviews.

  14. flossy

    @12

    I think, or at least hope, Woody is waiting to have one of the old farts back before tinkering with the starting line-up. But I absolutely, 100% agree that the best way to disguise the fact that your guard play is atrocious is to play big (to our strength, as it happens) and limit the minutes of the smaller players who are unproductive.

    I’d be fine with Felton and JR starting and getting 36 mins at the 1 and 2, Melo getting all 36 of his minutes at the 3, Amar’e playing 30 minutes at the 4, and Tyson playing 36 minutes at the 5.

    That leaves 12 minutes at each guard spot to give to Kidd/Prigs and Shump, respectively, and 12, 18 and 12 minutes at each frontcourt spot to be absorbed by the committee of Novak, K-Mart, Camby and Wallace, depending on match-ups and health.

    If we only have one of the old farts available you can always give Kidd, Prigs or Shumpert a few more minutes and bump JR and Melo up once spot for a few minutes every game, but that should be the exception, not the rule, and some things should just never happen.

    Novak at the 4? Never again.
    Jason Kidd playing 36 minutes? Never again.
    Amar’e on the court with no other defensive anchor (i.e. with Melo or Novak at the 4?) Never again.

    As long as Woodson is convinced there is something magical about Melo at the 4 and Amar’e off the bench for 20 mpg (as if they hadn’t combined to make 11 all-star teams starting at the 3 and 4 respectively), we’re going to have problems.

    I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt right now because there are no big men healthy on the bench, but once K-Mart is here things gotta change. K-Mart is an asshole, but if he can recapture his form from the last non-lockout season, and give us 20 mpg, 12 and 8 per 36 with good defense and only mediocre (rather than terrible) offense, that would be HUGE.

  15. flossy

    d-mar:
    My question about all the switching (which drives me as crazy as everyone else) is whether it’s based on a directive from Woodson, or is it just players being too lazy to try and get around screens?

    It’s sickening to think of opposing coaches during their pregame telling their players: “Look, the Knicks switch on every screen, so we’re going to set screens early in possessions and set up a mismatch between our best scorer and their PG or center” And then they go and do it.

    There has to be a better way.

    Nope, the switching is his thing. His Hawks teams used to switch ALL the time. The difference is that practically everyone on those teams was a capable defender between 6’8″ and 6″11. You didn’t get much of a mismatch when Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford etc. were switching on each other’s man.

  16. maxwell_3g

    d-mar:
    My question about all the switching (which drives me as crazy as everyone else) is whether it’s based on a directive from Woodson, or is it just players being too lazy to try and get around screens?

    It’s sickening to think of opposing coaches during their pregame telling their players: “Look, the Knicks switch on every screen, so we’re going to set screens early in possessions and set up a mismatch between our best scorer and their PG or center” And then they go and do it.

    There has to be a better way.

    agree 1000%. at this point it has to be woody’s design, because if it wasnt, a) not all of the players would do it, and b) woody would have benched people for doing it by now. the question is…why??????

  17. maxwell_3g

    one playing time issue that I have….i may be in the monoirty, but why is Novak playing over copeland?
    1) novak is abetter 3 point shooter, i concede, but not with people draped all over him
    2) copeland has more diversity in his offense, allowing him to be open for 3 more often
    3) copeland has at least shown some ability to create his own shot…novak has none
    4) neither of them hit the boards
    5) copeland is no defensive stopper, but he is not as completely awful on defnse as novak, who opposing teams actually hunt out and go after

  18. KenB

    If you watch the mike woodson show during the video room accounts, he very often refers to the switching issue. He wants guys fighting through screens.
    Bur who knows what is actually said to the players

  19. Z-man

    maxwell_3g:
    one playing time issue that I have….i may be in the monoirty, but why is Novak playing over copeland?
    1)novak is abetter 3 point shooter, i concede, but not with people draped all over him
    2)copeland has more diversity in his offense, allowing him to be open for 3 more often
    3)copeland has at least shown some ability to create his own shot…novak has none
    4)neither of them hit the boards
    5)copeland is no defensive stopper, but he is not as completely awful on defnse as novak, who opposing teams actually hunt out and go after

    Agreed. Ig Novak doesn’t hit at least 3 three’s , he is a net negative, and usually a big one, almost every time out there.

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