Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Raptors Meh, Knicks BLECHHHH. Plus/Minus Talk, Though!

Toronto Raptors 92 FinalRecap | Box Score 88 New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, SF 41 MIN | 5-24 FG | 1-4 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 12 PTS | +5|BOOOOOOO!

Oddly enough, the Knicks actually — sorry you know what, hang on a minute.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

OK that’s better. Oddly enough, despite how awful Melo was in this game, the Knicks lost this game in the 11 possessions that saw Melo on the pine, possessions in which — as was pointed out by beat writer extraordinaire Chris Herring — the Knicks got absolutely lit. UP.

This provides us with an excellent opportunity to ignore the totality of Melo’s performance this evening — and really the whole game because, and I ask this with nothing but sincerity: WHY? — and conduct a case study on the merits and shortcomings of the +/- statistic in the NBA! Aren’t we LUCKY?

Indeed, it is tempting to write off Melo’s hideous 5/24 shooting performance, his assortment of blown finishes and not-even-close foul shots, his headstrong chuckery even as a couple of his teammates (Shouts to JR and Felton) improbably began to heat up. Tempting to write those things off and point to the +5 in his stat line and conclude that he provided the “intangibles” necessary to give the Knicks an “edge” (or some other similarly half-hearted excuse) and that they only failed when they were without him. BECAUSE they were without him.

This would, of course, be bullcrap.

Herring’s tidbit starts to tell the story — what killed the Knicks in the 9 possessions when Melo sat was their defense. Was Melo’s absence the reason for their defensive failings? Well, Melo was completely unable to contain Alan Anderson (!) tonight, had little to do with Rudy Gay’s 4-for-21 (props for that, somehow, go largely to Raymond Felton), and can point to only his 10 defensive rebounds as evidence of any contribution on that side of the ball.

So, although it’s obviously dangerous to put too fine a point on a any conclusions relating to a parallel universe where Melo played the 7 minutes that he did not actually play, we can probably infer that he would have been unlikely to have a significant positive impact on the Knicks’ defense on those 11 fateful possessions UNLESS second-chance points were a significant element of the Raptors’ offensive success therein.

Let’s go to the play-by-play or, as I like to call it, “The 11 Possessions You Meet in Hell”:

Possession 1: (Q2 11:36 Rudy Gay makes 1-foot dunk (Alan Anderson assists))
Possession 2: (Q2 10:47 John Lucas makes three point jumper (Rudy Gay assists))
Possession 3: (Q2 10:22 Rudy Gay makes two point shot)
Possession 4: (Q2 9:52 Alan Anderson makes driving dunk)
Possession 5: (Q2 9:18 Rudy Gay makes 6-foot two point shot)
Possession 6: (Q2 8:51 Alan Anderson misses layup)
Possession 7: (Q2 8:27 Rudy Gay misses 22-foot jumper)
Possession 8: (Q3 2:31 Rudy Gay misses 4-foot jumper, Amir Johnson offensive rebound, John Lucas makes three point jumper (Alan Anderson assists))
Possession 9: (Q3 1:49 Alan Anderson makes 25-foot three point jumper (DeMar DeRozan assists)
Possession 10: (Q3 1:15 Amir Johnson makes layup (Alan Anderson assists))
Possession 11: (Q3 0:12 Jason Kidd shooting foul (DeMar DeRozan draws the foul)
DeMar DeRozan makes free throw 1 of 2, DeMar DeRozan makes free throw 2 of 2)

First of all: Eesh. Tally it all up and that’s 21 points on 11 possessions (D-Efficiency of 190!), an absolutely stunning number under any circumstances but especially so given that the Raptors scored just 71 points in 87 possessions when Carmelo was on the court (D-Efficiency of 81.6 which, of course, would be historically great if sustained over even a few weeks).

So there’s our answer! Defense with Melo: great, Defense without Melo: terrible. Nice and clean. Except, wait, let’s look at how Toronto got those 21 points:

- 9 came on 3-pointers — two by Lucas and one by Anderson. Unlikely Melo would have done anything about Lucas’ and given how Anderson shot when Melo WAS guarding him, it’s unlikely he would have done much about that one either. Maybe he would’ve prevented Johnson’s offensive rebound but this was the only 2nd chance bucket Toronto had with Melo out.

- 2 came on free throws by DeRozan off of a Kidd foul. No reason to think Melo changes this.

- The remaining 10 came inside 12 feet. This last point is key because there’s one other thing about Toronto’s 11 offensive possessions without Melo on the court. Ready for it? Have you already guessed it?

Tyson Chandler was also on the bench for all 11 of those possessions. Amar’e Stoudemire was playing center on ALL 11 of those possessions. And Toronto had 5 makes from close range and a three off of a second chance opportunity.

I have generally been a supporter of using some Amare-at-the-5 lineups; frankly I don’t see another choice given the current complement of Knick injuries and the Prigs/Shump/STAT/shooters look has been mostly excellent on the offensive end. But tonight, the Knicks got burned for 11 possessions with Amar’e playing center and those burns proved fatal (and his 4/13 shooting performance did nothing to offset the disaster at the defensive end).

If Carmelo had been on the court for most or all of those possessions, the Knicks wouldn’t have won the game; Carmelo would simply have had a negative +/-.

Tyson Chandler, C 34 MIN | 4-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +6|Anchored a very good defensive effort tonight. See Melo’s section: aside from 11 stray possessions when Tyson was on the bench, their defense was superhuman. Had some nice finishes as well, one reverse alley-oop finish off a ball screen in the second quarter stands out in particular.
Jason Kidd, PG 32 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +6|In. Visible.
Raymond Felton, PG 41 MIN | 3-9 FG | 10-12 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTS | +3|Ray’s been taking a beating on the defensive end lately and that beating has carried over into the world of Knicks’ social media. Woodson has insisted upon using him on quick point guards and they’ve torched him on the reg. Tonight he mostly guarded Rudy Gay, which sounds crazy. Gay went 4-for-21. Crazy like a fox? Or lucky like a duck? Or crazy like a bulldog? Or lucky like a Penguin? WOOF WOOF WADDLE WADDLE QUACK QUACK…FOX NOISE.Despite the team’s overall output, Ray ran the offense pretty gamely also. I think the Knicks’ shot selection tonight was better than it’s been in most of their games since the calendar turned.  They just couldn’t hit anything. Not the point guard’s fault  (except for his own 3/9 mark but even that was basically washed out by his 10/12 from the stripe). A nice performance on a crappy night.
Iman Shumpert, PG 21 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -10|Hit the boards.  Defense was fine I guess, mostly had him chasing shooters off the ball again which is never my favorite.  Invisible on offense.
Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 18 MIN | 4-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -13|The worst Knick tonight by a decent margin. As bad as Melo on offense and worse — and more critically so — on defense.

He’s been great the past month. He was terrible tonight.

Steve Novak, SF 12 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +2|Is it me or do we get him more shots on nights when he doesn’t have it than on night’s when he does? 9 points and 4 boards on 4 shots in 12 minutes which is awesome but on a night when we couldn’t buy a bucket by conventional measures why only 12 minutes? Why only 4 shots? Could’ve stood to give him a few of Carmelo’s FORTY-FRIGGING-ONE minutes, that’s for sure.
Pablo Prigioni, PG 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -7|Not much to go on tonight so I will just restate my disappointment that he won’t be in the Rookie/Sophomore Game where he could have a chance to psyche out one of his teenage opponents by telling him that he hooked up with his mom when she was on Spring Break in Buenos Aires in the late 80′s. The world is poorer.
J.R. Smith, SG 34 MIN | 8-17 FG | 5-8 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 26 PTS | -12|In the land of the low-percentage offense, the one-eyed Earl is King. Was so, so sure he was gonna get hot down the stretch and win us this one. Proved to be right on one of two counts, I suppose. I hate to say that anyone other than Melo should have been our first option in the dying minutes but he really didn’t have it at all tonight. Would’ve liked to see JR have a go.
James White, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS || THREE DAYS TIL THE SLAM DUNK CONTEST!!!!
Mike Woodson |A pretty good grade for the potato man tonight. The offense created decent looks; Woody can’t make the shots. The defensive match-ups and schemes worked nicely; it ain’t Woody’s fault that we didn’t sign a back-up center under the age of 38. His team held the opposition to 42.5% shooting, turned it over only 11 times, had 20 (TWENTY!!!) offensive rebounds. Defense, discipline, effort — these were not the issues. Can’t pin this one on the coach. My one gripe was that we didn’t see more Novak on a night when he seemed to have it and the other forwards didn’t.

Five Things We Saw

  1. An abomination of a game before the eyes of our Benevolent Maker. Or, for the less religiously inclined, before the eyes of Bernard King which is really almost as bad.
  2. I mean what can you say? They really didn’t play THAT badly they just missed a TON of easy shots. I get that this isn’t a game that you can lose and feel good about yourself but this is not the kind of performance that we need to worry about in the long run. The things that went wrong tonight were weird and flukey. Deciding that tonight says anything damning about the team is tantamount to saying that a night where they hit 60% of their threes is proof that they’ll cruise to the Finals (and, yes, I know those people are out there).
  3. The timing here does kind of stink though. The Clipper loss was demoralizing enough but at least that happened against a contender. This happened against a lifeless Raps group that wasn’t even defending well and it happened on a day that sets us up for a week of “Are the Knicks Fading?!?!” stories which, while not entirely unreasonable in concept, will surely have all the incisive, analytical, measured gravitas of a frat boy getting kicked out of a bar at Mardi Gras.
  4. So this is the All-Star Break and we’re 32-18 after an 18-5 start. The glass-half-fullers among us will focus on the first two thirds of that sentence and the glass-half-emptiers on the last third. I think the biggest thing to take from the ups and downs of the Knicks season thus far is that they need their depth to be special. The sword hanging over this team since training camp has been its age and propensity for injuries and when they’re unable to field a complete wing rotation or a legitimate backup center, mistakes get made.  Worse, injuries and inconsistency mean that those able-bodied players that CAN be trusted get run into the ground, which leads to more injuries, which resets the cycle. This is a good basketball team and it should be applauded for playing passably throughout the season despite being forced into a number of different iterations. But it’s going to need its full complement of weapons — and it’s going to need those weapons back in time to get the rotation just right — if it’s going any deeper than the second round of the playoffs.
  5. Put me down for 51 wins and a First Round victory as I sit here tonight. I want to see the matchup and who’s healthy before I go any deeper than that.And with that, we can put the non-mathematical “First Half” of the season in the books, call it a success with some notable asterisks, and look forward to the most compelling homestretch in more than a decade.
  6. Don’t miss it.

45 comments on “Raptors Meh, Knicks BLECHHHH. Plus/Minus Talk, Though!

  1. jon abbey

    didn’t look at the game thread yet, but Kidd is killing us on offense. Melo and Amar’e missed a billion shots each, but it’s that much harder going 4 on 5 every time down the floor because Kidd poses absolutely no threat of any kind.

  2. TelegraphedPass

    Hey guys! I literally haven’t seen y’all since 2011. Is everything pretty similar? Do ruru and THCJ still go at it?

    Tonight’s game was poopy.

  3. DRed

    The good news is it looks like Melo is leaning towards sitting out the all star game because he’s got a bruised arm. We need Tyson to think up an excuse as well.

  4. BigBlueAL

    The Knicks had far more injuries earlier in the season than they have had lately. The only players who have been missing recently are Sheed/Camby who while are pretty important and can certainly make a big difference down the stretch and especially in the playoffs arent exactly guys who the Knicks should miss that badly especially since Amare has been back for over a month.

    All of the perimeter players have been relatively healthy and playing lately which to me is the biggest concern. Most of them are playing and especially shooting horribly. All this continued talk about adding another big man is not necessary since hopefully either Sheed or Camby (hopefully both) return soon, what this team desperately needs is another SG/SF who can actually put the ball in the basket. Maybe a decent backup PG too. Or Kidd could remember how to shoot and drive to the hoop again which would solve alot of problems.

    First game after the break is at Indiana, thats gonna be a very interesting game.

  5. nicos

    While I fully agree with Amar’e getting an F, he’s really not the guy to blame for the second unit defense (or certainly not the only guy). Attacking them is easy- get Amar’e away from the basket, wait for Kidd or JR to get caught ball-watching and attack the paint. Novak will arrive two steps late and then cringe and turn his back as he gets dunked on. It’d be nice if Amar’e was KG and could blow up the pnr AND get back to protect the paint but he isn’t and neither are most of the other bigs in the league- he’s at least making an effort to string the guard out but there is zero and I mean ZERO rotation behind him. Playing Amar’e with three slow-footed guys like Kidd, Prigs, and Novak without a second shot blocker on the floor is just insane and really has me questioning what the heck Woodson is thinking.

  6. Donnie Walsh

    Carmelo Anthony goes 4-25 and not a single mention of Landry Fields in the explanation?! Don’t tell me Knickerblogger is now in the pocket of Dolan/CAA.

    Fields never got enough credit for his defense in NY. He gave Kobe fits as a Knick. Now this. Correlation = Causation?

  7. Kevin McElroy Post author

    Fields did a nice job on him but Melo was 3/12 on layups and 1/4 from the line. That part was mostly Melo-fail with some helps from a weird night from the refs.

  8. ruruland

    Landry did a nice job on Melo, but Melo missed a ton of point blank looks, he played an awful offensive game, no two ways around it, even if he was generating some good shots. So for all the supposed Knicks fans cheering on former players even when the play the Knicks, must’ve been a blast.

    Not to spoil the party of the predictably chipper Owen and Jowles, but the Knicks played a very solid defensive game tonight. If you only compared the teams shot opportunities, the Knicks definitely outplayed Toronto.

    Toronto relied mostly on contested off dribble jump shots, particularly down the stretch, while the Knicks missed good shots.

    Believed it or not, Woody and the guys will watch this film and be quite pleased.

    And yes, Kevin, Melo had something to do with some of the Raptors struggles, at least 5 outstanding on-ball defensive sequences throughout the game. When he isn’t in screen situations, when he wants ( and it’s definitely not enough) he can defend as well as any perimeter wing in the league outside of the top 4-5 guys.

    If the Knicks decide they want to defend the rest of the season like they did tonight, they’ll go on a big run. If they want a deep playoff run, they’ll do it.

  9. ruruland

    Donnie Walsh:
    Haha, supposed Knick fans. You gonna stick around after Melo’s contract expired,

    Yeah, I think I have an emotional attachment to the Knicks outside of one player. I’ll always be a Nuggets fan. My question for you and your ilk, why can’t you just admit you dont like this team instead of pretending you do?

  10. Donnie Walsh

    I don’t like this team. It was fools gold to start the season. A decent team in a horrible conference masquerading as a “title contender”. Call me Kevin’s half-empty kind of “fan” if you must, but fact is, meet the new Knicks, same as the old Knicks.

    As a Nuggets fan, are you rooting for them or against them this year? If they do well, it makes Carmelo Anthony bad. You still post a dozen times a day on Nuggets blogs?

  11. ruruland

    No, I dont. And the Nuggets doing well doesn’t have much at all to do with making Melo look bad, though I know there are many who wish that was the case.

    There isn’t a single player remaining from Melos time there. And there isn’t a person who believes that Chandler and Gallo, Melo combined salary approximates, are producing near Melos value.

    It’s not like the Rockets, who are right now on pace to have a better year without Harden, when we all understand Harden is an excellent basketball player, but Martin at least as good of a fit with much less value.

    There’s simply no way Gallo could do what Melo does here, and what the Knicks rely on Melo to do. Houston didn’t need another playmaker, a great off ball guy like Martin works just as well.

    But hey, at least you can admit it and unlike Owen and Jowles, but don’t expect any sympathy when the Knicks advance and you have a sudden change of heart.

  12. slovene knick

    Woodson has got to go 12 deep…Cope, White, Thomas, Brewer…give them 10 mins each, work them in somehow. Bring Melo down to 36, Tyson 30, Kidd 23, Amar’e 25, Shump 25,Felton 35, Jr 30,Novak 15….

    Geriatric environment calls for suitable mesures.
    Health is No1 priority.
    Top seed is not a priority.

    I think this team if healthy(and properly conditioned) can beat the Heat and any beast that comes from the west.

  13. BigBlueAL

    Donnie Walsh:
    I don’t like this team. It was fools gold to start the season. A decent team in a horrible conference masquerading as a “title contender”. Call me Kevin’s half-empty kind of “fan” if you must, but fact is, meet the new Knicks, same as the old Knicks.

    This is the type of thinking I dont get. I have no problem with thinking this is not a great team and that their start was more a fluke than what they truly are. Thats fair to think especially right now. But to not like this team and call them the same old Knicks?? Same as which old Knicks?? Certainly not any team we have watched since 2000.

    Lets face it the summer of 2010 is over and they didnt get LeBron, that was the only way possible the Knicks were going to become an instant title contender. But 2 and a half years later as flawed as they are right now they are at the All-Star break with the 2nd best record in the East behind only LeBron’s Heat. What more can you realistically ask for??

  14. Brian Cronin

    I don’t like the roller coaster reactions when the Knicks win or lose. When they win, it’s all “they’re the greatest!” and when they lose, it is “they’re the worst!”

    Come on, folks, there’s a middle ground here. And when that middle ground is “second best record in the Eastern Conference at the All-Star Break,” then that’s some pretty good middle ground.

    That said, I admit that I am kind of shocked by that whole 14-13 in the last 27 games thing. I had no idea their record was so relatively poor recently. I know they had some tough stretches, but I didn’t know it was that bad.

  15. Brian Cronin

    Man, the second half schedule is pretty rough.

    I love that they close at home against the Hawks, though. The Knicks own the Hawks. I also like that they get the Raptors three more times. Avenge this loss with three blowouts, please!

  16. patrick

    sorry i don’t see how on earth you can give novak an a- and stat an f. its like you didn’t watch that spell – almost all the points were scored on novak. it was hideous. they just took it at him every time and they scored with so much ease. an a- is insane.

  17. iserp

    Brian Cronin: I don’t like the roller coaster reactions when the Knicks win or lose. When they win, it’s all “they’re the greatest!” and when they lose, it is “they’re the worst!”

    Yes… although i think we can be a little concerned now. (Still 2nd in the east, but now i feel we are more close in to the field than to Miami)

    BTW, we turned from having one of the greatest 2nd units on the NBA to be outscored routinely when we have our bench players on the field. Definitely, our frontcourt with the 2nd unit sucks. Hopefully we will be better by the playoffs when Sheed or Camby returns. In the meantime, i think we could use a little more of Kurt Thomas… only not to give so much size advantage with our 2nd unit. Perhaps Shump is the odd man out… i like JR and Prigioni’s D, we don’t need another perimeter defender. And Novak can be hidden on defense if he isn’t in such an small lineup (where he is forced to stick to his counterpart).

  18. Nick C.

    ruruland: Landry did a nice job on Melo, but Melo missed a ton of point blank looks, he played an awful offensive game, no two ways around it, even if he was generating some good shots. So for all the supposed Knicks fans cheering on former players even when the play the Knicks, must’ve been a blast. Not to spoil the party of the predictably chipper Owen and Jowles, but the Knicks played a very solid defensive game tonight. If you only compared the teams shot opportunities, the Knicks definitely outplayed Toronto. Toronto relied mostly on contested off dribble jump shots, particularly down the stretch, while the Knicks missed good shots. Believed it or not, Woody and the guys will watch this film and be quite pleased. And yes, Kevin, Melo had something to do with some of the Raptors struggles, at least 5 outstanding on-ball defensive sequences throughout the game. When he isn’t in screen situations, when he wants ( and it’s definitely not enough) he can defend as well as any perimeter wing in the league outside of the top 4-5 guys. If the Knicks decide they want to defend the rest of the season like they did tonight, they’ll go on a big run. If they want a deep playoff run, they’ll do it.

    This is pretty much your take after every loss…the other team made a bunch of contested shots and the Knicks missed open ones…it sounds like Isaiah’s press conferences. If that’s all there is then why bother having coaches or plays if it all just comes down to which team is hot (lucky).

  19. Nick C.

    I think we are seeing the downside of the old team. Sheed was picked up off the scrap heap after sitting out a year and looking like a husk the year before. Campy is perpetually injured. Kidd is a great ball mover when Brewer is hitting the corner three for those first weeks not a shot clock violation hot potato force by Melo/JR waiting to happen. I would hope that Amare can and will be the focal point offensively on the second unit. If he can’t then really WTF. Melo is gassed, Tyson would be if he didn’t “pace” himself and Felton will be soon. Apparently D’Antoni is not unique in this regard. But every team behind the Knicks probably has more things about them that are baffling to their fans we (I) just don’t see them enough to notice.

  20. Brian Cronin

    Yes… although i think we can be a little concerned now. (Still 2nd in the east, but now i feel we are more close in to the field than to Miami)

    They were never really all that far ahead of the field. Yes, they’re now closer to the #3 seed than they are the #1 seed, but in general, this is where they’ve been for awhile now. Just a little bit ahead of the #3-5 teams. Better to be in that position, though, than be in, say, Brooklyn’s position and having to catch the team ahead of you.

  21. Hubert Davis

    Man, that’s 6-4 on a 10 game stretch where we needed to go 9-1 to buttress our record against the tough month ahead. The 5-0 homestand and the blowouts against Detroit and Sacramento don’t paper over the terrible losses to Philadelphia, Washington, and last night. We had three “worst losses of the season” in one 10 game stretch.

    I’m shifting gears and expectations. This team reminds me of the 92 team (Riley’s first) that blew the Atlantic to Boston in the second half but recovered in the postseason to beat Detroit and give Jordan’s Bulls the toughest series of his career.

    I think that’s where we’re headed. A 4/5 series with Boston or Brooklyn, followed by (hopefully) a 7 game war against the Heat before bowing out. That’s not so bad.

    I can’t believe people want to sacrifice Shump to make this team marginally better in the short term.

  22. mcliff05

    It was impossible not to notice the horrible defensive unit that was out there in the 2nd. Prigs and JR are gamblers so they need a strong frontcourt to bail them out on help defense and Novak and Amare are anything but intimidators down low. Until Sheed and/or Camby come back (sounds like its not to far off) you have to have 2 of Melo/Amare/Chandler on the floor at all times.

    Whats being lost here is how poorly we played offensively too. Melo is allowed to have an off shooting night. But that lineup of Prigs/JR/Kidd/Novak/Amare is offesively challenged. How many times did JR go one on one last night? Novak cant get open unless his defender helps. Prigs and Kidd cant hit a shot unless its a full moon. And when Amare isnt finishing those post-ups, he looks old. My advice to Woodson is never play that lineup ever again!

  23. thenamestsam

    BigBlueAL: This is the type of thinking I dont get.I have no problem with thinking this is not a great team and that their start was more a fluke than what they truly are.Thats fair to think especially right now.But to not like this team and call them the same old Knicks??Same as which old Knicks??Certainly not any team we have watched since 2000.

    Lets face it the summer of 2010 is over and they didnt get LeBron, that was the only way possible the Knicks were going to become an instant title contender.But 2 and a half years later as flawed as they are right now they are at the All-Star break with the 2nd best record in the East behind only LeBron’s Heat.What more can you realistically ask for??

    +1 for this. Even the Debbie Downers would have to admit that this is the best Knicks team we’ve gotten the chance to watch in near on 15 years. Yes, New Yorkers demand titles, and it doesn’t look today like this team has more than a 2 or 3 percent chance of making that happen, but you’d think there’d be at least a little excitement for literally the first good Knicks team since some of the young Knicks fans were born.

    Tough second half coming up, but this team still has an outside shot at 60 wins, and we’re still favorites to win the division and at least get to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Seems like a half a season worth celebrating (even if they did play like crap last night).

  24. ruruland

    Nick C, not true

    In the past I have not extolled the defense. In the Chicago and Boston loses I said that rather poor defense allowed both of those teams to shoot well above average on jumpers, which in turn boosted their confidence and energy defensively.

    Last night, the Knicks played very good defense and got much better shots than in the previous losses.

  25. Kevin McElroy Post author

    I am 100% with ruru’s characterization. The offense wasn’t “great” but it created good looks. Defense was very strong except for a couple stretches which are discussed at length in both the recap and these comments.

  26. flossy

    This is the kind of loss that should put a scare in those folks who think there’s a likelihood of Melo and Amar’e regularly combining to go 9-37 from the field.

    For the rest of us, if we can keep this defensive effort up and get one of Camby/Sheed back after the all-star break, we should be fine.

  27. Nick C.

    Perhaps, I guess I am just remembering the Washington game and PTSD from Isaiah press conferences still lingers and makes the mind play tricks. At any rate those games with Chicago and Boston were eons ago or so it seems.

    ruruland:
    Nick C, not true

    In the past I have not extolled the defense. In the Chicago and Boston loses I said that rather poor defense allowed both of those teams to shoot well above average on jumpers, which in turn boosted their confidence and energy defensively.

    Last night, the Knicks played very good defense and got much better shots than in the previous losses.

  28. Hubert Davis

    thenamestsam:
    Tough second half coming up, but this team still has an outside shot at 60 wins, and we’re still favorites to win the division and at least get to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Seems like a half a season worth celebrating (even if they did play like crap last night).

    60 wins is 28-4 from here on out. That’s not just outside, it’s outside, across the street, and down the block!

    I probably come off as one of the more disappointed people here after a loss, but I still think it’s a good team. My problem is I deluded myself into thinking it could win a championship. I was high on the fact that I believed we presented a real matchup problem for the Heat, like the 2011 Mavs, and that we could get lucky and draw a San Antonio team we match up well against.

    The full 82 game season is just drumming home the point that this is LeBron & Durant’s world, and we’re all just obstacles that they will overcome en route to their rematch.

    As long as we lose to the Heat, and not Indiana, Brooklyn or (god forbid) Boston, I won’t lose my mind.

    Then again, if we’re healthy in the playoffs, heck, who knows what can happen.

  29. jon abbey

    this team is almost certainly going out in the first round, I’m more convinced every day. please don’t waste your breath trying to convince me otherwise, I’ll believe it when I see it and not sooner.

  30. ruruland

    Kevin McElroy:
    I am 100% with ruru’s characterization.The offense wasn’t “great” but it created good looks.Defense was very strong except for a couple stretches which are discussed at length in both the recap and these comments.

    I think you should re-watch Melos possessions on defense last night.
    It was probably his best defensive game of the year and I thought it was apparent teammates were feeding off his energy. He even fought through a couple screens.

    Why Melo only chooses to defend like that when he’s shooting horribly or not contributing in other aspects is a mystery, and the fact that he doesn’t is one of the most valid criticisms.

    Every team feeds off the best players energy. If Melo played defense as he did last night, the Knicks won’t have to worry much about losing the No. 2 seed.

    After the ASB, I don’t think the Knicks should be in conserve energy as they’ve been much of the season. It’s time to turn it up, and Melo’s led that charge before.

  31. Hubert Davis

    Brian Cronin:
    Man, the second half schedule is pretty rough.

    I love that they close at home against the Hawks, though. The Knicks own the Hawks. I also like that they get the Raptors three more times. Avenge this loss with three blowouts, please!

    I’ve had my eye on that for a while, which is why I was extra upset after Washington and argued with you that it wasn’t an acceptable loss after a run of good games.

    One thing about the Raptors: we’ve got two Friday night games in Toronto. I might be imagining this, but it feels like the Knicks getting blown out in Toronto on a Friday night is something that happens a lot.

  32. ruruland

    flossy:
    This is the kind of loss that should put a scare in those folks who think there’s a likelihood of Melo and Amar’e regularly combining to go 9-37 from the field.

    For the rest of us, if we can keep this defensive effort up and get one of Camby/Sheed back after the all-star break, we should be fine.

    Sometimes a really good offensive team capable of very good defense needs to lose a handful of games with poor offense to sort of change identity midstream.

    The Knicks have not had their backs to the wall from the perspective of the standings to truly force them into winning defensively.

    For the most part they coasted to wins with shooting and low turnovers, and that card isn’t going anywhere, but it needed to briefly fall off the table for the Knicks to realize they can play another one.

  33. thenamestsam

    Hubert Davis: 60 wins is 28-4 from here on out.That’s not just outside, it’s outside, across the street, and down the block!

    I probably come off as one of the more disappointed people here after a loss, but I still think it’s a good team.My problem is I deluded myself into thinking it could win a championship.I was high on the fact that I believed we presented a real matchup problem for the Heat, like the 2011 Mavs, and that we could get lucky and draw a San Antonio team we match up well against.

    The full 82 game season is just drumming home the point that this is LeBron & Durant’s world, and we’re all just obstacles that they will overcome en route to their rematch.

    As long as we lose to the Heat, and not Indiana, Brooklyn or (god forbid) Boston, I won’t lose my mind.

    Then again, if we’re healthy in the playoffs, heck, who knows what can happen.

    Haha, fair play. I won’t deny that it’s an outside chance, but Hollinger playoff odds still say best simulation is 61 wins. In the words of Jim Carey: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?”. Maybe let’s say very outside, and call it a day.

    Believe me I commiserate with following the ups and downs of the team very closely, and I think almost everyone had the same experience of getting on that incredible high the first few weeks. It has been hard not to feel some sense of dissapointment because of that. All-Star break is a good time to pause and take stock of things though, and going back to the preseason I think we all said the goal was get out of the 1st round. Less than that would be disappointing, more than that gravy. We won’t know definitively for a few months but the team right now is on track to have a good chance to match or exceed those expectations.

  34. Owen

    “There isn’t a single player remaining from Melos time there. And there isn’t a person who believes that Chandler and Gallo, Melo combined salary approximates, are producing near Melos value.”

    Uh, well, actually….

    There are plenty of people who think Chandler is better than Carmelo by himself. Some of us think he is a lot better.

    And frankly, after an abysmal start, Gallinari is going back to being exactly what we thought he would be. His Win Shares/48 is now up to .151 for the season, just shy of the numbers Melo put up last year and not that far a cry from what Melo is doing currently in the best season of his career. Gallo is also still under 25. And the Nuggets seem to be surviving with a small forward who only makes 9 million per.

    It would be interesting to see how that poll would turn out here these days….

    Chandler and Gallo or Melo?

    Easy choice for me.

  35. Frank

    Owen: There are plenty of people who think Chandler is better than Carmelo by himself. Some of us think he is a lot better.

    Pretty sure he meant Wilson Chandler, not Tyson Chandler.
    And I’d take Carmelo over Wilson Chandler + Gallo any day of the week. But you’re right – I’d take Tyson+Gallo over Melo alone any day of the week also.

    To be honest, this team just looked tired last night. Sounds like they had a great but very intense practice on tuesday – maybe not the right time to do that?

    Melo did not have any lift at all on jumpers or around the rim. Amare looked extra terrible – all the little flips/hooks that he was hitting 2 weeks ago were way off. And I don’t know what to say about all the missed layups and free throws. We might just have to chalk it up to one of those games. It was ugly, yes, but overall I think the offense created good shots. We had 34 shot attempts at the rim compared to 15 for the Raptors – except we only shot 41% at the rim – season average is 62%. We had more shots at the rim and from 3 point range – I will take that any day of the week. And I thought the defense was pretty good except WHY WON’T ANYONE GET INTO ALAN ANDERSEN????

    The one positive from last night was that Shumpert looked a little more like himself. I’m not sure why he played so few minutes.

  36. Owen

    Ahh, Wilson Chandler….

    Was never a huge fan of his.

    Carmelo is making 21 million per for this year and the next two. Gallo is making 9 per. Melo has been more productive this year, no question about it. Twice as productive as Gallo? Not so sure…

    Gallo is not a bad player. Doesn’t have the usage of Melo. But a lot of the other numbers line up pretty straight….

  37. Frank

    Just to put that 14-34 at the rim (41.2%) into perspective – that was our 2nd worst percentage of the year – worst was against Chicago playing without Melo and Amare. And Chicago has Noah/Gibson/Deng and company. Toronto does not. (even though Amir Johnson always seems to play well against us)

    I’m not sure why Jason Kidd is playing 32 minutes nowadays. His 3 point shooting will eventually turn around, but 32 minutes is way too much anyway.

  38. ephus

    I have been saying since 10 games into the season that “This is a great time to be a Knick fan” and I stand by it. The last two games have been disappointing, but I see how small changes will make a big difference.

    For example, Shumpert got stripped at least three times after he caught a pass/rebound. This is rust. Getting a bear grip on the ball is something you just can’t practice outside of game conditions. I have to imagine he will not have this problem going forward.

    The Knicks got rejected a lot last night. Melo did not seem to have spring in his jump. Shumpert has regularly been getting rejected since he came back, since he is shying away from contact. Both of these problems can, and should, be fixed after the break.

    My biggest hope is that ‘Sheed can come back and give 10 minutes per night. That should help bring ‘Melo down below 40 minutes per night. ‘Sheed will give a defensive anchor on the second unit, plus floor balance and spacing.

    It’s okay if you see the same old Knicks. I do not. I think this team wins the Atlantic and wins at least the first round of playoffs. If they accomplish that, I think they have reached par for the year.

  39. Frank

    Sounds like Melo might sit out the ASG. That would be perfectly fine with me. Maybe Tyson will “come down” with a minor injury too. Those two have been playing tons of minutes – need the rest.

  40. DRed

    Last night’s game was no reason to panic. It’s a really frustrating loss, but we lost the game because Carmelo was really, really terrible on offense. But-it wasn’t that bad of a game from Melo. He missed a bunch of makeable shots. Even a run of the mill ‘Bad Melo’ performance would have won the game, and it’s pretty unlikely that Melo will be this terrible again this year.

  41. AvonBarksdale

    Coach is crazy playing kidd all these minutes then talking about limiting his minutes, novak offensively doesn’t ever make up for novak defensively can anyone tell me the last time his offense made up for his really hard to watch defense? It’s not that he gets burnt or disrespected it’s that his whole body contorts to avoid even any potential collision with an opponent. Why is Melo shooting so much? Cause the coach has him out there telling everyone to just keep “doing what they do”…Brewer cannot be this awful, pablo can’t get any flow going with his limited minutes…the coach is maybe trying to make final decisions on line-ups but we’ve been not winning some of the games we win as much as avoiding the loss..Chandler is amazing but the overall laziness of the team combined with Novak constantly annoying him on defensive and melo complaining..love this team true believer but this loss is the most painful cause jason kidd and melo look tired as fuck already…and james white needs burn to get pumped for the dunk contest.

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