Recap: Knicks 111, Rockets 116 (OT)

We’ve all had a night to sleep on the frustrating and disappointing loss to the Houston Hardens last night. In my quick recap I didn’t get into one of the unbelievable stats to come out of the game. The Knicks are the first team since 2013 to lose a game while shooting as high as 57.7% from the field. I’m not in love with that stat. It’s way too specific, and feels a bit like cherry picking, but it does tell part of the story. The Knicks did just about everything right (for once) on offense. Afflalo was cooking and hitting from all over the floor. They got him in the post and he was brutalizing whoever he had on his back. I’d like to see a lot more of that when Melo sits. Staggering Melo, Porzingis, and Afflalo so that two of them are almost always on the floor together seems like the way to go. Part of the effectiveness of the offense, though, is the continuing horribleness of the Rockets defense. In the game thread, I alluded to the fact that the Rockets are near the bottom in the whole league in defensive efficiency and it stands to reason that allowing a team to hit nearly 58% of their shots from the field won’t help that number.

The Heat’s defense made the Knicks look awful. The Rockets defense made the Knicks look like world beaters. The truth probably resides somewhere in between.

The story of the game was turnovers and offensive rebounds. Calderon and Seraphin each had 5 turnovers. Calderon’s turnovers came as a result of Patrick Beverley’s tough on-the-ball defense. He was lazy with his dribble on several occasions and it really cost the Knicks late in the game. Seraphin’s turnovers were the product of his high self esteem. He’s a black hole when the basketball touches his hands. He tries to lead the break. He tries to dribble between two post defenders. He tries to speed-inbound the basketball when caution is advised. He tries to Magic Johnson the ball into the hands of his teammates when a simple pass will do. I hate to get on him after he outplayed Dwight Howard all night long, but you can’t turn the ball over 5 times from his spot in the rotation. Too many of those turnovers were of the knuckleheaded variety.

I could write this whole recap about the Rockets, frankly. I noted in the game thread that we’d probably learn more about them than we would about the Knicks. I think that’s mainly the case. Instead I want to note the quietly efficient game that Porzingis played. He took what the defense gave him for the most part and rarely forced the action. He only took one three pointer, and that was because the shot clock was winding down and he had the ball in his hands. One day you’d like to see Kristaps become a go-to-guy and put the team on his shoulders. We’ve already seen him do it a few times. For now, as he’s getting his feet wet, he’s just excellent at letting the game come to him and he puts himself in the right spot to succeed without the ball in his hands. He could definitely find the ball in his hands more, but the Knicks’ guards can’t seem to find him when he’s open. Every game I shout at the TV when he’s got space without a defender nearby and the ball inevitably swings to the other side of the court. Dwight Howard isn’t the player he once was, and I think it’s mainly a mental thing. He does have the super powers to dunk a player into the great beyond and Porzingis was posterized for the first time in his career. It almost felt like the Matrix. As soon as that dunk went through, ripples of digital surf radiated from the #6 on Porzingis’ back.

Up next, the Knicks get the Philadelphia 0.76ers and their tank-tastic brigade of sourpusses. I won’t be happy unless the Knicks win that game by 15-20 points. They’ve played tough teams close all season. They’ve made mediocre teams look better by allowing them back in games. We’re entering a stretch against the weaker part of the NBA and it would behoove us to destroy as many of them as possible. It will show that we belong in the mid-to-upper tier of teams in the league. It ought to build some confidence. It should give the key guys some rest and the bench some fine tuning minutes. If we end up allowing any of these teams to hang with us into the final minutes, I’ll be very cranky with my television, which is an otherwise lovely part of my family.

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48 thoughts to “Recap: Knicks 111, Rockets 116 (OT)”

  1. This team still has some holes to fill, but we all knew that coming into the season. If anything the play of Porzingis has been an upside surprise. So we should generally be happy about the long term.

    The problem is that imo Fisher literally has no idea what he is doing when it comes to measuring the productivity of his own players, how to manage their minutes, who to play when, or who to play with who. Even that would only bother me a little long term except that I see no chance whatsoever that Jackson is going to make a coaching change either this year or next year. Fisher is his guy and he’s going to allow him to grow into a job that imo he’s woefully unprepared for.

    Fisher is a very likeable guy. I want him to be successful. He has the players playing hard every night. But this is the 2nd season in row that imo he’s making some dreadful lineup decisions.

    Seraphin is a bad basketball player and Lance Thomas, while having a better year, is not a good basketball player.

    O’Quinn should be getting more minutes.

  2. O’Quinn has been pretty awful in his last few appearances. I’m not sure what Fisher was supposed to do last night, Seraphin gave him much needed offense for a pretty long stretch as did Thomas. Did they make some boneheaded decisions in the 4th quarter, absolutely, but we’ve seen Lopez and O’Quinn do the same things late in games (remember those multiple Lopez brain farts at the end of a recent game?)

    We didn’t lose last night because of Fisher. We lost because Calderon had 2 huge turnovers and we couldn’t secure a rebound that would have ended the game. For a while, everyone was crying that Galloway wasn’t getting enough minutes, and he’s been horrible lately. Other than Melo and Porzingis, Fisher is dealing with a lot of bad to mediocre talent, I don’t think his substitution patterns are the reason we’ve lost 9 games.

  3. I didn’t see the game last night– what the hell is up with Robin Lopez? 15 minutes, 0 points, 2 rebounds? The guy is stinking out the joint on a pretty regular basis.

  4. @3

    Lopez got yanked because Seraphin was more effective against Dwight Howard. When Dwight Howard was off the floor, the Knicks went small. When Howard came back in, so did Seraphin. The problem with playing Seraphin so much is that increased exposure means increased likelihood of boneheadery. He tries to do more than he’s capable, which is the exact opposite of RoLo. If you want stability, you use Lopez….Fisher fell in love with some fool’s gold last night.

  5. Turnovers and offensive rebounds won the game for the Rockets? That’s weird. I thought those were two of the stats that matter too much to Wins Produced.

  6. It’s almost impossible to win with 24 turnovers.

    Seraphin, Calderon and Galloway commited 13.

    That’s above our average for a whole game.

  7. I consider anything Seraphin does to make it appear as though he’s a good player a long term negative. I’d rather he come in, go 0 for 9, have 11 TOs, no rebounds, play no defense, and we lose a game because of him than encourage Fisher to play him more.

    It’s not like we are trying to judge a rookie here. We know what Seraphin is. He’s been doing the same things for years. A few games doesn’t change anything.

    I feel the same way about O’Quinn in reverse. I don’t care if O’Quinn has a reputation for not working as hard in practice or has a couple of bad games. He plays hard in games, rebounds, gets physical inside and can be reasonably efficient on low usage if not asked to do too much. We know that from years of play and watching him for us this year.

    Fisher has to pick 9-10 guys and play those in defined roles and cut all the BS of changing minutes etc… unless there is an injury or very specific and rare matchup issue. But even if he does that, he’s probably going to pick the wrong 9-10. smh

  8. It’s not like we are trying to judge a rookie here. We know what Seraphin is. He’s been doing the same things for years. A few games doesn’t change anything.

    Amen. Let’s extend it:

    It’s not like we are trying to judge a rookie here. We know what Eddy Curry is. He’s been doing the same things for years. A few games doesn’t change anything.

    It’s not like we are trying to judge a rookie here. We know what J.R. Smith is. He’s been doing the same things for years. A few games doesn’t change anything.

    It’s not like we are trying to judge a rookie here. We know what Andrea Bargnani is. He’s been doing the same things for years. A few games doesn’t change anything.

  9. @5 — Before you start gloating about how critical turnovers and offensive rebounds are to winning, you might want to consider the fact that the Knicks are in the top five in the league in both offensive rebounding and turnovers (both rate and raw numbers). By your rationale, they should be about 14-4. Maybe it is a shock to you, but you can’t cherry pick individual stats (especially microscopic sample sizes like one game) as though any one of them, in a vacuum, proves your point.

  10. Watching Seraphin, it’s hard for me not to think of Eddy Curry.

    Eddy was a little more offensively skilled, will give him that.

  11. The blame for this loss does not fall on Seraphin, the latest Knickblogger punching bag. It was all on Calderon who was reckless with the ball. Or, if you want to give credit instead, give it to Beverley who was all over the place, wreaking havoc.

  12. The four factors are considered bellwethers for a reason. No one is disputing that, Jowles. I’d say that turnovers are probably the most important for this team: we’ve won when we’ve shot poorly, but we’ve never won (this season) when we’ve turned it over a lot. But all four are significant.

    Meanwhile, though, when I look at stats from the last 10 games, I see this: when Calderon and Gallo both play well, we win. When either Calderon or Gallo doesn’t play well, we lose. (And of course when both play poorly we lose.) We just aren’t deep enough or good enough to win without both contributing.

    While I am not a Seraphin fan, I think his contributions or lack thereof are relatively meaningless; Fisher plays whatever bigs are doing the best in that game, so the damage tends to be limited. our guards determine our record.

  13. The Knicks are 4th in offensive rebounding and 29th in defensive rebounding. I guess some of this is system-based, as the triangle places a heavy emphasis on crashing the offensive boards, but that’s still a weird split.

  14. Pulling over a couple of things I said on the game thread:

    1. Kristaps Porzingis is for real. He looks good on the catch-and-shoot coming off of the curl. He may eventually be unguardable at that shot (like Kareem sky hook unguardable). He defends well, despite giving up bulk. He is getting better at not picking up dumb fouls. He plays above the rim, and is already a better finisher than Shumpert ever was. He may eventually be Tyson Chandler above the rim. He has post moves.

    2. Arron Afflalo is still a very good offensive player. James Harden is an AWFUL defender. I do not understand why the offense did not run through Afflalo for every play once the Rockets cut the lead to 6.

    3. Patrick Beverly is the cure for just about everything that is wrong with the Rockets. He plays tough defense. He ball hawks. He hustles and makes the people around him (Howard and Harden) hustle. He is a good slash-and-kick penetrator, which is why Thornton got so many great looks in the 4th Q.

    4. The trade for Ty Lawson was a fail. If Bickerstaff plays Lawson over Beverly, it will be an epic.fail. Beverly should get 36 mpg, and Lawson (if he gets off the bench) should get 12.

    5. I love Porzingis.

    6. Since I predicted 38 wins and the 8 seed, I am not going to get too upset (after the game, during the game I was livid) with letting this game slip away, since Porzingis took a step forward.

    7. I was really impressed that Porzingis kept his head in the game after that monster dunk and posterization by Howard. Since Howard missed the free throw and Porzingis came back down and scored at the rim, that was a wash.

    8. Just when I wrote something nice about Seraphin, he overdribbled and helped turn the game over. This Kevin Seraphin is a rotation player. He is not a 31 mpg player, with Lopez anchored to the bench.

    9. Derek Fisher was the worst Knick last night. Needed a TO right before the Houston inbounds steal and hoop. Many bad choices.

  15. @13 – Seraphin. But there’s a difference. Seraphin is a backup big man. He’s not in there to control the ball. Calderon is the starting point guard. It’s his job to protect the ball. Seraphin also had 4 assists, matching Calderon. Is Seraphin in there to distribute the ball?

    No. Calderon stunk up the joint.

    @16 – I agree with everything you said. Fisher did not do a good job with the rotations. Seraphin playing 32 minutes vs Rolo 15 is absurd.

  16. @18 If memory serves, I counted at least two transition turnovers by Seraphin where he tried to handle the ball like a guard and rumble downcourt. Those possessions could have won the Knicks the game.

    Nevertheless, he played well. I also believe that it doesn’t equate to rewarding him with 31 minutes.

  17. Arron Afflalo is still a very good offensive player. James Harden is an AWFUL defender. I do not understand why the offense did not run through Afflalo for every play once the Rockets cut the lead to 6.

    I dunno. He had a great game last night but on balance he has not been a “very good offensive player” this season. His decent eFG% is offset by the fact that he never gets to the line. He’s averaging less than one FTA per game. I know his role here is mostly that of a jump shooter but 9 FTA in 300+ minutes is pretty bad.

  18. Fisher is in way over his head with this roster. A very good coach can probably coax a .500 record out of this roster with proper substitution patterns and lineups but I just don’t see Fisher being able to do this. The players obviously respect him and play hard for him which is very important, even at the end of last season those wins while we hated them was proof that the players played hard for Fisher and I give him a ton of credit for that. But holy crap some of the lineups he puts out there and plays he runs after time-outs are stuff you figure a high-school coach could do better with.

  19. Seraphin played well yesterday, but you can’t brush aside turnovers because “he’s not in there to control the ball.” Yeah, so he really shouldn’t be turning it over. Two of his turnovers were pure mental mistakes on easy inbounds passes, and these were huge mistakes. In fact, his fourth quarter giveaway of the inbound was even more costly than Calderon’s horrible turnover to Beverley.

    Seraphin’s TO:
    Knicks lead by 4 with possession and 5:30 to play: Win Probability: ~77%.
    Inbound to wrong team leads to immediate layup.
    Knicks lead by 2 with possesion and 5:30 to play: Win Probability: ~66%

    Calderon’s TO:
    Knicks lead by 3 with possession and 49 seconds to play: WP: 93.7%
    Stupidly attempt to dribble by Beverley and lose ball out of bounds.
    Knicks lead by 3 without poessesion and 49 seconds: WP: 86%.

    ***
    Although I agree with ephus that Beverley is relentless and seems like an obvious fit for half-court Harden… odd fact: Since the beginning of last year, the Rockets defense has actually given up more points per possession with Beverley playing. This is even true if you try to control for Howard. For example, with Beverley and Howard both playing the opponent ppp of 1.056 is way worse than Howard without Beverley of 1.028. Also: In 2078 possessions with Howard and Harden in but Beverley out the PPP allowed is a low 1.036, better than Beverley/Howard and compares to 1.092 in a small (200 possessions) sample of Howard and Beverley in with Harden sitting.

  20. I don’t want to make too much of one game, but since it confirmed my priors I will say that I hope last night screams out to Fisher that he is better off spacing out Afflalo and Melo. Afflalo is a good 3 point shooter and it’s good to have that with Melo, but in a lot of other ways they overlap poorly. Their defensive weaknesses amplify and Afflalo isn’t able to use his post game much with Melo, which is at least least part of the reason that his FTAs looked like Pablo’s until last night. I am on board with whoever was suggesting Calderon/Galloway/Melo/Zinger/Lopez to start.

  21. Inbound to wrong team leads to immediate layup.

    By the way, let me note that after watching the replay, what killed me the most was that it wasn’t even an immediate layup. Typically those plays do become immediate layups (like most famously Bird to Dennis Johnson in the playoffs), but the Rocket player actually double clutched it but the three Knicks around the basket reacted like they were stuck in molasses, so he still got an easy layup.

  22. I dunno. He had a great game last night but on balance he has not been a “very good offensive player” this season.

    That’s how poor some of these players are, that Afflalo looks like a very good offensive player compared to them.

  23. While we’re on the subject of guys who didn’t deserve minutes- outside of a couple of nice passes, Gallo was pretty awful last night. He’s been bad on both ends during this four game losing streak- does the fact that he had a great start to the season guarantee him minutes? Grant’s ball handling would have come in handy down the stretch…

  24. Nice recap, Mike. Lots of good points in the comments as well, specifically #16. I didn’t get to watch the game last night but will tonight, even though I don’t think I want to go through watching the Knicks lose a 14-point 4th quarter lead.

    The 76ers couldn’t come at a better time, that’s for sure. Some tough games lately.

  25. Afflalo hit some crazy turnaround-hand-in-the-face-shots that I don’t think we should trust on regular basis.

  26. Afflalo hit some crazy turnaround-hand-in-the-face-shots that I don’t think we should trust on regular basis.

    Yeah, some of those shots were of the “no no no YES!” variety.

  27. I don’t think you can blame Fisher too much for keeping Seraphin in given the offense he was providing last night (that said I still cringed every time he put up a jumper). I don’t think there is too much of an issue with him getting a cameo like that if the matchup suits, but certainly I would agree with the consensus that O’Quin should be getting his minutes (he and Glaloway seme to have good chemistry on the P’n’R in my opinion).

    It was definitely a disappointing game, but I think at the start of the year if you were to look at the two match ups with Houston, I don’t think any of would have thought that we would have gone 1-1 with the loss coming in overtime without Melo playing. Houston obviously are off the rails a little, but their roster is substantially better.

    Also, there were bigger factors that contributed to the loss, but we got some pretty unlucky non-calls in the last minute (Ariza’s double dribble and Howard’s moving screen). What’s with Houston getting the friendly bounces on the rim as well on our home court? ha ha

  28. The NBA’s last two minutes report from yesterday is out, and it says that the refs made four consecutive errors that favored the Rockets in the 18 second span between 0:42 left in regulation to 0:24 left in regulation. This is just after the ugly Calderon turnover down 3.

    (1) Ariza double dribbles no call

    (2 & 3) Two separate fouls missed on the rebound of Harden’s missed 3:
    -Ariza fouls Calderon no call
    -Howard fouls Money Zingis no call

    (4) After Thornton hit the 3, the Harden held Afflalo in the post leading to the Lance Thomas 20 footer attempt

  29. “The NBA’s last two minutes report from yesterday is out, and it says that the refs made four consecutive errors that favored the Rockets in the 18 second span between 0:42 left in regulation to 0:24 left in regulation.”
    I was reading the comments here last night and was kind of stunned that no one was complaining about the refs — so much so that I thought that maybe I was imagining things (and/or that I was an unrepentant homer, which I admittedly am). I’m glad to see that my frustration with the refs was justified. By the way, I also thought that Porzingis got robbed earlier on what I thought was a clean block on I think it was Capela and that Howard made an illegal screen on Afflallo.

  30. @34. When your team keeps committing dumb turnovers, it is hard to get too angry with the officials, as lousy as they might have been last night.

    I long gave up on complaining about illegal screens. I have no idea what criteria the refs use. Heck, I’ve seen KP6 move on screens and even shove guys with both arms yet not get called.

  31. I long gave up on complaining about illegal screens. I have no idea what criteria the refs use. Heck, I’ve seen KP6 move on screens and even shove guys with both arms yet not get called.

    Since KG popularized it, every big in the league has picked up on his strategy of just fouling every single time under the logic that if you do it literally every possession it makes it virtually impossible for the refs to call it every time. So while that was a blatantly illegal screen by Howard last night, it’s hard to really complain about it since someone sets a screen that illegal on like 50% of possessions. I’d really like to see the refs try to crack down on it, but we’d have to suffer through a few months of fouls called on every possession to really get anywhere.

  32. @36. Yeah, like some years ago when MLB decided to tighten up the balk rule and call lots more of them. That didn’t work out, so I doubt the NBA will do that with illegal screens.

    If the refs want to go with a “no harm, no foul idea”, that’s fine, but Howard’s screen really pummeled someone (wasn’t it Afflalo?).

  33. @37 it was. And without getting into conspiracy theories, I do find it fishy that Afflalo was elbowed in the head, crushed on a screen, and held on a cut at the end of the game. There was a span of like 3 sequences out of 4 where Afflalo, the hot hand at the time, got clobbered

  34. @38
    And that’s where Lopez or OQ should be in the game to give a couple of hard fouls. Come to think of it, Seraphin did give one back.

  35. There were definitely a few no calls that went that our way (D-Will pushing off on Terrance Jones for a dunk, Lance’s arm around Terry on that ridiculous fast break sequence to end the 2nd), so it probably evens out over the course of the game. I guess you make your own luck with the refs. It’s probably hard to call all moving screens as it happens so quick, but the thing with Howard’s is that you have to at least give the player space to move. Howard stepped into Afflalo and he was clobbered instantly. I think in the interests of player safety, you have to call that one.

  36. I hate to make excuses for anyone. I umpired, and it’s hard. But the fact is that baseball is a far easier game to adjudicate than basketball. Basketball is the toughest and the NBA is the epitome of tough. There’s a foul, palm and travel in every possession. Usually multiple times. Add to that the flopping and you’ve got real issues trying to decide what is and isn’t the right call to make. It’s not a binary type of decision like safe or out, strike or ball. Is a push incidental or bad enough to call a foul? And out of bounds plays? OMG! Don’t blink or you’ll miss that fingertip that the refs saw last night. And these guys have to run up and down the court.

    Still, the refs sucked last night ;)

    Watching Cleanthony Early and Jimmer Fredette kick ass for the D-League team.

  37. Jimmer with 37 pts on 12 for 17 shooting and 8 assists tonight for Westchester. Early with 19 pts and 13 rebs, assume he will be back with the Knicks on Wed. Westchester now 6-0.

  38. I can’t imagine the kind of ego that a professional basketball player must have to miss 14 of 18 free throws and not consider learning the Rick Barry method. That dude is going to have to lay a goose egg to hit rock bottom.

  39. NBA players are among the most gifted, coordinated, graceful athletes on the planet. I can’t for the life of me figure out how any guy with such physical gifts can’t master the most elementary thing in the sport — shooting foul shots. It really is mind-boggling.

  40. Belated thoughts on the game. Afflalo was an hombre in overtime. Two straight postup fadeaways over Harden. Unfortunately Howard murdered him on that dirty-ass screen for the Ariza three and that was all she wrote. He’s been pretty meh this season, but gosh, he looked good last night. Hope he can keep it up.

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