Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rockets 109, Knicks 96

Houston Rockets 109 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 New York Knicks
Ronnie Brewer, SF 20 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | +5

An encouraging start highlighted by a pair of nice dribble-drives (one lay-up, one fruitless trip to the stripe) and able-bodied D quickly deteriorated into a mess of turnovers, bad switches, and that goddam corner three, which is beginning to display all the grace of a busted doorstop and no longer seems interested in falling. He was a little more active in the second half – particularly on defense – and somehow ended up with a team-high +5 on the night. Every one of which Shump let him borrow, I’m sure.

Chris Copeland, SF 28 MIN | 11-19 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 29 PTS | -6

The other night the boys from New York Knicks Podcast and I were discussing, among other things, what we thought about starting Copeland in Melo’s lingering stead. Basically, I posited that Copeland mimicks Melo on a bad night – someone who will probably settle for far too many outside jumpers, may or may not connect on them, rebounds marginally well, and get smoked on defense with frightening regularity. If Cope’s hitting his shots, it’s found money, and a sound gamble to boot. If he’s not, he’s basically Melo after ten tequila shots and a fistful of Quaaludes.

So it was interesting to see how Cope would couple his first start (a solidl but largely forgettable performance Saturday against the Cavs) on a night when more firepower would doubtless be needed. The burn was much limited in the first half, owing most chiefly to some late rotations and an air that screamed “I have no idea where I am right now please call my parents over the intercom.”….

….Is this the part where we talk about Copesanity? OK, so Copesanity happened, albeit in garbage time with the team mostly down north of 20 and the Rockets doing everything but pulling up a cab and driving the Knicks to the basket for them. Still, the homeless man’s poor boyfriend’s dead dog’s flea’s Melo analog held somewhat true – Cope took what the D was giving, be it clean looks from deep or boulevards on which to cruise, and 29 points (on 19 shots) later, our onetime Belgian League Almond Biscuit Award Winner (Google that shit, I dare you) looks like he might well be a serviceable spot minute guy the rest of the way.

Tyson Chandler, C 35 MIN | 3-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 18 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -14

Tyson looked about three Nyquil bottles deep in the early going, particularly on defense, where the Houston guards met with very little resistance beyond the feeble front line. A couple of persistent board hits woke him up a bit, though the end tally on that front (18 bounds) suggests a far more dominant performance than was actually displayed.

I debated over whether to boost or burden Chandler’s grade for that elbow-first flagrant on Lin – with whom Chandler remains close, apparently (they still like to get together and elbow each other in the throat and play Starcraft) – towards the end of the first half. As Beckley Mason pointed out immediately thereafter, Chandler has a reputation for doing this sort of thing when he knows he’s been beaten and his frustration-laden bloodlust gets the better of him. Thankfully Jeremy was okay and shook it off with a toothy grin. He also made his free throws, which, fuck that guy.

Jason Kidd, PG 29 MIN | 2-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 5 PTS | -20

A pair of first quarter triples and a couple nice backdoor finishes managed to salve over an otherwise gangrened gash in the firs half, but asking Kidd to man up on Harden – next to LeBron, maybe the greatest pure penetrator in the game today – is akin to making your grandpa do a two minute keg stand and then telling him to drop you off at the airport. This is where having a reliable third guard like Shump can help the Knicks hide Kidd on whatever walking fleshsack the opposition has running around at any given time. All told, we’re bound to see a turd egg like this every now and again, and you can certainly make the case that it’s better to get it out of the way on a night when the Karma looked bent on blood and bone anyway.

Raymond Felton, PG 31 MIN | 7-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 14 PTS | -11

On a night when the Knicks desperately needed their floor general to throw it into third gear and manage a heady brand of hero-free ball, hangups and hallucinated marquee beefs, Raymond Felton figured out a way to rev the fucker all the way to ninth, sending smoke and sparks and liquid rubber and panic fumes spewing forth like a sarin cloud and choking out the offense at every conceivable turn.

In sane person’s speak, tonight Felton was much more liability than asset – on both ends of the floor. He managed to hit a handful of mid-range jumpers, yes, but only because the Rocket guards were daring him to do so, taking away any and all lob options as long as they could and banking on what has to be, at this point, the most obvious scouting report in the entire NBA: If you’re matched up on Felton, chances are he has a grudge against you. Doesn’t really matter if it’s real or not, just GO AFTER HIM. Sadly, with D-Will heading to town for a rubber match, Ray won’t have much time for lamentations. Time to brush it off and move on, Ray. And by it, I mean, of course, that that medium sized alpine mountain range on your shoulder.

Kurt Thomas, PF 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -9

Just completely useless tonight – missed free throws, bad box-outs, flat-footed flails for rebounds like he got electrocuted by his Life Alert. Where the $%#& is Sheed?

Steve Novak, SF 33 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS | -9

Perhaps the return of his now and former Lin-friend found Novak in something of a wistful state, but that right wrist was a few degrees off most of the night – despite many of the looks being fairly clean. Steve was surprisingly serviceable on defense, however, even forcing James Harden to give up the ball a few times when in any other universe Harden would’ve turned Novak’s legs pencil shavings.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 17 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 14 PTS | 0

Prigs once again dutifully adhered to the caution tape surrounding the three point line (“Eye ehhhh, don’t like go eenside when Madison say no go eenside.”), hardly attempting to run any kind of rim-ward action and settling instead for a handful of straight-away threes in the first half, the last of which he mercifully connected on. He’d pad the stat line late (my reeling Marvin Barnestormers, losers of two straight head-to-heads, say thanks), but there was really nothing to take away from this one in the way of forward looking prospects for Priggy Smalls.

James White, SG 23 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -2

Let it be noted that James White is a capable NBA defender. Let it also be noted that baby James White probably dribbled right from his mouth onto his feet.

J.R. Smith, SG 20 MIN | 7-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +1

The last time a large group of people looked to J.R. Smith to bring some order to the joint, Dominoes delivered to the club. So it went on a night when Raymond Felton once again mistook an opposing point guard for some evil long lost brother (Jay Felton?) that never existed, J.R.’s incendiary first quarter (12 points in five scant minutes, which naturally ended when J.R. got spun by Harden and whistled for his second foul moments later and immediately had the leash yanked by Woodson) kept the ‘Bockers in it early. He would tally 16 in the first half, but it seemed like every one of his makes was coupled with either a horrendous off-balance brick or matador foul at the other end. As Jared Dubin aptly pointed out, the Knicks basically lost this game after J.R. collected that second foul – losing the only guy in any kind of coherent offensive rhythm. Thereafter the Rockets took due advantage of the subsequent Prigioni-Kidd-Felton trifecta by continuing to attack and letting Harden and Lin dictate the terms of engagement.

Rasheed Wallace, PF DNP SORE LEFT FOOT MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |

Try the “Dull Green.” Good for pain relief.

Carmelo Anthony, SF DNP SPRAINED LEFT ANKLE MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | PTS |

I’ll seriously take you with one leg and no eyes over pretty much any of these other guys.

Jeremy Lin, PG 39 MIN | 9-15 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 22 PTS | +18

<3

Toney Douglas, PG 18 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | +7

“… Oh hey! Hey there… Toney…. Wow… So uh, you’ve been hittin’ some shots lately, huh? That’s, that’s, that’s cool, man. Really, it’s great to see you’re… figuring it out, you know?… Yeah… Ol’ Toney FIGURIN’ IT ALL OUT, right?… Isn’t that what we used to call you? AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA YEAH!…. So… How’s, uh… OH MAN LOOK AT THE TIME! Wow, I gotta get going…. It was great seeing you, man… Really, you look… you look great.” * walks away, waits five seconds * “Fucking kidding me?”

Five Things We Saw

  1. 1) I was unfortunately stuck with the NBA TV feed, and thus wasn’t able to see – or hear – the Garden’s reaction to Lin peeling off the red snap pants. Pretty much everyone confirmed that the ovation was warm, that the cheers outweighed by a pretty huge margin the cackles of fools. And rightly so. Whatever your beliefs, what transpired during that grip of weeks a year ago did more than any subsequent signing or improbably early season start to prevent a Knick-to-Net Diaspora. That said, the avalanche of boos that followed was equally appropriate, and equally awesome. After all, class without loyalty is just fashion.

    Was that profound?

  2. I have no idea what Woodson stressed in the locker-room ahead of tonight’s tilt, but given what happened down in Houston just a fortnight or so ago, I have a hard time believing “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE GET BACK IN TRANSITION” and “SERIOUSLY IF THEY HAVE MORE THAN 40 POINTS IN THE PAINT I’M MAKING YOU RUN UNTIL YOU PUKE OUT YOUR FEET” weren’t burned into the whiteboard with a fucking blowtorch. Apparently not: The Rockets blitzed their way to 34 paint points in the first half alone (to the Knicks’ meager 16), finishing with 52 on the night — a butt load of them coming in transition off of turnovers, makes, and misses in near equal measure. Whether on a long-miss or make, Houston was always sending at least three guys dashing the other way for the outlet pass, often with effective results. You can do things like that when your legs are fresh and young you’re not worried about yelling at the waterboy to fetch the Metamucil.
  3. On first glance, it would seem like the three point shooting (Houston was 9-29, the Knicks 10-31) was close to a wash. But how and when those three pointers fall can sometimes be just as important, and it seemed like every one of Houston’s hits fell like a knife. The way the Knicks are constructed and function, they can’t simply match their foes from the perimeter and expect to secure victory; they have to dominate from deep, and do so by a pretty huge margin, to feel comfortable. And we needed it all the more on a night when our leading scorer laid leg-up on his living room couch.
  4. As Jules Caesar once said, “it’s a game of runs, god damnit. Shit.” Tonight, two blitzkriegs in particular – a 10-0 run to start the second quarter, and the crippling 13-0 third quarter fatality that called off all the dogs – proved poison for the guys in white, both punctuated by timely threes, far-too-easy buckets, and a heroine chic offense waifish and wasted.
  5. Barring some kind of league-wide bubonic plague outbreak resulting in a Knicks-Rockets Finals by default, this is the last we’ll be seeing of Lin, Harden and company for the next little bit. It’ll be interesting to see the what white spin smoke the ‘Bocker Vatican belches out tomorrow, on a day when Amar’e Stoudemire might well suit up for some practice burn and the gameplanning turns to the white and black of Brooklyn. Judging by his eye fur (like the moon, there’s a face there – you just have to squint a little bit), Woody wasn’t so much pissed off by tonight’ performance as he was begrudgingly resigned – whimsically so, even. A home loss was bound to happen sooner or later. We all knew that. This isn’t the ’97 Bulls, and it sure as shit ain’t the the ’86 Celtics, and no amount of carefully worded platitude-ry (If teams want a road win, they best go somewhere else, etc.) was going to prove otherwise. In the absence of Melo’s white hot touch, the Knicks remain severely limited in their ability to dial up anything beyond Raymond Felton poking and prodding his way about the perimeter, firing away at the first quasi-clean look, and only occasionally working some P&R juju with Chandler. But that’s precisely why, for as many fault lines as the Rockets managed to expose in this quick season miniseries, only half of them are really worth worrying about: the flat-footed rotations, poor transition communication, and general defensive malaise. Questions of chemistry and integration aside, this team will have more than enough firepower to keep the offense humming well into spring. What can’t continue to happen is the kind of comical defensive breakdowns that have become a concerning norm of late. If nothing else, Woodson ought to take as speech feed from this shit blizzard of a performance one singularly hardscrabble mantra: Defense wins championships. It might be cliche and it might be a lie, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth believing in.

21 comments on “Rockets 109, Knicks 96

  1. nicos

    Boy the Knicks get blown out at home by a team that came in 2-7 on the road and the only guy who gets a D is Kurt Thomas who played all of five minutes? Kidd was awful, Felton not much better. I’d give just about everyone D’s- Chandler included as he was way too passive on D- except Copeland.
    Prigioni was absolutely horrible in the first half when the Rockets initially pulled away- I’ve been steadfast in thinking that he’ll be okay once Amar’e is back and the second unit has a real focus to run the offense around but his reluctance to both take threes and drive the lane has me wondering if he can really have any long term success in the NBA.

  2. nicos

    Well maybe JR warrants higher than a D as well for his great offensive start though he never scored again after coming out after picking up his second foul.

  3. Eric Chen

    For old times sake and because this is the last time I’ll be able to do this (unless the Knicks meet the Rockets in the Finals this year), here’s my take on why the Knicks should have kept Lin:

    Lin or Felton is a wash in the regular season. Felton is a tough solid pro at PG. Lin is more talented, but less experienced with more to learn. However, Felton lacks Lin’s extra gear and intuitive feel for the game. That difference won’t matter much in the regular season, but it will matter as the Knicks advance in the play-offs and eventually face a top contender, likely for the 1st time in the 2nd round. At that point, the Knicks will finally miss Lin’s mix of versatility, energy, playmaking, high basketball IQ, big-moment clutchness, and creative isolation scoring. While Lin is still developing his point-specific skills, which are sufficiently effective as is, Lin’s game as a do-everything playmaking SG/PG combo guard is mature. His penchant for the spectacular can’t be taught. Winning in the play-offs requires multiple creative isolation scorers, ball movement, and a knack for clutch plays – Lin would have provided the Knicks all three attributes.

    The Knicks will likely bow out in a valiantly contested close series against a top contender, 2nd round, maybe conference finals. It will be a successful season. But there will also be a nagging feeling that if the Knicks had just had an extra special something, whether it showed up in key spots as a rebound, steal, extra hustle possession, transition play, or score off a broken play, just something, maybe the series would have gone differently. But all the players gave it their all and played respectably. That extra special something just wasn’t there. Felton will have given his all; no complaints. The notion that Lin would have provided the extra special something to put the Knicks over the top and possibly into the Finals will be too attenuated by then to consider seriously. But he would have.

  4. jon abbey

    Shumpert is more likely to give that element than Lin as the level of intensity ratchets up over the course of the season, at least IMO.

  5. nicos

    For this team Felton>>>Lin. Why? He’s better PNR player- much better. Last year Lin averaged .8 ppp on the pnr (that includes turning it over a whopping 25.9% of the time). This year Felton is averaging .79 ppp on the pnr and turning it over 12.9% of the time. Well, you could say, even with the turnovers Lin is still averaging a bit more in terms of ppp so he’s better. But, lets look at how the roll man is doing- Chandler’s been far better with Felton. He’s the number one roll man in the league, averaging 1.44 ppp and turning it over just 3.5% of the time. Last year he averaged 1.18 ppp and turned it over 11.2% of the time as the roll man. Now that includes the rest of the season where he was running it with other guys but considering his TS% was .664 with Lin starting (actually worse than he averaged without him) and his turnovers pretty much the same- 17.2 with, 17.1 without- I don’t think you can say those numbers are misleading. Yes, Kidd is helping and Chandler’s numbers were probably hurt by the wrist injury last year but those numbers aren’t even remotely close. Also, Felton’s low turnover numbers have a real benefit that doesn’t show up in the ppp numbers- he gets the ball up to the rim more often and as we’ve seen Chandler has gotten a ton of putbacks on those shots. You can’t get a putback off of a turnover. Given how often the Knick run pnr with Felton/Chandler those numbers outweigh any vague intangibles you might claim on Lin’s behalf.

  6. yellowboy90

    nicos:
    For this team Felton>>>Lin.Why?He’s better PNR player- much better.Last year Lin averaged .8 ppp on the pnr (that includes turning it over a whopping 25.9% of the time).This year Felton is averaging .79 ppp on the pnr and turning it over 12.9% of the time.Well, you could say, even with the turnovers Lin is still averaging a bit more in terms of ppp so he’s better.But, lets look at how the roll man is doing- Chandler’s been far better with Felton.He’s the number one roll man in the league, averaging 1.44 ppp and turning it over just 3.5% of the time.Last year he averaged 1.18 ppp and turned it over 11.2% of the time as the roll man.Now that includes the rest of the season where he was running it with other guys but considering his TS% was .664 with Lin starting (actually worse than he averaged without him) and his turnovers pretty much the same- 17.2 with, 17.1 without- I don’t think you can say those numbers are misleading.Yes, Kidd is helping and Chandler’s numbers were probably hurt by the wrist injury last year but those numbers aren’t even remotely close.Also, Felton’s low turnover numbers have a real benefit that doesn’t show up in the ppp numbers- he gets the ball up to the rim more often and as we’ve seen Chandler has gotten a ton of putbacks on those shots.You can’t get a putback off of a turnover. Given how often the Knick run pnr with Felton/Chandler those numbers outweigh any vague intangibles you might claim on Lin’s behalf.

    Where do you get those stats?

  7. nicos

    yellowboy90: Where do you get those stats?

    All the pnr numbers are from synergy, Chandler’s TS% and turnover% with Lin at the point are from basketball reference.

  8. Mr.RIGHT

    Mr.RIGHT: We should ALSO try to trade Felton for Houston reserve and NY area guy Scott Machado in

    ^^^ We should ALSO try to trade Felton for Houston reserve and NY area guy Scott Machado in meantime?

  9. Mr.RIGHT

    yellowboy90: Where do you get those stats?

    Thats CRAP MAN … You compare Chandlers numbers to make case for Fat-Ray Ray are you kidding me?

    JWin#17 is more versatille than Fat-Ray can play the two-guard and numbers are comparable at this point only getting better

    I would trade Felton TODAY! For Houston’s reserve PG Machado … Ray is Toney Douglas Part II in my opinion

    …BUT HOUSTON WOULDN’T WANT FELTON!

  10. Brian Cronin

    This is what I don’t get – you got the precise result you wanted. The Rockets won, Lin had a good game, Felton had a bad game. So why are you so angry? It’s stupid. Just be happy, don’t be all “Grrr! Argh! Fat Ray!” It’s not cool.

  11. thenamestsam

    Asik was fantastic on defense last night and it really emphasizes how much Tyson’s lack of versatility – even within his PnR niche – can hurt us against the best teams. The Rockets did a really nice job preventing the pass to Tyson on the dive and the entire Knicks offense looked pretty helpless when that happened. Obviously Melo adds another dimension there but I also think it’s a place where a more versatile big like Amare can really help mix things up in the pick and roll game. He can pick and pop every now and then and you can also feed him the ball as he rolls in places other than A. Dunking or B. One Step Away From Dunking.

  12. Juany8

    The whole Felton vs. Lin argument blatantly ignores how defenses have adjusted to defending the Knicks. Early in the season teams were playing their standard pick and roll defense on the Knicks, and the pick and roll was incredible, constantly leading to dunks for Chandler or wide open 3′s all over the court. Teams adjusted, however, and now they are giving Felton space and staying close to Chandler to deny penetration, along with staying in close to the 3 point shooters as opposed to helping. Whether or not Felton should take all of those mid range shots, that’s pretty much all the pick and roll will be yielding quite often, especially against smart defenses.

    Felton isn’t a great shooter, but he’s capable and he’s a good passer overall. He can’t finish all that well around the rim though, and Chandler can’t do anything in the pick and roll but go hard at the rim, so he’s never going to be able to get inside. The problem is virtually no point guards would be able to get inside in that scenario, maybe Westbrook and Rose but even they would have trouble with a packed paint. Lin would be horrible. He can’t shoot, and does not have a particularly refined game. He’s good at using his speed to blow past people and he’s a very nice passer, but if defenses played him the same way all Lin would do is reset the offense by passing it off and forcing Melo or JR to take a contested jumper. His stats might look a bit better but the team gets a lot worse, Lin has a horrible mid range game and can’t shoot worth shit, if he’s not getting to the paint in Houston how is he going to get into the paint in New York? (Don’t bring up 1 game to prove a point)

    Felton and Lin are both average point guards, Felton fits this team better because those mid range jumpers are all this team is going to get with Melo, Amar’e, and Sheed out.

  13. Hubert Davis

    Eric Chen:

    The Knicks will likely bow out in a valiantly contested close series against a top contender, 2nd round, maybe conference finals.

    Sorry to burst your bubble but there is no evidence to suggest that is “likely.” We ARE the top contender that a valiant, flawed team is going to lose to in the second round.

  14. The Honorable Cock Jowles

    Hubert Davis: Sorry to burst your bubble but there is no evidence to suggest that is “likely.”We ARE the top contender that a valiant, flawed team is going to lose to in the second round.

    u must be confusing urself with teh knicks

    YOU are not an top contender

    YOU sit on top uv ur couch watchen TV

  15. Mr.RIGHT

    Brian Cronin:
    This is what I don’t get – you got the precise result you wanted. The Rockets won, Lin had a good game, Felton had a bad game. So why are you so angry? It’s stupid. Just be happy, don’t be all “Grrr! Argh! Fat Ray!” It’s not cool.

    Brian I am NOT a ROCKETS FAN! I like Knickerbockers , I just CANNOT WATCH Fat-Ray everytime he has the ball I cringe and hope he passes it to Jkidd at the Point!

  16. Mr.RIGHT

    Juany8:

    Lin has a horrible mid range game and can’t shoot worth shit, if he’s not getting to the paint in Houston how is he going to get into the paint in New York? (Don’t bring up 1 game to prove a point)

    Felton and Lin are both average point guards, Felton fits this team better because those mid range jumpers are all this team is going to get with Melo, Amar’e, and Sheed out.

    Hor$esheet! JWin #17 is NOT A HORRIBLE SHOOT … The guy has been MONEY at the three line w/. game on the line. ..And unlike Fat-Ray can make a lay up, JLin speed would open up shots even more from the 3 point line for others like Nova & JR & Melo occasionally (which what Knicks are doing now anyway with or without Ray-Ray)

    Tired of people treating you like you’re only a Linsanity fan and NOT A TRUE KNICK FAN for defending him? … FAT RAY-RAY is TONEY DOUGLAS + JOHN STARKS GAME #7 = COMBINED trust me!

  17. StatsTeacher

    I am a Lin guy, but let’s not compare 1 or 2 games and say Lin this and Ray that — that’s stupid. The Knicks will need to deal with fast, attacking backcourts, that’s what we learned last night. That and the East is just way, way weaker than the West. Lin’s shot needs work (stating the ovious) but I actually think his ball handling and PG skills have really improved. Houston needs a 4 desperatley. Knicks need Melo back and it was fun watchin’ Lin go off, hope he’s not back to 2 for 9 and no FT’s Wed lol. I hope THCJ has not had a stroke.

  18. nicos

    Juany8:
    The whole Felton vs. Lin argument blatantly ignores how defenses have adjusted to defending the Knicks. Early in the season teams were playing their standard pick and roll defense on the Knicks, and the pick and roll was incredible, constantly leading to dunks for Chandler or wide open 3?s all over the court. Teams adjusted, however, and now they are giving Felton space and staying close to Chandler to deny penetration, along with staying in close to the 3 point shooters as opposed to helping. Whether or not Felton should take all of those mid range shots, that’s pretty much all the pick and roll will be yielding quite often, especially against smart defenses.

    The only teams that have really succeeded at that strategy have been Houston and Chicago- no surprise considering Asik and Noah are probably the two best defensive bigs in the league and two of three games came without Melo so they could really concentrate on stopping the pnr.

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