Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Jerome James

KnickerBlogger: At the time of Jerome James’ signing, I kept some quotes from RealGM’s Knick message board, because they were quite optimistic. Unfortunately RealGM has decided to scrub their message board of anything over a certain age, so I can’t link to these quotes, nor can I attribute them to the original author. I can’t take credit for the wisdom of the quotes, but I can take credit for the title in bold for each of them.

There’s a Nazr Thomas?

Certainly James is as good as Nazr and Kurt Thomas.

Jerome James has a jump shot from 7 feet away? or Is “size” an SAT word?

James has the sice and strength to hold down the middle for us and he’s shown great ability in the playoffs (when it matters the most). Let’s give his 7 footer a shot before we bash Isiah, please.

Better than Wilt too, although I’m pretty sure the stats don’t back that up either.

James is also better than Hunter, even if the stats don’t back that up.

I guess another roommate could help pay the rent.

Please live with Jerome James- He will get more rebounds he played along side with Evans and Fortson- he will only get more rebounds. He will get more minutes which will produce into more rebounds!

And if he doesn’t?

If James plays to the potential he showed in the playoffs, he’s a good choice.
I restate what I just said: Centers tend to be overpaid. All James has to do is clog the lane, body up on defense, and rebound. The Knicks will be fine.

Paging Red Holzman

I still think, though, that James will play like he did in the playoffs with the right coach for the Knicks.

F this quote!

F the stats, F how much we paid him. How about the fact that IT saw something in James that he thinks is worth bringing him to NY!!

It’s hard to look historically back on the Jerome James signing and see any positives. With one good playoff series, after 5 years of mediocre play, James could have hung a sign on his head that said “someone will overpay me.” And the Knicks did. It’s not the worst move that Isiah Thomas has done, but consider that the James signing had two negative aspects. The first was the loss of Jackie Butler. James’ contract made Butler expendable. And although Butler languished at the end of the Spurs bench, remember that he’s still only 22 years old and is $18M cheaper than James. Butler was recently acquired by Houston, to backup Yao Ming and the undying zombie known as Dikembe Mutombo.

Second is that James’ signing hurt the Knicks on the court this year. James’ worst trait as a ‘defensive specialist’ was his awful foul rate. James committed 11 fouls for 40 minutes – nearly double the next Knick (Malik Rose) and nearly triple that of fourth string center Kelvin Cato (4.2 PF/40). That ratio is so bad, that given the opportunity Jerome James would foul out of a game in 22 minutes. I’m convinced that Cato would have been a better solution for the Knicks (again at a fraction of the cost). While neither Cato nor James could score, Cato was much better on defense. You could judge them by point differential (the Knicks were 10.2 points per 100 possession better with Cato on the court, versus 6.9 for James) or traditional stats (4.2 to 2.2 BLK/40, 1.3 to 0.9 STL/40, 13.1 to 9.7 REB/40). Although the Knicks were desperate for defense, Isiah could have found a better solution than playing Jerome James.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: F

2008 Outlook: Two things will keep James a Knick for another year. The first being James’ contract, the second being the lack of defense from the rest of the team. Isiah Thomas was so desperate for defensive help that he inserted James into starting lineup for a stretch this year. Just because James started, didn’t mean he’d get a lot of playing time. Frequently he would head to the bench after 2 fouls and never come back into the game. With 17 players under contract, there is a possibility that Jerome James will get cut, but something tells me Isiah likes his moxie, and James will see some court time in 2008.

Dave Crockett

I’ll tell you what bothered me most about the James signing. Basketball defense begins on the perimeter; the objective of good defensive teams is to keep the offense from getting the ball to high percentage areas. Defense in “the paint” is vital but is unlikely to matter much if the offense is getting easy shots. Until he signed Jared Jeffries and drafted Renaldo Balkman it wasn’t clear that Thomas paid much attention to his perimeter defense. Thomas didn’t just overpay for what he thought he was getting in James he was wrong for thinking it in the first place, especially considering his ability to find cheap defensive specialists in the bargain bin (e.g., Kelvin Cato). I actually count “Big Snacks” as Thomas’ worst move. It was not his most expensive or most destructive but it was his most wreckless. It was the equivalent of looking both ways and still walking out in front of traffic.

Knicks 2007 Report Card (A to Z): Kelvin Cato

KnickerBlogger: Cato played only 95 minutes this year, the fewest in his 10 year career. It’s a shame because his skill set is complementary to that of Curry’s, and Cato could have helped the Knicks in spot duty. Cato is a very good defender, and the Knicks desperately needed help in that area. New York finished 24th in defensive efficiency.

KnickerBlogger’s Grade: Incomplete

2008 Outlook: The Knicks would be lucky to resign Cato, and give him whatever minutes they gave to Jerome James. For his career he doesn’t block shots as often as James (2.6 to 3.2 blk/40), but he commits less fouls (5.1 to 8.3 pf/40), turnovers (1.7 to 3.4 pf/40), and is a better rebounder (10.8 to 9.2 reb/40). Unfortunately Isiah has James signed until 2010, so James will eat up the deep bench center minutes. Most likely next season Cato will find a team that will actually play him.

Brian Cronin: Looking back, I guess the market out there for Kelvin Cato just wasn’t as big as one would think, because why else would he sign with the Knicks? Talent-wise, it’s a great fit, as Cato is the type of strong defender that the Knicks really could use (and he can still move quick enough that he could hang with the Lees and Balkmans of the world…well, maybe not, but still better than Curry! In other words, this isn’t a big stiff we’re talking about here), but manpower-wise, he had to know he wasn’t going to get to play, so I guess no other team had a need for him, which is too bad, as I think he could help out a number of teams. I really liked what little we saw of him this year. But yeah, any grade other than “Incomplete” would be silly here.

The Knicks’ Defensive Stopper Dilemma

Originally I was going to write an article about David Lee’s minutes, or lack thereof. Even though Brian Cronin is the president of the “Free David Lee” club, I’m a card carrying member. This seemed like an especially good idea after Lee’s last game. The forward scored 20 points and led the Knicks in minutes, defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds, and free throws. Unfortunately Lee was given the playing time not due to his wonderful production, but because of the foul trouble of the Knicks frontcourt. Frye only managed to stay on the court for 10 minutes before earning his 6th foul; meanwhile Curry shot well (10-12 for 26 pts) but only grabbed a single rebound before hitting the bench for good in the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately for those that wanted to read more about David “Shallow Waters” Lee, my research led me in another direction. While some writers would have continued onward with their originally intended article, that’s not my style. I prefer letting the facts lead me, rather than distorting or ignoring them to fit my opinion. In any case I wanted to look at how Lee’s minutes affected the Knicks. So I singled out the games where he played a large amount of minutes & wanted to see how the team fared. To use as a comparison, I decided to do the same with another Knick: Jared Jeffries. And that’s when the data took me on a different journey.

Jeffries, Isiah’s most notable offseason signing, was brought to New York to boost the team’s porous defense. He missed the beginning of the year with an injury, and was suspended for 4 games when he returned. Due to his missed time, I have a good amount of data with and without Jeffries to get an idea of how he affects the team. In the 29 games that Jeffries played less than 20 minutes (or missed altogether), the Knicks defensive efficiency was 110.2. In the 12 games that the Knicks swingman played 20 or more minutes per game the Knicks defensive efficiency was 112.9. In other words with Jared Jeffries the Knicks allowed 2.7 points more per 100 possessions than they do without him. Unfortunately this isn’t the only data that shows Jeffries inability to improve the Knicks’ defense. 82games.com shows New York to be 5.3 points worse on defense when Jeffries was on the court.

The problem isn’t Jeffries per se. Last year the Wizards were 4.6 points better on defense with Jeffries on the court. And from what I’ve seen this year, Jeffries is a solid, but not spectacular, defender. So why aren’t the Knicks getting the same performance boost from their starting small forward?

Looking at Jeffries’ 82games.com page from last year, his top 3 most frequent floor units all included Brendan Haywood. At the time of the Jeffries signing, there was a general consensus that Haywood was Washington’s best defender. Pairing Jeffries with a strong defensive center in Haywood enhanced Jeffries’ effectiveness. This year, Jeffries has been paired most often with Eddy Curry, a notoriously poor help defender, and the results have been unfavorable.

Armed with this knowledge, the Knicks are in a quandary. Option one would be not to change their rotation. However it’s obvious that Jeffries alone isn’t enough to make New York a decent defensive team. Last year 20 players received at least 1 vote for defensive player of the year, and Jeffries wasn’t among them. He’s just not a lockdown on the level of Bowen, Artest, or Prince. Another option would be to try to emulate Washington’s success with Jeffries. Isiah could give more minutes to some of the defensive minded centers like Kelvin Cato or Jerome James. Unfortunately this would mean that it would cut into the minutes of Curry, Lee, and Frye. The third option is to limit Jeffries’ minutes. If Jeffries isn’t as productive defensively without a strong presence in the middle, then it doesn’t make sense to play him. The Knicks would be better off giving the minutes to David Lee and Balkman, who fared well when Jeffries was suspended.

At the time of this writing the Knicks are ranked 11th on offense, but only 26th on defense. If they seriously want to compete, even in a weak Atlantic, they’ll need to improve those numbers. Considering how bad they are, it’d probably be easier for New York to become more efficient on defensive. Jared Jeffries has shown that he can help on the defensive end, but the Knicks aren’t using him to his fullest extent.

How to Fix the Knicks

I’ve watched every minute of every game this year, and I can state for the record that the Knicks have not been a good team thus far. New York is 2-5 and their 2 wins have come at a grand total of 3 points. While only the most rabid Knick fans expected New York to compete in the East this year, most prognosticators (save for the most rabid Knick hater) expected them to make some kind of improvement on their abysmal 2006 campaign. So far, their expected win% is close to their actual win percentage last year. As of this writing, the Knicks are ranked 22nd on offense and 28th on defense and haven’t shown much improvement overall as a team. While the year hasn’t gone as optimists would hope, there have been some bright spots on the early season. With a couple of adjustments, New York can improve on this horrid start.

The first step is to take a long look at the starting unit, because in every game this year New York has been down by double digits in the first half. Since the Knick bench has come in and sparked the team, usually making up the difference and then some, it makes sense that Isiah should apply the red pen to his starting roster. The first player I would remove would be Channing Frye. I don’t think anyone predicted such a downhill collapse for the Knicks’ best rookie last year. Frye’s sophomore slide is so huge, Disney has contacted his agent for a Splash Mountain commercial tie-in. Although Channing’s defense has been acceptable (per 40 minutes he’s averaging 1.4BLK & 1.7STL), he’s absolutely lost on offense. Frye’s 22% shooting percentage is well below the Tskitishvili-line (currently at 33.8%), and is the only stat I need to communicate how poor he’s been on offense.

But Channing Frye isn’t the only culprit. His frontcourt-mate Eddy Curry has been equally feeble. Although Frye is giving the Knicks some production on defense, Curry has given the Knicks nothing back on the defensive end. The 6-11 Curry has averaged 0.6 blocks per 40 minutes, which is an embarrassment for a player his size. Jamal Crawford, a 6-6 guard not known for his defense, is nearly at the same rate (0.5 BLK/40). Meanwhile, Curry’s 0.4 STL/40 is last on the team among the regular players. While defensive stats don’t tell the whole story, Eddy’s defense has been even worse to the eye. The Knicks’ center is just as bad defending his own man as he is helping contain penetrators into the lane. As a child, Curry was given the nickname “Lurch” for being the quiet giant, but I think the name “David” is more fitting. It’s not because Eddy Curry reminds me of David Robinson, a fantastic defensive center in his own right. It’s because Curry stands around like a giant statue on defense, ala Michelangelo’s famous sculpture.

Usually Curry’s defenders (not the NBA players that actually defend Curry, but guys like Knick’s owner James Dolan who thinks Curry “will develop into a league-leading center”) point to his offensive numbers in an effort to cast him in a productive light. Unfortunately for them, Eddy Curry’s points, turnovers, assists, and fouls are below his career average. In any case, Curry’s defense is so bad at this point he shouldn’t be on the court without a strong defensive player next to him.

If Isiah wants to turn his team around in the first quarter, starting the game off with Curry & Frye on the bench would be a good start. While it’s simple to identify them as the culprits (82games.com has the pair as the two worst Knicks in regards to +/-), finding two suitable replacements isn’t as easy. David Lee is the obvious choice, as he leads the Knicks with a 21.95 PER. Lee’s strength has been his work on the glass, and he’s third in the league in rebounding rate. The ambidextrous forward has a nice touch around the hoop, and he doesn’t demand the ball to score. “Buddy” Lee is able to put points on the board either cleaning up his teammates misses or being the beneficiary of a well placed pass. But after Lee, the choices are slim.

The popular choice might be Malik Rose, who has earned a name for himself by playing fantastic defense the last few games. But Rose’s poor shooting skills and high demand for the ball make him a poor mix with the offensive starters. If the Knick guards can ignore his repeated demands for the ball in the post, it could work, but that’s not likely to work. My choice would be to give Kelvin Cato a try.

Adding Cato & Lee to the starting 5 makes sense on a few levels. First off the starting group already has enough offensive minded players in as Marbury, Crawford/Francis, and Richardson. Let the offense center around these three, augmented by Lee’s strong rebounding. The loss of Curry and Frye’s post skills can be replaced partly with David Lee and partly with Quentin Richardson who can take smaller players on the blocks. Meanwhile on defense, Cato will provide more resistance to quicker guards that get past the Knick perimeter. If the loss of potential offense bothers you remember the Knicks will be able to run more often if they make more stops on defense. And with Cato’s defense and Lee’s rebounding, they should be able to get more stops on defense.

In the meantime I’ve given a pass to the rest of the Knick not because all is well with the guards, but rather because the frontcourt has been disastrous. Additionally Francis’ injury has given him a pass for the early season, and his return will muddle the situation anyway. In the next few games, I imagine that Channing Frye will be benched for David Lee because Frye’s season has been so obviously bad and Lee’s so good. However Eddy Curry shouldn’t receive a free pass due to the amount the franchise has invested into him. While Cato doesn’t have Curry’s potential nor does his numbers on paper make him a logical starter, the Knicks are desperate for defense and it wouldn’t be so bad to see how he affects New York’s on the court chemistry.

Leading the Blind

Hey folks, I totally missed last night’s game, so all I have to go on it is the recap and the box score, so how about you folks fill me in on the particulars?

Why did Isiah not go to Kelvin Cato or Malik Rose on Yao? Did he try them for a little bit and they looked awful?

Is T-Mac just in a huge shooting slump, or did the Knicks play good defense on him?

Did Marbury have as good of a game as his stats indicate (although what’s up with the downward trend with his free throw shooting?)? Same question for David Lee.

Did Channing Frye look awful again?

NEWS AND NOTES

* I know we all love reading about LB, so here‘s a column by Adrian Wojnarowski that basically says that LB is now “Artest in Armani.”

* Jermaine O’Neal might want back on Team USA. That’d be pretty cool.

* I saw a little bit of the Heat/Nets game last night. The Heat didn’t look that bad.

Two Losses Exposes Two Knick Weaknesses

After starting off the season on the right foot with a win in Memphis, the Knicks have reverted back to their old ways. New York lost by 10 in Atlanta, and was embarrassed in their home opener with a 14 point loss against Indiana. Both times the Knicks had started off the 4th quarter within striking distance. Against the Hawks they were only down by 6, and against the Pacers Nate Robinson’s three pointer brought them within 1. Unfortunately the fourth quarter wasn’t kind to New York in either game, and now the Knicks are under .500 only 3 games into the season.

Just 3 days ago in my preseason preview I said:

The backcourt is undersized and the frontcourt doesn?t offer much help, which is a recipe for disaster.

And that’s exactly how the Hawks beat New York, by exposing their weak defense. Atlanta only made 4 of 14 from beyond the arc, but shot a dazzling 51% from 2 point range. The Hawks used their quickness to get past the Knick guards and there was no help from their teammates. Unlike the Memphis game, New York didn’t have a blocked shot from their big men. Only Jamal Crawford and Renaldo Balkman (in only 4 minutes) altered any Hawks shots. Not only did the Knick big men have problems with the Hawk’s guards and forwards, but center Zaza Pachulia used his speed in the paint to score 22 points.

A day later, the Pacers used another line from my preseason preview to defeat New York.

Between Marbury, Francis, and Jeffries the Knicks don?t have a reliable jump shooter to stretch defenses.

As I mentioned earlier, the Knicks started off the fourth quarter down by a single point. The Pacers went to a zone defense and the Knicks only managed 19 points in the final frame. Marbury & Crawford suffered the most, shooting a pathetic 3-18 (19% eFG). Indiana tried to funnel the Knick offense to Jermaine O’Neal who ended the game with 5 blocks. On the other hand when New York tried the same tactic on defense, Indiana moved the ball around until Harrington, Jackson, Armstrong, or Jasikevicius had a wide open shot. The Knicks allowed a healthy 8 of 19 from three point land to the Pacers, while only making 4 of 17.

So on consecutive nights, the Knicks lose in two different ways. The Hawks beat the Knicks’ defense on the inside, while the Pacers beat the Knicks’ offense from the outside. Isiah Thomas might be able to solve the Knicks defensive issues by giving more playing time to Kelvin Cato. Getting Jeffries back would certainly help as well, but until then Zeke might want to give Renaldo Balkman a closer look. Offense may be a tougher issue to solve. Getting Eddy Curry more touches could open up the offense, but ultimately Jamal Crawford has to stop shooting like Freddie Crawford.

Knicks 118 Grizzlies 117, 3OT

First Quarter

Damon Stoudamire killed the Knicks by blowing past Stephon Marbury, and Curry offered no help. Meanwhile Mike Miller was lighting it up on the outside. Francis is forcing up shots. The Knicks are down by 5 at the end of the quarter

Second Quarter

The Knicks start off the quarter with their small lineup. David Lee is the center, accompanied by Balkman at PF, with a 3 guard lineup of Crawford, Marbury, and Robinson. It’s obvious the Knicks want to run against the slow paced Grizzlies, but to do so New York must force stops on the defensive ends. When they grab a defensive rebound, they are able to run the court well. Unfortunately they’re only able to prevent Memphis from scoring about half the time.

Nate Robinson earned a technical under the new league rules on outbursts. Unless Robinson is a quick learner, expect to see more of this as he’s the most demonstative Knick.

With Curry back in, the Grizzlies are still penetrating the lane with their smaller guys. Eddy is too slow to help out. To my astonishment, the Knick announcers Gus Johnson & Walt Frazier state that Eddy Curry isn’t in foul trouble because the Grizzlies aren’t an interior team to challenge Curry. True they don’t have a post presence, but they’ve created a lot of plays by getting past the Knick guards into the paint and Curry hasn’t been there to help out.

On a Memphis possession, the Knick announcers say “a Gay turnaround jumper.” Chuckles heard in the KnickerBlogger household.

Quentin Richardson is on fire. Forget what I said about his shooting yesterday, at least for tonight. At the end of the half, he has 13 points on a perfect 5-5 shooting. Counting the 3-3 from the field, and I have his eFG at a remarkable 130%. Curry has quiet 10 points at the half as well, but also has picked up his 3rd foul. The Knicks are up 51-46 at the half.

Third Quarter

One promising tidbit from the MSG announcers, they state that Isiah Thomas doesn’t care about how many points the Knicks give up per game. All he is concerned with is opponent FG% and the point differential. Although I would have been happier with eFG% and points/possesion, I’m satisfied that Isiah Thomas understands that pace can affect per game averages.

During this quarter he has two goaltending calls. Up until this point Eddy Curry is just about useless on defense, until now. His first block of the game is a vicious rejection of a Roberts attempted dunk. Curry’s big size allows him to land standing. Marbury lets 10 seconds run off the 24 second clock for Curry to make it up court. The replay shows Eddy just standing there after the block. Maybe Eddy is just as shocked with the block as the rest of us. It’s not all bad for Curry as he has grabbed a bunch of boards, and is the Knicks second leading scorer at this point. He has a double-double on the stat sheet. With a moderate defensive game, he’d be an All Star.

Rookie Renaldo Balkman looks nervous. Off a steal, Balkman has a few steps on the rest of the Grizzly team, but attempts to pass the ball to a trailing teammate. The ball sails out of bounds.

By the end of the quarter, the Knicks are up by 11.

Fourth Quarter

The Knicks looking to keep their lead come out charging. Unfortunately charging is illegal in the NBA. New York’s offense is all charges and forced shots. Curry earns his fifth foul, which sends him to the bench. Before he does, one of the Memphis forwards spins around right past him and dunks. It happened so fast I wasn’t sure if it was Warrick or Gay.

Almost unbelievably, the Knicks blow the lead and the game is tied at 89. David Lee preserves the tie by blocking a shot with 20 seconds left to give New York one last possession. Crawford has the ball for the last shot. He lets the clock down to a couple of seconds before attempting a three point shot. Walt Clyde Frazier hits the nail on the head when he calls the play “stupid.” Let me count the reasons. First, why not move the ball around to find an easy shot? Second, why not give it to Curry who was back in the game for the final 20 seconds? Third why not drive to the hoop & hope a double team opens a teammate or draw a foul? Finally, why a three point shot when you only need 1 point to win?

Memphis outscores the Knicks 29-18 in this quarter.

Fifth Quarter

Curry is back in and helps turn the tides for New York with his defense. With 3 minutes left, Eddy blocks a Lowry drive with authority. The block leads to a Knick fast break that Marbury finishes up by spinning past a defender and draining an open jumper. If Eddy could just do that more often…

Francis fouls out, and the Knicks replace him with David Lee. Lee is obviously rewarded for his blocked shot in the fourth quarter. Lee has an up & down quarter, as most of the action surrounds him. He commits a charge on the offensive end, but then a rebound and a quick outlet pass leads to another Marbury fast break. Lee’s contrasting quarter continues when he gets his shot blocked by Rudy Gay, forcing a shot clock violation. However Lee tips in a Crawford miss to give New York a 1 point lead.

On Memphis’ last possession there is a Kelvin Cato sighting. Cato replaces Curry as a defensive specialist, but the Knicks still end up fouling Memphis. Miller proceeds to miss both free throws, however New York allows Warrick to get the rebound, and fouls him with a couple of ticks left on the clock. Warrick hits one of two, and the game goes into double overtime.

Sixth Quarter

Quentin Richardson is keeping the team afloat. Curry tips in a missed Nate Robinson shot. I’ve said some negative things about Curry, but it’s been about his defense not offense. Eddy Curry has been out there for over a quarter now with 5 fouls, but the Knicks are ignoring him on offense. And it’s a damn shame. Marbury & Francis are both relegated to the bench with 6 fouls. Instead of forcing the ball in to the Knicks best option, the guards are taking shot after shot from outside. A few times Curry has decent position in the post, but the Knick guards either ignore him, or swing the ball to the other side. Both Crawford and Nate ignore Curry time after time.

Everyone is tired, including bloggers following the game. KnickerBlogger puts his pen and notepad aside with his cramped hand, and instead of keeping notes he reserves his energy for yelling at the tv.

Despite having the lead for nearly 4 minutes in the quarter, Memphis ties the game with less than half a minute. The game goes into triple overtime.

Seventh Quarter

Good news for New York, the Grizzlies start off the 7th quarter by missing their first three shots. The bad news is that the Grizzlies start off with 3 offensive boards, and end the possession by having Eddy Curry foul out. Channing Frye, the prodigal son, re-enters the game. Crawford finally hits a shot to make him 4 of 21. Maybe John Starks needed 3 more shots in 1994?

Unlike the last quarter, the Knicks spend most of the 7th trailing the Grizzlies. Crawford begins to redeem himself for a poor shooting night and blocks a shot. In a wild series, Frye nervously passes the ball off a referee & in the confusion David Lee is left free under the hoop. The Knicks retain the ball, and find Lee for an easy bucket.

With less than a minute left, Nate Robinson forces shot with 3 guys on him. It’s blocked, but Robinsons ends up with the ball and calls a time out. Again Nate drive to the hoop with 3 defenders trailing. However he’s fouled, but only hits one of two to leave the Knicks down by one.

Again Crawford comes up with a defensive play by stealing the ball. Crawford hits Richardson on the ensuing break, and Richardson is fouled. Despite the positive results, I’m not happy with the play. Crawford gave the ball up way too early, causing Richardson to leave his feet further from the hoop. Every basketball player learns not to give up the ball too early when you have a 2 on 1 advantage.

Richardson sinks both, and the Knicks have to make a big defensive stand to keep their one point lead. Like Cato three quarters ago, there is a Mardy Collins sighting. New York plays smart on the last possession, and it saves them the game. First they used up half the clock before committing their last team foul. Second was the fabulous defensive effort by Richardson on Mike Miller. The Grizzlies inbounded the ball to Miller on the extended elbow. Miller dribbled towards the paint, and Richardson stayed right with him, even when Miller showed an elbow on a turn around dribble. When the Grizzlies forward attempted the final shot of the game Richardson held his ground, never leaving his feet. It was a textbook defensive play, and gave the Knicks the game.

Post Game Thoughts

New York’s problem was going away from the offense. It served them well for 3 quarters, but they abandoned it shortly afterwards. Instead of moving the ball, the last 4 quarters consisted of one guard either settling for a jumper or driving madly to the basket. I’ll say it again, it was a serious mistake for the Knicks to ignore Curry in the extra quarters.

Channing Frye was the forgotten man. He didn’t look comfortable, only shot 2 of 10, and almost fumbled away the ball in the second overtime. Fortunately Lee looked fabulous. His rebounding was sorely needed, and while he had his bad moments, he made a lot of plays that led to the Knicks’ win. He’d be the player of the game, if it wasn’t for Quentin Richardson.

Richardson played phenomenally well. I won’t expect him to hit 10 of 13 every night, including a perfect 5 of 5 from downtown. However if tonight is any indication, it’s possible that Richardson is back to his productive self. Quentin also played tough defense and hit those clutch free throws to give the Knicks the game for good.