Oh, so you thought I wrote only when the Knicks won? Nah, if that was the case there’s a good chance I’d write again in mid-February. Sometimes I have a hour or so to allocate to Knicks writing, sometimes I don’t. This time I do, and it won’t be pretty.
I wish I knew who flipped the switch and what kind of switch it was, but since the last notch in the W column the Knicks have lost 4 straight (well whatever, we kinda expected the Knicks to be 5-7 or worse at this point) and have done so in a very dispiriting fashion. Don’t get fooled by the final score: the Knicks were down 18 with less than 3:30 to play in the fourth. It was a clear specimen of fake, belated and deflated comeback on the heels of the fact that the Nets had understandably checked out. Yeah, Durant got inserted back in the game with 17 seconds to go but I don’t think that counts as a moral victory: if you have a devastating offensive weapon who has to be accounted even 40 feet from the basket and who’s automatic from the stripe, you don’t even have him to break a sweat. You just deploy him in his sweet pajamas and just go along with it as you’re nonchalantly eating away your petit patisserie because it’s suddenly 300% easier to ensure the win. So yeah, no moral victories here.
And look, there’s not much to say about the game either: after a sloppy but well-fought first quarter, that saw the Knicks going down just by one at the buzzer (but only because Randle was hitting from the outside, and you know that’s kind of an outlier), the Nets pulled away because, well, the Knicks were characteristically shooting sideways and quite uncharacteristically – at least based on the first two weeks – defending like they were Abercrombie and Fitch models outside a store: they’re there to look qutie athletic and they’re more likely to step away as soon as you make a move to go inside. At the half, the combined shooting performance from the field of our starting guards and wings was 2 for 19.
During the third the two teams exchanged blows, only the Knicks were already down 16 so it was like watching a goblin and a dragon trading dice rolls hitting each other for 4HP every round: it’s clear who’s gonna win and it still looks like the dragon isn’t even trying while the goblin is laboring like hell just to put a dent on a marginal dragon scale. One sequence told the tale: Randle huffing and puffing and contorting for fifteen seconds and then jumping and gathering his legs like a shrimp interpretative dance and finally shooting just to hit a jumper, and ten seconds later Durant, effortless as ever, hit a midrange two with the same difficulty with which I hit the +30s button on NBA League Pass as soon as a shooting foul is whistled.
The fourth was exactly like the third until 3:30 to the end; the Knicks started eating away at the gap but it was clear that they wouldn’t go nowhere, it was just like those restoration plans that transform old, ugly suburb barracks into fake new, still ugly suburb condos.
In a word: meh.
Oh and I didn’t even touch the subject of the day: the Nets were depleted thanks to their dubious, at least to me, Harden trade. They were forced to play some guy named Reggie Perry 22 (goodish) minutes and paisà Chris Chiozza 24 minutes. KD was playing his first back to back in two years. Bruce Brown was their starting point guard. I mean, KD is playing like his injury almost never happened, but apart from him and Joe Harris everything else should have been jetsam and flotsam, but alas, they thoroughly dominated us.
The good, in haikus:
The energy gone
Still put on thirty points here
Gawd-fugly to watch
Ignored by his mates
He learned not to foul at last
I feel bad for him
The bad, in haikus:
What noise does it make
When your hard to love point guard
Hit nothing but rims?
Thibs gave him the nod
and HERE COMES AUSTIN RIVERS
Results are so bad
– During the third quarter RJ experienced a scoring surge (he started 0-for-5 but ended the game 7-for-15), but amusingly enough it didn’t translate to team success. It’s almost like RJ scoring points have a 0 R-squared effect on how the team plays. That isn’t necessarily bad news, but his skills package still doesn’t make any sense with this roster. Still, a kinda good showing all in all by the sophomore: 20 points, 3 boards, 5 assists. Quite bad on defense, though.
– For such a supposedly capable shooter, Immanuel Quickley’s shot had a bad form from the arc. When he shoots from three it looks like he makes the ball roll up half his right palm and only then he releases it. That shot has a skinny kid at YMCA vibe. Not a totally bad performance per se, but since we need someone, sooner or later, to replace Payton at the helm, if only to preserve our collective sanity in watching a coherent offensive unit, this still won’t do. But it’s good to know the guy can score 19 in 22 minutes in just his 8th NBA game.
– What’s the matter playing (?) Obi 57 seconds? Was Obi dying to tell his grandchildren one day “hey you know what in my second NBA game I played against Kevin Durant”?
– Is Kevin Knox suddenly our best shooter? I can live all day with Knox shooting 6 corner threes per game. Everything else, eh.
– A very undervalued effect of putting on the court so many non-shooters is that when you can’t buy a bucket the overall intensity diminishes by a lot. You could see it in full effect during this game: the effort was never there. No momentum whatsoever, and so many botched defensive possessions. We direly need to shake things up and put more shooting in the starting five. I would try to see what happens putting IQ-token 2 guard-RJ-Knox-Mitch for long stretches. Not saying they should start. But I’d love for that unit to play consistently together, even swapping RJ with Randle if need be.
– Do you really like the Nets trade? I don’t know. Offensively speaking, they look like they have the most firepower anyone has ever had in 75 years of NBA. But I don’t like the characters and I don’t like the chemistry. I also don’t like giving up Jarrett Allen. I think Houston came out very well (not a fan of Dipo there but whatever), I think Indiana did good and I don’t know why Cleveland was the one to get Jarrett Allen but good for them. But if you ask me, unless Sean Marks pull a few championship specials and Steve Nash finds a way to stagger that Big 3, the Nets are due for a few ECF losses. At best. Now, if they flip Irving for some defensive talent…
– Thibs’ well-timed TOs are less a thing than before. Everything’s slipping these days. Body language is bad. Did something happen in the locker room? We were supposed to suck, but this can’t be just a reality check. Something must have been the decisive spark. But what was it?
So many questions, so little time. So much suckitude.