2008 Thread: Sonics at Knicks 12/12/2007

Opposing View: 12/12 at New York

All season long, Sonics Beat will be consulting an expert on the opposing team as part our gameday preview. Today, we get another NBA blog veteran in Mike Kurylo of KnickerBlogger.net. And while we’re talking KnickerBlogger, don’t forget to check out their stats page daily for the latest advanced metrics.


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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

59 thoughts to “2008 Thread: Sonics at Knicks 12/12/2007”

  1. thus far everything’s been clicking unusually well on offense–and by this i mean the bad shots are falling, not that the offense is actually functioning as a cohesive unit. the defense is playing up to expectation–low though it may be. randolph put up a rather gaudy 1st q line, but he’ll fall off.

  2. The problem with this game is that there is much more pressure on the team to win (even more than the others). There’s pressure just to be competitive.

    The Knicks have made their bed so that there really is no winning a game like this, even if they win…

  3. Why is Balkman glued to the pine when Jeffries – who looks like a giraffe on roller skates – gets pt? Does Isiah have some weird rule where he can play Robinson OR Balkman but not both? Oh, I forgot! Isiah’s a terrible coach. Silly me…

  4. Was about to mention that ken, is he in the doghouse?

    Didint isiah get in a shouting match with an unidentified player??

    The fact that curry’s scoring on kurt thomas whose half is size is causing his TERRIBLE defense to be overlooked.

  5. Okay, Gus and Kenny definitely got a note passed to them by MSG brass saying “one more criticism of the Knicks and you’re fired”…

    Kenny just said “Jared Jeffries isn’t the best outside shooter in the world”.

    He’s just asking to be fired!

  6. This team is still unwatchable. It’s the same plays first quarter thru 4th quarter and when they score it don’t mean nothing, all the other pt guard needs is a little screen and he’s got a layup as curry nor randolph are quick enough to stop them.
    What ever happened to Curry’s jumper he said he would have this year?
    This team is so predictable on offense you wonder how they score points.

  7. I really do wonder how Zach Randolph views the world.

    “Okay, we’re down 5, under 2 minutes – I should take a 12-footer. I am awesome.”

    Is this worse than the Philly loss?

  8. “This team is still unwatchable.”

    It is painful to watch, yet I can’t turn it off…

    I don’t even root for them to win. I just can’t not watch for some strange, masochistic reason that my therapist will have to help me with…

    Since Dolan won’t.

  9. I apologize, Zach.


    My bad (not that Durant taking a shot just inside the 3-point arc was much better thinking).

  10. IT deserves the blame for this one.
    Jeffries was actually having a pretty good game.
    Then he gets taken out.
    WTH? Who else was going to guard Durant? Jones? Yea, that worked out well.

  11. What I learned from the fourth quarter of this game:

    – Kevin Durant is “a finisher”. “His strength is in his ability”, according to Kenny Smith.

    – PJ Carlesimo looks like the kind of guy who would play Pinochle with my grandfather over at the Jewish Center. Love the gold-rimmed glasses.

    -That guy from Police Academy is still alive and starring in a Geico commercial


    Quoth Kenny: “I wouldn’t say it’s a bad team. I would say, uh, you have to know your strengths”. SO amusing watching him try to figure out exactly what these “strengths” are.

  12. it’s looking like we’re the second worst team in basketball, ahead of only Minnesota. hopefully we’ll end up with the lottery position to match, at least.

  13. Did you watch Crawford on defense? Every time a screen was set he made no effort to fight through it and the entire defense broke down. Curry sucks, but let’s stop blaming him for no help defense, it starts with every opposing guard abusing Jamal.

    Here’s a stark contrast: Durant goes to the hoop and dunks, Crawford goes to the hoop and Thomas steps in and draws a charge. Next Knick game the Nissan trivia question should be: name the last Knick to draw an offensive foul?

  14. What even happened here? Did Nate shoot us out of the game?

    Lee has a very solid line, and a -17. Por que?

    I saw the last minute, the Durant dunk, and Lee and Crawford looking like fools, I don’t know whose fault it was but that was really really ugly…

  15. Some of you guys seem to put way too much weight on a +/- for one game. I’d say +/- in any one game is almost meaningless, there’s too much noise involved.

    I really don’t understand why Kenny Smith gets so much shit on here. “His strength is in his ability” — if he did say that, yes it’s a meaningless, silly comment. But he made numerous sharp insights throughout the game. And obviously he can’t openly rip the Knicks — look what happened to Marv. Frazier is just a bad joke at this point. I’d much rather hear Smith.

  16. I don’t put any stock in +/- unless it reflects well on David Lee. Everyone knows that about me… ;-)

    Going to have to respectfully disagree, I prefer Walt, but that may be because our relationship goes way way back to when i had to hide my clock radio under my pillow so my parents wouldn’t catch me listening to the Knicks…

  17. Reason #1,544,691 to fire Isiah, from his Wikipedia page:

    “Thomas, a self-proclaimed fan of popcorn who has served as the official spokesperson for National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, is a partner in the New York-based gourmet-popcorn chain Dale and Thomas Popcorn.[6] It was known as “Popcorn, Indiana”, prior to his investment. The company currently has seven stores, plus online and mail-order operations.”

    He’s got popcorn on the brain.

  18. Hey, I loved Walt back in the day too. I’d be driving around while listening to him on the FAN, and some of the shit he’d say would be so hilarious I’d pull off the road to write it down.

    But it’s played out now. He’s been repeating the same little phrases for 20 years. Half the time he uses them when they don’t even apply (“wheeling and dealing” when the guy puts up a shot?). Half of his $5 words he doesn’t even use correctly. And all this might be forgivable if he ever shared some real analysis, but he rarely makes a insightful point. It’s all cliche and fan-speak: “Lacks confidence” “Unfocused” “Inconsistent” “Rushed his shot”

  19. Johnny,

    I agree that what he says has no substance, but at least Walt’s a character, just like John Madden, Bill Walton, and even the much-beleaguered Joe Morgan are characters. None of what they say makes any sense, but they’re endearing, like small children with limited concepts of the world around them. Kenny Smith commits the sin of being both simplistic AND boring.

    I WANT the commentators to be good. I would love to hear insightful commentary during a game, but there are few guys I can think of off the top of my head that offer this — Doug Collins? Hubie Brown?

    Just like the Knicks, if the commentators are going to be dreadful, we might as well have a good time making fun of them.

  20. Clyde is better than Kenny, Clyde is better than he used to be. Kenny is settling in, though, I don’t think he has almost any experience on actual games, so he should keep getting better.

    Owen, we lost the game because Isiah wouldn’t play Balkman (6 minutes), IMO. Q left hurt early, and Jeffries took most of his minutes after that, and Fred Jones was on Durrant for some reason.

  21. Possible New Thread Topic: What’s wrong with Balkman? If nothing, then what’s wrong with Isaiah for not playing him?

  22. True, Walt is a character. I’m just tired of the character, and he gets on my nerves these days. But if you still find him enjoyable, so be it.

    Madden used to be excellent. I barely watch the NFL anymore and when I do it’s only Giants games, so I never hear him anymore. A few years ago I’d say he was definitely falling off but still fun to listen to.

    Walton, I used to really like, and I realize that put me in a small minority (me and my Dad, I think). I can’t even remember anymore if I thought he had any good analysis, but I loved the completely outlandish shit he would say. Then he became a parody of himself.

    Joe Morgan I don’t even see as much of a character. He takes everything so damn seriously. After 20 years he still doesn’t get when Jon Miller’s making a joke.

    Kenny Smith — he’s not A character, but to me he HAS character. Aesthetically I just like listening to him, his rhythm, his voice, his attitude. And I’ve probably only heard him do a handful of games, but I do think he understands what certain players are doing well or poorly, and communicates the how and why, rather than being purely reactionary. No one else seems to agree, so perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe next time he does a game I’ll take some notes on his commentary for evidence of my claims.

  23. Actually, I’m beginning to admit to myself that I prefer Kenny to Clyde. I used to love Clyde on the radio, and I remember reading something about how he was asked to tone down the schtick for television. I do seem to remember Clyde being laugh-out-loud funny on the radio. I enjoyed those games, but maybe it was because the team itself had character.

    But I have another announcer that bothers me, and, for some reason, I feel I’m alone in this. But I find Gus Johnson tremendously irritating. I know that Simmons loves Gus, but I’ve never liked his bland enthusiasm. I certainly don’t mind enthusiaism. When Marv gets worked up, it raises the level of the game. But Gus is gleefully excited about everything. He probably goes home and says, “We’re having mashed potatoes….AND GRAVY!?! Count it!”

    I probably also dislike Gus because he seems extra happy when the Knicks lose. That is, he is always his ludicrously animated self even in losses. He’ll say, “Oh, that’s a nice dunk by Durant to win the game! Look out Knicks fans, ha ha ha.”

  24. I like Kenny Smith — he struggles with the english language (not as badly as Clyde) but I actually think he gives good insight on a player level.

    Don’t think Balkman’s hurt — I just don’t think he’s that good, perhaps. I made the comparison a few weeks ago with Jerome Williams — unfortunately I think I’m right.

    I actually didn’t mind the effort out of the team last night — problem is they just don’t look like they know what they’re doing on defense. I mean, how many times were the knicks running around lunging at wide open shooters yesterday? And it’s not like they were really doubling anyone. The players just had no idea where they were supposed to be. That is on the coach.

    Few more things– why is Fred Jones (ie. listed at 6’4″ but really is 6’2″) guarding Durant?

    I did actually see Jamal fight through a screen last night. I think that might’ve been a first!

    And Eddy Curry needs to lose 20 lbs. When you can’t even keep up with old man (and one of my favorite ex-Knicks) Kurt Thomas, you’ve got a serious fitness problem.

    When will this nightmare end? I feel like Dolan is just keeping Isiah to spite the fans because of the general disgust that we all have for both of them. It really make come down to David Stern forcing a change — can he do that?

  25. Stern didn’t do anything with Donald Sterling and the Clippers for years, what makes you think he’ll do anything to rescue the Knicks?

    That will never happen.

    This nightmare will continue unless Dolan has an epiphany that he has to get someone with a basketball mind and just get out of the damn way.

    A decent coach would be a plus as well.

    At this rate we may not smell the playoffs for another decade.

  26. “Don?t think Balkman?s hurt ? I just don?t think he?s that good, perhaps. I made the comparison a few weeks ago with Jerome Williams ? unfortunately I think I?m right.”

    I have to say – I think you’re way off base.

    Everyone knows the Knicks are secretive with the press, and even they publicly announced he had a stress fracture that made him miss all of training camp, then announced an ankle sprain a week later. Plus, just watching him, he’s not moving like he did a year ago. I’m guessing that’s a big reason for all his fouling, which has been a problem this year. Bad ankle = less lateral motion = lots of clutching.

    But even hurt, his impact is ridiculous. Even this year, the Knicks are 7 points better when he’s on the court, than when he’s off.

    Last year his defensive #s were awesome and his rebounding rate was the best of any small forward in the league. (Not to mention, he’s a good ballhandler and doesn’t take bad shots).

    To look at just one measure… even though PER ignores defense completely except for big-time shot-blockers, his PER was above the league average last year — as a rookie. Factor in the defense and he looks like an impact player, IMO.

    Of course we’ll never know for sure until he gets on the court more.

  27. Caleb — I hope you’re right. Clearly something is wrong this year — either it’s because he’s not as good as we thought or he’s hurt.

    This season is just so painful. I hate rooting for my team to lose and lose badly just so we can get a good pick and get rid of our so-called coach/GM.

  28. “Balkman also doesn?t take good shots?because he can?t shoot.”

    Don’t knock it… Crawford can’t shoot and he jacks it up 20 times a game.

    Avoiding bad plays is almost as important as making good ones.

  29. Caleb: I agree, but Balkman is a severely limited player. Seeing him on the court at the same time as David Lee is comical (not as comical as seeing Zach/Curry, or Crawford/Marbury, but still pretty good). I remember one sequence in the Dallas game, New York sort of inadvertently ran a 2-man game with Lee and Balkman. Dirk was guarding Lee, who set a pick for Balkman. Dallas switched, and when Dirk realized he was guarding Balkman, he backed off of him by a good 5-10 feet. Balkman stood there for a few seconds before passing back to Lee, who was entirely useless at that particular point because he was further than 10 feet from the basket.

    It was just a good little microcosm of the whole Knicks season. Everyone was calling for Lee and Balkman to get more PT, and then when they end up out there at the same time, they end running the most laughably bad offensive possession I’ve ever seen. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, I guess. But much of the blame for that sequence I described above does go to IT. Is this team even coached? Like, at all? Do they even have plays that they run, or defensive schemes they adhere to? This isn’t the YMCA, Isiah, you can’t just go out and play with absolutely no game plan (unless you happen to have Steve Nash on your team).

  30. MC5, I don’t worry about putting Lee and Balkman on the court at the same time. With this roster, we still have 3 ballhogs on the court at the same time – and there are only so many shots to go around.

    But I totally agree that it’s IT’s fault – as both coach and GM – for having an offense that’s neither fish nor fowl. We don’t play fast, we don’t play slow. Lee and Balkman are the best players on the roster, IMO, but they would obviously look better in a system that was based on running (off rebounds).

    Unfortunately, “The Quick” is built around 2 big slow guys, surrounded by guards and wing players who can’t shoot. Our PG runs a nice pick and roll but he’s paired with bigs who can’t hit jump shots either.

    meanwhile, lee and balkman have to just stand there watching.

    In my fantasy universe, we trade Randolph and/or Curry, and build around the better young players, turn them loose and dump this Ewing-era offense.

  31. “but Balkman is a severely limited player…”

    There are many aspects to basketball. Shooting, finishing, dribbling, moving without the ball, rebounding, the transition game, keeping your man in front of you, rotating on the weak side, defending the pick & roll, blocking shots, playing ball denial, playing the passing lanes, to name a few.

    I think Jamal Crawford is limited in more of these areas than Balkman.

  32. “Crawford can?t shoot and he jacks it up 20 times a game. Avoiding bad plays is almost as important as making good ones.”

    But someone has to shoot…

    choose your poison: Balkman or Crawford? (or Q, Randolph, Lee, Curry, Nate, Fred Jones, Mardy…)

    They all are bad shooters, and you can’t score in the post or paint every time (except against the Knicks).

  33. I will give Isaiah credit for 1 thing: watching the Knicks play this year has greatly heightened my ability to analyze basketball. Watching a really poorly coached team can give you better insights about what not to do than a well coached team will give you insights as to what to do. Why? Because with really good teams, you aren’t supposed to notice every little detail, but with a poorly coached team each decision is magnified 10 fold. so thanks, IT, for helping me learn how NOT to coach a team.

    Mike K: People are seeing things in Balkman that I’m just not, I guess. I know his defensive numbers were great last year, but I hardly ever saw him matched up against the opposing team’s player for extended periods. Not that I think Crawford is a great player or anything, but I’m far from convinced that Balkman will have any value in, say, 5 years time. And even if he’s better at most of those things than Crawford, he’s such a liability in a half-court offense that his strengths don’t really compensate. You don’t have to guard him, at all. Balkman’s presence means the other team gets to play 5 on 4 in a half court defense. I wonder what sort of percentages he shoots in practice.

  34. “And even if he?s better at most of those things than Crawford, he?s such a liability in a half-court offense that his strengths don?t really compensate. You don?t have to guard him, at all. Balkman?s presence means the other team gets to play 5 on 4 in a half court defense.”

    In a 1-1/4 seasons with the Knicks there is absolutely no evidence of Balkman hurting their offense, so that’s a nice theory but I don’t buy it.

  35. theMC5 – Jon Abbey reminded me of Balkman completely dominating Durant in summer league. I also remember the Knicks putting him on Yao Ming and LeBron James for a stretch last year. Not to say he’s that good to stop either player, but he does get put on the league’s best players. Of course he gets so little playing time it’s hard to say he constantly gets the toughest matchup.

    “And even if he?s better at most of those things than Crawford, he?s such a liability in a half-court offense that his strengths don?t really compensate.”

    Is he? At least Balkman can rebound & finish around the hoop. His handle is decent. What does Crawford do on the defensive end that’s comparable?

    My point is that people tend to concentrate on what is happening with the ball. Hence Balkman’s flaws are obvious, esp. in the half court (I might go as far as saying that Balkman is better in transition – Did you see Crawford try to take 2 Sonics on the break instead of passing to the trailing and wide open David Lee).

    But if you watch the game observing the action off the ball (esp. on the defensive end) you can see how bad Crawford is. Although Jamal’s flaws aren’t that apparent, they are just as or even more harmful to his team.

  36. “I also remember the Knicks putting him on Yao Ming and LeBron James”

    I also remember him getting 3 fouls in less than one minute guarding LeBron James…

    But I still like him.

  37. “I also remember him getting 3 fouls in less than one minute guarding LeBron James?”

    that was this season and in his first game back. last year he did OK against LeBron, not amazing, but no one can really guard him.

  38. Balkman does a lot of things well and he may help the offense in some areas, but I think we are all frustrated with the fact that he just cannot shoot the ball at all from outside 3 feet. He’s not a lumbering center, he’s an athletic 6’8″ forward — these guys are SUPPOSED to be able to shoot. If Charles Oakley or Mikki Moore can work and work and work on their shot, or if Amare Stoudemire can spend his rehab time working on a 12-15 foot jumper and now is hitting it reasonably consistently, why can’t Balkman? I’m a terrible athlete and I can hit a 15 foot shot if left alone at least 50% or more of the time. I can hardly imagine not being able to get that to 60% if all I did for months was shoot hundreds of jumpers from different spots on the floor 12-15 feet away. I honestly think that a world-class basketball athlete that can’t hit at 12 or 15 foot jumper is just not trying hard enough in the offseason. Or they need glasses. If you look at Balkman, he is the same player (or worse) as the player he was last year. For a relatively undeveloped energy guy that is not a good sign. If you look at David Lee who was similarly a reasonably undeveloped energy guy when he came into the league, he has improved something just about every year. From year 1-2 it was his FT shooting, and this year it’s clear that he’s worked on his mid-range jumpshot (it’s not quite there yet but you can see he has some confidence in it from all the hours put in).

  39. xduckshoex: Could that be because the Knicks offense is pretty atrocious as it is?

    Mike K: I do watch the action off the ball, and particularly on the defensive end. And yes, Crawford is an atrocious defender, but bear in mind that it is magnified by the defensive ineptitude of the front court players. Balkman does have a decent handle, but nowhere near good enough to cause any sort of penetration on offense. His strengths on offense might be somewhat masked by playing for Knicks, since they don’t really run the break that often. But a player of Balkman’s skill set and physical stature needs to be able to hit an open jumper, especially if the Knicks continue to feed the post on offense. If he can’t, he makes it really easy for the opposition to double team Curry/Randolph (although, even if he could shoot, there’s no guarantee that those 2 would even bother to pass out of the double team, anyway).

    Also, I retract my previous statement of him having no value in 5 years time. I think he will have LITTLE value in 5 years time.

  40. All this talk about Balkman reminds me of the pre-season, when Brandon Tierney of ESPN claimed in no uncertain terms that the Knicks had the best bench in the NBA, led by the triumverate of Lee, Balkman, and Nate Robinson. He also proceeded to trash the Celtics bench. Balkman and Robinson — not that good to begin with — are now non-entities. Gee, do you think he was just a wee bit off with that bold assessment???

  41. All this talk about Balkman reminds me of the pre-season, when Brandon Tierney of ESPN claimed in no uncertain terms that the Knicks had the best bench in the NBA, led by the triumvirate of Lee, Balkman, and Nate Robinson. He also proceeded to trash the Celtics bench. Balkman and Robinson — not that good to begin with — are now non-entities. Gee, do you think he was just a wee bit off with that bold assessment???

  42. “xduckshoex: Could that be because the Knicks offense is pretty atrocious as it is?”

    No, it really couldn’t be. The Knicks offense could always get worse, especially if Balkman is as bad as you say he is. But it doesn’t get worse when Balkman is in the game.

    If Balkman tried to do things that are outside his skillset it would certainly have a negative impact, but he doesn’t. He moves the ball, cuts and crashes the boards, and that is all.

  43. well, the highlight of that one was Randolph throwing the ball off Nocioni’s face, that guy’s like today’s Bill Laimbeer.

    if Vecsey, P.’s report in today’s Post:

    is accurate about how toxic the locker room has become (no shock, but still interesting to see it spelled out), I don’t think it’s fair to judge the young role players on this team too much. they get jerked around in terms of minutes seemingly unrelated to how well they’re playing, and they’re forced to play with the remarkably deficient veterans. Collins I think we know enough about to know he shouldn’t be more than an emergency guy at most, but Balkman and Nate I think could thrive if they knew they were getting 20 minutes a night consistently. plus it’s absurd that Chandler doesn’t get any minutes, not to mention Randolph Morris. SEE IF THESE GUYS CAN PLAY OR NOT! thank you.

    Curry was abused once he had the ball tonight more than I’ve ever seen, really sad. he’s definitely regressed this year, and I don’t think it really has that much to do with Randolph’s addition. Bill Simmons had a trade proposal that made a lot of sense both ways today:

    “this trade works after Dec. 15: Eddy Curry (less than half the price tag of Shaq for the same stats), Stephon Marbury (expires in 2009) and Fred Jones’ expiring deal for Jason Williams’ expiring deal and $82 million worth of Shaq and Mark Blount (both of whom expire in 2010).”

    Curry would be better next to Mourning and Haslem, and Shaq would be so fun to root for, even if he’s a shadow of his former self. NY right now would be better if they traded Curry and Marbury for nothing, so anything you can get from Shaq over the next few years is a bonus.


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