2010 Game Preview and Thread: Knicks @ Nets

New Jersey (2-29) hosts New York (12-19).  New York won the last two meetings 98-91 (road) and 106-97 (home).  New York is coming off a good road win against the Pistons–who just cannot find a way to score.  In the last meeting, New York had to rally from 13 down before pulling away.  Hopefully the boys in blue won’t dig themselves such a hole this time.

Knicks Offense Eff eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
Stat 105.6 50.2 15.2 23 20
Rank 20 11 9 29 27
Knicks Defense Eff eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
Stat 107.8 51.2 16.7 26.4 23.6
Rank 19 24 7 13 18
Nets Offense Eff eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
Stat 96.8 44.1 16.7 24.9 23.3
Rank 30 30 26 24 15
Nets Defense Eff eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
Stat 109.1 51.6 16.5 29.2 24.1
Rank 23 26 8.5 26 20

What to watch for: 

Nets Backcourt.

The neophyte Chris Douglas-Roberts averages 25 points (Efg% 63.1) against the Knicks this season.  Devin Harris put in 19 on 7-16 shooting in the last meeting.  The success of the Net back court against the Knicks says a lot about the Knick defensive effort.  Sure, the Knick offense has improved greatly in the last month and a half–efficiency up 5 points and EFG% up 3 points from since Nov 9–but to stay in games the defense has to improve.

Brook Lopez

Lopez is a fairly skilled second year big man with a few moves around the basket and a solid defensive game.  So naturally he averages 18 points per against the Knicks.  Lopez really is too big for anyone on the Knicks’ front line to shut him down.  The best thing the Knicks can do is to attack him and hope he picks up fouls (3.3 per/36).

And now a word from Carnac the Magnificent.

Carnac: The envelope please.  (holds to head) Vitamin D, Potassium, and Larry Hughes’ offense. (opens envelope and reads) Name three things you’ll see on a milk carton.

Seriously, how long has it been since Hughes had a solid offensive performance?  I know he had the groin pull and perhaps that is still a hinderance, but with D’Antoni playing such a short rotation we really need Hughes playing well.  Hopefully he can repeat his performance in the come from behind win against the Nets at MSG, in which he hit 14-17 from the line.  With the Nets’ foul prone players, it would be nice to see the Knicks trying to pick up a few fouls.

Of Note:

  • Knicks are 2-5 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.  Will D’Antoni’s short rotation, combined with the travel result in the Knicks getting out to a slow start or a weak finish?
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196 thoughts to “2010 Game Preview and Thread: Knicks @ Nets”

  1. I’m hopeful that a few minutes to DWTDD in the last game means he’s leapfrogging Hughes. I guess we’ll see tonight, since the Nets guards do own the Knicks….

  2. I dont care how the Knicks win and who plays in the process, lets just win tonight and end the year on a positive note!!

  3. The complete lack of D in the interior is killin me here. This game seems like a perfect chance to get Darko or Hill some burn. Hill can guard Yi, darko can put a body on Lopez.

  4. Offtopic but I think it’s hilarious that eric re-registered as Knickstoday.com

    Also you’re insane if you think D’Antoni is going to dust the cobwebs off Darko and put him in the game.

  5. Eleven straight games holding the opponent under 100 points.
    Certainly the pacing is paying off in more ways than one….

  6. devon Harris shooting 19 percent from 3pt…which of course means he’ll be deadly against the Knicks…

  7. darko keeps digging his hole in the dark corner of the knicks bench with every statement he makes. Today he called the NBA a league of liars…:)

  8. Send the Rockets Chris Duhon, Mobley and Jeffries with a conditional 2011 Second Round pick for McGrady and find out what the Jazz want for what’s his name so we’ll have the semblance of a team in place for Lebron and stop bitchin.

  9. Darko may be buried on the bench, but as a coach you have to recognize when you’re getting killed in the paint. They’ve been doubling Lopez a bit — but its going to leave the 3 open for Harris.

  10. Lee has been riding the pine for some time now.
    He had 40 plus last night.
    Are they concerned about him getting some rest tonight?

  11. hotdamn,

    Darko played terribly when he got a chance earlier in the season: there’s no evidence he would help. Even if you feel you’ve been lied to, if you go out there and play like crap you’re going to ride pine. He seems more than happy to leave the NBA and D’Antoni is not going to stand in his way.

  12. Hate to say it, but a deeper bench would really be nice. A little energy off the bench… the Nets are just playing in a higher gear than the Knicks.

  13. And their normal 27 percent from 3 pts rather than the 50 percent so far.

    This is a team that averages 89 pts per, and they’re at 60 at half.
    …and still the Knicks are only 7 back.

  14. A. Yeah, I am not too worried about being down seven to a team shooting 62% from the field.


    B. What the hell, D’Antoni? Why not a zone earlier?!?! This is exactly what happened the first game, and you’re going to let it happen again (and yes, they did come back and win last time, but come on)?!?

  15. Bad teams often have good halves. I know this because I, um, have followed a bad team for many years. But this second half should be a revealing test. Will we see:

    A. A Knicks team that is no longer a bad team and which therefore can stave off this hot shooting and put the game away


    B. A lackadaisical surrender to Chairman Yi and Chris-Douglas-Oscar-Robertson (or whatever his name is), which is what the Knicks have done in games like this in the last, oh, ten years.

    Which will it be? The final play of the half, Lee’s lay-in, gives me hope. I’m choosing A tonight.

  16. It’s tough to win the back end of back-to-backs. Can’t remember the Knicks looking good this year in that situation, ever. I’m feeling pessimistic, and I’m gonna miss the 4th quarter, so I’m just hoping they make a run early here so I can feel better about life.

  17. I think the Nets will not be as hot in the second half, I’m just saying that they can’t lose every game. The Knicks have already beaten them twice, if they lose tonight I won’t slit my wrist.

    It’s not like they’ve been hitting ridiculous shots, though, for the most part they’ve been getting a lot of easy looks inside and open perimeter shots.

  18. The Knicks were sloppy with the ball and literally passed it to the Nets several times. All I’m saying is that they’re not throwing it up behind their heads and making it. The Knicks defense was pretty weak.

  19. Everybody is sucking. You can’t lose to the Nets without a complete team effort at sucking.

  20. Would be nice for them to get into a their offensive set instead of reverting to the early season standing around and shooting long Js after a pass or two offense… that’s sort of the fetal position they curl up into when they’re getting their asses handed to them… This is obviously still a very winnable game, though.

  21. The Knicks are getting out hustled… It’s understandable second night of a back-to-back, but a simple solution may be to expand the rotation a little.

  22. Well it looks like the Knicks are moving to 2-6 in second game of back to backs. Short rotations dont always work there Coach D. Hughes still M.I.A. on offense.

  23. Does no one on the Knicks not named Jared Jeffries understand the concept of a blocking foul?

  24. If they had players to expand to, they would. They need to stand pat. There is plenty of time left. The Knicks are on a 7 – 0 run.

  25. Run was nice at the end, but it came right after Hughes and Bender checked in if I am not mistaken.

  26. I think the Knicks have plenty of guys to turn to. I would call them one of the deepest teams in the league in terms of not experiencing much of a drop off 1-12.

  27. You’d like to say, “Well with the Knicks’ shooters, they could get back into this.” But you before you can go on a 12-0 run, you need to make some stops. This team just does not make stops.

  28. The bottom 5 in the rotation probably wouldn’t be losing to the Nets by 15 and giving it to the Nets on every offensive possession

  29. I am getting so angry watching this game. Is there a reason the knicks dont know who is on thier team?

  30. I hate blaming the refs, but it really seems to me that the Nets have gotten all the close calls.

  31. I really hate to blame the basketball, but it also seems like all the bounces are going the Nets way…

  32. How is it that Gallo can drop two 3s in a row and then the ball doesn’t get back into his hands for four minutes…???

  33. Harrington’s TS% is .53, which is ok but not great. He’s good compared to most of the Knicks tonight but not that good.

  34. “How is it that Gallo can drop two 3s in a row and then the ball doesn’t get back into his hands for four minutes…???”

    Yeah, was thinking the same thing.

    Was there any contact on that foul?

  35. How nice would it have been to start the year on a positive note. This team really is responsible for my depression.

  36. Why no foul, wtf. How does D’Antoni think he’s going to get enough shots off with no time on the clock.

  37. 18 point deficit against a 2-29 team that may not break 10 wins all year?

    I’ll see y’all in July.

  38. I used to be high on D’Antoni, but I’m starting to reconsider. Too many questionable decisions lately.

  39. I still think though that Jeffries only getting 15 minute as a result of foul trouble is why they lose.

  40. Hughes is killing the Knicks right now. I think we got what we could get out of him and he is back to being the same old frustratingly enigmatic player he has always been. Trade him or Bench him!!!!

  41. Dantoni should extend the roster when we have back-to-backs. This is like the third time this season Knicks play horrible on 2nd night of back-to-back…

  42. Brian Cronin says:
    December 30, 2009 at 9:49 pm

    Can’t bench Hughes, he’s not in the “black hole doghouse.”


    He should be soon!!!

  43. I guess for this team you should be happy with 1 out of 2 on a back-to-back on the road but still we should not be losing to the Nets.

  44. @ Frank O. 127

    I disagree. This wasn’t the standard west coast road trip Friday in L.A. Saturday in Denver back to back. This was a East coast road trip from Detriot back to NY. THe Knicks did not expend a lot of energy on the Pistons and they were vack in their homes that same night. Plus NJ lost 10 in a row. They have the least wins in the NBA, by a good margin. There really is no excuse to have played so poor on D and so poor on offense. I say this is the worst win. When the team had a chance to secure 10 wins in a month for the first time since like 2003 I think. I could see a close loss, but this was never really close. It was just a poor effort with every reason to have a good effort.

  45. A few points…

    1. The offensive game plan was ridiculous at the end of the game – Gallo gets two straight threes then doesn’t get another look?!?!?! WTF?!

    2. Not fouling down 8 with 50 seconds left?!? WTF??!

    3. Not fouling from 35 seconds until 23 seconds?!? WTF??!?

    4. To a lesser extent, this short rotation silliness is extremely suspect.

  46. I am now actually open to playing Nate again and sitting Hughes. I have just seen slip Hughes slip into that enigma state so much in this league. I can feel it coming. He is doing it again.

  47. of course a team shooting 66 percent in the first half is pretty unbelievable. that’s not just bad D. That’s ridiculous.

  48. How nice would it have been to start the year on a positive note. This team really is responsible for my depression.

    I can’t stand dramatic statements like this. It makes me want to light myself on fire.

  49. They lost cause they had no interior D. Lopez OWNED the Knicks. And Yi did too. To not experiment with one or two of our benched big men is inexcusable. Curry/Hill/Darko could have put a body on them. If they got overwhelmed or in foul trouble — D’Antoni could have always yanked them after a few minutes. But to not give them any chance seems dumb to me. Especially on a back to back night where the team looks sluggish. Where’s the motivation for these guys to work hard if they know they’re not going to play even when they might, just might be useful.

    Bender also looked like garbage again tonight. Why can he get in, but Hill can’t. Am I the only one who feels this way? Why give him minutes when you could develop a rookie — who could either be a decent role player (10-15 mins a game) OR — trade bait. Instead he rots on D’Antoni’s bench. I hate to be critical of the coach — but this blowout is on him in my opinion.

  50. I agree with some posters, the back to back is absolutely no excuse. If the Knicks had made any type of serious run in the 2nd half, the Nets would have folded like a cheap suit. You can’t say “well it’s life in the NBA” because, unfortunately, the Knicks dug themselves a huge hole with their 1-9 start that they are still climbing out of. Because they had awful losses at home to teams like the Pacers and the Warriors, they can’t afford to lose to the few teams in the NBA that they are clearly better than (and healthy or not, the Nets still suck) I’m really disappointed, assuming they lose to Atlanta Fri. that’ll be 4 losses in 5 games. This was a game they just had to have.

  51. hotdamn Lopez has killed Knicks before and Knicks still win, I really think the difference this time was Yi. Knicks look totally unprepared for him…

  52. Knickfan4Life – Yi did hurt us and you can’t let two big men run wild on you and expect to win. When Jeffries got into foul trouble, you have to ask another big to get hyped to help the team. I guess Hill, Darko and company must really suck in practice cause they haven’t been given a shot in games where it looked like they could help for a few mins here and there.

  53. http://www.hoopsworld.com/Story.asp?story_id=14823

    McGrady to Bulls picking up a lot of steam. In my honest opinion I think that one is going to get done. Makes a lot of sense for both parties. Unless Knicks really push for this and trade a Lee or a Gallo I think this trade gets done.

    I could see Bulls becoming a pest the rest of the season for that 7-8th spot if McGrady manages to stay healthy.

  54. That Bulls offer is not that great. They’re insisting on getting Scola or Landry back along with T-Mac – the Knicks would not insist on anything like that, just that the Rockets take Jeffries.

  55. I disagree with the comments that Jeffries foul trouble was the problem and his lack of minutes cost the Knicks the game tonight. Jeffries period play was a problem tonight. His offense continues to be pathetic and tonight he couldnt even guard Keyon Dooling and was fouling guys left and right plus picked up a technical foul.

    Despite his recent “improved” play I am nowhere near a big Jeffries fan and I strongly disagree with some people here who actually believe they should keep him and not trade him. Anyway I had a bad feeling about tonight’s game which doesnt make it any easier to swallow and sucks losing since their next game is a really tough one in Atlanta but if they can have a January as good as December (which is possible considering the schedule) then the Knicks will be in a great position heading into the 2nd half of the season which they will need to be considering the absolutely brutal March/April schedule.

  56. BTW I didnt see it since the package had the YES feed but apparently from what Ive read Nate was joking around at the end of the game on the bench and is already getting ripped for it at least on Twitter so far.

    With a minut left in the game he was laughing and pretending to rip off his warmups as if he was going into the game. Now again I didnt see it but if that did happen then wow, what it is about playing in NJ that makes Nate extra stupid than usual.

  57. With the miserable outside shooting and the lack of energy…and the substantial deficit 2nd half deficit…and the (continued lack of ANY contribution from Toney Douglas or Larry Hughes) it would have been an absolutely perfect opportunity to throw Nate out there. Too bad Damphony is such a stubborn jerk. Hey, he could have put him in there and then when they lost used him as a scapegoat (again), since everyone seems to have fallen for that bs before…
    With all the stat geeks here, does anyone know the Knick bench +/- with and without the little big man? If Harrington’s hot n cold game is off, they get nada from the bench
    BTW-there was a group of (Knick?) fans directly behind the Knick bench chanting for Nate on and off the whole game-I think it’s a pretty big reach to pick on him for his actions on the bench-he has been notably positive and enthusiastic in supporting his teammates during his benching.

  58. It was also a perfect night for Darko ( a couple of minutes to see if he can defend Lopez?)….and even Hill(same thing-with Yi)…and it would have been a great time to have a defensive game plan….utterly horrible clock management down the stretch…
    It is high time for accountability…what it comes down to is that the coach-despite his own out sized ego, is not a good communicator, or a good manager of players egos, not good at adapting to match ups-or game situations (like can they ever figure out when and how to give a foul???). His stubbornness has been revealed as a real weakness. Can anyone here disagree with that statement?
    It seems after every loss his comments amount to: We just didn’t shoot the ball well. Now there is some scintillating brilliant analysis. Isn’t that the very reason to emphasize defense? Isn’t that the reason his teams never do anything in the playoffs? His ego, his personality and his lack of defensive knowledge and preparation have everything to do with why Phoenix didn’t want him back despite a nice REGULAR SEASON record (with a great roster and the game’s best PG)
    And, now, after losing several totally winnable games, and taking a closer look at the competition in December-I think we can all calm down about this supposed defensive surge; they played some really inept offensive teams, still lost a few, and slowed the pace down because the Knick players are incapable of playing fast-they are not smart enough or skilled enough.

  59. I agree with BigBlueAl that Jeffries had a bad game and his “only” playing 23 minutes (just below his season average) was not the reason the Knicks lost the game.

    Was too poor an effort to even get into what went wrong or could have gone better.

  60. The idea that last night was the opportunity to use Nate makes no sense. Our problem wasn’t on the offensive end, it was that we couldn’t get any stops when we needed to. What does Nate bring to the table in that regard?

    My biggest concern right now is that Gallo seems to have lost his touch from 3 point range. If he hits any where close to his normal %, the 3 games against Miami, SA and the Nets might have turned out differently. And of course Hughes seems to have completely lost the ability to make a shot from anywhere on the court.

  61. d-mar, you say utilizing Nate makes no sense-but then you point how how Gallo has struggled shooting of late-and that Hughes can’t shoot
    Well, I agree with those two points and that is precisely WHY Nate should get a look-when Gallo is off they have no above average 3pt shooter on the team-a team whose offense is built on….3pt shooting(!!!) which happens to be a big aspect of Nate’s game
    and Nate could not be any worse at staying in front of Harris or Dooling than Duhon or the other Knick guards were

  62. Another aspect of the specific game situation last night: When your team faces a substantial second half deficit, that’s when you speed up the game. That’s when you press and trap. That’s when you drive the ball to the whole. That is when you take the # if it’s an open look. Nate is strong in all those areas of the game. Disagree?
    Did you notice what happened when the Knicks sped it up for a couple of minutes? I believe it was seven turnovers in the first 5 minutes of the 4th quarter. When you have spark plug energy scorer in the mold of Vinnie Johnson (or Nate) one of the advantages of at least giving them a look is that if they are on they can create their own shot which reduces turnovers; if they are off you simply take them out. Is there any hole in that logic?

  63. SU – I could see maybe inserting Nate if we were playing a top defensive team and were having trouble getting any decent shots, but that wasn’t the case last night. We had some dumb TO’s, and the Nets bigs were destroying us inside. Remember the Magic game? Nate came in and scored like 20 pts. in the 4th qtr. and we still lost by 12.

  64. I totally believe in D’Antoni’s win now strategy.
    If there are players on the Knicks we all would like to see remain with the team, those players need to get the feel for winning tough games. Their skill level improves with that experience.
    For weeks now I have said the team needs continuity. Players need to know their roles. And by playing together they learn new ways to win (and lose, sometimes). That kind of continuity has value. Quantity of minutes has a quality all its own.
    The only way that happens is by keeping a tight rotation. I believe that. I know not everyone does.
    David Lee has become something different (yes, Ted, I think he is different qualitatively this year than in past years) because he understands his role. He is this team’s best player.
    And each guy in the rotation of nine understands he or she – :) – has a certain number of minutes plus or minus that are expected.
    Few, I can’t think of any, good teams have a rotation that goes 12 deep.
    I think there are valid reasons for sitting Nate and Curry and Hill.
    And this was a completely different team in December, last night’s loss not withstanding.
    We have begged for a coach to take the reins of this team. This guy has. Beck had an interesting story in the NY Times today about D’Antoni. I think it was right on.
    When you make tough calls, there will be people mad at you. The Knicks had to make some choices, and for the first time they are not acting like they can have everything and therefore nothing.
    No crazy trades. No Hail Mary decisions. No whacky rotation changes every friggin day.
    Methodically, they are making tough decisions.
    There were some who saw what happened to Marbury as cold. It could be argued that D’Antoni’s decision to bench Marbury hastened the end of his career, or perhaps his plunge into crazy. But it was also clear that Marbury was a destructive force, everyone could see it, and his dysfunction clearly overshadowed his skill.
    There are hundreds, thousands of NBA players over the years who faced a coach who said you’re not a starter, you’re on the bench, or you’re simply not playing. There have been plenty of GMs who decided to cut players loose.
    Those are hard decisions. There are arguments to be made that those players could have found roles elsewhere with other teams, but their banishment simply turned them radioactive.
    We may not know their names because they weren’t phenoms like Stephon Marbury or Nate Robinson or Eddy Curry. But what has happened to these phenoms is not unusual. They are, in fact, commonplace.

    I find it strange that there are now people pleading for Darko to play. There apparently is something about him that makes coaches universally bench him.

    I find it ironic that there are people who are complaining about Hill being benched. When he was drafted, the move was almost universally panned on this board because a) the knicks needed a point guard and b) Hill had virtually no experience. To top it off, they had a glut of big men, and this young guy showed up for summer league and camp in poor condition. For me, that was a sign that he still had no clue of the expectations.

    If every time the Knicks had a tough game D’Antoni dug deep into his bench to get players playing, the team would quickly start looking like Larry Brown’s team. A team where everyone is at everyone’s throat because no one’s role is clear.
    Instead of a coach that talks tough, but makes no tough decisions, D’Antoni has acted tough and kept the bluster to a minimum.
    He has been respectful of the players on the bench.

    I know I invite well laid out opposition when I comment on Nate, but for me, Nate distilled my feelings about him when he heaved up that shot at his own goal as the clock wound down. It was a kind of metaphor for Nate: great skill wrapped in a Globetrotter-like sideshow circus act, immaturity, poor defensive skills (scoring on his own basket) and poor focus.

    At that moment on some mental level I tore my shirt. He was dead to me as a Knick, and I was comfortable in the knowledge he would not return next year.
    Yep, there are guys on the Knicks who can’t score as well as Nate, but they don’t tear at the fabric of the Knicks team like Nate. It’s a better team without a guy who is one for one and none for all.
    Not on a team that lacked identity.
    Last night was tough, but I can honestly say Lopez and Yi simply were too much for the Knicks to handle, and Jeffries hurt them with his foul trouble. The Knicks still are a middling team, but, finally, a dangerous team, a respectable team.

  65. d-mar,

    That was a terrible effort. Nate might bring some energy. He is not as bad a defender as many people claim, and actually has a knack for getting steals. Given how long he’s been sitting and the politics behind the issue, I don’t really fault D’Antoni for not bringing him in. However, Nate is simply one of the best offensive players the Knicks have… it’s easy to argue he should be playing in a rotation that includes a few sub-par players.
    The larger point is that outside of his core group D’Antoni has no one ready for minutes. When the core group/rotation is throwing up a clunker like last night’s game, it would be nice to have someone like Hill, Landry, Nate, Darko, or Curry ready to go. If they never play, though, they are not ready to go.

    Gallo’s outside shot does seem off, but against the Nets he was 3/7 from 3 = 43%… If he had more than 9 FGAs the game might have turned out differently. My biggest problem with that game offensively was the total lack of motion. The ball was moving ok, but the players were not moving. The offense largely reverted to standing around and shooting Js. When people did bother to penetrate they either didn’t pass to a cutter or no one was cutting for them to pass to.

  66. I problee won’t be able to visit this site for the rest of the day so..Happy New Year’s errybody…be safe. Now that’s outta the way…
    I didn’t get to see much of the game last nite, but it’s clear to me that Hughes is nowhere near healthy. He hasn’t been killin us all season long, now all of a sudden he starts killin us? Hughes is a good player, maybe not the best fit for this system-but a good player nonetheless. What I don’t understand is, Darko was acquired becuz Mike D insisted on it. I don’t think he was playing that bad to warrant his benching, but maybe Coach saw something I didn’t. I bring it up becuz we coulda used Darko and/or Curry last nite in an attempt to slow Jersey’s bigs down a little. However, from what I saw I don’t think it was really the bigs that doomed us. I think our guard play was horrible overall.
    As far as the rest of the team goes, DW has some good trade value on his roster-and most of it is on the bench. I hope he brings the new year in with a trade for something we can actually use. At the very least he should find a home for Hill. I don’t think he’s gonna play even if we fall out of contention. But by then it may be too late to turn him into something we need, whether it’s a pick or cap space or another player. The only rotation player who can get us something useful is Lee. Let me re-phrase, the only rotation player that DW should consider moving that can get us something useful is Lee. Chandler too, I forgot him. We definitely need a guard and a center who fits. I don’t know if we can get a center who fits in a trade, but we should definitely be able to snatch a guard. We’ll see something soon hopefully.

  67. I was struck by how the Knicks seemed to look away from Gallo down the stretch.
    That was weird. Especially after hit had buried two consecutive 3s.
    Not sure why they failed to recognize the hotter hand…I put that on Duhon and D’Antoni.
    Someone needs to recognize when he’s heating up.

  68. Here is an excerpt from a post I made on Dec 2 when the Knicks were 4-14:

    “So, overall they played as well as can be expected, winning one improbable game and losing one clunker. The rest of the losses came against elite teams in very competitive games, and two convincing wins came against bottom feeders, including the “trap” game vs. the woeful Nets. Can they go 8-6 for the rest of December? That would put them at 12-20. January and February look to be much kinder months schedule-wise, so being close to .500 by the beginning of March would not out of the question if they can end December on a positive note.

    And that’s w/o big Eddy coming back to save us…”

    So far, so good! Now if only the rest of what was at the time a pretty optimistic scenario can pan out as well. The bottom line is, to be 1 game out of a playoff slot after a 1-9 start is cause for celebration. Have a great New Year’s Eve, all!

  69. “What I don’t understand is, Darko was acquired becuz Mike D insisted on it. I don’t think he was playing that bad to warrant his benching, but maybe Coach saw something I didn’t.”

    Darko is an under the basket player and D’Antoni likes to pull his big guys out to the three point line quite a bit. It’s why Bender works and Curry does not. I didn’t think Darko looked good out on the perimeter in pick and roll situations and he’s not an outside threat. I also did not see him giving a lot of effort, he seemed a bit lackadaisical and easily frustrated.

    Post-ups just aren’t a part of D’Antoni’s offense naturally, as we saw with Curry. Trying to force it as a part of the O led to a lot of problems. That and the fact that, sure, Curry can chuck it in from 3 feet, but he really can’t do anything else basketball related (pass, rebound, play D, etc.). That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing Harrington and Gallo operate on the block occasionally.

    Lee plays center but all his points are on drives, jumpers and putbacks. He rarely plays in the post. It drives me a little nuts that all the Knicks stand at the three point line and there’s never anyone under the basket for an offensive rebound, but I guess if you make the shots it doesn’t matter.

  70. Frank O.,

    I agree with a fairly tight rotation and continuity. However, when your core rotation is as flat and pathetic as the Knicks were last night it’s nice to have an x-factor on the bench you turn to. Be it an Eddie House type scorer or a defensive specialist who can spur something. The Knicks have several guys not in the rotation who might fill either role, especially the scorer role. None of them have played in weeks, so you can’t turn to them in a meaningful situation and have any idea what you’re going to get. Throwing one of them out there for a minute or two at the end of the first quarter occasionally is not going to kill the rotation or continuity, but it might make them more ready to step in on the second half of a back-to-back, when an injury happens, or another night when they are needed.

    They also have three bigmen who never play and one or no legitimate bigman (5) in the rotation. While I’m not a fan of Darko or Curry it’s hard to argue that having TWO bigmen out there wouldn’t have helped the Knicks last night. Jeffries was a no show and the Nets were just longer, more athletic, and hustling more. Jordan Hill might have been the perfect solution, if he had played anytime recently and/or D’Antoni was willing to play he and Lee simultaneously. Then again, maybe Hill is a bum and D’Antoni is right not to play him. I have no idea. The Nets actually have good individual athleticism–they’re a bad team, but not 2-29 bad–but there are tougher front lines out there than Lopez and Yi. It would be nice to have an answer in those situations. Hill seems like the best candidate, but I don’t know the reason(s) he’s not playing.

    I see the irony in being upset with the pick and upset he’s not playing. Walsh has already publicly stated that he made a mistake by passing Jennings, which to one extent or another also implies that he made a mistake by drafting Hill. I don’t know exactly how they feel about Hill, but if they were thrilled with him drafting him it would not be a mistake to pass on another player. Whether or not he was the right pick, though, has little to do with whether or not he could help the Knicks.

    About 1/2 the guys I want to remain on the team/who will remain (Hill and Landry, and basically Douglas… Curry will remain) didn’t play, so I don’t really buy any long-term team building argument.

    Last night, I’m not sure Lee understanding his new role helped the team. I actually thought it hurt them. Lee tried to be the go-to guy and take a lot of jumpers when the team was struggling. That’s not what I want Lee doing. He and Harrington stepped up when no one else did (and they are two of the guys you want stepping up scoring wise if anyone), but at the same time he and Harrington were a crutch that in part prevented the Knicks from actually running an offense. One of the reasons Nate was benched.

    As I said, I like that D’Antoni has established some continuity. However, it’s not a black and white–continuity or no continuity–thing. You don’t have to pick between an 8 man and a 12 man rotation. There is a lot of grey area with which to work. The risks of being too rigid about your rotation are a. that the rotation guys become complacent… especially if a pattern of losing starts, and b. that you’re playing the wrong players.
    In response to a tough game you don’t have to throw everyone you’ve got at the other team. As I mentioned before, a nice x-factor would be great. A long, athletic rookie with a sweet shot, a solid defensive center, or a center capable of lighting up the scoreboard quickly are all options against a team whose frontline is murdering you. Knowing only what I know, I would go with Hill. Nate’s picture is next to x-factor in the dictionary, but D’Antoni has blown his chances of using Nate in that way (for better or worse).

    “He has been respectful of the players on the bench.”

    I’m not saying he hasn’t been, but what can you base that statement on?

    You can think whatever you want about Nate, but I still disagree. Based on what we know, I think your view on him is way too extreme. You’re making personality judgements about someone you do not know. That’s silly.
    Your assessment of his defense is still far too severe given all the evidence. I still have not seen one person produce an argument that Nate is not a good defender based on anything besides their own subjective observations.
    Nate certainly does not seem as radical an example as Stephon Marbury to me. I feel like if he’s healthy he’s going to be a productive NBA player again. The one criticism I have of D’Antoni is that he could have gotten more out of Nate had he handled the situation differently. Maybe he decided Nate will NEVER play on his team again or maybe Nate is just a totally irrational person, but an NBA coach’s job is largely to manage personalities. As an outside observer, D’Antoni seems to have alienated Nate rather than motivate him.

  71. “I still have not seen one person produce an argument that Nate is not a good defender based on anything besides their own subjective observations.”

    I should say an argument that he is an actively BAD defender. I don’t think he’s good, just not outright bad.

  72. Ted – I fully agree with your post on Hill. He could have guarded Yi. Or at least D’Antoni should have tried it out — to show the young man that he has some confidence in him. If he stinks it up — you pull him. That simple. It’s not brain surgery. It’s all about matchups and our guys were clearly outmatched out there last night. Could have used a sparkplug.

  73. I think the problem with Gallo’s shooting lately is Im not sure he ever knows when he is going to touch the ball. He is such an unselfish player that sometimes I think he just jacks up a 3 because he feels he has to since its the first time he touched the ball in a few possessions and thats not in his nature if its not coming in the flow of the offense.

    Look at the games when he is constantly getting touches, you see him drive alot more and get a boatload of FT attempts. The past 2 games for some reason he isnt getting anywhere near the amount of touches he had been getting the previous 4 games when he had 34 FTA and many time the team looks to him when the shot clock is winding down and he is forced to just jack up a contested 3. Even for a great shooter its tough to make even a wide-open 3 when you are cold and not into the game for long stretches like what happens to Gallo alot.

    I still cant wait to see Gallo play with someone who can get him open alot because playing with Duhon is a waste since the only time he gets any penetration is when Lee sets a pick for him, other than that Duhon doesnt set anybody up cause he cant get into the paint and draw defenders and when he actually gets all the way to the rim he cant finish which lessons the need for the defense to collapse on his drives. Plus also teams are just not leaving Gallo open anymore but he has shown an ability to drive and get to the FT line plus when they actually set picks for him off the ball he has shown the ability to get open not only for 3 but at the basket too where he has gotten his fair share of easy dunks and layups.

    One can only dream about how great it would be seeing Gallo play with a teammate such as Lebron or Wade….

  74. Frank O-I respect your opinions-a lot-I still don’t know why you are so gung ho about D’antoni. I don’t see how you can be so complimentary about his rotations. I am not discounting the value of continuity or of guys knowing their roles- I agree that these are very important. I do NOT think there is anything crazy or desperate about expanding the rotation on certain nights when your 6 guys are not getting it done-at all. The offense was just as bad as the defense against the Nets. I am not even a big Nate guy at all-I just believe that when your guys are not getting it done-you need to pay attention to match ups and adapt. D’antoni has been incredibly consistent in NOT adapting-practically ever. It is stubbornness, and I can not see calling it anything else. That is not leadership-or certainly not a leadership style that inspires confidence.
    When your team is not scoring and not shooting well-it is not a crazy idea to utilize the guy on your team who is the best at creating his own shot-Nate-or at worst the second best if you want to say Harrington is #1.
    When your bigs are overwhelmed attempting to guard the perimeter, there is nothing wrong with considering players who may be able to provide better quickness away from the hoop (Hill). I am also no fan of Hill and hated the pick from draft night-I still say he could have been given a chance to guard Yi since no one else was able to-at all.
    My basic point here is that kind of a Zen concept: Strength in yielding-like a fir tree. To stubbornly stick to one’s “principles” (i.e a nice tight 6 1/2 man rotation that is mediocre at BEST) when it is failing is being brittle-and breakable; To recognize when things are not proceeding as you’d hoped and tweaking things in a specific way to reflect what you see on the court IS strong. To know one’s strengths and weaknesses IS a strength as well; not desperation or totally abandoning the strategy.
    Honestly, you could add LeBron to whatever remains of this team and still not win a damn thing if you have a coach who is unable to adapt to game situations and match ups.
    I REALLY don’t know what you are even talking about when you call the Knick strategy a “win now” one. WHAT? They have been nothing if not clear that they didn’t care about winning last year or this year, and that the plan was all about next year’s FAs. How can you say call it win now??? The whole argument (that you apparently agreed with) regarding scapegoating and ultimately many months later buying out Steph was supposedly all about changing the culture for the LONG term. If the goal were win now you’d play your best players. PERIOD. Sorry, you really lost me on that one.
    I’d call the “strategy”: “Reduce payroll, and pray for LeBron” and that is not much of a strategy at all.

  75. yeah, I don’t think you can give D’Antoni any better than a B or a B- for his job so far this year. the first 10 or so games was a F, unless there is a lower grade. he gets huge points for figuring out some chemistry in more recent games, for slowing down the pace and jettisoning SSOL, for sticking with Duhon when it looked like he might be cooked, for somehow getting the team to play interior D without Darko or any real big man.

    but his in-game adaptability has been pretty weak. against the Nets, when the defense isn’t doing anything plus the offense is mediocre, that’s a situation for Nate. and he played the starters way too much against Detroit, hurting their chances in NJ. also, I continue to not understand why NY doesn’t run the ball through Gallo more on offense, he should at least touch the ball on every possession.

    so, yeah, B- so far.

  76. Ass-ola in the Daily News today points out how kind the schedule makers were to the Knicks this year. They have only 2 back-to-backs left on the road, vs. 5 for the Bucks and 7 for Toronto, e.g. This is a big break for us considering how awful we generally perform on the 2nd night of b-to-b’s.

    Happy New Year, k-bloggers, I’d like to say I’m optimistic about our first game of 2010, but I have a strong feeling the Hawks are going to come out and pummel us.

  77. Marc Berman tweeted today saying that D’Antoni mentioned today that Nate could play tonight vs the Hawks. Interesting and probably about time.

  78. What I like about this blog is that a person can take a fairly decently formed concept or strategy, pose it, and have it thoroughly refined. I appreciate that immensely. I suspect if someone were reading this site they could use it to build a pretty sound approach.

    Ted, I agree that there could be modifications to D’Antoni’s approach. But broadly, I think his approach is having a positive effect…
    In October the Knicks were 0-3.
    In November the Knicks were 3-11, a .333 winning percentage
    In December, the Knicks were 9-6, a .555 winning percentage.
    That is a significant reversal of fortunes, and because it was sustained over a month, not necessarily a fluke…
    It was in December that D’Antoni made some very tough decisions. There are a lot of beatable teams, 13 or so, in the January schedule. Another 9-6 month and they’re 21-26. Pretty amazing given the 3-14 start.

    Ted, I agree it would be nice to have a House-like bench character to inject into a game when a little adrenalin is needed. Nate could be that guy, and I wanted him to be that guy, but I’m pretty fed up with him. Maybe that’s harsh, but that’s how I feel. And, while not everyone feels this way, I trust D’Antoni’s judgment more than the performance of a 25-year-old combo guard who is most known for his immaturity and antics than for his well-rounded basketball savvy and skill. You can’t honestly back a person and then sharpshoot his decisions when his team loses games, when overall D’Antoni’s approach appears to be working. Modest middling teams in the NBA lose some 40 games a year.
    And perhaps he could have gotten more from Nate, but every one of Nate’s coaches has complained about the same things. D’Antoni’s the first coach to finally hold him to account. I respect that.

    Ted, I think assessing anyone’s defense is a hip shot for the most part. As has been noted here time and time again, there really aren’t good advanced stats to help assess defensive impact. One must rely on the eyeballs. Mine says this guard who runs under picks, switches off badly, and often loses track of his mark, is generally a poor defender, made worse by the fact that he sometimes is a foot shorter than his mark…

    As for using the big men, when inserting Curry, the Knicks have been decidedly worse. Curry impact on the Knicks has been a net -15.9, according to 82games.com.
    That inauspicious accomplishment is matched only by Darko.

    You could make a case for Hill. I’ll buy that. In his 6 percent of the time on the floor, the Knicks are net +6.5. Maybe he helps, and maybe he should play more minutes.

    The biggest problem with the loss to the Nets was an inability to execute in the 4th, where they suffered five consecutive turnovers at the same time their defense made six consecutive defensive stops. We can all agree the Knicks are still climbing the mount to respectability. Certainly they are not there yet, and perhaps this loss was a teachable moment.

    I think there are team-building aspects to trying to win now, as they have decided to do in December.
    StevenU, what I mean by win now, is the decision not to showcase Curry, to go with expiring guys over developing future players, and, generally, making decisions based on winning now with this team, rather than forfeiting the entire season and then praying a max FA comes to a 20-win team.

    Ted, there are players that could return next year. Douglas, Landry, Gallo, Hill, Chandler, Jeffries, Duhon, and I think the Knicks will resign Lee, and even Bender. Teaching those guys to win is important. Most of those guys don’t yet understand what it takes to be consistent winners in the NBA. That is something D’Antoni understands. You can’t take that away from him for the same reason you can’t give him all the credit for Phoenix’s successes. There have been plenty of coaches who could not win with good talent.
    Conversely, a team lacking talent, but that fights and wins is an attractive place for a max FA. Showing Lebron or Wade or Bosh that this team as constituted can win say 35 to 40 games, makes it easier to take the mental leap of them improving the team, say, 15 or 20 games…and therefore making New York a more attractive landing zone.

    Ted, regarding D’Antoni being respectful of the guys on the bench, my note was getting long and I cut out my explanation to support that statement. I felt it could stand on its own.
    D’Antoni has not trashed these guys in the press. He, in fact, has only reluctantly explained why they are benched, and he has kept it simple: he felt the team was better with them not playing and they did not fit; and he felt playing them minimal minutes was disrespectful of them because they are players that could demand, indeed, require, more minutes to be effective.
    He didn’t say Curry was unfit or dumb or often injured. He has made a point of saying Robinson was gifted, although he has not been shy about calling out Nate on court for his antics.
    No, I think he has been very level in how he went about it.
    He has been uncompromising on this issue, however. Frankly, given the heat a coach of the Knicks takes, I think the decision not to equivocate, to stand by his decisions, is the best course. Nothing worse than taking shit for equivocating. May as well go down, if you must, doing what you think is best. One sleeps easier that way.

    I am mystified by the Gallo situation. I think it is probably on-court decisions that causes Gallo not to receive the ball. I don’t know if D’Antoni is saying during timeout “get him the ball.” But as the field general, Duhon needs to see who is hot and who is not and make sure that man gets the ball. Great point guards – great players – understand where the ball needs to be. The Knicks are still suffering from growing pains, I suspect. I hope they improve in this area. Oh, and Gallo needs to call for it.

    Jon, I agree with your overall assessment of D’Antoni.
    But I pose this question: when was the last time you could say something like that about anything Knicks-related?
    Not a bad way for a Knicks fan to end the year. :)

  79. Good lord that was a long post. Glad I made bold names of people I was responding to…:)

    Happy New Year!!!

  80. Frank O-clarification appreciated and I can not disagree
    Jon- B- is extremely generous grade-imo. That would be above average. I am not someone who believes the Knicks are undertalented-I think they have at least average talent and should be a .500 team as currently constructed-so I give D’antoni a C- ; it was an F to start and a B- since then. I also don’t think the Knicks are playoff bound and if they are even going to make it interesting towards the end of the season games like the Nets are absolute must haves (so was Chi with the big lead and at least two others in the month of December that they let get away)
    greatscott-“the defense is the backbone”-Huh? What defense? and the backbone of what? Are they not like 20th in defensive efficiency? There are some very bad teams; the Knicks are (only) a couple games better than being in that group-there offense and there defense are about equally inefficient. I certainly do not purport to have any idea what goes on inside the locker room with regard to team chemistry. What I do know is that the players who have been in and out of the ecer popular D’antoni dog house never seem to know why or what they can do to get out of it. I call that bad communication and leadership-and it wouldn’t matter what business we are talking about.

  81. and I am not opposed to a short rotation in theory, but if you look at back to backs that’s when you need to ADJUST (the thing D’antoni simply doesn’t do). I believe they are 2-6 on the back half of back to backs so you can not say that a short rotation has been effective in that scenario.

  82. Frank O.,

    Individual defense is hard to quantify, but that doesn’t mean you should just rely on your eyeballs. You can watch a whole season and not know the difference between a .200 hitter and .300 hitter if you don’t quantify it, so how are you going to tell the difference between a below average defender and above average defender. The difference between Eddy Curry and Hakeem, sure, but most cases are not that cut-and-dry.

    “You could make a case for Hill. I’ll buy that. In his 6 percent of the time on the floor, the Knicks are net +6.5. Maybe he helps, and maybe he should play more minutes.”

    Yeah, that’s the one I mentioned as the one I would put in.

    re: respect for players

    These guys interact every day, or at least could interact every day. I’m not saying that D’Antoni is doing this (I doubt it, in fact), but a coach could act one way in front of the cameras and completely different in the locker room, practice, team flights, meetings, etc.

    re: Gallo

    Yeah, he could call for it and Duhon should get him the ball, but at the end of the day when a trend emerges over the whole season the coach has the ability to make a change.

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