2010 Game Thread and Preview:Knicks @ Thunder

New York (15-21 overall, 6-11 road, 5-7 vs Western Conference) visits Oklahoma City (20-6 overall, 10-8 home, 12-4 vs Eastern Conference).

Oklahoma City feasts on the East–most of the good Western Conference teams do.  Don’t get me wrong I think Oklahoma City is a pretty good team with a very nice core of young players, but their current position in the standings has been buoyed by a favorable early schedule.  16 of Oklahoma City’s first 26 games have been against the weak Eastern Conference.  12 of those games came against sub .500 teams with the team going 11-1 in those games.  Compare that to the team’s Western Conference record of 8-12.  Oklahoma City deserves credit for finding a way to beat weaker teams because that is something good teams do. 

Knicks Offense Eff eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
Stat 106.6 51.1 15.3 23 19.3
Rank 17 7 10 29 28
Knicks Defense Eff eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
Stat 107.6 50.9 15.9 26.1 21.9
Rank 19 23 13 13 13
Thunder Offense Eff eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
Stat 106 48.8 16.7 28 25.8
Rank 21 21 27 7 4
Thunder Defense Eff eFG TO OREB% FT/FG
Stat 103.8 47.5 16.3 27.6 23.3
Rank 7 3 7 23 18

What to watch for: Knicks should consider a zone defense tonight.

From the four factors above, it is clear that Oklahoma City is not efficient on offense.  The team ranks in the bottom third of the NBA in EFF, eFG%, and turnovers.  Two things they do well on offense–offensive rebounding and FT/FG ratio–are a reflection of their style of play.  This is a slashing team that attacks the basket and passes to cutters when the defense collapses.  This makes for more offensive rebounding chances as the interior defense is often out of place.  The team plays this way because it has the personnel to do so and because the the team is a very poor outside shooting team.  Oklahoma City hits about 6.5 three pointers per game.  None of the core contributors hit threes better than 38%.  Durant (32%), Westbrook (26%), and Green (29%) all struggle from deep. Harden (37%) is the most effective.   Due to the Oklahoma City’s speed and style of play, it would be to the Knicks’ advantage to play a zone defense.  Oklahoma’s poor passing (27th in turnovers) and poor outside shooting make it difficult for the team to capitalize on the disadvantages of the zone defense.  I do worry about how the Knicks will stop Nenad Krstic from putting on a Luis Scola hook shot clinic.

What to watch for 2: Knicks looking for consistency on offense.

The game against Houston was a tale of two halfs.  New York scored 32 in the first quarter but only 39 in the second half.  One complaint I have about the New York’ offense is that the team does not appear to adjust to the defense.  Yes, there have been a number of great offensive games but I think that is due to hot shooting from deep rather than identfying and exploiting weakness in the defense.  This is a concern for me because Oklahoma holds opponents to a low eFG% (47.5) plus they force a high number of turnovers (16.7).  Oklahoma has 6 players that get about 1 steal per game.  New York needs to be much more careful with its ball movement and it has to work for good shots.  Oklahoma lacks strong interior defense Ibaka and Collison block a few shots, but neither is very quick or skilled on switches.  New York should try to exploit this with the pick and roll, back door cuts, drives, and movement.  The second half against Houston featured a ton of players just standing around on offense.  This made it easy for Houston to force turnovers with Robinson and Chandler willing participants on that end.  Oklahoma forces turnovers at a high rate so New York can not repeat the errors they made against Houston.  Move the ball and take the threes the defense gives you.

In-game thoughts here.

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Thomas B.

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66 thoughts to “2010 Game Thread and Preview:Knicks @ Thunder”

  1. Knicks also need to stop the ball in transition- I think Westbrook could create big problems going coast to coast (a la Lowry Saturday night).

  2. Knicks looking horrible so far. Gallo 0 shots so far, Harrington checks in and within 10 seconds fires away and misses a 3pter.

    Thunder just running on every Knicks miss and scoring at will.

  3. This is the worst the Knicks have looked since November defensively. 34 points for the Thunder in the 1st quarter. Knicks lucky to be down only 10.

  4. Are we playing the Thunder or Kobe and the Lakers? Some of those foul calls in the first quarter were ridiculous. And I really think the league needs to talk to the refs about that move where the offensive player throws his hands up into the defenders arms to draw a foul like Durant did.

    The Knicks are playing crappy though…this game has blowout potential.

  5. So the Thunder have 5 offensive boards and they are holding the Knicks to a low eFG% and they cant hit threes. Where did I read that such a thing might happen? If only I could remember.

  6. I said they would have to take care of the ball against this team. Well the good news is Durant hit his lone three for the night.

  7. That was ugly- lucky to only be down 16. The only thing worse than the Knicks is the OKC broadcast- truly awful!

  8. this is hard to watch.
    this is like a throwback game for the knicks.
    Lazy, careless passing, pitiful shooting, poor decisions.
    porous D. Uncontested layups.
    just bad

  9. How is it that these guys are so open.
    i think the knicks were watching the Arizona Green Bay defensive effort last night…

  10. zzzzzzz
    another missed jump shot…..
    another blocked shot.

  11. I think I figured out where the problem is with D’Antoni here. The problem is that in a game like this he thinks that he is “sticking with his guys” when the reality is that he is kind of sticking it TO his guys. He would be doing Duhon a favor getting him out of this game. He obviously has nothing and cant even come close to guarding Westbrook. What does it accomplish not to give Hughes a look? D’Antoni would say “I dont want to give him spot minutes” but that is crap. I am sure Larry would love a shot to play a little and he could save Duhon some minutes on his body if he sat down for the rest of the night. So he is actually hurting the guy that he is backing in this case.

  12. I feel bad for the fans in Oklahoma City who paid to watch this shit. Also, the service men and women who got free tix … they got a raw deal.

  13. sigh..we got our asses handed 2 us tonite. I didn’t get 2 catch the whole game, but I checked the box score and it looks like our biggest problem was that nobody could hit a shot. Was it OKC’s defense, or was our collective shooting just off tonite? Seems like (and I don’t have stats to back me up) if we shoot at least 44% for the game it’s almost a guaranteed win becuz we’ve been playing well defensively. This game makes me wish that we had traded down in the draft and picked Maynor. He didn’t do anything this game but he reminds me of a quicker Chauncey Billups. A year in this system and he woulda been AWESOME. No use cryin over spilled milk tho. Unlike most people, I don’t think that if we make the playoffs this season that it’s becuz we’re in the “weaker” conference. Our records will problee prove that, but with the guys on the roster perfecting their roles, and playing like we have since 12/1-we can compete with any team. If we had played that way from jump, we’d problee be a top 3 seed by now.

  14. I want Hill to start getting some minutes on a regular basis, I think he could help a bit. I have a feeling Harrington may be out some since he was re-injured tonight so I would think the bench should be Nate, Bender and Hill but Im not holding my breath. TD getting minutes again would be a bad thing either.

  15. We sure could have used Nate tonight as a spark off the bench….oh, wait.

    Frank, you’re right, that was a throwback game, a true team effort where every single player sucked. I half expected to look at the bench and see Isaiah wearing his Cheshire cat grin as they got their doors blown off.

  16. Most nights it seems like Danilo needs more shots, but on a night where he ended up 0-7… really? Maybe he would have made more if he kept shooting, but maybe there was a reason he wasn’t shooting/getting shots.

    “Was it OKC’s defense, or was our collective shooting just off tonite? ”

    Probably a bit of both. They are a good defensive team–7th in the NBA before tonight. (Tough defenses seem to really kill the Knicks, even when attached to mediocre-to-poor offenses while they’ve beaten some very good offensive teams… no stats to back that up, just seems that way to me.)

    “We sure could have used Nate tonight as a spark off the bench….oh, wait.”

    Umm… he was about 300x better than Duhon, and had one of the better games of the Knicks (pitiful as that is). Kind of weird to call out Nate tonight.

  17. For the fans who watched this stinker through the end, we finally got a full quarter of time to watch Jordan Hill and Douglas. Too bad it was during trash time. But hey, I’ll take it as a consolation prize for watching a lousy game.

    Definitely a shaky performance for the rooks (just like the rest of the Knicks tonight). Douglas turned the ball over with some poor passes (at least one TO was Hill’s fault for not reaching for the ball). But you can tell he’s a pest on D.

    Hill looked out of sorts and is still shooting that dumb fadeaway, but he does fight for rebounds and will at least pretend to play D. I’ve wanted to see him play extended minutes for awhile and tonight’s game confirmed what D’Antoni already knows. Hill could be a player…eventually. He’s got the skill set but needs a lot of tuning, buffing and polishing. I don’t understand why they don’t send him to the D-League for a few weeks to get him game ready. Are NBA coaches that much better? Or maybe since Darko is going mental, they feel they need another big body for practice? Either way, the kid needs some P-T to get a feel for the game. He got a little tonight and showed he’s not ready.

  18. While it wasn’t quite as bad as the Milwaukee or Sacramento games this clearly the worst the team has played in quite some time. Everyone was awful- especially Lee (who really has to stop complaining to the refs after every drive), Gallo, and extra especially Duhon who was absolutely horrible on the ends of the court. Bender did hit some shots but he’s basically a less mobile Al Harrington (though he does defend the rim fairly well). Given his lack of lateral movement on D I really don’t see using him anywhere but the five.

    While you expect a clunker every once in a while this one is worrisome because we played exactly like we did early in the season- Duhon missing everything, Harrington just putting his head down and driving at three defenders, everybody getting beat off the dribble followed by sloppy defensive rotations, etc…

    As for OKC, no surprise- Durant & Westbrook both very, very good. Durant’s ability to use his length to close out on defense was really impressive- there was one block on Gallo where he just came out of nowhere- he had the Knicks hesitating on the perimeter all night long.

  19. Completely off topic i know,
    But does anyone else think it is a really rather odd decision for the Cavs to play in Blue and orange…??
    I am in no way trying to start the debate of ‘will he or won’t he’. I just think that if your trying to hold on to your prized asset, don’t let him ball on people wearing a potential employers colours. Very odd decision. I have no idea whether this has been given any burn in the media, i’m guessing not.
    I did not see the game, only the boxscore, but to lose by this much just seems to me that the knicks were a little ill prepared. I’m in the D’antoni camp for the most part, but i find it hard to tolerate a loss of this magnitude. If the knicks have been playing improved defense and genuinely playing .500 ball then why do we read quotes like

    “I thought we were surprised at first by their athleticism but then we tried to crawl back into it. We’re gonna have nights like this. We just have to throw it down the toilet and get ready for Philly.”

    As much as he has been underwhelmed by the professionalism of some of the squad, i think its fair to be underwhelmed when a coach was surprised by another teams athleticism. By the looks of things we were never in this game. Its simply not good enough after a sloppy second half performance to be walked over by the next opponent. Go away study, team meetings, video tape, little practice or whatever it takes and make this a close one.
    Not good enough.
    Sorry rant over.

  20. I dont think D’Antoni meant he was surprised by the Thunder’s athleticism I think he meant the players were which was pretty evident. You can tell them a million times and show them film but they still couldnt havent expected how tough it would be actually playing them on the court.

    BTW the thing about the Cavs road jerseys is that they are throwbacks, the orange ones wore worn i believe in the early 80’s or late 70’s and the blue ones like Lebron mentioned after the game on ESPN were worn in the late 80’s, early 90’s in the Brad Daugherty-Mark Price-Larry Nance days. But I do agree it is pretty ironic especially how the blue jerseys look so much like the Knicks road jerseys.

  21. Also when I said they still couldnt have expected how tough it would be actually playing them on the court I meant in terms of the fact they are a West team who the Knicks obviously hardly play or see and are an extremely young team to boot. If they would be surprised by how athletic Dwight Howard or Lebron is than they have a real problem :-)

  22. fair point i suppose but they are paid to be prepared. Its not as though the Thunders young improving squad has gone has been lost on the media.
    I get that they are throwback jerseys (although i was not around to witness them) but like you said just a strange strange decision unless they are trying to fuel hype. Can’t imagine nobody in the cavs management churped up and said ‘ Is it just me or do these Jerseys look just a little bit like… No? Ok then fine! Its just me’

  23. BigBlueAl i was gonna post the ghost story too but you beat me to it. WTF!? Maybe we should rig a fake ghost to tell Eddy to get in shape….

  24. “Nate was a +3 tonight in 31 minutes.”

    “Umm… he was about 300x better than Duhon, and had one of the better games of the Knicks (pitiful as that is). Kind of weird to call out Nate tonight.”

    The box score I’m looking at has Nate -4. And I’m pretty sure he piled up some points in 4th quarter garbage time.

    Look, Nate wasn’t the worst player on the court by far, Duhon for instance could not have had a worse game. My point is that if you take away the Hawks game, Nate’s impact has been decidely mixed so far (14 TO’s in his last 3 games) Some posters have been saying that if D’Antoni hadn’t been so stubborn and used Nate earlier, we’d have a few more wins; I think we would have just seen more games like last night and the Magic loss at home.

  25. I woke this morning feeling a bit disappointed at the Knicks preparation for this game.
    This probably is the first time I have been willing to point a finger at D’Antoni. I confess, I like him keeping a tight rotation most nights because it has worked. But last night was not his best effort. And the fact that his players seemed surprised at the intensity of the other team isn’t his players’ fault alone. It is his job to make them understand it.
    He failed us last night. And coming off the collapse against Houston, it is kind of disturbing.

    It isn’t as if the Thunder were just suddenly good. Their defense is very good. They have great skill players. They also are long and athletic.
    Durant is so known, it’s funny to me that the Knicks didn’t devise some kind of containment strategy for him.
    How is it that Gallo, who has been in the NBA now for well over a year, seemed utterly overwhelmed by the quickness of his defenders? Has he ever employed a pump fake?
    How is it that Lee’s confidence can be shattered so easily?
    This is a game where Lee as a 6’9 center really suffers. He was surrounded by guys who were as athletic, if not more so, and in some cases bigger. He had good looks, but seemed unfocused, flustered, and his shots weren’t falling. My concern is that last night the Thunder undercut Lee’s confidence. He’s a different guy when he’s confident. If it was a close call that he be an All Star this year, this game could tip him toward not being one. He was pretty terrible.

    How is it a good strategy to put Duhon at 6’1 on a 6’8 budding superstar so that your best defender can be free to roam because he’s defending a weak player? I mean, why wasn’t a pretty mobile Jeffries at 6’11 plastered on Durant’s hip all game long, pressuring the ball and keeping him at bay?

    Why is it that the Knicks constantly must make allowances for Duhon’s shortcomings – he can’t defend quick guards, he can’t defend big guards – and not just make Nate your point guard, or use Hughes as a bigger guard to work against bigger guards? I mean, if he’s a defensive liability and he can’t shoot, what the hell is he starting for??? He was 0-8 last night. I’m not sure he should survive another complete and utter breakdown as a player and maintain a starting role.

    There were shots Nate took last night that utterly turned my stomach. There were passes he attempted that were really troubling. But he was being asked to play point, essentially, and that is a big adjustment for him to make. He tried to get his guys involved, but Chandler, Gallo and Lee had the deer in the headlights thing going. And Harrington shouldn’t have been out there. He clearly couldn’t move well and probably set himself back.
    If you ask me, Nate was the only guy displaying any courage last night among the blue and orange.

    Hughes probably needed to be dusted off because at 6’5, the Knicks needed his defensive size and ability last night. You could have used him and Nate and Chandler in a three guard rotation.

    But the athletic disparity between our guys and their guys was not that great. I think our guys were beat down because the game plan set them up to fail.
    I think they looked flat because what they planned to do against Oklahoma wasn’t working, and what little adjustments were made had virtually no affect.

    It was the first night where I felt D’Antoni didn’t make the proper adjustments to deal with match-up challenges. He threw these guys to the dogs. A team with a fragile identity and psyche needs their coach to protect them and help them along. Yes, this is a good teaching moment, but I saw the Knicks sag in a helpless way that I haven’t seen in a long time.
    That’s on the coach

  26. @ 55
    “Hughes probably needed to be dusted off because at 6?5, the Knicks needed his defensive size and ability last night. You could have used him and Nate and Chandler in a three guard rotation.”

    The Knicks had enough trouble scoring against this team. I dont see how a guy whose eFG was below 10% in the last 4 games could have helped.

    I agree with you that the team was not prepared for this game. In the game preview I talked about the Knicks’ unwillingness to make adjustments. It was very clear in the Houston game that they did not adjust the approach to increase scoring. They did a poor job keeping the Thunder off the offensive glass. They didnt use sets to allow Gallanari to spread the floor with his shooting, which would have helped Lee take advantage in the paint. Lee had 7 points early on, but when the outside shots and the ball movement stopped–actually I’m not sure it started–the Thunder could let a second defender cheat down to cut off passing lanes to Lee. Look at Lee’s shooting after the mid way point of the first.

    I dont think Gallanari is 100%. The thing about a back injury is that it does not hold up well to repeated stresses. 37 games into the season and he does not look as fluid as he did 15 games in.

  27. Thomas:

    On Hughes, I don’t love the guy, but he is probably our best defensive guard. And I tend to believe that good offenses feed off of good defensive play. A few stops would have put the Thunder on their heels defensively, just as the Knicks were on their heels virtually every time their offense failed.
    If the knicks are pushing the ball back into Oklahoma’s defense because they forced a TO or a bad shot that led to a long rebound or something else, the floor opens for our guys to get open looks and lay ups.
    So, just because Hughes is an inefficient scorer – no argument here about that – doesn’t mean his defense wouldn’t help the Knicks offense. As it was, the knicks seemed utterly unable to take the wind from their sails.

    And on Gallo, I think you’re right. He’s not right. But I recalled he had a shoulder problem two games ago. I suspect that might be making him timid. You could be right about his back, but we haven’t heard that was an issue. We have heard his shoulder was a problem.

  28. I think the damage Hughes does to the offense is overrated. It is true he is a very bad shooter and can’t really get to the rim, but his lack of ability on offense is mitigated by his willingness not to shoot. As the 5 on 4 thread showed, he doesn’t take away from Lee/Gallo/Chandler’s offense, and he doesn’t shoot that much. So he’s not that bad an offensive player, even if the only time I would actively want him to shoot is when he was dunking on a 1 on 0 fastbreak. And, as everyone has noted, he’s a good defensive player.

    However, I think Hughes is running into the buzzsaw of D’Antoni’s belief in short rotations. If we use a 7 man rotation, though, he’s not going to see any run. In an 8 man rotation, he’s going to be fighting with Bender and Robinson for minutes (if we play him instead of bender, it means shifting everyone over one slot). If D’Antoni played match-ups, that would mean he played significant minutes when we faced scoring guards or what-have-you. But Coach Porn ‘stache doesn’t think that works (I go back and forth on whether I agree) and would rather play a consistent rotation. If the Knicks are only going to pick 7 guys to play every night, I just can’t see Hughes being one of them (I think an argument can be made that he supplements the starters better than Harrington does, but I don’t suspect many would accept that claim).

  29. @ 57 Frank O.

    Maybe inserting Hughes for a few minutes in the first half wouldn’t have been so bad. How much worse could things get right. I think the problem was less about Hughes and more about the approach to the game. Hughes shooting numbers in December have been comparable to Mardy Collins–check the box scores from the last 15 games, with close attention to the last 6. Hughes has been awful. Sure he might have helped the defense, but the problem was the offensive boards i think.

    The Knicks did a very poor job limiting second chance points in the first half. I knew that was going to be a problem going in, but i saw nothing from the team that idicates they were going to improve their middle of the road defensive rebounding. D’Antoni doesnt like to make adjustments and I think that goes to David’s point @59 that being D’Antoni does not play match ups.

    I’d say D’Antoni rarely makes adjustments on the fly. He either lacks the creativity or the players to change the approach on the fly. Like david said, i go back and forth on what is the right thing to do. Maybe the team needs consistency.

    In the end we cant get too bent out of shape over this. We dropped two road games to two Western Conference teams in a playoff hunt. Really, did we expect to win these games? I didnt.

  30. Frank O, the coaching staff prepared the Knicks just fine for Durant. The players just executed atrociously, and many of Durant’s points were on fastbreaks generated by the Knicks’ inept offense. Duhon was a big part of the inept offense, but on defense his assignment wasn’t as suspect as you would think:


  31. d-mar,

    Nate hasn’t been a knight in shining armor, but he’s been pretty decent. Over the past 3 games his TS% is 63%. His TOs have been a big problem, but his TO-rate has historically been very low so I think that will correct itself over time.

    Every time the guy looks in the wrong direction people are so quick to jump on him…

    Frank O.,

    “How is it that Gallo, who has been in the NBA now for well over a year, seemed utterly overwhelmed by the quickness of his defenders? Has he ever employed a pump fake?”

    His only move is a pump fake. That’s what he does 90% of the time he doesn’t just take the jumper.

    He’s been a bit overwhelmed with the quickness since he got into the league. Hedo moves extremely slow, but still manages to make a lot of plays. I think it will come (I also think Danilo is more athletic than Hedo). He’s been in the league over a year, but he only played 400 minutes last year. Hard to say how to weigh that, but a lot of people were all for giving Wilson Chandler rookie status last season when he had played 700 minutes as a rookie.

    “How is it that Lee’s confidence can be shattered so easily?”

    I think lack of confidence/assertiveness is part of the reason it’s taken him a while to develop, so this doesn’t really surprise me. It’s sort of a fine line between positive (team-first attitude and unselfishness) and negative (lack of confidence). I’ll take team-first ahead of over-confidence, though.

    It’s also unrealistic to expect Lee to be brilliant every night. Even Tim Duncan (or whoever) has bad games. And even though his game has rounded out and he’s a high volume/high efficiency scorer now, he’s still not a real franchise scorer who you just cannot defend.

    “I mean, why wasn’t a pretty mobile Jeffries at 6?11 plastered on Durant’s hip all game long, pressuring the ball and keeping him at bay?”

    Because Jeffries is a better weak side defender than on-the-ball defender. D’Antoni has mentioned it a few times. Probably wouldn’t have hurt to put Jeffries on him. Mix it up between Chandler and Jeffries and maybe even Gallo. See what, if anything, works.

    “If you ask me, Nate was the only guy displaying any courage last night among the blue and orange.
    Hughes probably needed to be dusted off because at 6?5, the Knicks needed his defensive size and ability last night. You could have used him and Nate and Chandler in a three guard rotation.”

    Hughes and Nate seems like a good back-court combo on paper. Take any scoring load off Hughes, and take some play making pressure off Nate. Nate is a good jump shooter, so if you have he and Gallo/Harrington on the court there’s little reason for Hughes to take many jumpers (Hughes is taking 80% jumpers this season and hitting an eFG% of under .400 on them).

    In practice they haven’t played much together this season. The only of Nate’s 5-man units with he and Hughes in the backcourt (Robinson-Hughes-Chandler-Harrington-Milicic) played only 9.5 minutes, but had an offensive rating of 1.19 and a defensive of 0.95. At that small a sample size it’s not worth much, but may be encouraging. Last season they played together a lot more and there doesn’t really seem to be a trend either way. More bad than good, I guess, but it was a bad season.

    “I tend to believe that good offenses feed off of good defensive play.”

    It certainly can work that way on individual plays (and good offense might also help your defense at times by allowing you to get back after you make a basket). You could start trying to prove this by looking at the correlation between a team’s defensive efficiency and its offensive. I don’t think you would find that good defense is a predictor of good offense. Of course, you might argue that a good defense/bad offense team would have been even worse offensively were it not for good defense… I still don’t think it generally holds true, though. Plenty of bad defensive teams are good offensively and plenty of good defensive teams are bad offensively.


    “I think the damage Hughes does to the offense is overrated. It is true he is a very bad shooter and can’t really get to the rim, but his lack of ability on offense is mitigated by his willingness not to shoot.”

    His usage is 20, which means he’s using about 1 in 5 possessions. He’s not particularly low usage. In fact, he’s at the theoretical average. His FGA/36 + FTA/36 are exactly equal to Danilo Gallinari’s. I would like to see him shoot less.

    You might be right, though, about his negative offensive impact being a little overrated. The team is 0.8 pts/100 possessions worse with him on the court, pretty negligible difference. You’d think he and Jeffries can’t play together, but of Hughes’ 5 most frequent 5-man units that include Jeffries 4 have an offensive efficiency over 120… according to basketball-reference.com the Suns lead the league with an offensive efficiency of 114… so 120 is great. At some point I wonder, like Frank O., if Duhon doesn’t play his way out of the rotation.

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