2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks @ Trailblazers

Webster’s Dictionary defines Melodrama as a drama, such as a play, film, or television program, characterized by exaggerated emotions, stereotypical characters, and interpersonal conflicts. Though I’m certain that this pun has been used extensively before my inclusion of it in this piece, it does effectively describe the last few minutes of last night’s loss at Sacramento. The New York fanbase has been decisively anti-Melo for the last few weeks in the wake of the Kristapocalypse (a phrase I will continue to push until I’m finally convinced it has as many legs as Lieutenant Dan) and though I was initially weary of the opinion to trade him, I am beginning to come around. The Knicks are exhibiting all the signs of being a bottom-feeder in the league, and despite the promise the future holds for the future, it may be time to cash in the chips they still hold.

Melo’s misguided heave at the buzzer, despite the obvious foul committed on the shot, was indicative of the current state of the team. You could see him getting upset towards the end of the 3rd quarter, and without a doubt he played with tremendous effort, but he came up shorter than Kevin Hart on the game-winning attempt. I don’t want to get too into what I think should be done with Melo, either for his sake or for the sake of the Knicks, but the Knicks’ season suddenly has a splash of writing on the wall a-la The Shining. Is it time to Red Rum the team, trade Melo, and see if there’s a 2016 1st rounder in play? Perhaps. But my hunch is to wait a while, as I’m sure is the position of the front office, and see how the team responds to this stretch of adversity that has included only 2 wins in the last 10 games.

One of many things to be concerned about is that the Knicks have a SOS rank of 25th, and if this is their record after what is likely the easiest stretch of the year, it’s difficult to imagine that things are going to get better. The triangle offense has been woeful at best because of the personnel the Knicks have trying to employ it, and we may not see a P&R until the next season begins. It’s sublimely frustrating to watch the offense continually run ISO’s without challenging the defense to rotate and respond, as evidenced by the Knicks’ 15.4% assist ratio. The ball is stagnant in the triangle, and often after a pass or two it ends with a oh-fuck-is-he-going-to-shoot-this post-up or a wait-somebody-is-open-six-feet-from-you contested jumper.

The Knicks play with a slow pace (94.4, 24th in the league) courtesy of the triangle they’re forcing down the throats of their players as if the scheme was puréed vegetables and the team were babies who would prefer applesauce. Portland also enjoys a leisurely stroll down the basketball court, themselves playing at a 95.0 pace, so tonight figures to have the intensity of an elderly couple holding hands on a park bench. Portland and New York are both playing on the second night of a back-to-back, so I wouldn’t expect either team to push much beyond the limitations they have both set for themselves.

Portland is not a good team; they hold an identical record (10-14) as the Knicks, and their highest-paid player is Al-Farouq Aminu at $7.5 million. Yes, that’s right, Damian Lillard is still on his rookie contract. What most concerns me about this matchup is the monstrous advantage Portland holds at guard. Lillard and the suddenly relevant CJ McCollum will probably wreak havoc on Calderon and Afflalo, and though it will be no unfamiliar sight to Knicks fans to see their guards outplayed, Portland has one of the best backcourts in the league and will probably be Harlem-Globetrottering Jose and Aaron. The good news is that the Blazers have no answer for Many Plates of Meat (my new favorite idiom for Kristaps) and he has a great opportunity to show Portland how good he is.

The Knicks’ next two games are home against the Timberwolves (the KAT vs TAP game we’ve waited for) and at the 76ers, both of which are winnable. Should they beat Portland, they could conceivably be on their way to climbing back to .500. The Knicks have every reason to believe they should be able to win tonight and I expect an effort reflective of that. Losing to Sacramento was indeed heartbreaking, but there was a lot to like about the competitive nature the Knicks displayed following the embarrassment at Utah. Kristaps blamed it on the Boogie like the Thriller himself down the stretch last night, and though seeing him guarding a player with the physicality of Cousins is not ideal for his rookie campaign, it was yet another of the encouraging things we’ve seen about Taps in his rookie season. The boy is competitive as hell, and he showed that after Boogie decided he was going to try and “Sportscenter” him every time he got the ball. It is not a stretch to say that Kristaps got the better of Cousins in the last few minutes of that game.

It would be good to see Melo bring the confidence he had from last night’s second half tonight, but he needs to believe that Afflalo (0-6 from 3 last night) and other open shooters are worth passing it to. The reason Melo took that ill-advised shot at the end was because he was tired of seeing teammates miss. The Knicks shot less than 40% from the floor last night, and though they outrebounded the Kings by 10 and shot 12 more free throws, the game of basketball will always ultimately come down to how many shots you make no matter your collective team effort. Melo would be the first to tell you his 6-11 performance from the FT line was unacceptable, but the loss was not on him; it was a team loss, and one that could have been avoided had the team made more shots.

The problem with the current offense, as we all know, is that the triangle is not creating open shots. It is no surprise that the Knicks are shooting so poorly, because so many of their shots are contested. Without generating open shots, it’s difficult to score in this league. I would love to see Fisher tinker with the starting lineup, perhaps bringing Afflalo off the bench like Portland did last year when they first acquired him. I know I’m not the first person to suggest this, but based off the matchup tonight, it seems to me the inspiration is right in front of their eyes.

I’d like to bring something new into the previews I write, since I can safely assume anyone who takes time to read a basketball blog is probably not just a fan of the Knicks, but a fan of the league. So I’d like to talk about a few things going on in the league tonight outside of Knicksland, specifically since the game is a late West coast trip and there’s plenty of basketball to watch until the tip.

1) Boston plays Charlotte tonight. Last year, this would be a game you would ignore at all costs, but this year, these are both playoff teams. Boston’s success isn’t too surprising, but Charlotte’s most definitely is. Boston very nearly toppled the Warriors last night (and if you didn’t watch the game, you’re a fool) and is extremely fun to watch. Charlotte is stunningly a game behind Cleveland for 1st in the East as of right now, and they are certainly worth your time to check out. Also, all of you Batum-lovers can check the guy out as a 2nd/3rd option on a good team.

2) The Pacers play Detroit in another East matchup you would have happily skipped last year. This is further evidence of the improvement of the East, but this is an interesting matchup because of the respective strengths of both teams. The Pacers will have no answer for Drummond, but the Pistons will have no answer for PG13 (thanks, Bill Simmons, for pushing that nickname so hard it actually happened). If you play fantasy basketball you’ll be glad to have either of these gentlemen on your roster tonight.

3) San Antonio plays the media-proclaimed San Antonio East (Atlanta) Hawks, and it should be an excellent game. Atlanta won an extremely entertaining back-and-forth game at Dallas a couple nights ago, and San Antonio is quietly 19-5 and rolling right along. The Spurs would get a lot more attention if it weren’t for the Warriors, and they won’t even get a crack at the Dubs until February (which is an incredible scheduling quirk imo), but this should be a great game for fans of the beautiful game. And no, I don’t mean soccer, although these teams both apply principles of teamwork normally found on the pitch that I wish the Knicks would pick up on.

4) And, speaking of the Warriors, they survived double overtime last night at Boston and have another road game tonight at Milwaukee. If only the Bucks were a better team, I could believe they would win based on the circumstances, but I don’t think the streak ends tonight. It’s gotten to the point that if the Warriors are in your building, it is a mini super bowl for the host team, and I expect the Bucks to go all-out. I’d say they have about a 30% chance of winning the game, but honestly, I am not going to pick against the Warriors. Ever. It’s always a blast to watch Warriors games because of the atmosphere in the arenas where they play and the blatant otherworldliness of their current performance. It’s literally like nothing we’ve ever seen before, so if you’re watching any game while waiting for the Knicks to tip off, this is the one I would recommend.

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Erik Judd

I'm a lifelong basketball fan whose interests range from some things to other things.

141 thoughts to “2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks @ Trailblazers”

  1. “the promise the future holds for the future” is perhaps the worst sentence I’ve ever typed. Actually, no, I’m certain I’ve done worse, but hopefully you haven’t seen it.

    Follow @JuddsKidding if you want to hear the dumb things I say during the game outside the thread. Go K(nicks)ristaps.

  2. Man, reading some of the recent articles you wonder if Melo is cut out to be a superstar player in NYC. He’s too aware of what people are saying about him. Reminds me a lot of how people thought Willie Randolph could thrive in the hotseat as Mets manager but actually had thin skin.

  3. One the most surprising things about Charlotte’s performance has been Kemba Walker learning how to shoot. The difference between this year and last year is crazy–last year he had a TS% of .486 and this year he’s jumped to .560 (!!!); that’s an enormous leap and is the main thing responsible for a solid .182 WS/48 (his defense is also somewhat improved.)

    That roster has average-to-above-average players up to the 9th or 10th man, and that means you can be a really good team. And give or take 6 of them are in that solidly above average to very good range.

    Clifford is an early coach of the year candidate.

  4. Sixers hired D’Antoni as a special consultant.

    Don’t they want to emphasize defense on that team?

  5. I’ve always thought Mason Plumlee was a solid, underrated player but this Hakeem impression is a little much

  6. Why does Fisher insist on playing Lopez and Porzingis together? How is that supposed to help them push the pace, exactly?

  7. This bench looks a million times better with O Quinn at center but maybe that’s just rose colored glasses after the extended seraphin debacle

  8. It’s amazing it took this long for Fisher to realize that O’Quinn should be playing over Seraphin. About Vujacic though….

  9. Looks like Grant is out of the rotation, this alone is grounds for Fisher to be fired immediately. Not because Grant is playing great but he needs to be playing period.

  10. Yeah, not playing Grant is malpractice. He needs to develop and I don’t think he hurts our guard rotation in the present much anyway.

  11. Porzingis sux

    Seriously, I don’t have a problem with benching Grant when he is playing like a D-Leaguer. He’ll get plenty of opportunities. Fisher needs a win right now.

  12. KP getting shut out. Melo dominating. Sometimes you need a player like Carmelo Anthony to carry the team on his back.

  13. I hope Porzingis comes out strong in the 3rd quarter. Even if his shot isn’t falling he can just focus on energy rebounds and defense.

  14. For his career, Lopez takes 51% of his shots from 0-3 feet out and that’s higher in his best years. This year he’s at 41%. For his career he takes 30% of his shots from 3-10 feet and that’s lower in his best years. This year he’s at 41%.

    Fuck triangles.

  15. Ok yellowboy. Clyderules was removed from that other place for saying what I thought about Melo. No free speech there.

  16. Is there room in Fisher’s dog house for Jose?

    Our guards are very bad. The dude with the 59% TS has to play, warts and all.

  17. Carmelo must have spent his Friday taking classes at the Lance Thomas Off season School for Tweeners

  18. I don’t love the idea of O’Quinn jacking up jump shots but if he continues to hit them at a 100% clip I’ll live with it

  19. yellowboy90
    December 12, 2015 at 11:43 pm
    Carmelo must have spent his Friday taking classes at the Lance Thomas Off season School for Tweeners

    He should go more often.

  20. Best part is the Knicks are getting killed by the Blazers athletic guards yet their most athletic guard has gotten 0 minutes tonight.

  21. I don’t care if we lose just knowing that Seraphin will never see the court again is enough for me

  22. You got at least one of your wishes, PTMilo – Koq showing why we’ve all lamented Seraphin’s playing time even when he wasn’t terrible…

    I also say again, he reminds me of Oak even in his passes to nowhere, like that one out of bounds in the first half.

  23. Just keep posting Melo up, they are double-teaming him every time and he’s making the proper passes out of it.

  24. We’re making shots, but mostly it’s that we’ve been contesting everything on the defensive end. They’ve made their share of shots, but we’ve made it difficult for them (aside from the occasional easy give-and-go).

  25. Judging by the replay, probably was the right call. Hoop can be so tough on the refs – it’s so fast.

  26. That wasn’t nearly offensive foul. To me,not even close. Plumlee is taking a huge fucking step to his right… Pay the fuck attention. That shouldn’t even be a question

  27. Clutchest Knick FT’s since Allan Houston at the end of Game 6 in 2000 vs the Heat. You’ll like that reference Brian :-)

  28. So, when the Knicks gave the minimum plus a couple hundred thousand to Lance, I derided the move. Really hated it. But I gotta admit, I love that he hustles his ass off on D, even if he’s only a league average player at best. Denying the inbounds was great.

  29. Great game by Melo and very strong 19 minutes from KOQ. Afflalo had 1 rebound and 0 assists in 40 minutes, which is kinda hard to do.

  30. rama
    December 13, 2015 at 12:35 am
    Proving once again, IF YOU HAVE A FOUL TO GIVE, GIVE IT BEFORE SOMEONE TAKES A FREAKING 3.

    F%&*%^!

    Well said, rama.

  31. Seriously? WTF happened on that foul on Lillard’s 3? I mean, how can you not let him just take that shot, or foul him beforehand? That win felt better than a loss, but only slightly so.

    On the other hand, Melo was pushed out of bounds and once again got jobbed.

    And yes, that blocking call on Plumlee was clearly a block. He extended his right knee.

  32. Anthony’s best game in a long time. He was great on both ends.
    O god damn Quinn for crissakes. Bout time.

  33. Good to get a win, but I hate that Porzingis was benched on route to it. Just seems shortsighted.

  34. Thomas in 25 mins also had just 1 reb and 0 asts. But he had 13 pts on only 3 FGA and played decent defense on Lillard down the stretch so he’s forgiven lol.

  35. Nice road win. Great game by Melo.
    Zero points by Porzingis and D Williams leads the team with 4 assists – Wow, just WOW!

  36. KP’s benching down the stretch tonight is justified, Grant getting a DNP is not. He’s played 3 mins the last 2 games, thats just negligent.

  37. Just got back from dinner. Fantastic Coquilles St Jacques. Checked the score early and saw we were down big and just assumed it will be another loss. Looks like Melo had it popping tonight-how were the rotations?

  38. I disagree, Brian. We can’t forget that he’s a 20yo rookie with a lot to learn about the NBA routine. Also, Fisher is playing for keeps right now, and I think it’s fine that he plays the guys that he feels gives him the best chance to win. I actually think that that’s good for Porzingis. He has to be physically and mentally tired from the grind, travel, publicity, etc. Now he can rest until Wednesday and be rejuvenated for the two big match-ups coming up with Towns and Okafor.

  39. I disagree, Al. Grant has not been playing like an NBA rotation player of late. Rookies have to learn that they have no birthright to playing time, they have to earn it (unless it’s an obvious tanking situation.)

  40. On Melo, he was sensational tonight. On the other hand, Portland didn’t have a guy that could effectively guard him like some of the teams that Melo has struggled against. But it’s better than what he’s been doing, so let’s see if it carries over.

  41. With the kids I don’t think we should complain if they sit for a game or two now and again. Grant has been playing like shit. Take a day off, go home, get in a couple practices and throw him back out there. We’ve got no one else to play, but if it’s just a couple games I don’t think it’s a bad move

  42. That’s the thing, Grant not playing means Vujacic plays. KP getting his minutes reduced meant more time for O’Quinn, DWill and Thomas which you can understand and KP still got almost 20 mins. Also Grant being benched means Gallo has to play more PG which I’m not a big fan of.

    Grant has nobody to justifiably take his minutes, KP does. Either way the Knicks next 2 games are vs the Wolves and at Philly, they can be right back sniffing .500 after the next 2 games before hosting the Bulls.

  43. @#121 – just watched the highlights on NBA.com. O’Quinn makes a block , Melo gets the loose ball, passes up to Afflalo who makes a perfect bounce pass to O’Quinn on the break for a dunk and a 95-92 lead. That sure looked like an assist for Afflalo to me.

  44. Gallo is doing just fine. His athleticism is sorely needed out there.

    Did you see that Melo finished at -9 I think for the night. So was he really that good?

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