2015-16 Game Thread: Knicks vs. Hornets

Last week, the Knicks had a hard luck loss to the Charlotte Hornets in Charlotte, with Cody Zeller scoring with less than a second left and Zinger’s would-be game-winning three-pointer coming just after the buzzer. Now the Knicks get a chance to avenge that loss at the Garden, as they host the Hornets.

The Hornets will be playing without PJ Hairston, who wasn’t a major factor in the loss last week, but his absence could affect the Hornets’ depth, although I imagine that they’ll just play Jeremys Lamb and Lin more than normal. Zeller actually goes into the starting lineup to replace Hairston, as the Hornets will start Zeller and Marvin Williams at the forward spots and Al Jefferson in the middle. That’s a pretty big frontcourt, I guess to match up with the Knicks’ similarly big frontcourt (both Melo and Marvin Williams would be 4s on many teams).

Marvin Williams, by the way, is a good example for Derrick Williams, as they were both a bit of a bust as the #2 overall pick, but Marvin Williams has resurrected his career pretty well, so that should make Derrick Williams feel better about his future.

In any event, the Hornets will presumably (if they’re not foolish) try to run a lot on the Knicks with starting guards Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum and their back-up guards, the Jeremys. Hopefully the Knicks will do a better job slowing them down tonight.

With an interesting stretch of games coming up, including a tough road matchup with Oklahoma City, it would be really nice for the Knicks to get a win tonight to bring their record to .500. Heck, forget the upcoming games, it would be swell to see them get to .500 this “late” in the season period. And it is always good to beat another team that is in the mix for that #8 spot. The East has improved a lot this year, and the Knicks need to beat teams similar to them, like the Hornets, if they’re going to rise in the Conference standings.

Let’s go Knicks!

Knicks Can’t Shoot, But They Can Score

According to Basketball-Reference.com, the New York Knicks’ offense is ranked 13th in the league. That’s a pretty healthy showing, especially for a team coming off a 17 win season with a fair amount of new players. However there is one oddity with this statistic: the Knicks can’t shoot. New York is 26th in effective field goal percentage (.461).

So how is New York scoring so well despite the fact that they can’t hit the broad side of a barn? They’re doing the non-barn-hitting parts of the offense pretty well. At the writing of this article, the Knicks stand 12th in free throws and 4th in both turnovers and offensive rebounding. Offensive rebounding stands to be a strength for this team for the foreseeable future. New York has 4 strong rebounders in their rotation: Kyle O’Quinn (4.7 oreb/36), Kristaps Porzingis (4.5), Lou Amundson (3.6), and Robin Lopez (3.2). Obviously the big surprise of this group is the Kurzeme Machine, as it was unclear before the season started if Porzingis’ slight frame would prohibit him from mixing it up in the paint. His long reach combined with a good motor has enabled his teammates to rack up Kobe assists.

The lack of turnovers are more difficult to analyze. The “I don’t need actual stats” reasoning would be the triangle offense has limited the number of iso plays which has led to a safer offense. However this hypothesis fails when you consider the team ran the triangle last year and still finished 22nd in terms of turnover percentage. So for the time being, let’s chalk this up to one of the mysteries of life — like what the Pyramids were built for. (My own theory is that they were civilizations’ first tough mudder course. Egyptian WOD: Climb up the pyramid and back down again. 1RFT.)

Free throws are one factor that may see a decrease. Right now, Derrick Williams is second on the team in total free throws made, and first in free throws per minute. Recently, Fisher has started to cut back on the forward’s playing time, which could hurt the team in this regard (but most likely help it in a lot of others). After Williams, comes Grant and ‘Taps on the list, and the latter pair’s free throws per minute combined don’t add up to Williams’. So New York’s charitable endeavors may come to an end.

However it’s entirely possible that New York offsets the drop in free throws by actually sinking some shots from the field. Three players that are banging away at iron are Melo, RoLo, and Porzingo. Lopez’ inclusion among the blacksmiths is perplexing. His eFG is a career low .460, far below his normal rate of .530. In 7 of 8 seasons, he’s been above .500. So most likely there’ll be an improvement from the bedheaded center.

Meanwhile Melo’s .459 is off from his career rate of .482. Coming off from surgery, the knee jerk (Wilbonian) theory is that Anthony has lost his lift. If this is true, then the stats aren’t showing it where expected. Carmelo has historically gotten his shot blocked 7.6% of the time and this year is down to 5.4%. There could be a few reasons #StayMe7o isn’t shooting up to par. However let’s give him some time before we assume it’s his inability to get up.

There is one other person that could help New York in this area. Aaron Afflalo has a .516 career eFG, but only once in the past 3 seasons has he been better than .500. So if Afflalo still has some juice left in the tank, he could help New York. If not he’s just part of the problem. It’ll be interesting to see where the Knicks will be a month or two from now.

Knicks Morning News (2015.11.17)

  • [New York Daily News] Langston Galloway becoming leading man off Knicks bench (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 04:57:08 GMT)

    The backup point guard, a D-League call-up on the Knicks last season, has been the most consistent shooter on the roster.

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis woking on post-up game (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 04:47:59 GMT)

    The Knicks were stomped by the Cavaliers, rudderless on offense as the shot clock ticked toward the end of each disappointing possession.

  • [New York Daily News] Mets’ Syndergaard painting New York – the sports town – red (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 03:02:05 GMT)

    A new New York super fan has emerged, dropping the hammer on all of them — Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard.

  • [New York Times] Nowitzki’s Late Cameo Helps Mavs Edge Winless 76ers (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 06:15:35 GMT)

    Veteran forward Dirk Nowitzki scored seven of his 21 points in the final three-and-a-half minutes as the Dallas Mavericks held off the winless Philadelphia 76ers 92-86 on Monday.

  • [New York Times] Fast-Breaking Celtics Surge Past Slumping Rockets (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 05:54:27 GMT)

    Celtics guard Avery Bradley scored 21 points off the bench and the Celtics turned a pair of back-breaking runs into a 111-95 victory over the struggling Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on Monday.

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Pro Basketball: Mario Chalmers Leads Grizzlies (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 05:46:57 GMT)

    Chalmers scored a season-high 29 points in a win over the Thunder.

  • [New York Times] Butler, Bulls Hold On for 96-95 Win Over Pacers (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 04:43:03 GMT)

    With the final seconds ticking away, they stared each other down one last time, Paul George with the ball, and Jimmy Butler right in front of him.

  • [New York Times] Knight’s Triple-Double Lifts Suns to 120-101 Win Over Lakers (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 04:33:57 GMT)

    Brandon Knight had 30 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds for his first career triple-double and the Phoenix Suns ran past the Los Angeles Lakers 120-101 on Monday night.

  • [New York Times] Sports Briefing | Pro Basketball: Mavericks Top 76ers (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 04:29:34 GMT)

    Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points in Dallas’s road win.

  • [New York Times] Chalmers Scores 29 to Led Grizzlies Over Thunder 122-114 (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 04:10:56 GMT)

    Newcomer Mario Chalmers scored 16 of his season-high 29 points in the fourth quarter Monday night and the Memphis Grizzlies held on for a 122-114 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

  • [New York Times] Leonard Leads Spurs to 93-80 Win Over Trail Blazers (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 03:56:19 GMT)

    Kawhi Leonard had 19 points and Manu Ginobili added 17 points and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a listless start to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 93-80 on Monday night for their fifth straight victory.

  • [New York Times] Thomas Leads Celtics to Easy 111-95 Win Over Rockets (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 03:38:34 GMT)

    Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points and the Boston Celtics used a 32-point third quarter to pull away and cruise to a 111-95 win over the slumping Houston Rockets on Monday night.

  • [New York Times] Nowitzki, Mavericks Send 76ers to 11th Loss to Start Season (Tue, 17 Nov 2015 02:49:39 GMT)

    Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points, including seven during a pivotal stretch late in the fourth quarter, to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 92-86 victory over the winless Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.