Cavaliers 90, Knicks 87

Cleveland Cavaliers 90 Final
Recap | Box Score
87 New York Knicks
Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 30 MIN | 8-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 18 PTS | +8

It was mostly good. The MONSTER SLAM at the beginning of the 4th Quarter over Varejao was a thing of beauty that sent visions of fall 2010 running through MSG. STAT unleashed some crafty low post moves and played some good defense in space on PNR, leading to a clanged Marion corner 3 and then a Shumpert/Carmelo two on none fastbreak. He grabbed a bunch of tough rebounds, and even made two nice passes out of the post to Larkin and Hardaway. Really, I saw it happen and everything. But early on, Stat was clowned by Varejao off the dribble, leading to an easy Love basket, The turnovers are still a problem, though. Still, it’d be nifty to see this version of Amar’e every night.

Quincy Acy, SF 31 MIN | 6-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | -15

. That was Quincy’s best, manimal-est game as a Knick, starting with the hard/borderline cheap hit on LBJ early set the tone. He had some great leak outs and dashes to the rim for easy points, played strong defense, banged home rainbow jumpers and even dumped off a pocket pass or two. Sometimes, though, he crossed over from aggressive to “aggressively dumb” with his hackery, and we’re going to knock a point off his GPA accordingly. Speaking of cats we’d like to see every night… this guy!

Carmelo Anthony, SF 30 MIN | 4-19 FG | 0-0 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 5 TO | 9 PTS | -13

Some nice rebounding and passing, but ooh boy. His shot was off, and for some reason that only emboldened him to force it even more. He looked slow and in pain, frankly, which might make one question the wisdom of playing him 40+ minutes in the first two games back from injury. Going ISO and running out the clock with a chance to tie, only to fling up a contested, no-hope trey was really the crappy icing on a poopy game.

Jose Calderon, PG 28 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | -9

Absolutely could not keep Kyrie Irving in front of him after the first quarter, when Irving was inexplicably went scoreless. He moved the ball on offense quite well, but we’ll need better than this from Calderon sto make up for the turnstile defense (which was expected).

Iman Shumpert, SG 25 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -16

Solid game for a guy with no points. The jumper’s still broken or he’s lost the confidence to take it altogether, and the botched tip dunk early is just another reminder of what we already know–he really can’t score in traffic. Still, a decent outing as the secondary ballhandler, setting up Acy, Carmelo (2x) for easy baskets rather than trying to finish himself.

On defense, Shumpert has three big problems. First, he just plain dies on screens. Second, because he fears screens, he gets wrongfooted by quick guards like Irving–particularly on the shot that put Cleveland up three–who reject the screen.

For example…

Third, he is not strong enough to keep SFs (especially Lebron James) from backing him down in the post.

Samuel Dalembert, C 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -11

We can debate whether Phil actually thought Dalembert was a reasonable plug in for Tyson, but this is more or less what the Knicks hoped for. Strongish defense, good rebounding, a few garbage points, and he does seem to understand the Triangle, even if he lacks the skills to execute it well. And yeah, that backdoor pass we’ve all been lauding can just as easily go awry.

Speaking of ways that Dalembert is definitely not Tyson, alley oops. Please don’t try, Sammy.

Jason Smith, C 13 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +15

“Jason Smith, tough guy.” Hmm. No. “Jason Smith is a tough hombre.” Nah. “Jason Smith, a bad-ass motherfluffer.” Close, but no. Jason Smith is not tough. He tries, though!

Shane Larkin, PG 16 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -5

First half was an F. He was getting torched on defense and could not get the Knicks into their offense. The second stanza, though, was much, much better. He hit a nice three and made slick good passes to get Knicks into their offense. Despite his speed, he couldn’t stay in fromt of Kyrie either, which, to be fair, the guy with the best odds of doing so was wearing a lovely suit and streaking out to midcourt flapping his arms like Michael Keaton in Birdman trying to call a timeout.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 8 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +8

Pablo’s crafty – he’s gets around
Pablo’s crafty – he’s always down
Pablo’s crafty – he’s got a gripe
Pablo’s crafty – and he’s just my type
He’s crafty.

J.R. Smith, SG 19 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +13

JR was much better than he was against Miami. He carried the offense when STAT and Carmelo were on the bench. He took JR Smith shots (step back long 2s) and hit them. Also made a couple of nice passes for assists.

Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 22 MIN | 8-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 20 PTS | +10

A spectacular first half in which it looked like he’d regained his shooting touch from last year. No idea why he did not get more run in the second half.

Derek Fisher

Sigh, yes. They lost another close game, but if we’re looking for a page to tear out of the silver linings Knickbook, they were generating good looks out of the triangle. I counted six misses that were great shots generated by the Triple Post. I dig that he kept the team’s head in the game when breaks went badly in mid-4th quarter, but at the other end of the spectrum, I can’t feel good about going ISO-Melo to try to tie it with 10 seconds left.

Five Things We Saw

  1. After joining my fellow citizens in Foley Square (wrong forum to discuss this too serious subject), I came to this game just hoping for a close, entertaining game. I had little hope that it would happen, but the Knicks delivered a tense, hard-fought effort, even if they fell short. I’m not going to complain. (Feel free to complain in the comments.)
  2. As I noted above, the triangle generated a lot of good looks including some serious highlight-worthy baskets off of three or even four passes. Amar’e is getting enough space in the post to operate, backdoor passes are starting to click, and nicks are making the weakside handoff work. It’s still not resulting in, you know, wins, but there is a foundation being laid.
  3. The Knicks cannot win games where Carmelo shoots 4/19 and does not get to the foul line. It’s just that simple.
  4. Something was seriously wrong with LeBron tonight. I do not know if it was the after-effects of the whomping he took from Quincy Acy, but Lebron missed easy layups and lots of foul shots. There’s been a lot of chatter the last year plus about LBJ losing a step. Seeing him in person… well… I’ve gotta agree. Right now, for whatever reason, this isn’t the dude that would destroy people. And his defense? It’s bad. Not, “Bad for LeBron James” bad. Just plain not good.
  5. You know who is good? Kyrie Irving. Yes, FARTDOG, but he’s exactly the sort of quick point guard who has torn, does tear, and for the foreseeable future will continue to tear the Knicks up. As much as I wish Shumpert was an answer to this problem, he is not. And that’ll do it. The rest of the schedule is just brutal. Take a look.

    Okay, stop looking. That hurt. But if they keep playing hard and making incremental gains, maybe, they won’t get lapped by the Sixers. Go Knicks!

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28 thoughts to “Cavaliers 90, Knicks 87”

  1. The strangest part of this season is that we could have had a healthy Melo/Amare/Chandler for the first time. Isn’t that what we’d been hoping for the past few years? And couldn’t we have thrown that Jason Smith money at some PG on a 1 year deal? Felton surely would play better this season in any case. But would Phil have been smart enough to know you don’t implement the Triangle with those (or the current crop of) players? If Mavs really coveted Chandler, couldn’t Phil at least have gotten Brandan Wright in the trade? And wouldn’t deals for Chandler still have been there throughout the season? “Worst case”, instead of taking on Calderon’s contract, would it really have been that hard to unload Felton this summer on a 1 year deal to some tanking team or a team who needs a backup PG?

  2. The strangest part of this season is that we could have had a healthy Melo/Amare/Chandler for the first time. Isn’t that what we’d been hoping for the past few years?

    But then we wouldn’t have Cleanthony Early!

  3. @ Zanzibar – I’m starting to have those same thoughts. I mean we did close out last year 16-16 with Tyson, STAT and Melo as the front court and JR/Felton as the back court. Felton is not a good PG and I’m glad we got rid of him but he was also having the worst season of his life last year (as was first half of JR and Shump). Shump and JR are still erratic but are overall playing better than they were at this point last year. And like you said we could’ve gotten a one yr deal on a PG and traded Chandler mid season. His contract would be off the books this year anyways. I guess things were just too toxic with Chandler and Melo? But winning helps cure those things, ya know? our poor start last year was partly bc Chandler broke his leg which would not be the case this year.

  4. Lebron has looked like this all year. Lucky for him you can fall off the really awesome cliff and land on the still awesome beach. He is, however, currently a well below average regular season NBA defender. It’s a shame he trademarked The Decision because by British common law it should revert to Steve Kerr. I think it’s time to hurry up and convince Carmelo that his brand would be best flourish elsewhere before we play up from our 16 win pace to our 30 win talent and start leaking lottery balls.

  5. It is clear the strategy is to tank the season.
    I’m thinking not only will the Knicks have a lot of money for free agency, they’re also a lottery team with a lot of balls, meaning we have a good shot at a top 5 pick in the draft. I believe we have a 2015 number 1 that we haven’t been allowed to trade away. We gave away 2014 and 2016, I believe.

    So, if all that is true, does anyone have intel on who the top five players likely to come out in 2015?
    Just curious.

  6. Much love to Robert Silverman, who edited this recap and made it much better. In particular, he added the video highlights and re-wrote the Pablo summary as a shout out to Beastie Boys.

    Only the mistakes are mine.

  7. What pisses me off most about last night’s game (aside from the ridiculous traveling and 8 second calls) is watching the replay of Irving’s shot and seeing how close Amare got to getting a hand on it.

  8. What pisses me off most about last night’s game (aside from the ridiculous traveling and 8 second calls) is watching the replay of Irving’s shot and seeing how close Amare got to getting a hand on it.

    The defense was actually good on that play.
    It was probably the best cross-over going left I’ve ever seen.

  9. So, if all that is true, does anyone have intel on who the top five players likely to come out in 2015?

    I’ll give you the basic rundown. The top 5 guys in the mock draft on nbadraft.net are:
    1. Emmanuel Mudiay – PG
    Ball-dominant guard with good size, 6’5″. Kind of reminds me of 00’s guards like Steve Francis or Baron Davis, but a bit taller. Jump shot is erratic at this point. Not my favorite player in the draft by a long shot.
    2. Jahlil Okafor – C
    Beast of a low-post scorer who has been unstoppable and deadly efficient at Duke so far. Has also been a force on the boards. Built like a tank, legitimate center size both in upper and lower body. In my opinion the best player available.
    3. Karl-Anthony Towns – C
    Good all-around big man prospect, does a little bit of everything. Good passer, strong rebounder, shot-blocker, has shooting range, considered to be high-IQ player.
    4. Myles Turner – C
    Unique hybrid player, a high-motor 6’11” big man with a lean and lanky athleticism that reminds me a bit of Marcus Camby, at least on the defensive end. Monster shot blocker, and a quite effective shooter all the way out to 3PT%, where he is shooting around 36% as a freshman.
    5. Stanley Johnson – SF
    Lockdown defender, thick and athletic 6’8″ wing with massive hops who is one of the better defensive prospects to come down the pike in quite a while. Incredible lateral movement and ability to body up on his man. His floor is a Bruce Bowen type defender with limited offense, but if his offensive game develops you’re almost looking at a Kawhi Leonard type, and he is off to a fine start this season on offense. This guy I love.

  10. Amare has been a beast this year, and getting better as the season progresses. He can be great trade bait for a team that’s looking to make a serious push. . . . possibly for a first rounder or promising young talent.
    And if he stays healthy, he’ll be a real asset to a team going forward. Few guys in the NBA can score as well as Amare around the hoop, and a great locker room guy, too.

  11. His contract makes it very difficult for a good team to trade for him (matching salaries and all that) as most good teams are right up against the cap.

  12. The shame is that with Amare playing great, the knicks have two guys that require double teams, causing big problems for opposing teams.
    If JR, Shump and Hardaway were on top of their games, and with Calderon and Prigs pacing the offense, the knicks could have contended for the Conference title.
    Hope this season isn’t a sign of the PJ/Melo era, but believe it is.

  13. Prigioni didn’t play many minutes, and my guess is that Fisher felt he couldn’t guard Irving well enough. But no one could; Irving torched the Knicks anyway. I would have rather seen Prigioni get more minutes, since I think our defense is probably a lost cause and we will only win with more offense.

  14. On the subject of Amare, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Knicks want to re-sign him for less money. But it will have to wait until free agent options are done, some team that needs offense might sign him first. Imagine him providing offense for the Pacers, for example.

  15. If Amare wants to take Jason Smith money and play for us next year, I’d be cool with that. Anything else-no way.

  16. His contract makes it very difficult for a good team to trade for him

    Exactly. All the horrible 2010 contracts have either been amnestied, or are expiring. There are no truly horrendous contracts in the league anymore (outside of the New York Knick organization).

  17. Everybody likes to trash Amare and his contract, but this season, last game in particular, he’s playing closer to max contract level than $3.2 million than J. Smith is getting. He’s showing a lot of signs of his old explosiveness and he worked his ass off in the off season learning new moves around the hoop that help him fit into an offense that Melo completely controls at the expense of everyone else’s game.

    If Amare continues to play at this level, especially if he’s willing to sign a one or two year contract, will be offered $10 million, or more, next season.

  18. He can rebound the ball so well, as a matter of fact, that he still cracks a .100 WS/48 despite his poor offensive efficiency

    Those are mostly garbage time stats.
    Just watch him. He’s clumsy slow, has no offensive touch, and is marginal on defense.
    I don’t like trashing Cole, but he’s not the answer to anything.

    The main problem lies with the guy that takes 24 shots a game, other guys getting big minutes that are underachieving, and a pathetic organizational culture of losing.

  19. At what point does Phil Jackson start becoming accountable?
    You can’t expect him to turn a team around overnight, but
    – it’s more than overnight. He’s been here part of last season, the entire offseason, and a quarter of this season
    – this is better than a 4-16 team, the worst starting record in knicks history.
    – he should be getting the team to play hard, smart, and more to their potential.

  20. If Amare continues to play at this level, especially if he’s willing to sign a one or two year contract, will be offered $10 million, or more, next season.

    In a world where teams have faith that Amare could stay healthy, maybe. In this world, I have to strongly, strongly disagree.

  21. JK47
    Knicks need a PG or a dominating big man, probably in that order.
    It would be nice to have a PG that isn’t a matador and who can create and break down defenses.

    Thanks for the breakdown

  22. Gerald Henderson just split the Melo-Amar’e pick and roll switch for a layup: Threading the feeble.

  23. We lost last night primarily because Carmelo shot like shit and our bad defensive players played bad defense. What about that would you like Phil to fix? That’s the reason we’ve lost a bunch of games this year. I mean, all we could do was shuffle deck chairs on the TitaKnick this offseason because of our shitty roster and catastrophically bad cap situation. If we go into this offseason without taking on extra money this year has been a win for the Knicks.

  24. If we go into this offseason without taking on extra money this year has been a win for the Knicks.

    That was one of the odder things of the Chandler trade, in that the Knicks added payroll for next season in that deal.

  25. There are no truly horrendous contracts in the league anymore (outside of the New York Knick organization)

    Paging Josh Smith. J-Smoove please report to the front desk.

  26. I do not know what became of Ruruland. I acknowledge my lost wagers. THCJ was right and I was wrong. Knicks will miss playoffs for second straight year. Will not win 41 games (may not win 21).

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