|Carmelo Anthony, SF 37 MIN | 8-20 FG | 2-3 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +1A perfectly imperfect game for Melo—that first quarter outburst (14 points, eight ‘bounds and a block) flickered like a neon light spelling out ‘H-O-P-E’, before his next 25 minutes on the floor chewed up and spat out a line of 2-10 from the field, 1-for-2 at the line, three fouls, one board, and a solitary assist. He bodied up Millsap well in an all-round admirable defensive effort in the fleeting moments that Fisher was willing to stick with him in the frontcourt. The offense after that first quarter though? That’s now four straight games in which Melo has attempted at least 20 shots and made eight or fewer, a stretch matched only by Kobe and Danny Granger in the past six seasons. The perky smile that came with the Knicks’ 13-point lead in his halftime walk-off spot with MSG didn’t take long to dissipate, sadly. Side note: Fisher left Anthony in the game at the beginning of the 2nd period, overlapping with the usual window where he nabs 3-4 minutes of rest, but it did little to perpetuate Melo’s bullish start.|
|Samuel Dalembert, C 25 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -1Contrary to reports, Dalembert has not started the first seven games of the season with cinderblocks for hands. The “Haitian sensation” is often credited as a nifty and willing passer, though it shouldn’t have taken you seven starts to decipher that the Knicks aren’t exactly deploying Arvydas Sabonis at the pivot spot. Triangle, trapezoid, or rhombus, no manner of geometry can cover for the fact that Dalembert is a limited stopgap whose offensive merits are made to stand out only by comparison to the rest of the Knicks’ frontcourt depth chart.He finished with three blocks, and on a night like this, was the best of an especially bad bunch. 20-24 minutes is right about where you’d want to squeeze Dalembert into the equation, and no more than that.|
|Shane Larkin, PG 29 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -4 Fisher brought Larkin back into the starting unit after Deron Williams had his way with Shumpert in Brooklyn. Shane had difficulty handling Jeff Teague early on and picked up a couple of fouls, and the Knicks looked significantly better with Shump at the controls (and benefited defensively, of course). Not his finest outing, but he avoided gifting the ball to the Hawks, and has done a nice job of manning the fort in Calderon’s absence.|
|Iman Shumpert, SG 35 MIN | 8-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 19 PTS | -3Iman Shumpert, rim-finisher, orchestrator, outside shooter, and overall destroyer of worlds. Quite frankly, if all that is gained from a season riding into battle with this grimy pu-pu platter of a roster is a considerably developed, confident Shumpert, then so be it. There’s no other way to say it—save for a hiccup in Brooklyn—he has been fantastic, and the Knicks’ best performer through a week and change. The fact that he can rely on precisely zero cover/help defense from teammates is going to be a bone to pick for all 82 games, and it’s another reason why he has to figure out a way to dodge picking up those ticky-tack fouls without sacrificing his stout on-ball D.Count me in for the Shumpert-as-lead-guard experience in the short-term; what’s to lose from tossing him out the front of the tire fire?|
|Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 25 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +7Second straight start for THJ, as part of the undersized crew cobbled together by Derek Fisher to kick-off the proceedings. Couldn’t finish off a four-point play opportunity (beating the shot clock) in the first—though the resultant shimmy was nice. Have to like his relentless approach to attacking the basket, but boy is there scope for improvement on the opposite end. Sooner or later, the powers that be will (should?) wise up to the fact that it’s nothing short of crippling to have THJ scrambling on the perimeter like a stray cat ducking oncoming traffic.|
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 21 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -5Here’s a fun game: over/under number of times Clyde gleefully mentions Hakeem and/or the ‘dream shake’ in reference to Amar’e’s post moves? I’ll set the line right at 156.5 for the season. Amar’e worked really well on the glass, plucked a few crafty twirls and spins from his repertoire, and overall clocked out with an honest 20-minute shift.The key to his involvement is how (or if) Fisher staggers lineups, and sends him in at the right time, and with the appropriate complementary lineups. In the 11 minutes that Melo and Amar’e were on the floor together, the Hawks put up—*sigh*—31 points on 10-of-20 (with four 3s) shooting. This has been your 3,464th reminder that said combination cannot, under any circumstance, be depended upon.|
|Cleanthony Early, SF 11 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -8Cleanthony was into the game early for the second consecutive night, a sign that the coaching staff might be willing to wet his feet in non-garbage time scenarios (at least while they’re short on cattle). He couldn’t knock in a jumper and didn’t have the blurst of times with Atlanta’s wing players, but it’s still encouraging to see him out there and remaining aggressive offensively.|
|Quincy Acy, SF 14 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -10Too much Quincy Acy. Plus, six of his 14 minutes were alongside Amar’e. If somebody can explain why the hell anyone in good conscience would want to toy with that pairing, I’d love to hear it. In fact, I’ll go you one better—grab a quill and some ink, and have it on my desk by 9 o’clock on Monday. I can wait.|
|Jason Smith, C 11 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 2 PTS | -3The Knicks’ resident enforcer and mid-range connoisseur had a forgettable night. The stench on this one was particularly pungent in the third period:
|J.R. Smith, SG33 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -9 49 passes for five assists for Earl in this one. Pretty pleasing when he’s able to fulfill a deferential role and avoid sprinkling it with nincompoop turnovers. Second half was a tad bizarre, producing only two attempts and no points. It’s a bit of a weird fit for him to be on the court with both Hardaway Jr. and Shumpert simultaneously, and that’ll likely iron itself out once Calderon returns.|
Fifth time in seven games that the starting lineup has changed. The smaller lineup was a welcome surprise, and there were one or two tinkers mid-game that shook things up, but I’m not a fan of that shade of mauve resonating out of Fisher’s self-inflicted wounds. Look, the leash has to be longer than seven October-November games, though that doesn’t mean one can’t question decision-making here and there.
Interesting that Fisher goes Acy here instead of JR. Not sure why he’s scrapping the small lineup so early in the half.
— Taylor Armosino (@tarmosino) November 9, 2014
Stick with what works; it’s not complicated. For the record, I’m a Fisher optimist, and I’ve been thoroughly encouraged by his willingness to yank guys for cut-and-dried defensive lapses. That shouldn’t overrule the damage done by toeing the line with Amar’e-at-the-5, the Acy-Smith frontline, and a smattering of other wrinkles that flat out do not work. Bake it away, Tob:
Some rough tabulating of the boxscore, but NY outscored Atlanta 62-57 w/Melo at PF and were outscored 22-26 w/SF Melo. — Robert Silverman (@BobSaietta) November 9, 2014
Three Things We Saw
- This cheeky little drop-off pass from Melo to Shump:
- Melo at the four! To start the game, no less.
- Kyle Korver with more space on the perimeter than an incontinent person on the subway. According to the NBA’s player tracking data, Korver had six (!!!) uncontested field goal attempts—defined as the shooter not having a defender within a vicinity of 3.5 feet. This was at its worst in the final 7:00 of the game, when Korver and DeMarre Carroll broke free for a combined three triples, while being checked (using that term generously) by Hardaway and J.R. Korver finished 6 for 9 from deep for the game.