Hawks 110, Knicks 90

Atlanta Hawks 110 Final
Recap | Box Score
90 New York Knicks
Andrea Bargnani, PF 28 MIN | 5-11 FG | 5-6 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -15

I don’t know about y’all, but if I botched a defensive sequence and Pablo Prigioni, who seems to be so eternally positive, so basically good-natured and filled with joy just at the thought that he might get to spend the next second on planet earth, with other humans, the kind of guy who thought the plastic-bag-blowing-in-the-wind scene from American Beauty was profoundly, deeply true instead of treacly and ham-fisted, turned to rip me a brand-new orifice in front of 19,000 strangers (as was the case for fair Andrea in the 2nd quarter), I’d start hunting around for a pickaxe and try to dig as deep a hole as possible right there and climb inside, hardwood floor/the fact that there was still about 30 minutes of basketball to go be damned.

That said, he was once again an effective on-the-ball defender, hit shots when the ‘Bockers deigned to run a play for him and was aggressive on the glass. Not the least bit his fault, this latest L, either. TEAM BARGS!

Honey, did you smell the chicken before we cooked it?

Carmelo Anthony, SF 34 MIN | 8-21 FG | 6-7 FT | 12 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | -2

I think we need to rescue Robin Williams from whatever non-descript CBS sitcom he’s toiling away at, cram him into a bulky sweater and a pair of high-waisted khakis and have him drape his hirsute arms around Melo, Good Will Hunting style while re-enacting the “It’s not your fault” scene until Anthony breaks down in tears. See?


Tonight, the vast majority of his heaves from outside the painted area were sending chips of paint from the rim spraying all over the photographers and/or dumbly grinning hedge fund bros in the pricey seats, but he absolutely was an uncontainable man-bull-bear-pig down low and on the boards.

And perhaps his kvetching about needing to stage a Grand Guignol spectacle in order to merit a whistle helped. I mean, he did garner one or two more whistles tonight, but you know they still lost, and okay. I’ll just stop. This recap is going to be all kinds of bleak. So just get your loins thoroughly girded, people.

It was good. I said I liked the chicken like three times already. Paprika, right?

Raymond Felton, PG 33 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 7 PTS | -15

Without a big that excels rolling to the rim, Felton’s offensive value is reduced to one of those imaginary numbers like i. For example, if Felton turns the ball over i times and is currently 6-28 from downtown while allowing i point guards to reduce him to his component atoms (which are probably 84% naturally occurring fatty acids. YEAH I KNOW HE’S LOST WEIGHT AND HE’S HURT BUT BOB ANGRY. FELT GET HIT BY BLOWBACK. CRY ME A RIVER, TUBBY.) then you get the equation:


As in, the Knickerbockers are in desperate need of a “One” or “Point guard” if this season’s going to be anything more than the equivalent of one of those blood-soaked, unfathomably cruel videos you see leaked of factory farms where legless, chickens are crammed into pens about an inch larger than the total area of their bodies, with their beaks forcibly removed so they don’t peck their miserable, doomed neighbor to death. That could be a healthy Felt or it could be, I dunno, possibly, maybe, kinda, sorta, returning to the two-PG sets that even in this “Rancid bivalves that you left in the fridge coming home from the Oyster Bar like three months ago wrapped in foil but totally forgot about because it was crammed in the back of the fridge behind the Arm & Hammer such that when you opened it up, the smell was so noxious it literally made you dizzy” of a season have proven to work. Just a thought.

I just… No, I said I’m fine. I was just curious because we bought the chicken like ten days ago or something.

J.R. Smith, SG 36 MIN | 3-18 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -13

6-34. Here’s Earl’s shot chart from the past two games:


Is it getting warm in here?

Iman Shumpert, SG 34 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | -10

I can’t really fathom what hearing trade rumors does or might do to a athlete. I mean, think about it for a sec. You could be forced to leave. Leave your home. Leave your friends. Leave whatever life you’ve built in a city or town. And you have zero control over whether that’s going to occur. I know, I know. These guys are pros and “It’s part of the game/business,” and whatever other content-free clichés men wearing nothing but towels or XXXX-Long designer suits burble as a means of providing understanding/assessment in post-locker room/game quotes.

Call it a lack of professionalism if you like, but I can certainly see how and why it’d affect one’s game. AndB it’s clearly bugging Shump. Even with the two pretty bombs he dropped in the aborted comeback effort, he looks jittery and unsure, as opposed to the overflowing-with-swag feller we saw in the preseason (and even the first few games). He’s going to get traded. It’s coming. It’s going to be awful. Like a cresting wave that you’re just waiting to come crashing down, or the freaking Entourage movie—truly the perfect encapsulation of our worship of the new dumb; of misplaced priorities; of hairgel/shots/models-as-a-social/political ethos.

If that isn’t enough, Spike Lee’s taken to wearing Iman’s jersey courtside. As a reminder, when he’s not dressing in a manner similar to the way that Willy Wonka would garb a particularly masochistic Oompa-Loompa,—an Oompa Loompa that in addition to being essentially slave labor in an English Chocolate factory was also a Knicks fan—the noted auteur has been seen sporting Landry Fields and Jeremy Lin unis. Kiss of freaking death, mang.

Ooh my stomach. That’s not good.

Kenyon Martin, PF 17 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -12

So there’s this:
Kenyon Martin

And the fact that Martin absolutely nailed Teague in the Jeffs on a dribble penetration (see what I did there. I’m so, so sorry). If you don’t legitimately fear Kenyon Martin’s Oakley-esque ability to intimidate, you’re doing it wrong.

(Runs to bathroom)

Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 14 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -16

Two nice moves to score at the rim doesn’t make up for the fact that he’s an absolute blight on the other end of the court. . Before tipoff, there was some very ominous pouring out of his heart’s chyme about his early-season frustrations: “”It’s making me look like my game is gone or that I don’t have game anymore because when you play five minutes, it’s just tough to really get in a rhythm.”

This is a true thing, to be sure. Unfortunately, right now, doling out the minutes he requires to get in rhythm leads to a parade of Angry Birds strolling to the basket or a simple pass—the kind that a pee-wee team has the wherewithal to execute—leading to a wide open trey. This game was lost with when the Goateed one went with an Amar’e-Melo-Bargs front line (aka the Human Defensive Cheesecloth), and the Atlantans promptly scored ten points in four possessions, turning a seven-point defect with eight minutes to go to a soul-crushing seventeen.

(Silence. Still in bathroom)

Cole Aldrich, C 3 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | 0


(From bathroom) Do we have any Pepto?

Pablo Prigioni, PG 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -5

If Prigioni isn’t going to start, we should just send him to console each and every Knick fan individually. Make use of his talents.

(From bathroom) I think I’m gonna be okay. Just gimme a minute in here. (Sotto voce) Jeez. Can’t a guy get a second to hisself.

Toure’ Murry, SG 3 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | 0

Hi Toure’!

(Exits bathroom). No, I didn’t. I think I’ll be okay though.

Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 22 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -12

Why he wasn’t in the game in lieu of our favorite social media artist is a mystery understood only by God, Mike Woodson, Mike Woodson’s therapist, and possibly Mike Woodson’s dog. I would probably prefer at least 3 of the above 4 were currently the HC of the NYK. See if you can guess which!

(Runs frantically back to bathroom)

Mike Woodson

So, Son of Wood, what’s on your mind?

“Defensively, we’ve to figure out who we are. Right now I don’t know who we are.”

Right now, you’re a terrible team. That’s not some Sphinx-level riddle that requires Deep Thought from Hitchhiker’s to solve, Coach. Any other words of wisdom?

“I think everything we are doing is correctable.”


(Disturbingly sub-human, not even mammalian sounds emerge from bathroom)

Four Things We Saw

  1. There’s not much to say about this game that we haven’t said ad nauseum: They’ve got a roster of subpar defenders that either can’t or won’t function in what appears to be a deeply flawed ‘system,’ the perpetual switching (with guards going under picks and bigs looking positively gobsmacked that said guard would go under a pick) yields mismatches galore or a wide open corner three after even a halfhearted screen, and they’re terrible at getting back in transition, such that any turnover or even a long rebound instantly turns into an easy bucket. On offense, they need a monstrously effective game from at least 2-3 of their top guns to stay competitive, and if the shooting is even slightly off, it degenerates into brackishly stagnant ISO-ball. Vomit. Wash. Rinse. Vomit. Repeat. Clean up toilet, as droplets of sickly-warm sweat hit the porcelain, feel a rush of salt-filled saliva well up in your jowels, gimly clutch toilet seat. Wonder how your stomach could possibly contain so much material. Silently curse and uncaring or at least absent God. Feel beyond empty, yet somehow know there’s still more to come. Close eyes. Hope beyond hope that maybe, somehow it can just be over; that if you clench your jaw and screw your face up tightly enough you can make it stop—dear Lord, please make it stop.
    Spew Chunks.
    Throw up.
    Toss a sidewalk pizza.
    Toss your cookies.
    Lose your lunch.
    Have a Technicolor yawn.
    Perform peristaltic pyrotechnics.
  2. I feel much better. Whew. Musta been something I ate. Or maybe I was nauseated trying to tell which team was which.


    Zero wins, Four losses. In sum, NO. MORE. ORANGE.

  3. I didn’t get to watch it, because I was hard at work in my quaint, humble old-timey cobbler’s studio, hand-crafting this recap for you, the people, but I really hope the post game show was just 30 minutes of Hahn and Wally in a seedy roadside motel wearing nothing but boxer shorts and fancy ties, frantically/frenetically scouring the carpet for bits of white-colored dirt/grit and then examining them with the precision and attention to detail of a diamond appraiser, while Al Trautwig menacingly waved an empty bottle of Old Crow, unleashing bloodcurdling howls of self-righteous rage at a “Lady of the Evening” after she refused to wear the Jeremy Lin irregular jersey that he had just bought from the sale bin at a Modell’s in the Garden State Mall in Paramus. That’d be boffo.
  4. And that’s before we even get to the weird “injury” that kept Metta World Peace from suiting up. According to his brother Daniel, via the Twitterbox, there’s another reason and he isn’t feeling unwell. The tweet was quickly retracted, and in the post-game, Woodson said that Metta himself asked out. Which means that someone’s bullshitting us, and there’s more drama around the bend. Because of course there is. I can deal with rooting for a crappy team — we’ve all certainly had enough practice. What I can’t stomach is a team that’s so boringly awful, like the basketball equivalent of Hannah Arendt’s “The Banality of Evil.” It’s just terrible and seemingly fixable and yet utterly unfixable all at once, you know? That’s what’s so galling, so freaking depressing. I’m going back in the can. Let me know when the next game starts. Knicks!
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Robert Silverman

Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times and at ESPN, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.

80 thoughts to “Hawks 110, Knicks 90”

  1. Jennings just tweeted JR: Yo homie, caught game, u tryin to get activated LudaChris some burn?

    Bad karma from rehiring Mills, C Smith’s roster spot, playing favorites, CAA etc. So Dolan you hell-bent on keeping Melo and trading Shump? Only way out is to find someone dumber than you for a trade. Enter Pistons Dumbars… JR/Shump/Felton/*gulp*2018 1st rounder for Monroe/Bynum presuming Monroe would accept 3 year/40m extension before trade in January. Would also flip Chandler for Adams/Perkins.

    PISTONS >> starting 5 of Jennings/JR/Shump/Drummond/Smith – Dumbars like that fool’s gold
    OKC >> TC perfect fit, final part needed for chip. Durant/Westbrook/TC/Ibaka – WOW! WoW!
    KNICKS >> Monroe/Melo/Adams/THJ are keepers, reasonably competitive until 2015

  2. I wish JR could be traded ot just sit on the bench when he is bad. There is this pg/sg named Beno on the roster I thought. He didn’t look good earlier either but why not give him a chance when you see brick after brick after iso stepback or forced drive heave brick?

    I don’t like this but Shump/ Felton needs to go to Sac town for Thomas and Thompson. It’s a dream but Sac doesn’t seem to like the lil pg but he finishes at the rim and shoots 3s.

    Also, Im tired of seeing Prigs stall the O by taking 15-17 secs to start the offense while never probing below the ft line and then have one successful possession where the ball moves which leads to Breen/Frazier gushing. What about the other possession?

  3. cracking job on the recap, such great writing always makes me feel a lot better!

    frankly i don’t understand why we’ve gone away from the 2pg line-up. that’s clearly our best look. going with that would also give us a chance to test out murry as a back-up guard for 10-15 minutes to give some sort of perimeter d. at the moment that seems to me our biggest problem, it’s horrendous.

  4. Just curious — do people on this site think that Shumpert plays hard consistently on defense, or do you think that he cranks it up maybe every third or fourth time down the court and, the rest of the time, doesn’t play with a particularly high “motor?”

  5. Mediocre Coach + Overrated Players + Troubled Personalities = Bad Team = Blow the Freaking Thing Up You Idiot Dolan and Hand It Over to Someone with a Clue

  6. cracking job on the recap, such great writing always makes me feel a lot better!


    Yes, this sucks. It seems right now like it’s lottery season with no pick but I’m still gonna hope for the best. Knicks won’t win if JR doesn’t make shots. It’s that simple. He can’t stay this bad. So, maybe the team can improve. If Felton is hurt he needs to sit. If Amar’e can’t defend he needs to sit. The coach needs to do two things that are opposites. He needs to go with what works but he also needs to make things work. My solution is to live with JR and hope he gets it together but give Felton and STAT some bench time until they’re more physically ready to not kill the team.

  7. one of the best recaps I can remember, causing me further pain by making me laugh audibly while nursing a damn hangover.

    MY solution is to trade melo. we are not going anywhere this year and I want no parts of signing him to a 5 year max extension. call joe dumars. Melo and felton for Monroe, stuckey, Bynum, Charlie v, tony Mitchell and a couple (or one??) protected firsts. then cut lil pipe and Charlie V. waddausay??? reset in 2 years but at least we start restocking our firsts

  8. I love that coach’s answer to what had been going wrong was to roll out the Bargs/Stat/Melo frontline. I mean, who could have foreseen that ending badly?

  9. It’s obvious Woodson has absolutely no idea at all how to value his own players. If he did, he wouldn’t need to constantly tweak things. Right now he’s throwing spaghetti at the wall.

    I’d be playing Prigioni, Shumpert, Melo, K-Mart, and MWP. It’s a small lineup and we’d have to tolerate some crazy shots from MWP and Shump, but until Chandler comes back, that the best team we can floor.

  10. Well, as I said about Bargs, Jr Smith is not this bad. But one thing a lot of people didn’t factor into their assessments of the Knicks this year is that both JR and Melo had career years last year. Jr will be better but if either of those guys backslide from last year’s number it’s going to be another mile to make up.

    We just aren’t a good team without Chandler. That’s the bottom line. Melo has been boarding but he isn’t any kind of defensive presence at the 4. And Bargs isn’t, overall, anything like a good defender, despite his alleged proficiency in the post (which hey, fine).

    The Detroit game on Tuesday looms huge right now given that we face Indiana the next night, who won’t have played the night before. Tack another two losses on and things really look dire.

  11. The Knicks are rapidly headed to the cellar of the NBA in terms of defensive rating. As of now they rank 28th. People can sit here and say “it isn’t Bargs’ fault” all they want, but sorry, a large part of it is Bargs’ fault. Doesn’t look like the team can survive Chandler missing these games. By the time he returns the Knicks are going to be so far underwater that it’s going to be too late.

    It’s probably time to start seriously considering shopping Carmelo Anthony to a contender for some assets, but the people that run this team are way too stupid to even consider that. What will happen instead is that the Knicks will play out the season, miss the playoffs, and then let Melo walk for nothing.

  12. That recap was so funny I was literally in tears: A much-needed catharsis after that gutless performance by the stevie Knicks last night. With a couple of exceptions they should all be forced to wear gausy flowing black witchy-wonderful negligees for unis next game as punishment. I really like Anthony’s reaction; calling the whole team’s effort shit. And, as awful as Amare has been on the floor, I think the fact that he has guts will be helpfull too at this point. This is a gut check. Trade rumors, locker room dissent, loss of faith in Woodson: it could go way south from here. Anthony’s effort on the court and attitude off it are part of what’s needed, I think, to get them to pull together and rally. I never write his name as Melo because his habitual heavy-lidded grin always makes me want to check under his courtside chair for a bong. I want him to be way more determined and tougher than that nick name. So seeing him pissed and willing to risk offending his team mates makes me happy.

  13. Is it even possible to shop Melo given that he has a player option for next year? Don’t know the details, but that would seem to cause salary cap issues….

    Last year when Chandler went out we cobbled together some frontcourt play from Martin, Thomas, Camby, and Stat (as i remember) and were able to fill the breach and actually had one of our most successful stretches. Martin was great basically. This year we haven’t managed that trick. The only guy who can fill the big stiff role has stayed firmly planted on the bench. I don’t get it. I don’t think Aldrich is any great shakes, i really don’t. But it’s crazy to think we can run these small lineups out there and survive on defense over the course of an NBA season.

    The Knicks right now are showing that going small in the NBA is more difficult than they made it look last year. If you hit your threes, generate transition points, and get enough pressure on ballhandlers and passing lanes it can work. But fielding lineups where 4 out of 5 players are under 6’6.5 and the others are defensive cripples like Bargs and Stat, just isn’t sustainable.

  14. I agree unreason but…….
    leadership is more than post game comments. melo still has poutfest episodes every game where he doesn’t get back on d. that is not setting an example as a leader. he needs to back up his own words as much as his teammates do. the problem is we lack real leadership from any of our players and certainly any accountability when it comes to the coach

  15. The Knicks are in a Catch-22 right now; they can’t bench Bargnani because he has clearly been one of the team’s best offensive players, yet while he’s on the floor you are just not going to be a good defensive team. It is simply not possible to field a competent defensive team with Andrea Bargnani as your starting center, and when you surround Bargnani with undersized guys it merely exacerbates his problems. It’s hard to see how the Knicks are going to improve on this badly flawed formula until Chandler comes back, by which point it really may be too late.

  16. Yeah the pouting drives me nuts and does set a bad example. And even apart from that he does take some possessions off on D. But IMO he’s not slacking. In fact, to me it seems like he has been setting a good example effortwise. He just plays a brutal brand of basketball on offense half the time. Given that load and the minutes he plays, I don’t think he’s physically able to play full tilt on both ends on every possession. I thinks the minutes allocations would have to be pretty different to reasonably expect a “no possessions off” game from him.

  17. It’s hard to see how the Knicks are going to improve on this badly flawed formula until Chandler comes back, by which point it really may be too late.

    What do you think about trying a less switch-crazy scheme? It doesn’t seem to play to Bargnani’s or Amare’s strengths. It probably has subtle virtues I’m too dull to appreciate, but it seems weird that Woodson is so willing to experiment with line-ups but not with the defense.

  18. agreed JK47. Bargs and Stat re in some ways very similar. my problem with Stat has always been that to be great on offense he needs to play the center position and use his quickness on opposing centers, but that dooms you on defense. the only solution is finding another player who protects the rim on defense and plays outside on offense to pair with stat. those players really don’t exist. I feel that same way about bargs really. he is great on offense when the other team has to cover him with their center, but his lack of help defense in the paint dooms you on defense big time

  19. There are two flat-out bad players in the Knicks’ starting lineup, Ray Felton and Andrea Bargnani, and a third player who is talented but who is playing awful basketball, JR Smith. The chances of any of those three guys getting their minutes cut is exactly zero. Woodson will ride that suck train right up until he gets fired.

  20. 16. Owen
    November 17, 2013 at 1:15 pm
    Is it even possible to shop Melo given that he has a player option for next year? Don’t know the details, but that would seem to cause salary cap issues….

    Yes, a player who holds an option can be traded, but it would severely decrease his trade value because that player could leave at the end of the year. Player would take his Bird Rights with him.

    18. JK47

    It is simply not possible to field a competent defensive team with Andrea Bargnani as your starting center, and when you surround Bargnani with undersized guys it merely exacerbates his problems.

    I disagree with this unconditional statement. I think it is much more accurate to say that it is not possible to field a competent defensive team against a PnR or motion offense with Bargnani as the starting center. As he proved against Houston, Bargnani is a surprisingly strong post defender, so long as that is his sole responsibility. He does not play defense well in space and he is horrible at protecting the rim against penetration.

    When Chandler went down, I wrote that my fear was 7-14 in his absence. I hope that was too pessimistic, but right now I am afraid it may have been too optimistic.

  21. felton is a strange case. I have been a strong supporter of him and have always thought he is a lot better than lin. watching him now, unable to shoot or play any d, has made me realize that I can really have a blind spot for some players, because I cannot understand how I once thought that he was the answer

  22. WS/48: Bargnani: .131, Felon: .000

    Yes Bargnani’s defense sucks but he’s been scoring at a .608 Ts% clip on 24% usage, which is fantastic. Offensively his overall performance over the first 9 games would make for easily his best season ever, if he can keep it up. Frankly, I think there is even room for improvement if the Knicks devote more energy to featuring him the offense. And honestly, I shat on the Bargnani trade but offensive production like that goes a long way toward making up for defensive issues.

    I do agree that having him be the full-time, starting center on the team is a non-starter because of how his defensive flaws bring down the entire team’s play. However, can see how he could actually be a real contributor instead of a liability when Tyson comes back. In ways that Novak/Camby never could.

    Felton, on the other hands, has been total, unmitigated garbage. Can’t defend anyone, assisting his teammates at a career-worst rate, and is SECOND on the team in both FGA and 3FGA despite shooting .376 from the field (.206 from 3). He is easily the worst starting PG in the NBA and needs to be shut down until he’s fully healthy or traded. Playing Felton 35 mpg should be enough to get any coach fired. Beno Udrih could not possibly be worst than this.

  23. Heh, noticed to late to edit that I wrote “Felon.” Well, his play has been a crime against basketball, so it fits

  24. Felton I think is hurt right?

    I don’t know, he has never projected to be more than average with downside to be worse than that, which is what we are getting right now.

    Bargs has been having a good run offensively. I don’t expect that to continue. But no amount of offense can paper over his defensive deficiencies….

  25. JK47
    November 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm
    There are two flat-out bad players in the Knicks’ starting lineup, Ray Felton and Andrea Bargnani, and a third player who is talented but who is playing awful basketball, JR Smith. The chances of any of those three guys getting their minutes cut is exactly zero. Woodson will ride that suck train right up until he gets fired.

    Hard to call Bargnani “flat out bad” right now- as others have mentioned he’s been really good offensively. Since Chandler went down his TS% is .624 with a usage over 25 and an absurdly low turnover rate of 5.8%- that puts him in the LBJ/Durant class in terms of high usage efficient scoring. Now there’s no way he keeps it up but he’s literally been about as good at scoring the ball as you can be since Chandler went down. And his rebound rate is still uninspiring at 12.6% but it’s not catastrophically bad. Like Ephus said above, he’s horrible defending motion/pnr but the Knicks defensive problems go far beyond him- there have been multiple plays the last few games where Bargs has blown a high screen and roll 20 feet from the basket and the opposing player has been able to walk to the rim with no one rotating at all from the weak side- that’s inexcusable. The play where Prigs yelled at him he was in awful position to help but Prigs was late picking up Teague in semi-transition and let Teague build up a full head of steam so he was just as much at fault as Bargnani. To me Bargnani is certainly a defensive problem but it’s the combination of him playing five with Melo at the four that’s the bigger issue- Melo is a very poor interior rotation defender. PNR coverage was bad enough with Chandler last year- any time a guard got around Chandler they had a free path to the basket last year too- and now with Bargs giving far less resistance than Chandler out high the defense is just a disaster.

  26. But no amount of offense can paper over his defensive deficiencies….

    Can you actually quantify that? Or are you just blowing smoke? Because I agree that Bargnani is a liability on defense but obviously some degree of offensive production cancels out points given up on the other end.

    The only players las season to play more than 1,000 minutes and hit the .600+ TS and 24+ usage marks last season were Durant, Harden and LeBron. One of those guys is the living embodiment of the “good offense cancels out awful defense” principle. If Bargnani actually can sustain this kind of offensive production you might be forced to actually to the math instead of instinctively writing him off.

  27. One of those guys is the living embodiment of the “good offense cancels out awful defense” principle.

    You’re referring to James Harden, but it’s not a very apt comparison, because James Harden is not pretending to be an NBA center. Poor wing defense is damaging, but nowhere near as damaging as poor post defense with poor rebounding mixed in there for good measure.

  28. Sure but Harden is an all-star and will probably get an all-NBA nod this year. Bargnani is putting Harden-ish numbers offensively- yes there’s a big positional difference defensively but is it enough to have one guy be all-nba and the other “flat out bad”?

  29. Sure, maybe Bargnani has somehow unlocked the key to becoming an elite scorer after 13,000 NBA minutes, and his .603 TS% this season– 67 points over his career average– is not some kind of mirage. Color me skeptical.

  30. Bargnani was horrible his first week, and was good the 2nd week. Anybody can have a good week. Even Mardy Collins had a good week once. To think that Bargnani will produce like James Harden (or LeBron or Durant!) offensively for any prolonged period of time is not a glass half-full perspective. It is a glass overflowing with diamonds…

  31. I agree that it’s highly unlikely he keeps shooting it like this (though winding up in the 570/580 range wouldn’t shock me if he continues to see a lot of minutes at the five) I just think he’s been a C maybe C+ so far.

    And on Shump- when did he have surgery? The Knicks were mad that he didn’t stick around for all of summer league- how can that be if he had surgery sometime in July?

  32. so dolan was pissed at shump for skipping all but one game of the summer league (on July 12, in which he sucked, perhaps due to injury) cuz he wanted to do something totally irresponsible like have knee surgery? yep, it’s all starting to make sense now.

  33. Best part is the Knicks being mad at the timing of Shump’s minor knee surgery but being totally cool with the timing of JR’s semi-major knee surgery.

  34. Can you actually quantify that? Or are you just blowing smoke? Because I agree that Bargnani is a liability on defense but obviously some degree of offensive production cancels out points given up on the other end.


    We are allowing a 55.6% effective fg with him on the court. 42.6 with him off. And our effective fg% has been higher with him off the floor also.

    I mean, I hate looking at on/off numbers after this few games. I feel like you can always find what you want. But I do think they tell you about how ineffective he has been on defense so far.

  35. Given Bargnani’s strength in defense (on ball post defense) and his weaknesses (playing in space, rotations, rim protection against penetration and rebounding) it seems like the worst possible scheme to incorporate Bargnani would be to switch on virtually everything. But given Felton’s hamstring and pre-existing inability to stay in front of quick PGs, the Knicks cannot expect guards to fight over screens.

    So, it might make sense to go zone until Chandler returns.

  36. Owen, the 82games.com stats are through the first 6 games. Bargnani has played better in the last 3 games, so the recent numbers might not be as bad.

    That said, there were a lot of reasons why people here criticized Bargnani before the season started. It was said that he actually couldn’t shoot very well, based on his career stats. He had shot really well, especially lately. It was said that he was a terrible rebounder. He has been rebounding better than expected lately. He has also defended well in the post. Are we so sure he can’t improve on P&R defense?

  37. @Owen 39 — I’m not sure those stats really help your case. Lineup #3 (tied for second in frequency) (Felton/Shumpert/MWP/Melo/Bargs) was +3. Now just replace Felton w/Pablo and I believe you have the best lineup for Bargs and perhaps the best lineup period including Chandler. That lineup looks better defensively than what the Suns used to put out there. Our problem against the Pacers and Bulls is that we are unable to reliably score. If Melo is shooting mid-range shots over Paul/Deng, we lose. If he’s taking them inside, we’ve got a chance. And before we trade Shump, could we maybe look at how he performs when given the green light to drive from the 3 line in this 5-out config? Perhaps it will be comically disastrous like Landry Fields, but the difference is this was a strength of Shump’s in college. BTW Did you notice we were a better defensive rebounding team with Bargs on the floor? (i know..Tyson was out there at the same time but then you have to acknowledge that felton and weak perimeter defense in the numbers you cited).

  38. I agree that Bargs is unlikely to keep up a .600 TS. But if he does, at what point do his detractors have to start seriously weighing whether excellent offensive production can negate defensive issues? I’ll be tough to do that given how horrid the Knicks’ guards, particularly Felton, have been on D, since the two are clearly interdependent.

    What most people were saying before the season was that Bargnani would need to seriously step up his scoring efficiency in order to be of use to the Knicks. Now that he’s having (so far) by far his best scoring and even rebounding season, the detractors are saying there is *no level* of scoring efficiency/volume that would offset what he gives up on defense.

    So far, out of PF/Cs in the NBA who actually play rotation minutes, the only ones topping .600 TS and 24% USG are Bargnani, Durant (not really a PF but w/e), Griffin, Love, LeBron, and Brook Lopez. Sure, he’s the worst of that group, but the rest of those guys are surefire All-Stars (and deservedly so). People have been talking about Bargnani (and it was often said about him this summer) that he was among the worst players in the league, period. If Bargs keeps his TS and usage up, at least up around .580/.590 if not above .600, at what point do the anti-Bargnani folks have to suck it up and say he wasn’t as bad as they thought?

  39. Yeah, so far Bargs’ great offense has made up for his shitty defense. I don’t get arguing otherwise. Hopefully he keeps this great offense up!

  40. Obviously the Knicks never intended to play Bargnani 30+ minutes at the center position. That is a recipe for failure. Having a bad defensive center is just cancerous. The smart, quality teams we’ve faced like the Spurs and Wolves have routed us like it was the easiest thing in the world. Bargs at center is a particularly bad fit for the Knicks, who have weak defense at the PF position from Melo, pathetic defense at PG from Felton and idiotic, low-basketball IQ play from the main SG, JR Smith. Perhaps on other teams with defensive minded forwards and wings Bargs could survive but on this team he’s killing us on defense. I mean, the results speak for themselves: 28th in the league in defensive rating.

    In his proper role– stretch 4 who can play 8-10 mpg as backup center, Bargs might actually be a good piece for the Knicks. In this current role, he’ll need to keep up an unprecedented, probably unsustainable level of production just to avoid being a net negative player.

  41. NBA.com has him at -52 for the season. But can’t figure out how to break it out more than that.

    I may be guilty of confirmation bias. But I doubt it.

  42. “NBA.com has him at -52 for the season. But can’t figure out how to break it out more than that.

    I may be guilty of confirmation bias. But I doubt it.”

    Owen, it would be hard to argue that Bargnani has been a good defensive player, other than in 1-on-1 iso post situations. But he has scored and rebounded better than everyone expected since becoming the starting center. Even if his offensive numbers are not sustainable, he hasn’t been taking bad shots. In other words, he has been showing improvement in those areas, so the question is, can he continue to improve? Can he become a net positive player?

  43. Not surprisingly, there are many things not being mentioned here or anywhere else regarding the Knicks start (and the echo chamber is as loud as I’ve ever heard it, locally, nationally, and from the cool kids).

    One, the Knicks are generating A LOT of open shots that they will make at higher rates as the season progresses. Despite a really poor start to the season from the 3-point line, the Knicks have thus far managed the 17th best offensive rating in the NBA.

    They have the second best turnover rate in the NBA, and it’s not all that far off from last year’s mark (12.4 to 11.7). Remember how Chris Herring (and I like Herring) / echo chamber told us that the Knicks would see a big drop-off in turnover rate because they lost Jason Kidd and his smarts?

    Well, it was Jason Kidd who had the lowest turnover rate of his career last season. His efficiency in that regard was a product of the system/personnel. The 4-out/Melo iso offense rarely puts average/sub-average creators in position to create without a screen . The Knicks are generating similarly good shots, and while they won’t make them at as high of a rate as they did last year, they have ways of making up for it (more players capable of driving defenders off the 3-point line and getting fouled/into paint, better shooters inside the 3-point line).

  44. @46 JK47 You have stated the correct premises but drawn the wrong conclusions IMO. Play Bargs at center 15-20mpg BUT only when Melo and our best perimeter defenders are out there at the same time (Prigs/MWP/Shump). In his worst stretch of the first 6 games, that unit was + even with Felton. Play a unit of Felton/JR/THJ/Melo/Chandler 15-20mpg. Mix-and-match the roughly remaining 15-20mpg. Over time, we’ll know more about the efficacy of Bargs at center. To dismiss it outright seems way too premature to me.

  45. The Knicks are taking about two fewer 3-point shots a game, which is about what should have been expected and a much smaller drop-off than some projected.

    The Knicks are offensive rebounding at a higher rate than they did last season (currently 16th in the league).

    Defensively, they aren’t rebounding as well as they did last year (16th in drr), but that’s to be expected without Chandler., but their efg% allowed has IMPROVED from last season.

    I don’t know about you, but the defense demonstrated in the Bulls game and other portions of contests with MWP and Chandler ihealthy (and Melo, and a healthy Felton) was really good.

    The Knicks are ranked 16th in TO%.

    Where they’re getting killed is free throw attempts.
    Yes, their pick and roll coverage is poor and they don’t have a healthy rim protector on the roster, but they didn’t last year when Chandler went down.

    Opponents have shot almost 100 more free throws. More than 10 more per game than the Knicks!

    Of course, some of that is pick and roll coverage, but that hasn’t changed from last season.

    The Knicks are getting killed in transition and semi-transition, which is largely a result of shots not dropping.

    Remember early in the season, the Knicks had a lot of sloppy turnovers and miscommunication errors. Well, those have basically be eliminated and most possessions are generating quality shots.

    The shots aren’t dropping and teams are running back and getting the Knicks in foul trouble. Pablo Prigioni is averaging about 6 fouls per 36 minutes, and the bigs are taking fouls on early clock rim runs.

    I think Bargnani’s pick and roll coverage is not surprisingly being overblown. The Knicks had similar pnr issues with Chandler last year when he didn’t play hard.

    My biggest issue with Bargs defensively is how he fails to run back to the paint in transition.

  46. So, the cold shooting is being compounded.

    But, something else that hasn’t been mentioned is the quality of opponent the Knicks have lost to.

    Bulls (on miracle shot by Rose on a b2b). Currently 5-3 and beat Indiana by 20 points and have 9th highest SRS.
    Timberwolves. Currently 7-4 with the 4th highest SRS in the NBA
    Bobcats (lone bad loss). Currently 5-5
    Spurs. Currently 9-1 with highest SRS in NBA.
    Rockets. Currently 7-4.
    Hawks. Currently 6-4.

    I expect the Wolves, Bulls, Spurs and Rockets to approach 55-60 wins if they stay healthy. Who would disagree? Without Chandler, there is no reason to expect to win any of those games. Two of them were imminently winnable.

    If the Hawks stay healthy, they should approach 50 wins a a top 6 seed. Taking 2/3 from them would be a victory. Winning in Atlanta was nice.

  47. One, the Knicks are generating A LOT of open shots that they will make at higher rates as the season progresses.

    I don’t doubt that the offense will get better, if for no other reason than JR Smith can probably do a lot better than a .332 TS%. The defense, however, seems like a lost cause. The team looked pretty bad on defense even with Chandler, and without him they’re probably the very worst defensive team in the NBA. They’ve sunk like a stone to the bottom of the defensive rating rankings and look like they have no grasp whatsoever of basic defensive concepts.

  48. Ruru – I think a lot of those are fair points. And quite frankly I don’t expect the Knicks to finish the season having won only 33% of their games. I don’t think many people expect the Knicks to continue to play this poorly. We are a better team than we have been so far.

    But at a certain point you bank so many losses it becomes hard to make up.

    And if we lose to Detroit on Tuesday and have to beat Indiana to avoid going 3-8, things could get ugly.

    Going to be interesting to see how we defend Drummond and Monroe….

  49. @ruru if you’re expecting guys to drive more, then you also have to expect more turnovers. I don’t know — the special thing to me about last season was that we had a lot of one dimensional players and were able to put them in positions to take advantage of that one dimension. We did this by pairing 2 great ball movers with two great shooters almost all of every game. If Shumpert is traded for a big, NY may only have one good three point shooter left — JR Smith. Prigioni is low volume and Bargnani and Hardaway are question marks. Everyone else is average or worse.

    Once you lose that spacing, now you need guys to be able to create off the bounce, which is much more skill-intensive. Maybe our guys are better at it than last year, but an open three will always be the best outcome, so that OTD game will have to be extremely effective in cashing in on what used to be dead possessions to offset the lost open threes. I know you’re saying we’re getting open looks, but it’s the wrong guys getting open looks. Felton is second on the team in 3PAs because teams don’t bother guarding him off the dribble, which has been an issue for him throughout his career.

    I do like the system as a means of complementing Anthony, but first of all, the coach doesn’t like the system, and second, Felton just isn’t good enough. Smith, if he gets healthy in spirit and body, could be a good SF for this team, but IMO the Knicks are doomed without a PG who can force teams to play honest defense against pick and roll, which Felton can’t do. It was the same story before the Melo trade when the Knicks started to fall apart — teams let Felton shoot, and he rewarded them with lots of misses.

    That said, I agree that the media is overreacting, and I still see NY as the favorite for the 5th seed, but IMO as usual the organization brought it on itself early in the season by firing Grunwald and giving Chris Smith a roster spot. People like to see karma at work.

  50. “The team looked pretty bad on defense even with Chandler.”

    No they didn’t. Defensive ratings allowed of 88.3, 92.5 to start season with Chandler. Looked really good.

    Wolves racked up a ton of leak-out points and bail-out fta. And they’re a top 5 offense.

    Knicks held Hawks and Bobcats to 91 points with Chandler down. They got blitzed by the Spurs, Wolves and Hawks. Only one of those is inexcusable.

  51. Okay, whatever dude. The Knicks are a super awesome defensive team. That whole ranking 28th in the league in defensive rating thing is just because of luck, or because the refs are unfair or leakouts or something. So many excuses.

  52. Sure, it’s a pretty bad stretch. But it certainly wouldn’t have been the worst of last year.

    The 5-9 stretch in December, starting with a loss at home to Houston. The 6-9 stretch in March.

    Yeah, the Knicks need to turn it around soon, but they just need to keep their head above water until Chandler returns.

  53. “The Knicks are a super awesome defensive team. That whole ranking 28th in the league in defensive rating thing is just because of luck, or because the refs are unfair or leakouts or something. So many excuses.”

    So, if I don’t agree with everyone else and say that the Knicks have the worst defensive team in the NBA, you’re going to whine about it?

    They looked really good early in the season with all of their players. They have looked bad most of the year, but had most of these same issues last season.

    A big reason they’ve gotten so much worse statistically on defense is because their shot-making has been so bad.

  54. I hear what you’re saying, MFC. But it’s not just Felton getting those open shots. besides, he’s an average spot-up shooter. He’s a really bad off-dribble shooter, especially in pnr.

  55. Well, there you have it. The Knicks are much better than their record suggests. Why? Because some people allegedly said Detroit was going to be a powerhouse.

  56. Detroit’s defense is worse than the Knicks. (29th in d-rating before giving up 114 to the Lakers). Isn’t Drummond supposed to be a dominant defensive player?

  57. I think the reason most of us get so frustrated watching this team play D is because we watched the 90’s Knicks play great D for a decade. For most of us until last season the only successful Knick teams we watched were built entirely on great defense. Their defensive ratings from the 1991-92 season thru the 2000-01 season were 2nd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 4th, 2nd, 4th, 4th, 6th, and 3rd. Of course the offense was pretty awful all those seasons.

    I loved watching this team play the type of offense they played last season. It was the 1st time I rooted for a successful team that was great on offense and it was pretty damn fun to watch. But still nothing pisses and frustrates me more than watching the horrible mistakes and stretches of defense this team has played not only this season but much of last season too. I can tolerate mistakes on offense but the type of mistakes this team makes on defense is at times embarrassing to watch.

  58. I think the reason most of us get so frustrated watching this team play D is because we watched the 90?s Knicks play great D for a decade. For most of us until last season the only successful Knick teams we watched were built entirely on great defense.

    Absolutely. And for Knicks fans, the ultimate nadir of the franchise was the Isiah Thomas years, which were so awful because the team was such a joke on defense. I don’t think any of us want to go back to that again, and when you see signs of it, it’s disturbing.

  59. I just don’t understand what Detroit playing shitty defense has to do with the Knicks playing shitty defense.

  60. the Knicks are doomed without a PG who can force teams to play honest defense against pick and roll, which Felton can’t do.

    +1. the fact is that much of our upside on offense is reliant on felton reverting back to the mean, i.e. not shooting 20% from 3 and getting back up to a 50% TS so opponents have to at least somewhat respect his shot. If the reports are true that he’s playing injured, then I’m not very optimistic that it happens. Not sure how much better prigs/udrih can do in his position, or if Woodson or his puppetmaster are smart enough to make any positive adjustments in any event.

  61. Remember when Ray Felton was a better fit than Jeremy Lin, and Lin was gonna suck because he was always going to be injured? Lin hasn’t missed a game since putting on a Houston uniform.

  62. Ruru– you still don’t hate rooting for the Knicks yet, huh? Well, you’ll come around eventually. (It’s a certain as a Carmelo Anthony early playoff exit).

  63. I know nothing about Ravin but if he’s any good we’ll know it if the Knicks terminate him.

  64. Remember when Ray Felton was a better fit than Jeremy Lin, and Lin was gonna suck because he was always going to be injured? Lin hasn’t missed a game since putting on a Houston uniform.

    I’m with you on Lin vs. Felton, but I think missing playoff games counts against Lin. A lot more than missing regular season games would.

  65. Lest we all forget, the Knicks opened the 2010 season by going 3-8 before reeling off a 12-1 stretch.

  66. to robert silverman. I get that you want to be funny (and to many you are). I just have no idea what you’re talking about. I just dont get your jokes. I’m not picking on you; just some constructive criticism. Most likely, most of the blame is on me for your jokes going over my head.

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