Hollinger On Tonight’s Game

From Today’s New York Sun:

Furthermore, check out New York’s upcoming schedule: After tonight, the ‘Bockers won’t play a team with a winning record until March 10. That’s eight straight games against the league’s doormats if you’re scoring at home, and it will be a huge disappointment if the locals don’t claim at least five of them.

Notice I said “after tonight,” because this is what I’ve been leading up to; tonight might be the biggest game of the Knicks’ season. They host the Magic at MSG, and with a win they’ll close the gap to three games with 28 left to play for both sides, including a re-match in New York City on March 26.

Considering the huge disparity in the clubs’ upcoming schedules after tonight, it’s possible that if the Knicks win they could catch Orlando within the next two weeks. Plus, since New York already beat the Magic on February 3 in the teams’ only other meeting, the Knicks would hold the tiebreaker edge with a win tonight.

On the other hand, a loss tonight would be crushing. It would put the Knicks five games out, and in addition, it would require them to win the March rematch to hold the tiebreaker.

Some stats for today’s game. Note I switched the Offense & Defense so that they’ll align under each other (Orlando Offense vs. New York Defense).

Team Four Factors
88.6   105.8 49.9 19.0 28.6 27.1   105.4 47.8 16.9 26.4 27.7
25   23 10 30 11 7   7 7 12 11 28
90.4   111.2 50.2 14.9 26.9 24.9   108.3 49.5 18.6 32.1 27.2
16   26 21 30 13 17   11 16 29 1 5


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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

37 thoughts to “Hollinger On Tonight’s Game”

  1. wow!
    I didnt realize there was a game tonight let alone one of importance(I really hope Lee is starting)!

  2. It’s getting hot in this here race so I hope my NY Knicks are motivated and cofident tonight! I hope they are hungry for this one and fight for it like we know they can.

    About the trade rumors…I am torn.

  3. The key for the Knicks down the stretch will be whether they can muster significant improvement on two of the four factors listed above.

    Without roster changes, I would guess that teams don’t typically improve in the shooting categories (or their corresponding defensive categories) much within a season. (Hmm… maybe that’ll be a spring project.) But I think NY could improve turnovers and defensive rebounding with simple attention to detail.

    Turnovers and rebounding are proxies of a team’s maturity, or lack thereof. They measure, to some degree, how a team values the ball. The Knicks are almost the worst team in the NBA on turnovers because guys are careless with the ball, not through any real deficiency in the roster.

    In the 90s, Van Gundy’s Knicks (iirc) were weak on the offensive boards but among the league leaders in defensive rebounding. Those Knicks were jump-shooting teams that didn’t its guards to the offensive glass. So, the weak off. rebounding #s reflected a strategic decision.

    This current Knicks team, however, is #1 in offensive rebounding but middle of the pack in defensive rebounding. Their is no sensible basketball strategy that should create the excellent off. rebounding/poor def. rebounding combination. These Knicks just aren’t closing out defensive possessions by keeping people off the boards.

    Both those things are fixable within a season, and are likely the key to improved more consistent play from NY.

  4. i would love for the knicks to get lewis and then go on a big run against these bad teams after a win over orlando.

    i’d also love an MSU win over Wisky!

  5. Good points dave. Certainly those are the two most fixable aspects of the Knicks. Personally, I think with some rotation changes, the Knicks can be better off overall on defense as well.

  6. The Knicks rotate poorly on defense. Solving the defensive rotation problems will result in players having better defensive rebounding positioning.

  7. GREAT WIN by the Knicks. This team has VERY fixable problems. It’s not like we don’t have strengths. We have what it takes if we can cut down on TO’s and give a better effort on D.

  8. I don’t know if that was a great win, pretty damn ugly, but I’ll take it. so funny that even a post-Vegas foggy David Lee (read Bill Simmons’ column today) can get 16 boards, but some of his turnovers were just brutal (7 total).

    anyway, it doesn’t mean a thing if we don’t follow it up with a W in Philly tomorrow, we have to make a run at .500 soon to have a real chance at the 8 spot.

  9. Horrifying memories of that other Philly game….

    How do we comfortably win games with 21 turnovers? Some people were in the room with me watching the game and kept turning over to see the Knicks make spectacular turnovers and saying “Knicks suck!” Then when I told them the Knicks were actually leading by seven or eight points they went “really?” If we could cut our turnovers down to the league average we would DOMINATE games like this.

  10. We have what it takes if we can cut down on TO?s and give a better effort on D.

    i agree with that totally. my fear is that we’ve done those things all year long and have not a clue as to how to fix them.

    that doesn’t make me think it’s gonna change anytime soon. it’s who we are.

  11. Curry really surprised me with his defense in the fourth quarter. He used his quickness and strength to bother Howard’s drives to the hoop and to smother him when he went airborne. Against a really strong dude like Howard, he ditched his usual soft persona and banged with him tic-for-tac pretty effectively late in the game. It was actually quite stunning to see. For once, Curry legitimately played like someone who is an athletic 6’11 285-300 pounds man.

  12. that drive he made late in the game, where they gave him the ball up top and made him create the entire thing for himself, was really impressive, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him do that before from so far outside, and definitely not in such a big situation.

    he’s overall battled Howard and Okafor pretty evenly in five games this year, and he’s almost the exact same age as Okafor. it’s almost as if we had a top 2 pick in 2004…. :)

  13. Huge win obviously. Good to see us play well.

    Does anyone else feel we were very fortunate down the stretch? Turkolu missed a couple wide open 3’s…it probably should have been a little tighter, not sure if we would or wouldn’t have held on..but a huge win regardless.

    Golden State

    Rest of the month is all winnable games. I think we almost have to go 5-2 furing that stretch if we’re going to be serious about making a playoff run (though I could see Orlando and Jersey both crashing – Jersey if Kidd/Carter is moved).

  14. An encouraging, if ugly win. At times I felt like the Knicks were not even being threatened, but then I’d look at the score and the Magi were only down 2. I was having Hubie Brown flashbacks. “Just meat and potatoes basketball! Make the simple pass. Quit trying to do the spectacular.”

    I will say this on NY’s behalf, though. I’m seeing real growth in their offensive execution (apart from the asinine turnovers). Even just 2-3 weeks ago the Knicks the team had yet to really find the balance to play inside-out. They were either jacking up 3s or force feeding Curry then standing around. The result was a lot of forced shots on top of all the turnovers. Last night I didn’t see many if any bad shots.

    The past handful of games, with the likely exception of GS (which I didn’t see), the floor spacing and ball movement has been good overall.

  15. Completely off-topic, but not worth a new post:

    Whither Jackie Butler? I saw a piece in today’s (Wed) Hoopshype.com rumor mill (scroll down a ways) that says SA is looking to move him. It sounds like he hasn’t matured personally (the article mentions him being an hour late to yesterday’s shootaround). He’s also not playing much.

    With Oberto, Elson, and now Ely already on the roster he’s just not going to see minutes there. I hope they send him somewhere he can get minutes.

    Not re-signing Butler is one of those moves that many people hold against Isiah but I do not. From a basketball standpoint everyone is better off had he stayed in New York. (At the time none of us anticipated Curry developing the way he has.) Nonetheless, I felt NY needed an IMF/World Bank-style fiscal austerity program, understanding that it comes with some unpleasant side effects.

    Unfortunately for him, he signed on with SA, who undoubtedly sees him as insurance. But he’s not going to develop there unless someone gets hurt. I hope SA is serious about moving him. If I were Washington I’d be trying to find a way to make a deal. Rumor has it they are seeking to move either Thomas or Haywood.

  16. That’s interesting about Butler and might explain a lot about the signing because Thomas is a major stickler for character. He was explicitly upset about signing animal-abusing Qyntel Woods at Larry Brown’s demand, for example, and shied away from the Artest trade frenzy even though Artest is a NYC native and would fill a major need. When he drafted Frye and Lee especially he was gushing about what motivated, respectful, young gentlemen they were almost as much as he was about their talent.

    Speaking of Lee – how about the Knicks running a bunch of offensive plays for him in the second half? They saw the mismatch with Garrity and went wild and he kept it up with Milicic on him too who’s a much better defender. I think Lee may have more offensive potential then I’ve previously thought – he can take a major load off Curry when he’s being doubled if they use him this way more often and the extra attention Curry draws will only make him more dangerous.

  17. Going back to dave’s earlier comment about the Knicks good offensive rebounding and poor defensive rebounding. Somewhat surprisingly (at least to me) there’s not much correlation at the team level between offensive and defensive rebounding. So far this season, there’s a .02 correlation between offensive rebounding percentage and defensive rebounding percentage. In 05-06, there was actually a NEGATIVE correlation — teams good at one were less likely to be good at the other.

  18. It appears that the Knicks’ difference between offensive and defensive rebounding comes down to Curry, for better and worse respectively. According to the short article about Lee in this week’s ESPN Magazine, teams have a tough time doubling Curry and keeping Lee off the glass. Similarly, Curry has slow reactions and doesn’t get the defensive rebounds that he should.

    In any case, being a middle-of-the-pack defensive rebounding team isn’t all that bad.

  19. Lee does have some pretty good post moves. He’s often able to beat the defender to the baseline and obviously is a good finisher.

    As everyone knows though, it’s going to be a matter of whether or not he can develop an accurate mid-range jumper. Considering his free throw shooting improvemnent I don’t think it’s far-fetched.

  20. D Mull are you sure you meant to point out an improvement in D Lee’s free throw shooting inferring that he can develop a 15 footer. Sounds like potential for more then marginal improvement from a whole other player now. And I would agree, but im not so sure if you agree with yourself????

  21. If I remember correctly, I think Lee only went as low as he did in the draft because of a bad decision he made his junior year. After his first two years in Florida, he was getting some good attention but then I think he decided to bulk up to show that he has legitimate power to his game. He unfortunately did a horrible job of it and really slowed himself down. He looked sluggish, unexplosive and there were games he got stuffed repeatedly near the hoop because his lift was so slow. The guy looked horrible. I really thought that was the end of him as a viable professional after that but wow, he’s turned himself around.

  22. Isiah gets praised a lot for his drafting ability, and he’s gotten some good talent with late picks, but it still pisses me off that he took Channing Frye over Andrew Bynum. Bynum is probably already a better player at 19 than Frye is at 23. Frye is the classic Isiah player: placid guy with an offense-oriented game.

    Bynum would have been a way better fit for this team.

  23. he has the “flu”, you could tell last night how out of it he was by his passing. if there was any doubt that he was our MVP, he’s solidifying that position so far tonight.

  24. T-Mart.

    Again. It’s Lee’s second year. Not his seventh. I was not talking about Lee but guys like Crawford. You disagree. I get it. Hop off. I hope you end up being right.

  25. The Knicks will not make the playoffs. I love the Knicks but time and time again the Knick guards get outplayed by younger, quicker, and smarter guards. Stef and Stevie need to go. The Knicks should go ahead and eat the contracts of Stef and Stevie and start Mardy Collins who is a real PG. The Knicks are only 3-6% of Dolans empire – he can afford to eat those contracts. Stef and Stevie cant manufacture 10 assist between them – they are old and are both backup point guards. Cut THEM!!

  26. What a debacle. Nice 3-12 from Crawford with five turnovers.

    But nice to see Balkman out there playing well at least, 6-7 shooting, seven rebounds, and no turnovers in 23 minutes.

    Think we could see more of him maybe?

  27. How do we keep getting beat by Philly? This schizophrenia has been killing me this season, starting with that first confidence-inspiring game against Memphis.

    Speaking of which, that’s another team. What’s the deal with us and Memphis? GAH!

  28. Remember that scene in the beginning of Major League when the Japanese grounds crew workers are talking to each other in swahili about how the Indians are going to suck again. I think I need to be put on suicide watch. This is just ridiculous. I think Im gonna see if I can change my League Pass subscription to the Knicks NBDL team. I hate the flu, could David Lee have been stricken at a worser time???? Anyways, on an even more ridiculous note, has anyone been watching the anna nicole trial and that judge who used to be a cab driver in the bronx, holy crap its too much. You guys gotta check out this link from the other day of this crazy guy if u dont believe me.


  29. I don’t understand how the Knicks can keep letting this happen when it’s become so predictable. If you know you’re susceptible to major lapses in focus after big games or at the end of back to backs shouldn’t the coach and the players learn how to deal with it after awhile?

  30. Why must they always toy with us??? How do they make it seem effortless to cut a 20-point deficit to 5, and then a momentous task to turn that 5 point deficit into a lead? I feel like they’re only playing hard when they’re getting embrassed. The only thing positive I can say about tonight’s game was that Balkman was looking like another comeback option for us (I was shocked that Isiah kept Nate out), and that Balks and Mardy seem to have a little chemistry going.

  31. I think it is kinda funny that we have come so fatalistic about the Knicks (rightfully so, I might add) that a debacle like this one isn’t even that big of a deal to me, as you HAD to be half-expecting it, ESPECIALLY when Lee was out.

  32. Whoever posted about Knick performance in consecutive games was right on. The curse of the back-to-back struck again!

  33. The Suns are trying to unload Marcus Banks. With their dearth of big men (and the fact Kurt Thomas is constantly injured), anyone think they’d do Jerome James for Banks?

  34. Losing one game, on the road, to a team with a week’s more rest, does not diminish what Isiah has accomplished. This year, the Knicks are on pace for their best season since, well 2004 when Don Chaney was coach. Knicks are on pace for between 35 & 36 wins (.436 win%). You have to hand it to Isiah, no matter what obstacles he faces, he will make sure his team is mediocre. If he has to trade his high draft picks or undermine his coach, there will be no hesitation. If he inherits a Pacer team that won 56 games (and won 61 the year after he left) he makes sure they are average (they won 43.6 games per each of his 3 years as coach). I admire someone who always attains his goals, however low they may be. Bring back Isiah, we might win 40 next year!

  35. “I don?t understand how the Knicks can keep letting this happen when it?s become so predictable. If you know you?re susceptible to major lapses in focus after big games or at the end of back to backs shouldn?t the coach and the players learn how to deal with it after awhile? ”

    Great question. Spurs are 9-4 on the tail end of back to backs this year. Pheonix started 0-3 on the 2nd of back to backs, and now are 8-4. Dallas is 10-0. Knicks are 3-10.

  36. wait, we’re not as good at back-to-backs as the three best teams in the league? shocking revelation.

    the ‘Sly Williams’ post above that is funny, I remember Sly back in the day (a little, I think I was pretty young).

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