Nets 110, Knicks 99

New York Knicks 99 Final
Recap | Box Score
110 Brooklyn Nets
Derek Fisher

Welp,
One never thought
Of all things
Derek’s lineup choices would be a
Simulacrum
Of a certain ex-coach’s
Numbskullery.

Yeah, you pulled up your ol’ pal Knickerblogger, hoping to get a passel of easy-to-digest letter grades. Sorry, y’all. It’s not that kind of night.

We—or at least I—have been far more willing to let bad losses be thing that we expect without shredding two or three layers of stomach lining. The main ingredient in this soothing, hoops-based Metamucil has been the assumption that the contractors that have been sired with building a sustainable, sound foundation are good men of virtue true, and will avoid the chase-an-overpaid-and-possibly-overrated-star-no-matter-what-the cost-because-new-york-cannot-stand-a-protracted-rebuilding-process thing/fiction that’s been the team’s guiding principle for about (checks watch) four plus decades.

We all knew they’d be pretty stinky this year, and even more so in the first few months, given that the roster contains mismatched pieces from about two to three different jigsaw puzzles, and there will be times when you can’t cram a shimmering unicorn’s head into the cute, cuddly, sleeping kittens, no matter how hard I, you or even Fish Coach try.

Speaking of which, I started having some nagging doubts about the skillz of some of the wise heads in charge, all of which were reinforced by what occurred on court. Everyone knows that Derek Fisher has the potential to be a dandy clipboard-wielder.

What this recap presupposes is… maybe he isn’t?

Hear me out. Remember last season, when Woodson’s constant tinkering and insistence on using “big” lineups* when every single ‘Bocker-backer with a functioning cerebral cortex knew they should be deploying the two-PG/Melo at the four spread offense? I know, these memories are painful, but no matter how many times we cram them into the bottom of an empty bottle, they inevitably come burbling back to the surface.

Like tonight, and hell, in the scant six games as a whole, we’ve seen this particular drunk history repeating itself. The postgame word/cliché salad defined Woodson’s pre- and post-game pomments certainly make for an easier target, but look at the starting lineups:

Melo-Dalembert-Larkin-Shump-STAT
Melo-Dalembert-Larkin-Shump-Acy
Melo-Dalembert-Larkin-Shump-Acy
Melo-Dalembert-Larkin-Shump-STAT
Melo-Dalembert-Larkin-Shump-Jason Smith
Melo-Dalembert-Shump-Timmy-Jason Smith

Injuries certainly have played a part in this constant reshuffling of the deck, but Fisher has twice tweaked the starters for the second half, with tonight’s post-intermission re-jiggering definitely being the most head scratching-ly bizarre. They were getting hammered by Brook Lopez in the low post and getting shredded every time a ‘Bocker got beaten off the dribble or bumfuzzled in a flubbed attempt to ICE a pick and roll. So the solution is, you bench Dalembert, the only non-Cole rim-protector the team has?

Even if you ignore the fact that the STAT-Acy-Smith-Timmy-Shump quintet had played exactly zero minutes together before tonight, there’s no way that that group was equipped to generate some sort of comeback, especially in a game where they were lucky to be down only 13 at the half.

In a related story, the Annoying Hipsters started the third on a 9-2 run to make it 64-44 over the first 2:58 of the quarter. Look, the Nyets are better than the Knicks right now, especially if the aforementioned Lopez twin can keep his tootsies in fine working order and Deron Williams looks as bullishly, 2010-y as he did tonight. Neither of those things are a given, but Fisher deploying weird, shitty lineups made it a fait accompli.

I can even sorta/kinda understand the logic in starting Hardaway in place of Larkin given Prigs’ absence, but for all you that are humming a couple of bars from the “It Doesn’t Matter Who Starts” sonata, I offer as evidence this game. It’s tough to say he’d have been any better at slowing down Neckbeard the Pirate, but Shump got absolutely eviscerated, and Sharkin only got to spin for a mere 13 minutes. Considering he’s been grittily and scrappily effective, again, why?

I know I’m raising the curtain on a lovely production of small sample size theater with all this, but take a gander at the most effective five-man combos. Glory be! The smaller lineups are doing better than the bigger ones are. I’m shocked, shocked I say.

It’s late on a Friday, and a more thorough look at the data is certainly warranted, but they’ve been a very good trey-heaving team again this year, it’s just that the number of attempts is way, way down, mainly because of our friendly neighborhood triangle. Coming into tonight’s tilt, as Wall Street Chris helpfully Herring-‘splained, “Entering Friday, more than 43% of the Knicks’ attempts had come from midrange, easily the highest proportion in the leagueThe Knicks have had some success from that area of the floor—10th-best, with a 42% field-goal rate. But to some degree, those shots have come at the expense of free throws and three-point shots.”

Don’t believe me or Chris? Your loss, but here’s another smart dude saying exactly the same thing.

Over at Posting and Toasting, friend-of-the-blog Joe Flynn did a nice breakdown of how the offense might generate more long-range bombs, but that doesn’t matter unless you give floor time to the bros that are going to be hunting those shots, and keep futzing around with the Travis Ware’s and Quincy Acy’s of the world, gumming up the spacing because the other team can more or less ignore them. 

Additionally, on defense, all of those speedy wings are going to do a slightly better job at scampering out to contest shots. You know who isn’t? Lumbering and/or blithely unaware bigs like Amar’e and Jason Smith and even fiesty, fiesty Mister Acy. Yes, between Garnett, Lopez and whichever Plumlee Brooklyn employs, the Nets are a team with big n’ tall people. But what killed any chance of New York escaping the vast monument to greed, graft and the dubious use of eminent domain Barclays Center with a win was the wide open looks the Williamsburghers were getting. At one point in the game, BK was a robust 10-for-14 from 3-point range and a pretty crappy 15-for-34 from 2-point range. Yes, it was garbage time, but again, a small-ball combo that featured Wear (!) at center and the first deliciously juicy bursts of scoring from Cleanthony Early managed to knock the deficit down to a respectable number.

 

It works. We know it works. I assume Fisher knows it works, because he is using these units as a “closer” of sorts. But why fritter away the first three fourths of the game? If Mike Woodson were making these same so-called choices, we’d all be pounding nails into the floor with our foreheads, contributing to IndieGoGo campaigns to have him summarily sacked, and hashtagging like fiends, is what I’m saying.

Granted, ’round this time last year, we were all wondering if Jason Kidd was either brain-damaged or perpetually drunk. He is a rookie and it does take time to figure this ish out.

But we should also probably start buying loin-girding clothing in bulk, because it’s only going to get worse when Bargs’s boo-boos get all healed up and he’s immediately inserted into the starting lineup. It’s gonna happen. Mark my words. You marked them? You’re not just saying that? I know, it’s impossible to find a working pen in this house. We used to have fifty goddamn ballpoints cluttering up the back of the utility drawer, and now they’re just gone. I don’t understand it either. Get a pencil and a pad–no, don’t put it in your phone. I don’t trust that it’s real, that’s why.

A few player notes and we’ll get the hell out of dodge…

• Okay, once last Anti-Derek diatribe. Melo’s in a royally poop-tastic slump right now. How bad is it? Well…

That’s pretty bad. If that’s the case, why is he playing 36 minutes and slogging through the first 18 minutes of the second half, especially when the Knickerbockers are about to shuffle back to the Garden later today to take on the Hawks? Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. DUMMMM.

• I’ve got the answer. Hire Coach Prigs. Fire Coach Fish, and sign him to play the point. Check out our man Pablo coaching up Quincy. Problem solved.

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 8.19.26 PM

• There are aspects of the triangle that seem to suit STAT quite nicely. He’s going to get wide open pick and pop looks and he can still dive to the rim from the elbow. One part that’s not really his bag is the whole “passing” thing. It’s not that he’s a black hole, but more than any Knick you can just see the gears slowly and painfully grinding when he tries to remember what, exactly, he should be doing when he gets the rock. And even when he does move the ball in a timely manner, there’s no telling where it’s going to go. Right after he fired a rocket in the general direction of Larkin that went sailing into the crowd, Herring let loose with this spot-on zinger.

• JR had some nice moments coming back from his GroinPunchGate suspension, including this beauty:

• Finally, there’s this:

My theory: Phil Jackson watched tonight’s low-energy shitstorm and went straight to the I Ching. I decided to repeat this experiment. I asked, “What’s wrong with the Knicks,” and the consultation resulted in the following hexagram:

40. Release

Line 2:

Catching three foxes while hunting,
getting a yellow arrow.
Persistence brings good fortune.

Removing deceptive obstacles. This will pay off to clear the way. Going on will make things go well. The foxes symbolize trickery and deception, taking them out thus makes things clear and clears the way. A yellow arrow is one made of bronze. It flies more straight than ordinary arrows, which is symbolizing the ability to go straight towards one’s goals.

They also symbolize a deceptive hat.

Line 3:

Carrying a burden and also riding,
brings one in enemies’ reach.
Persistence is inadequate.

Having something valuable in display, and needing one’s attention for something else, like keeping one’s eyes on the road. This can attract the desires of others, who may not be of good will. One might get robbed of it, so it is unwise to try to continue this way. It is better to find a safer way.

LIKE A HAT! Phil got Melo on the blower and said, what is the wackest chapeau you own. Melo obliged, and everyone started talking about that nutty lid instead of say, some bad coaching and/or sluggish, uninspired play. That’s Zen, yo!

Hexagram is changing to:

62. Too Little

Too Little.
Progressing.
It is beneficial to persist.
Small things are possible,
big things are not possible.
The flying bird leaves this song:
It is not suitable to be above,
it is suitable to be below.
Much good fortune.

There is not a great potential, but there is progress. This is no reason to give up. One must not try to achieve big things, only small things are within reach. It is suitable to work with what is close by and details, the big picture is not what can be dealt with right now. Keeping this low profile, things will be quite well.

Progress! Go 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.

26 thoughts to “Nets 110, Knicks 99”

  1. Hey Rob, Nice write-up. Check out Wu Wei’s I-Ching, the best I’ve read.

    What can you say? Everyone sucked. Actually, I’d hate being on teams when that was said after a big loss and I thought I played well. So, being more discerning, Shump played well.

    How can you win when the team superstar, leader is a black hole, chucker with a me me me game plan ?There’s got to be some i-ching wisdom about that.

  2. Ayo Silverman, this is the second time already you’ve used the start the grades but get mad and don’t finish move. We’re only 6 games in. You got to diversify your recaps.

  3. Great post. I feel (hope) there may be other things going on with the lineups, a desire to build up Stat’s value for instance.

    That was an awful game. I sympathize with anyone on recap duty…

  4. I really don’t think Fisher’s lineups are the issue. The player we could least afford to lose early in the season as the team learns the offense was Calderon, and now without Prigs, the offense is just a train wreck. We were always going to be a bad defensive team that has a chance to win when we’re making a high percentage of 3’s or getting open looks.

    (And of course Melo’s abysmal shooting doesn’t help the cause much either)

  5. Lol@1 ….. The prob with the lineups is no calderon. Melo needs to hit open shots. Pure and simple on offense. Defense is a whole diff can o worms

  6. I find it interesting that Carmelo and LeBron both shooting very badly (for them) and both slimmed down over the off season. It may be that it’s comparable to a growth spurt making a person clumsy, their muscle memory just doesn’t work exactly right until they adjust to their new bodies. Are there any other players in the league who significantly slimmed down over this off season that might also have this effect?

  7. @owen – Your showcase assessment (with a sale) would be a dream come true for many including but not limited to his teamates. Shump showing slight disgust when Amare trotted back on D and chose not to close out on the Williams three. Melo not acknowledging him after battling three bigs for the rebound, bucket and 1 while Stat kicked back and watched. I once said Phil and Fish would not sacrifice wins for Amare’s ego…. I was terribly wrong.

  8. I can live with Melo missing his open shots. It happens. What I can’t live with is his putting his head down and bull rushing into three defenders throwing up a pathetic excuse for a shot and complaining about not getting the call. And that happens much too often.
    He’s the high paid veteran superstar leader that’s supposed to teach this team how to win.

    It’s been reported this week that Lebron got down on Kyrie Irving about his shot selection and not passing the ball. And it was said that no one, ever, had told Kyrie anything except how great he is.

    I thought PJ was going to have that talk with Melo.

  9. Bitter hoolahoop I never said that learn to read. I said the lineup problem has to do with no calderon. The offense would run smoother. Thats all I said carry on

  10. Melo is definitely out of sorts. Looks fustrated and he’s letting it’s affecting his in game dissission making. A good sit down with Phil should settle him down.

  11. If Melo wasn’t wearing one of the dumbest hats of all time and impersonating one of the worst basketball players in the NBA, we probably still would have lost the last two games. But they would have been more competitive, and more fun to watch. I wouldn’t go panicking yet, though. I think Phil and Phish think it’s more important to get the system installed and figure out who works within it than to win basketball games. Phil is no dummy. He knows this team is no good.

  12. Irving for Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Anderson? Leonard’s a role player anyway.

  13. Anyone ever have this problem with LP?

    I can’t watch WAS games because LP thinks I live in an area where their local games are broadcast. The thing is I don’t. I live just outside of Tampa, FL. The ORL games are the ones that should be (and historically have been) blacked out, not WAS games. LP customer support has been about as useless as any costumer service I’ve ever dealt with (they’ve closed my ticket twice without any word or addressing the problem).

  14. Everyone has a problem with LP. It’s awful. They black out everything, because what’s more important than serving your customers?

  15. Jason Smith sure can hit open jumpers. He can’t do anything else remotely resembling competent basketball, but he can definitely can hit open jumpers.*

    *Small sample size

  16. Jason Smith sure can hit open jumpers. He can’t do anything else remotely resembling competent basketball, but he can definitely can hit open jumpers.*

    *Small sample size

    He’s the better version of Bargs (not that that’s something to be proud of). Does basically the same thing well and everything else poorly, but is a helluva lot cheaper. Our front court sucks

  17. I’ve seen a few times now where the give and go is there… and it’d be more effective if the guards would stop fumbling passes.
    3pt D is still poor. Guys are not closing out hard/recognizing the shooters.
    I thought Shump had all ball when Teague made his drive.

  18. Shump Shump steal and dunk!!

    I been missing that since Toronto ’12. Yes, that was the Jeremy Lin gorilla-balls 3 game.

  19. Where are you guys???

    Our boys came to play tonight!
    That block by Dalembert tho…

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