Quick Reaction: Knicks 91, Bobcats 87

Charlotte Bobcats 87 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, SF 39 MIN | 6-18 FG | 9-13 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 22 PTS | +4

Talk about a mixed bag. At times, Melo was the willing distributor seemingly seen solely in flashes this year, connecting on a couple of beautiful alley-oops with Tyson Chandler and finishing with six assists. He also shot 6-18 from the field, drew no less than three charging calls, and stymied a number of mini runs and momentum shifts with the kind of black hole stylings Knick fans hope will eventually peter out. He also hit a pair of clutch free throws to hold the Bobcats at bay. He also has clearly been taking courses at the Amar’e Stoudemire School of Ref Baiting, which — like Stat himself — partly explains his not getting a lot of calls on reckless forays to the tin.

Amare Stoudemire, PF 39 MIN | 7-25 FG | 11-13 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 25 PTS | +3

Like his fellow front court gunner, Amar’e put up numberz. And, like Melo, he did so with an inefficiency and gracelessness that at times bordered on the petulant. Yes, he netted another double-double, and had only one turnover (for anyone who actually watched the game, that’s as amazing for me to type as it is for you to read). But there were also quite a few zeroes — assists, steals, blocks, and referee karma points being the most notable. The good news? Stat was once again productive on the glass, raking in a dozen boards. That makes for three consecutive games with 10 boards or more, which, according to some website, is the first time that’s happened since the Polk administration.

Tyson Chandler, C 39 MIN | 7-8 FG | 6-8 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 20 PTS | +2

Yikes. Beyond his own mantastic offensive performance, Chandler was a monster in the defensive trenches, holding the Bobcats’ two-headed-goof of a center – DeSagana Diop and Byron Mullens – to four points and six rebounds combined. At least one of Chandler’s three blocks – and one of his three steals – came during Charlotte’s late, near tide turning run. While doubtless Chandler’s best performance yet in a Knicks uniform, the notoriously short-benched D’Antoni simply can’t expect his defensive anchor to continue logging above 35-plus minutes a game. It’s just a recipe for disaster, pure and simple.

Landry Fields, G 37 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 5 PTS | +5

Dearth of stats aside, Fields – who hasn’t logged double figures in points or rebounds in over two weeks – managed to play within himself on both ends of the floor. He was quick and decisive on switches and help defense, didn’t force the issue on offense, and generally didn’t puke or poop all over the floor. Which, if you’ve watched Landry play lo these last few games, constitutes nothing if not progress.

Iman Shumpert, G 35 MIN | 7-13 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 16 PTS | +6

The legend grows. At this point, Shumpert might want to consider taking out a restraining order on all of New York City. Or at least me. For my own good.

Top to bottom, it was yet another overwhelmingly impressive performance from our nasty noob. Perhaps most impressively, all three of Shumpert’s steals – and the three resulting throw-downs – came during key shifts in momentum when the feisty Bobcats appeared on the brink of making a significant run. But the numbers tell only part of the story. Indeed, it was the rookie’s unflappable poise, near-impeccable decision-making, confident communication, and tireless work on the defensive end that helped unfurl – however ridiculous – chants of M-V-P from the Garden crowd. Whether or not such hyperbole will ever ring true, Shumpert’s second consecutive uber-encouraging performance at the helm makes two thirds of the acronym semantically accurate, even if the ‘P’ might today just stand for “Point.”

Mike Bibby, PG 6 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +1

Oof…

Toney Douglas, PG 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -2

Oh boy…

Bill Walker, SG 15 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2

Yyyyyyeah….

Josh Harrellson, F 19 MIN | 0-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 PTS | +3

JORTS!

Five Things We Saw

  1. The defensive rotations were much quicker tonight than have been typical, although there were plenty of requisite ‘Bocker lapses. Still, the Knicks are showing — albeit in spurts — that they possess the ability to be a passable defensive team. But you have to wonder whether it will end up being Chandler, Shumpert and — God willing — Amar’e and Melo that end up setting the tone, and not D’Antoni or Woodson.
  2. Similar to the opening moments of the two teams’ previous Garden dance, the Knicks turned no less than four solid back screens into picture perfect alley-oops. In a nice little role-reversal, we even saw Chandler feeding Shump on one occasion. If and when the ball is moving and the defense is on its toes, the Knicks are much more liable to get these sorts of opportunities. At this point, however, them’s are very large ifs and whens.
  3. In a numerological confluence as weird as it is genuinely frightening, Melo, Stat, and Chandler each played 39 minutes. This is simply not sustainable. Whether D’Antoni has some grand vision for sitting his star front line during strategically decided-upon games, or whether he’s simply flying by the seat of his pants….It’s clearly the latter.
  4. A combined 13-43 from the field, Melo and Amar’e both very nearly shot us out of the game. All of the hallmarks we’ve convinced ourselves will eventually slink away — the ball-stopping, the tunnel vision, the momentum-killing shots — were instead on full display throughout. Luckily, Shumpert, Chandler, and Fields played efficiently and mistake-free enough to render the two stars’ volume scoring just voluminous enough.
  5. If Boris Diaw can average 23 points against you, despite averaging just over seven against the rest of the league, you need to reevaluate some things. Also, if your bench can only muster three points in an entire four-quarter game — three, as in one less point than what one-time Knick rental Derrick Brown tallied — you have even bigger things to reevaluate. Things such as: Why did I sign Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak, and Jerome Jordan to play professional basketball if I never had any intention of playing them in a professional basketball game? Aside from obvious issues of chemistry, cohesion, and continuity, the Knicks’ bench looms large as quite possibly the biggest threat to the team’s long-term success.
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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at ESPN.com, Grantland, The Classical, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, entitled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.

33 thoughts to “Quick Reaction: Knicks 91, Bobcats 87”

  1. Whether D’Antoni has some grand vision for sitting his star front line during strategically decided-upon games, or whether he’s simply flying by the seat of his pants….It’s clearly the latter.

    Ha! Too true.

  2. No one (aside from chan of course) should get an A+, A, or A- until they win a championship. Just saying.

  3. Someone on Twitter mentioned that only 2 Knicks are among the Top 30 in the NBA in Minutes Per Game. I looked it up and its Amar’e at 20 with 35.8 mpg and Melo at 26 with 35.3 mpg. Chandler is 41st at 33.1 mpg. That was before tonight however.

  4. More than anything, the Knicks seem to need more professional basketball players. That bench is beyond putrid right now. The stat people will riddle me with digital bullets, but I think it’s probably worth rolling the dice with Gilbert Arenas at this point. He couldn’t possibly be worse than their back up point guards right now. Or maybe he could. Ech.

    And what about Joey Dorsey? He can rebound and he seems nasty (or at least mean-spirited). Maybe he can spell Chandler as a Chuck Hayes-type center.

  5. I think the bench is okay if Douglas gets his touch back and Jeffries gets healthy. I’d prefer a more reliable big man, but you gotta make do with what you got. A Douglas/Fields/Jeffries/Jorts/Balkman bench can be decent if the guards are making their shots and the big men are hustling.

  6. Did Bibby get hurt again? At one point late the Knicks backcourt was Walker and Fields. And I think Fields has hit one jumper in the last three games- that has to change.

  7. xduckshoex:
    I think the bench is okay if Douglas gets his touch back and Jeffries gets healthy.I’d prefer a more reliable big man, but you gotta make do with what you got.A Douglas/Fields/Jeffries/Jorts/Balkman bench can be decent if the guards are making their shots and the big men are hustling.

    Are we supposed to treat Jorts like a real thing, or a rich man’s Matt Fish? Also, the bench you just mentioned has an outside chance of shooting below 35% this season (and yes, I realize my proposed solution to this problem was Gilbert Arenas). This seems like a problem.

  8. Jake S.: Are we supposed to treat Jorts like a real thing, or a rich man’s Matt Fish? Also, the bench you just mentioned has an outside chance of shooting below 35% this season (and yes, I realize my proposed solution to this problem was Gilbert Arenas). This seems like a problem.

    I’m starting to like Jorts as a hustle player.

    And you have to think that these bench players are going to get it together given their history. It’s not like we don’t know what these guys are capable of, they’re just going through a rough patch.

    At least, I hope that’s what it is.

  9. nicos:
    Did Bibby get hurt again?At one point late the Knicks backcourt was Walker and Fields.And I think Fields has hit one jumper in the last three games- that has to change.

    Just watched D’Antoni’s press conference online (I LOVE his press conferences, much better than listening to the idiot Isiah speak plus D’Antoni has a good sense of humor at times) and he was asked about Bibby and said Bibby told him his knee was bothering him.

  10. Boris Diaw just gets up for the knicks. He’s no all-star but no slouch either, high IQ big man who can stroke it.

    Jordan def needs to play more, that should take care of Chandler’s minutes.

    And yeah, anytime an MDA team plays D, it’s all on the players, I’m convinced. All the defensive strategy I ever heard from MDA is “we weren’t playing hard enough, we gotta play harder”. Gimme a break. That’s why you go and see them make stupid fouls, over-switching etc. But… what are you gonna do? He is prob the best thing we can have. For now.

  11. While our bench, aside from good defense by Jorts and solid defense by TD, did absolutely nothing, these are the kind of inefficient games by our “big 2” that better teams will not let us get away with.

    Long term I’m not too worried about TD and Fields because both have shown the can make open shots and I believe they will both regain their form and even if they don’t we can and will easily move on. What worries me is that I’m not seeing any effort to curb our superstars bad offfensive and defensive habits by either the coach or the superstars themselves.

    D’Antoni will pull Walker after a bonehead play or TD after a couple missed wide open 3’s but sits idly by as Amare and Melo make poor selfish decisions. How about yanking one of them when they go 1 on 4, flail about to get a foul call and miss wildly, or when Melo looks off the entire offense and shoots a falling away 20 footer with 15 seconds on the shot clock. Or how about yanking them when their man is wide open 5 consecutive trips down the floor.

    The next time I see D’Antoni rip into Melo or Amare the way he routinely rips into Walker or TD will be the first time.

    Lets start holding our stars accountable. When we moved the ball against the Bobcats we got whatever shot we wanted. They are the worst defense in the NBA and we had to fight to get past 90. Unexcusable.

  12. Attended the game tonight in person. Odd affair. It seemed like the Knicks weren’t taking the RobertCats seriously – like they knew they should have wiped the floor w/them. Every time it looked like NY was about to blow the game open, they’d slack off and allow an easy hoop or two.

  13. I’m not worried about Fields, I’m convinced he’s awful (there is no real value in a rebound pulled away from your teammate when the two of you are the only ones there, which 2-3 of his were tonight). I am seriously worried about Douglas, though.

  14. Shump Shump hasn’t played enough games to qualify for the leaders, but if he had, he’d be third in the league in steals per game (2.2) behind Chris Paul and Mike Conley.

  15. nicos:
    Did Bibby get hurt again?At one point late the Knicks backcourt was Walker and Fields.And I think Fields has hit one jumper in the last three games- that has to change.

    I think Bibby has to be healthy before her can get hurt again. That’s like asking if Yani’s music sucks again.

  16. We desperately need some bench scoring. 3 points ain’t gonna cut it.
    It will be hard to sit and wait for TD to show signs of life. We should give a D-leaguer a shot at the very least. Even when Baron is healthy, our main bench guys will be TD, Fields, Jorts, Jeffries, Bibby and Walker – some guys that can do some things but no consistent, multi-faceted scorers.

    And not to be a downer, but Charlotte didn’t have Magette, one of their main scorers tonight. Glad we won but we still have a lot to prove. I’m looking forward to the Sixers!

  17. Amar’e and Melo both seemed so pissed off that they weren’t getting calls or converting that they just kept throwing themselves at the rim. Melo missed so many lay ups I was having Shandon Anderson flashbacks.

  18. Grades too high:
    Chandler – His individual D was great, he looks great on the boards, and he’s doing a great job on offense. Why doesn’t he get an A+ from me? Because he’s supposedly the floor general on D and the ‘great communicator’ that gets us playing better help defense, which was one of the worst facets of how we played last night. People were left wide open off switches within 10 seconds. We would switch and have a PG guarding a C, but no double would come to force another set of switching (needed in that situation). Yes, I can’t blame all or even most of this on Chandler, but he’s not perfect if it’s happening against the Bobcats and he’s on the floor.

    Grade too low:
    Harrellson – Come on! The guy was a late second draft pick and is logging some good minutes while Jeffrightened is out. His impact isn’t showing up in the stats, but the hustle plays he made gave his teammates a lot of steals and boards. For what we were expecting, he played great. Aside from that one boneheaded open layup he missed (which was due to him thinking the play was over after Amare was fouled), he’s exactly what he said he’d be.

    Melo had an off night for sure, and yes, he should’ve looked to distribute instead of trying to score when he’s cold. However, I do like how he tried to get to the stripe (despite -fairly- not getting any calls) instead of continually shooting that contested jumper when it wasn’t falling. It’s a much smarter move to try to draw fouls and get a higher percentage shot than clunking a jumper. Also he played some nice individual D before getting himself in (offensive) foul trouble.

    Amare is looking much better on offense/rebounding, and what I like is that he’s driving as soon as he gets it – he keeps the defense moving, but he needs to distribute more if he’s swarmed in the paint. However, his defense (specifically defensive IQ) remains awful – he was the main reason their PFs were wide open throughout the night.

  19. I couldn’t see the game, but reading this blog, I have to say that no matter what D’Antoni does or the team does, D’Antoni gets slammed for lack of defense. In this case the Bobcats only scored 87 points. That’s not a lot (their season average is 93). So presumably the Knicks did something right. Boris Diaw scoring more points than usual is mentioned above as a sign of lousy defense. But since the Bobcats didn’t score more than they usually do, maybe it means the Knicks successfully took away their usual scoring options and they had to rely on Diaw. I would think that has something to do with the coaching, no? And I notice that when the defense was complimented above, it was said it must have been the players leading the way, not the coaching.

    I think we should give give D’Antoni a break for a little while. On the Knicks at least, he’s rarely had a roster of great defensive players. Now he has two starters who are good, (Shump and Chandler) and three who are constantly thought of as bad on defense. If the Knicks even end up average on defensive efficiency after half the season or so, I think the coaching staff must be doing something right.

  20. I think things will get much better when BD and, yes, JJ come back.
    Davis will probably start off as the backup PG, since the 2nd unit needs more O anyway, and he won’t really be in basketball shape for a few weeks after his return. JJ will allow both Chandler and Amare to get more rest.

    I’d keep the starting lineup the same when Baron comes back and stay with taking Amare out with 4 minutes left to go in the 1st. Then bring Baron in sometime late in the 1st and have him and Amare on the floor together to start the 2nd (maybe with Jorts, Douglas, and Jefferies). You’d have Jorts and Douglas stand in the corners, Jefferies somewhere where he doesn’t get in the way, and to do the ol’ PNR with Baron and Stat.

    We really miss Shawne and his corner 3 pooping.

  21. I haven’t had the chance to watch other NBA games so far this season, but can anyone tell me if any team switches off high screens as much as the Knicks? It seemed like every time down the floor we ended up with Chandler on Augustin and our guard on Diaw or another big man. It didn’t hurt us as much last night as in the prior Cats game, but going forward doesn’t something have to change, there are a lot better guards than Augustin who will kill us on that switch.

  22. d-mar:
    I haven’t had the chance to watch other NBA games so far this season, but can anyone tell me if any team switches off high screens as much as the Knicks? It seemed like every time down the floor we ended up with Chandler on Augustin and our guard on Diaw or another big man. It didn’t hurt us as much last night as in the prior Cats game, but going forward doesn’t something have to change, there are a lot better guards than Augustin who will kill us on that switch.

    I totally agree with this comment. It seems rather bizarre, almost as if we’re trying to just confuse the opponent. I suppose if we did it every once in a while to shake things up, it would be fine, but we switch on the high picks at least 60% of the time, maybe more. Really early in the clock too. Weird stuff.

  23. This was one of those games i almost wish we lost. I’d hate for Stat/Melo to think that the over-dependence on one-on-one is a formula for success. Also, the complaining has to stop. Amare quitting on the play and missing an easy putback for the sake of complaining was reprehensible.

  24. KnickfaninNJ: I couldn’t see the game, but reading this blog, I have to say that no matter what D’Antoni does or the team does, D’Antoni gets slammed for lack of defense. In this case the Bobcats only scored 87 points. That’s not a lot (their season average is 93). So presumably the Knicks did something right.P>

    I agree, but that won’t happen. They brought on a coach to handle defense and you know what? if that O/D coordinator method works, so be it! I just want wins. I’m happy to see that offense is still our problem…thats one thing we can all agree that he does well. Philly is going to be tough on Wed..we struggled with them last year a bit; and they’re playing with alot of confidence right now.

  25. Z:
    “SHUMP SHUMP” is now 3-0, a full two games ahead of “firsties” in the standings.

    the reason we almost blew this one was the exclamation points, it’s just SHUMP SHUMP.

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