Hawks 112, Knicks 101. Fisher Tells Off Media

Things certainly got interesting after the Knickerbockers got a clinic in what a free-flowing offense actually looks like in today’s NBA. Not to say the Knicks were terrible, but the Hawks were simply just so so so much better offensively. While I’ll get into the game in just a minute, can we all give Derek Fisher a round of applause for passive aggressively telling the New York media to chill the hell out?

During his postgame press conference, Coach Fisher was asked if he would consider making any lineup changes. After spending 15-20 seconds essentially dancing around the question, he hit the media with a quick 1-2 combo that certainly made this orange and blue fan chuckle.

“…It’s always very interesting to see how things change. Where last night, everything was great and the sun was up. Now, all of a sudden, there is no sun because we lost tonight. That’s the mentality we have to get out of in this organization, everybody,” said Fisher.

Dear Derek, it would be great if that same tenacity came across on the court. We get that maybe you spent too long under the tutelage of the Zen master, but to be polite: Nobody’s got time for that “Mr. Calm, Cool, and Collected” crap. No one’s buying your nice technical fouls, especially when you’ve got Calderon and Vujacic getting blown by on every play.

Speaking of which, let’s get into last night’s game with the Hawks.

For me, the story of the game wasn’t Carmelo Anthony’s 10-27 shooting, nor was it the 21 turnovers. The biggest issue moving forward was what that beat writer eluded to: Why, oh why, is Jose Calderon the starting PG for the Knicks when he can’t keep a tortoise from getting past him?

Calderon, through 2 games has a defensive rating of 102.5, which in comparison to Grant (104.4) and Galloway (102.9) is actually better. However, in Calderon’s 18 minutes of play, it’s his lack of contributions on the offensive end in correlation to his defense that are truly hurting the Knicks. The veteran guard is nearly 50 points below Grant and 40 below Galloway. Which means that per 100 possessions, when Calderon is on the court, the Knicks give up 102.5 points and score only 78.8, for a whopping -23.7 net rating.

Not only can the man not get a stop defensively, but he also is doing absolutely nothing to help the team score! Grant has a net rating of +20.8 and Galloway, +14.8.

There isn’t one category where Calderon outshines Grant and Galloway. His true shooting percentage is an abysmal 23%, he’s a poor rebounder, and he’s doing little more than setup the offense for the first unit. Not to mention, he’s typically setting up that offense because his player just scored or assisted on a scoring basket.

While fans are calling for Grant to start in place of Calderon, I’ll give you one better, insert Langston Galloway to man the starting PG position. Grant has certainly been a breath of fresh air with his speed and savviness in the second unit. But it’s been Galloway’s on-ball pressure, outside shooting, and consistent care with the ball (zero turnovers through two games), that has caught my eye.

While none of these point guards are going to be shutdown defenders at this point. Having a starting lineup of Galloway, Afflalo (when he returns), Melo, KP, and Lopez, you’ve got length, scoring, and rebounding at every position. Also, you’ll still have players in the second unit who can get out and score in transition, while Calderon and Vujacic will play against lower level guards on most nights and essentially become spot up shooters when Grant penetrates.

Now all we need is for Fisher to watch some film with Phil and come to his senses.

Additional Game Notes from tonight:

KP’s steal at the top of the arc, “accidental spin” to elude Milsap, and dunk in the open court, was easily the highlight of the night. He also finished with 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Derrick Williams came back down to earth, particularly in the second half. He finished with 9 points on 3 for 9 shooting. The turnovers and lack of defensive stops didn’t allow him to get out in transition.

Carmelo Anthony, wearing a mic for TNT, pulled Galloway and Grant aside in the first half, telling them both to attack and then setup the offense. How bad does Melo want one of these two in the starting lineup?

Lance Thomas and Robin Lopez providing offense that I definitely never expected, other than a putback or two per game. I like Thomas for his defensive activity in the second unit. Have to admit, I would like to see Cleanthony get some time because he was also very active defensively during the preseason. I expect Lopez to play better once Calderon is out of the starting lineup and Afflalo returns.

Melo didn’t shoot the ball well, which I attribute to him not having his legs just yet. However, he’s had three and-1’s this year and he’s attacking the rim regularly. 61.1% of his points so far, have been in the paint.

Quick Recap: Hawks 112, Knicks 101

Well, there goes the ‘Bockers chance to start out 2-0 for the first time in 16 seasons. A tragedy of epic proportions, n’est pas? Just thumbing through the box score, but a couple of things stand out.

* The Knicks finished the game with 21 turnovers. This is not good.

* The Calderon/Vujacic backcourt pales in comparison to the young turks, namely Messrs. Grant and Galloway, idling on the pine. The starters finished a combined 2-13 with only 3 assists. Those frisky kids put up a nifty 4-8 from the field with 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

* Carmelo Anthony’s preseason net splashing was so much iron pyrite. He scored 25 points on 27 heaves, with 7 rebounds and 3 assists.

* Overall, the Knicks simply didn’t have it tonight. They spent the bulk of the game shooting 40.9% from the field (including 6-29 from downtown), even though they got a ton of open looks.

* You know how everyone and their brother thinks they can cobble together a better starting lineup than the coach? Well, they might be right. Calderon looked like the Walking Dead for the 2nd night in a row and couldn’t begin to guard Jeff Teague.

* KP had an up and down game. Lots of effort-type plays and bricked threes, though he did manage to snaggle 8 rebounds.

* If we’re handing out hardware–and hey, it’s one game, but everyone participated, so we’re turning this in to an awards ceremony–the Knickscar goes too… Kyle O’Quinn. Once again, he finished with a double-double, threw a bazillion mean mugs at refs and snot-green clad Hawks alike. He’s our very own, better-passing Kurt Thomas. Do you think he can dunk? Or at least jump over the Manhattan phone book?

Hard to say. Recap in the mornin’, Knicker-backers!