“Uuuuugggghhhhh!” [SLAM] “Good Grief”

Just like Charlie Brown laying flat on his back after Lucy has yanked the ball away, the Knicks found themselves flat on their collective back after stinking up a mostly empty Wachovia Center last night.

In a rare Larry Brown-esque moment, Isiah Thomas publicly chastised his team, questioning its toughness, claiming that the fans want it more than the players do. In their second game in two nights the Knicks looked lethargic after pulling out to an early lead.

Without top reserve David Lee (flu), followed by the in-game loss of Q-Rich (shoulder), Isiah had to go deep into his bench where he found a surprisingly effective Mardy Collins and the usually energetic Renaldo Balkman. The bench whittled a 20 point lead down to five with plenty of time to complete a comeback but the starters just never got a key stop (or any other kind of stop) after the opening few minutes of the game.

On one hand I am sorely disappointed with this loss as a fan. On the other I want to fight the urge to overreact after blowout wins or blowout losses. If I wanted to bend waaay over backward to give NY the benefit of the doubt I might point out that even though Philly is a dreadful team they nonetheless appear to be a difficult matchup for NY, particularly on the perimeter. But my back doesn’t bend that far backwards. Tough matchup or not, this Philly team should ever lead NY by 20+ points, not when most of NY’s top players are healthy. Yet it keeps happening. It’s maddening.

It’s yet another indicator of how dreadfully immature this team is. In teaching, a clear indicator of a student’s maturity is his or her response to a good grade on the first exam. The mature student sees an “A” as a confirmation of good habits, and recognizes that consistency is the key. The immature student believes an “A” is a license to coast for a couple weeks. He or she thinks that mastering chapters 1-3 means they already know every doggone thing. Right now, this is the Knicks. They got a B+ against Orlando, followed it up with a good first quarter in Philly, then took the rest of the night off. Sigh. When will this team learn? I hope soon. Time is running out.

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Part-time blogger on the Knicks at Knickerblogger.net and Seahawks at FieldGulls.com. In my free time I hang out at the University of South Carolina and occasionally fill thirsty young minds with knowledge about various and sundry things related to consumer behavior and marketing.

41 thoughts to ““Uuuuugggghhhhh!” [SLAM] “Good Grief””

  1. All over the web I read from the MOSTLY pessimistic Knicks fans that they are ready to give up on this team. This not only makes me angry, but confused as well. What kind of fans do we have in NY? This team is not going to be perfect. It’s improving, but they still have things they need to do.

    In particular Isiah has to start to use his young defensive minded players more. Balkman and Collins were drafted for their D and Isiah has been reluctant to use them. From my recollection these guys almost never fail to provide what this team lacks in terms of defensive effort and energy. They for a while matched the intensity of the Sixers.

    Yes the Sixers like many of the weak teams fgive the Knicks a hard time cuz they’re talent is all on the perimeter, where we are weakest on D. Teams with lots of shooters and athletic perimeter players give this team trouble, especially on 2nd night of back to backs. They don’t seem to be able to muster the engery to keep up with these teams who know this and are told to play fast and run hard. These teams use their youth and speed against us to their advantage and it works. The answer is for Isiah to start playing Balkman and Collins more. Francis less.

  2. “Back-to-backs…really seem to be why this team cannot go on a long run. We win a couple of games and then lose to a bad team on the second half of a back to back.”
    Ben – Feb 15th 2007

    I’m definitely on board with the back-to-back theory. I think that the poor performance in the second consecutive game boils down to two things: First, players with repetitive stress injuries like tendinitis or back strain, (Marbury, Francis, Qrich), struggle more because of injury/fatigue. Second, as the above student analogy suggests, players are so self-satisfied with the previous night’s win that they feel like they can mail it in for game two. In any case, Isiah has a right to call out the team after a loss like that.

  3. If the problem is back-to-back games, we’re screwed. I think the majority of the games left to play are b2b scheduling.

  4. the problem is not the fans its not the players. its the coach. isiah is an alright coach, except he isnt using his tools right. his substitutions are awful. Balkman produces whenever he gets minutes. Collins can possibly produce if he were to get minutes. How are we gonna get to the playoffs and win if our aging stars are playing hurt. Steph needs to rest that knee and toe, but he plays 30-40 mins a game. Q needs to rest the shoulder and back, but he plays 30-40 mins a game. Why did we get Balkman, Cato, Robinson, Collins, and James if we arent gonna use them. Remember a year or two ago when Hubie Brown coached the Grizzlies? He had a 10 man rotation, keeping everyone fresh and they had their most sucessful year. We can do the same thing if all our guys get playing time.

  5. it really would be nice if Steph would use state-of-the-art sneakers since he’s being paid 200K per game to perform at his best. from today’s Post:

    “an ailing Stephon Marbury, who played respectably but revealed he is limited by turf toe on the big toe of his right foot.”

    I highly doubt that these knee and foot injuries are a total coincidence in the year he started wearing $15 sneakers. am I still the only one irritated about this?

  6. The Knicks blew it again. I agree with the previously mentioned points, immaturity of the team,coaching decision and injured vets. However, the b2b loses may point to the coach and Isiah learing how to use his bench more efficiently on the back end of the b2b.

    Again, the Knicks are a player or year away from being real good and/or consistant.

  7. these first 2 games are not encouraging. at the half i was pretty hopeful that they can get close to 40 games. my wife makes fun of me and tells me why do you continue to watch these loosers.lol. the beauty of being a fan is sometimes being there to watch your team improve and then become solid and compete at a higher level. their discipline is lacking in the D and the turnovers. im not sure i want to watch this anymore, but i will.

  8. “my wife makes fun of me and tells me why do you continue to watch these losers”

    heh, me too, pretty much. my running joke is that when they’re on a good streak, they’re my team, and when they fold like they did last night, they’re her team. that takes my mind off the pain temporarily.

    I don’t really believe in the whole ‘for better or worse’ fan thing, and I even stopped watching much during the tail end of the Layden era. how anyone could root for a team run by Charlie Ward and Howard Eisley was beyond me, it was like Chinese water torture.

    but I guess I still do have the fan gene somewhere in me, because here I am, when I could just as easily choose any other team in the league since I have League Pass.

  9. Worst deadline ever, but praise the lord Isiah didn’t do anything. Having him as a GM is like having a drunk adolescent version of Kim Jong Ill with his fat finger alarmingly close to the launch button sometimes. But in this case, he apparently passed out after too many scorpion bowls, Im on board, Ill take it. Now we’re at a point in Isiah’s tenure where we have had the same crew long enough to develop some legitimate chemistry. For all the debate on this site about the Rashard Lewis’s, the AK-47s of the world, lets not forget chemistry. Chemistry, the reason Team USA basketball has been embarassed time and time again the last several years. Now our beloved Knickerbockers have an opportunity to develop to a level of chemistry not seen since Anthony Bonner Era.

  10. you need to separate out the rumors from what’s actually going on as much as possible, and I think Isiah has the rightt mindset at this point, only add someone if it’s a superstar at a position we need. so he made inquiries about Carter and Kidd, probably Allen and Lewis and Kirilenko also. now if only Isiah the coach could get it together a bit better…

    I miss Anthony Bonner, dude was my favorite Knick for at least half a season.

  11. The Knicks are terrible perimeter defenders…. Channing Frye is one of the main culprits. The guys is truly awful at defending the pick and roll, never steps out and is always slow rotating back. I’d be interested to know what opponents 3-point shooting percentage is against the Knicks… it’s probably the highest in the league.

  12. we’re getting very little production out of Frye and Jeffries. It makes you wonder if Isiah knows how to use them in the lineup.
    Secondly, Isiah’s rotation is still questionable. by the second quarter of the Philly game he had used 10 players.
    Why doesn’t he realize several blatantly obvious changes?
    1. the knicks are a better team when Balkman plays 12-15 mins.
    2. the rotation , maybe we should use team A and team B especially on back-to-backs. it wouldnt disrupt any coehsion since there isn’t any especially without Lee and Q out of the lineup.


  13. As much as we shouldn’t get too high or low after a blow-out, we also shouldn’t judge players base don how they do during garbage time. Nate and Balkman both excel when the defecit is in the teens and twenties. There’s too many times where Balkman comes in and is a foul machine picking up two foulds in about five possessions. Nate being on the floor in the last few minutes was a factor in the poor start. I notice no body is overly killin Isiah about the rotation while Brown got killed, I guess you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

  14. Bottomline is if the Knicks go 3-0 against the Bucks, Nets, and Heat, they put themselves in great great position to make the playoffs.

    What I am interested to see is how they handle the back to back with the second game at home Monday night.

  15. “thoughts?”

    Isiah isn’t a very good coach.

    “I notice nobody is overly killin Isiah about the rotation while Brown got killed”

    first of all, there’s no comparison. Brown used 42 starting lineups last year, guys would go from starting and playing 35 minutes to DNP back to starting in consecutive games. secondly, most of what we do here is whine about the rotation, but the difference is that at least this year, Isiah has it down to the right nine guys as opposed to last year when Brown tried to utilize all 15.

    Isiah was in a bad position with team MVP D-Lee out last game, so he took the chance to experiment a bit. it’s been pretty obvious to me since early in the season that Balkman should get 15-20 minutes every game, and the rotation we should go with also seems mostly pretty obvious:

    Curry/Lee/Q/Crawford/Marbury starting, Frye/Balkman/Francis off the bench, Jeffries/James only playing in very specific matchup situations. I’d also have Francis on a pretty short leash, meaning another week or two, I’m not convinced he brings more to the table than Nate would with regular PT at this point. if it becomes clear that we’re not making the playoffs, I’d switch in Nate for Francis in the above rotation, and see what that set of 8 guys could do, preparing for next season.

  16. Frye and Curry are terrible on the floor together. I don’t entirely understand why, but it’s true way more often than not.

    On the other hand, Frye often looks very good at center, especially since he started adding some extremely promising post moves to his game. He hasn’t been a total bust this season, he has his moments and is still useful in the right situation. Why doesn’t he just back up Curry? It seems the consensus is that Lee and Curry should generally be on the floor at the same time anyway.

  17. Jon – I disagree about Nate. He is almost useless in normal game situations. He is unable to play within our offense and on top of that he is far and away our worst perimeter defender. I think if Francis plays bad or his injury flares up we should give Collins a try. He is not a great offensive player right now but he is a good defender and can feed the post and bring the ball up. We do not need much more from a back up point guard.

    Also if Isiah insists on bring Lee off the bench I think we should let Jeffries try playing PF. He is our best defensive PF and defense is our big weakness. I would still rather have Lee start though.

    My ideal rotation:

    Marbury 34
    Crawford 34
    Q Rich 34
    Lee 34
    Curry 34

    Collins 15
    Balkman 15
    Jeffries 20
    Frye 20

  18. ben,
    Nate is scrappy and can cause havoc on offense. He is vgery good at getting to the rim and a good 3-point shooter, those attributes make him valuable in the playoffs specifically

  19. Nate doesn’t belong anywhere but on the bench cheering come closing minutes of a close game. His charging fouls, fouls 30 feet from the basket and losing his man on D killed the Knicks time and time again in the early season.

  20. Does anyone know the exact situation with our draft pick? If we miss the playoffs and have a worse record than the Bulls, they’ll swap picks with us and we’ll have their pick. But if we get the 8th seed (or, God help us, higher), don’t we still owe Phoenix a lotto-protected pick from the Marbury deal? Or does the Curry deal now override that?

  21. That first-rounder that we still owe Phoenix is actually going to Utah now, Phoenix traded it away. All that I can find about that pick is that it’s lottery-protected through 2010. I think it can’t be this year’s pick.

  22. D-Lee and Q back tonight, Francis out with the flu, so we’ll get a chance to see Collins or Nate at backup PG. GO NY!

  23. X-rays negative on Lee’s ankle, that’s good news.

    that was a good call against Bogut, who’s definitely a talented young player but who also does a lot of acting out there, a couple of those offensive fouls he drew were ridiculous.

    and what about that high arcing 3 by Jamal before that? amazing shot, he has to be the most frustrating player in the league to cheer for.

  24. That Bucks team are the single worst flopping team I have ever seen. They are the all-flop 1st team, 1-5. It was unbearable to watch, I don’t know how you could root for a team like that.

  25. Dicky V’s Hooters restaurant commercial – that’s what I’m talking about baby!!! I’ve never seen a more disturbing 30 second clip of TV in my life. I want to be the first to sound off on this intense piece of media.

    In regards to the Knicks- I’ll feel better when they win 3 or 4 in a row.

  26. “They are the all-flop 1st team, 1-5. ”

    no way, Ginobili is the current league flop MVP, taking over from Divac. but yeah, they were jumping backwards like the Knicks had cattle prods, ridiculous.

  27. I didn’t see the game.

    Thoughts on the foul call at the end?

    Most of the pundits are saying the Knicks got a call. Berman of the Post is making it sound like the greatest injustice in the history of the world. I suspect that has something to do with the fact that Frye was the beneficiary of the call.

  28. Marbury put up an air ball as time was running down, Bogut was boxing out Curry when at the last second he saw that Frye was cutting inside him and would have a great look at a putback at the buzzer. so his instincts were to hold him down on the shoulders so Frye couldn’t get the ball, which is what he did.

    while you rarely see a loose ball foul in that situation, I thought it was a good call since it prevented a chance at the game-winning shot, plus Bogut was getting bogus calls all night, a little karmic payback.

  29. It was a foul. The thing was it was a little touchy (he kind of lightly pulled his shoulder) and I didn’t think there was going to be enough time for Frye to grab the rebound and put it back. Also, I think the fact that Frye thought it was going to be an airball and instead it knicked (ha) the rim made it look worse (not sure if that makes any sense).

    But I’d have to watch it a little closer…I do think if it happened the other way I’d have flipped out.

  30. I was actually at the game last night…there was pure chaos when they were debating the call…However, MSG did not show a replay in the arena??? I was so frustrated waiting for the call…And BTW, I did lean over to the friend I was with at the game before the final play and said, “Here we go, another miss by either crawford or marbury at the buzzer…they hold and hold and hold…then blow it, get ready for OT.” Good thing Bogut bailed us out…Now the real tests…NJ and MIA

  31. I think Marc Berman has officially lost his mind. His logic in not calling the foul, I swear, is that because Channing Frye is not a very good rebounder it probably wouldn’t have made a diffrence if Bogut had held him or not. WTF???? Since when does whether or not you’re a good rebounder affect whether or not you were fouled???

  32. Yeah, it was certainly a tough call to make, but it wasn’t THAT bad.

    Berman describes it as “one of the most bizarre endings in NBA history.” Huh? Seriosuly, Berman?

    What a silly article.

    “If there’s an NBA conspiracy to squeeze the Knicks into the playoffs, there was evidence last night in a final-second fiasco at the Garden involving Channing Frye and Bucks center Andrew Bogut.”

    That was probably the funniest part.

    Sorta like the poll question when McCain was running for President…”If you heard McCain had an illegitimate black daughter, how would you feel about it?” Same here, just pulling the conspiracy idea out of thin air. Hilariously lame.

  33. The call was the right call, but then again how many times do officials use their whistles during the final 10 seconds of a game? Nevertheless go to the video tape to check the call. It’s not so much that is wasn’t a foul, but I’ve seen tons of egregious hacks go uncalled in similar situations.

  34. I’m not sure I remember ever seeing a foul on a rebound that wasn’t an obvious tip-in attempt with that little time left.

    And Marbury did the right thing holding the ball that long, you don’t want to miss, have them rebound it and have a chance…problem was he couldn’t get around the defender to get off a better shot or possibly make a dish…it sure as hell beats Crawford shooting a fadeaway from deep though.

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