Highlightin’ Hoops: Knicks Don’t Love LA
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By Ryan Schneider
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There haven’t been a lot of times this year where I’ve said it. In fact, this was the first time in the last eight weeks where it was evident. The New York Knicks were overmatched. It should come as no surprise that the Lakers were able to impose such a dominant will over Mike D’Antoni’s team. Phil Jackson has the luxury of starting two all-star caliber 7-footers, and one of the best five guards to ever play the game. When the two teams walked out to half-court for the tip, I said to myself, “Uh-Oh.” You could see the difference in physical presence. Credit the Knicks, they haven’t been short on fight and hustle all season…however, last night they needed a lot more than that to take down the defending champs.
Andrew Bynum was the player of the game through three quarters last night. I say three quarters because Bynum was tossed after arguing a foul call thirty-seconds into the fourth. He had STAT frustrated. Amare couldn’t get it going from 15 feet…and when it was apparent that his jumper was off, he was unable to simply bowl over Bynum and get to the basket. On the offensive end…Bynum dominated. For the most part it was simple. The 23-year old put his head under the basket, used his size, created position, caught the ball, turned and dunked it. There was little Amare could do.
What makes the Lakers so good? They shot 41 percent from the floor and still scored 109 points. More than their offense, it was the defense played by the Show that made the win look so easy. Phil Jackson’s strategy…hold the Knicks in the eighties, we win by twenty. It’s quite simple for teams that have the ability to lock up. D’Antoni’s squad plays little to no defense, and on a night when the Knicks can’t score in the hundreds, they have little chance of winning.
What the Knicks really need…
Donnie Walsh has assembled a significantly improved product on the basketball court. It is obvious the Knicks are a team that is young, exciting, and has the potential to be among the best teams in the league. But there is one glaring hole that needs to be filled. The Knicks need to get a legitimate center…one that can anchor them in the paint defensively. Stoudemire, despite being one of the best offensive players in the league, is among the worst in points allowed in head-to-head match-ups. Blocked shots are a nice statistic, but it doesn’t mean you are a good defensive player.
Some of that isn’t entirely Stoudemire’s fault. Most of the time he is playing as a center on the floor, surrounded by Wilson Chandler, Gallinari or Shawne Williams as a power forward, which is a major problem. Chandler is a strong 6’9” wing, but he is a weak low post defender when guarding Pau, KG, or Brandon Bass.
At the beginning of the season, I was hoping Turiaf would be that defensive presence in the low post. And at times he has displayed his defensive prowess. However, his shortcomings offensively are so glaring, that it’s hard to keep him on the floor in D’Antoni’s system. Turiaf is much more suited to be a solidified 7th or 8th man, one who sparks the Knicks with 15-18 minutes of steadfast, off the bench production.
The popular name that has been thrown around consistently on the Knicks’ wish list has been Carmelo Anthony. There are many reasons as to why he would be a great addition to New York. However, I hold my stance…there is no need to gut the core nucleus of young talent. If Walsh is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to pitch ‘Melo in the off-season, than so be it. That is the only instance in which the Knicks should pursue the Denver all-star.
The Knicks head up the west coast to Portland and face the Blazers tomorrow night. The Blazers are without Brandon Roy who sadly has been dealing with significant knee problem over the last season and a half. He is one of the exciting young talents in the league, and it would be a shame if this limited his production over the rest of his career. This is a pivotal third game on west coast swing, as the Knicks could at worst guarantee a 2-2 road trip.
There are few people who hate the Miami Heat more than I do…but last night was a prime example of what makes that team so tough. LeBron had 44, Wade 34, Bosh 18…their team scored 107. How do you stop that trio? From a pure basketball standpoint, the Heat are really starting to come together, and it’s scary to watch how good they are.
The Denver Nuggets had a lackluster loss last night to the New Orleans Hornets. You have to wonder if the constant trade speculation surrounding ‘Melo is affecting on-court performance. The most recent involves none other than the Nets, who have now been trying for five months to acquire ‘Melo via trade, and the Pistons. This most recent attempt would have Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton land in Newark to play alongside Anthony. I love the Nets’ effort, but it doesn’t really matter how many first round picks or players you offer…especially when Billups publicly stated he would demand a buy-out, and ‘Melo continues to decline putting his signature on a contract extension.
- Highlightin’ Hoops: Point Proven (newyork.cbslocal.com)