By John Schmeelk
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The Knicks’ problems so far this season have been fairly predictable, which is why I was surprised so many fans were in a full fledged panic over just a couple of losses.
The team had a short training camp with a virtually brand new roster. They released their starting veteran point guard after training camp started, leaving them with no true player at the point. Baron Davis isn’t due back until February. Mike D’Antoni’s offensive system requires an adequate facilitator and synergy between teammates to work properly. The Knicks have been missing all of that. Offensive woes should have been expected.
On top of that, Amar’e Stoudemire shot poorly in his games before getting injured. Young guard Iman Shumpert missed four games with a knee injury. One of the Knicks’ primary weaknesses heading into the season was depth, and they could ill-afford to lose anyone to injury, let alone one of their stars. In the second quarter the other night, the Knicks ran out Mike Bibby, Bill Walker, Steve Novak, Josh Harrellson and Renaldo Balkman.
That’s a lineup that can’t win basketball games.
For all those reasons, I wasn’t freaking out like every other Knicks fan out there. There were even some positive signs. Harrellson looked promising, as did Shumpert in his limited action. Tyson Chandler was making a difference at center, especially on help defense, the boards and finishing around the basket. Landry Fields has shown some of his old intangibles, even if his three point shot isn’t falling.
Perhaps best of all was that the Knicks’ defensive effort and schemes were obviously improving from last season. It looked as though Mike Woodson and Chandler were making a real difference, and the Knicks were becoming a competent defensive team. There was effort and dedication on that end of the floor.
That ended last night.
The Bobcats embarrassed the Knicks at home, putting up 118 points and shooting 55 percent from the field. Going into the game, Charlotte was one of the worst offensive teams in the league heading into the game. Gerald Henderson and a fat Boris Diaw lit up a Knicks team all night long that looked listless on defense from start to finish. Stoudemire played as bad a defensive game as I’ve seen in a long time. No one got a hand up on shooters. There was no help in the paint. It looked like every Knicks game the last nine years.
A lack of execution is understandable, but a lack of focus and desire is something else all together. It’s a disturbing performance that can not become a trend or D’Antoni will be looking for a job sooner rather than later. The offense should come together, especially after Davis comes back.
But if the defense doesn’t continue to improve, none of that will matter.
- Shumpert was truly impressive on Wednesday night. His defense continues to be solid, and his athleticism is striking. Even his shooting has been consistent. If that keeps up, he will be the starting two guard and a potential 1st team All-Rookie candidate by the end of the year.
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