By John Schmeelk
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The performance the Knicks put out against the Spurs Wednesday night was a joke. It’s one thing for a team to lack chemistry on offense, or miss a lot of shots. It’s a completely other matter for a team to look like they don’t give a damn. Last night the Knicks looked like they just didn’t care. How else can you explain such a poor defensive effort?
Last week, Mike D’Antoni called Tyson Chandler the Knicks one indispensable player and last night proved him right. Without the anchor of the defense, and let’s be real, the leader of the team, the Knicks pulled a complete no-show in San Antonio. Throw in the absence of Jared Jeffries, and the Knicks defense looked like it did the last ten years, atrocious. Obviously, personnel is going to be a factor, but effort makes up for a lot of that.
If I had to watch Tony Parker drive to the hoop one more time as Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and the rest of the Knicks defense simply watched him, I was going to put my fist through my television. Perhaps they’re all just amateur photographers and they were working on their framing. There’s no legitimate excuse for the simple lack of defensive effort the Knicks showed on Wednesday night.
Blame goes everywhere for this, from the coach to the players, but I’m going to hang most of it on the two superstars. If Anthony and Stoudemire are going to be considered the stars of the team, they need to lead by example on both ends of the floor. Anthony has been a better one on one defender this year but his help defense is still bad. Stoudemire continues to be spectator on the defensive end much more than he is a participant. Here I thought that Chandler had rubbed off on those two guys. I guess I was wrong.
And I appreciated Stoudemire in his postgame interview being very solemn and upset after the loss, but it strikes me as somewhat insincere. His ineffectiveness on defense comes from a lack of effort. He doesn’t want to show and get back on the pick and rolls. He doesn’t step out on shooters. He doesn’t rotate. He doesn’t help on penetrators. These are effort things, not things he is incapable of. He has to get better at it. If you are going to look so upset after a loss, do more to prevent it while you are playing.
It also goes on the coaching staff, which has to make sure these guys are motivated and ready to play every night. It also puts into question how much they are even responsible for the defensive turn around. Perhaps Chandler is the man that should be getting the bulk of the credit for it, not the coaches. Their switching strategy also continues to backfire. I’m not sure how many times I saw Tony Parker putting moves on a Knicks power forward or center last night. It’s just not going to work.
This team has the talent to be a legit contender, and I believe the chemistry will come. But the season is too short and the team in too tenuous position to afford no-shows like the team had against the Spurs. It’s on the players, coaches, but most of all, the stars to make sure it doesn’t happen again. There needs to be a constant sense of urgency. That’s what good teams do. Right now, the Knicks aren’t and that needs to change.
– I like the decision to start Iman Shumpert. He earned it, for one, and the Knicks had been getting off to slow starts. It’s all part of the process of figuring out what units play best together.
– I thought Stoudemire still looked a little more explosive last night. I would consider myself “slightly encouraged” on the trajectory of his season.
– It was also a good sign Anthony got his offense going, even if a lot of his points came when the game was over. He seems to be getting more integrated.
– I miss the attacking Jeremy Lin. It looks as though in an effort to get everyone involved and cut down on his turnovers he isn’t attacking as much. The way you beat traps and pressure defense is by attacking, not by playing less aggressive. I would like to see him go back to his old ways a little more.
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