By John Schmeelk
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I actually walked out of Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night annoyed that the Knicks beat the Bulls.
No, I haven’t taken any (more) blows to the head. I know the team is only one game in the loss column out of first place in the Atlantic Division. I know there’s no such thing as style points; every win counts and this team desperately needed one. Maybe all this losing has sent me halfway to crazy town, but the Knicks would have been better off long-term if they lost to Chicago last night.
Please don’t dismiss this. There is logic behind it. I swear. Read on!
New York still requires a serious overhaul in strategy and approach. A loss to the Bulls would have accelerated that process. The Knicks displayed all the flaws they have shown all year (and dating back to last season), even if it was in a win. When things got close late, the Knicks reverted back to isolation ball after eschewing that strategy for most of the game. The team lost focus and intensity after getting a big lead. J.R. Smith did boneheaded things. The team was out-rebounded by nearly 10 and shot only 26 percent from behind the arc.
All of it came against what can only be described as a pathetic Bulls team.
Keep all this in mind:
– The Bulls were without Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Jimmy Butler.
– Joakim Noah was playing on one leg.
– The Bulls shot 33 percent from the field and turned it over 22 times.
– The Bulls were on the second game of a back-to-back.
– The Knicks led by 23 at one point. TWENTY-THREE!
This was as an unimpressive victory as I have ever seen. The Knicks did everything they could to try to lose this game. It’s the same nonsense we’ve seen all year, and even dating back to last season against the Pacers. If they played like that against even an average NBA team they would lose by double digits.
Celebrating a Pyrrhic victory is foolish. All it did was buy Mike Woodson more time. That’s not a good thing for this team. They need fundamental change even if they want to do something as minimal as win a pathetic Atlantic Division. That starts with a new head coach, even if it’s an interim one like Allan Houston.
The return of Tyson Chandler is not going to solve this team’s issues. When he gets back the guard play is still going to be awful. The defensive switching strategy will still stink. The team will still run too many isolations, especially against the best defensive teams in the most important parts of the game. (Coincidentally, this is exactly what teams want the Knicks to do.) They will still cater their lineup to opponents rather than forcing others to match up with them. Pablo Prigioni still won’t have the chance to play with another point guard, when he plays his best ball. The defense might improve a bit but the offense won’t. I shrink in fear at how Woodson is going to try to play Chandler, Andrea Bargnani, Amar’e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin and Carmelo Anthony. Does anyone think that’s going to go well?
Did the Knicks do anything, just one thing against the Bulls, that would indicate they are ready to turn a corner or even play a remotely better brand of basketball? I didn’t see it.
It’s December and I’m not concerned with the standings. I care about the team playing winning basketball. This team needs change. It needs a wake-up call. Perhaps an awful 23-point blown lead against a banged-up Bulls team would have forced James Dolan’s hand to make a change.
Now Knicks fans are going to be in for more of the same.
I can’t stand watching this team the way they are playing right now. It needs to change, and if getting it faster means a bad loss, so be it.
Or maybe I’m just plain out of my mind. Can you blame me? I watch the Knicks play basketball.
Psychological damage might be inevitable.
– I’ll have more on this Friday, but Stoudemire played as well as he has all year on both ends of the floor. Not be overly pessimistic, but this is usually when one of his knees go out. He is just getting into a rhythm, and Woodson has removed minutes limitations, even on back-to-backs.
You can follow John on Twitter @Schmeelk for everything on the Knicks, Giants and New York sports.
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