By John Schmeelk
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The Knicks let another winnable game slip through their fingers on Thursday night, and there were a lot of interesting storylines. Let’s go through them:
1) Carmelo Anthony played poorly. Not only did he miss open jump shots, but he also missed a wide-open layup. Whether it his back, too many minutes or simply a slump, the Knicks’ star is not right. He was a -13 on the night, third worst on the team. Anthony’s late-game misses the last couple of years are piling up, but he doesn’t get enough help from his coaches or teammates. I also thought it was a bad travel call on him late in the game that cost the Knicks a possession.
2) Coming out of a timeout, the fact that Derek Fisher didn’t come up with a better play than a 1-4 isolation with Anthony against LeBron James — down three with 10 seconds to go — is an utter failure by a head coach. With the way Amar’e Stoudemire was playing around the rim, they should have at the very least run a pick-and-roll. Not to mention potential movement off the ball to get Tim Hardaway Jr. a shot off a screen. It was a very Mike Woodson moment for Fisher, and it made it way too hard for his superstar to get a quality look.
3) Welcome back to the Knicks, Hardaway Jr. He is still a mess defensively, but on Thursday night the shooting stroke returned to the Knicks’ second-year shooting guard. He was stroking jump shots off catch-and-shoots and finished well around the basket. At this point, is there really a reason for J.R. Smith to be playing more than him? Nope, there isn’t. Also, Iman Shumpert has officially reverted back to his typical shooting: brick fest.
4) The Knicks are wisely integrating more pick-and-rolls into their triangle offense. It is generating a lot more movement, and taking advantage of talents like Jose Calderon and Stoudemiire.
5) The Knicks continue to shoot more threes, with 26 more going up on Thursday night (though only eight went in). The offense is slowly coming into form, and it would show in the box score if the team wasn’t in a horrendous shooting slump.
6) Fisher did shorten the rotation a little bit on Thursday night, but at some point soon he is going to have to make some tough decisions. It’s hard to play all three point guards and get continuity. I thought it was strange how long Fisher went with Larkin in the fourth quarter last night. Kyrie Irving had his way with him for most of the game, and both Pablo Prigioni and Calderon run the offense better. Prigioni also made a couple of nice defensive plays on Irving when he guarded him earlier in the game.
7) The Cavs are not a very good team. Their offense isn’t creative and they lack chemistry. More glaring is their defense. The Knicks went at the rim with impunity against them. Kevin Love and Anderson Varajeo did not provide enough (any) resilience around the rim. The Cavs are far away from a title and need significant roster retooling to get it done.
8) LeBron James didn’t look right on Thursday night, either. Disinterested isn’t the right word, but he lacked that explosion you usually see in his legs, and the “take over the game” attitude we’ve seen in years past.
9) I wonder how long Stoudemire will stick in the Knicks’ starting lineup. Will the team be able to defend enough with him, Anthony and Calderon all on the floor at the same time? It leaves a lot for Quincy Acy (who is overrated defensively) and Shumpert to make up for.
10) The Knicks now have the third-worst record in the NBA. They are tanking the old-fashioned way: utter incompetence!
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