Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bobcats 118, Knicks 110 - Recap

If you didn't watch this game then, yes, that is the correct score. On a night when the Knicks' offense looked rejuvenated - maybe even semi-potent - the defense went ice skating at Rockefeller Center. There was cohesion and movement on offense for the Knicks, but on the other side of the floor they could not stop a Charlotte Bobcats team that looked like Mike D'Antoni's Phoenix Suns from the mid-2000s.

The defensive lapses were painfully obvious, and for much of the night the Knicks seemed content to let the Bobcats sneak to the basket in the halfcourt, get layups in the fast break, or shoot open jump shots.

Take the jump for some more note

So far this season, the Knicks haven't looked good on defense, but they looked improved. In their previous 5 games they had only allowed one opponent to score over 100 points. However in past games, it was the offense that was stagnant and just flat-out poor. Not last night, though. The Bobcats took their time and exploited a Knicks defense that was non-communicative and almost entirely inactive.
  • I don't understand the Knicks' defensive philosophy of switching on everything. They switch on nearly every screen, or any time two players cross paths. At one point I saw Iman Shumpert and Bill Walker switch the players they were defending, just because the two Bobcats crossed paths while going to the opposite 3-point corners to run a play. This the kind of meaningless switching that can cause mismatches or throw the offense out of sync. It's a Mike Woodson pholosophy that I saw him employ in Atlanta, but with much more capable, versatile defenders (Al Horford, Josh Smith, etc.) than what he has in New York. It drives me nuts.
  • Boris Diaw and Gerald Henderson: Superstars! 12-15 and 10-13 FG shooting, respectively, for a combined 51 points. Some of their points were out of the Knicks's hands, though. Gerald Henderson has no right making contested, 20-foot fade-away jump shots at the end of the clock, time and time again. Nor does Boris Diaw have the right to crossover Amar'e 15 feet from the basket, and then spin around him for the easy layup. Or maybe they do have the right against the Knicks. I don't know.
  •  Amar'e Stoudemire returned from a 2-game absence because of a sprained ankle, and had both a wonderful game and a terrible game. On defense, Amar'e just does not get it. He let Boris Diaw take him off the dribble, go baseline, or just shoot open jumpers. It was bad. However, on offense, Amar'e looked pretty good. His jumpshot wasn't falling whatsoever, but he did much better around the basket, scoring 16 of his 25 points in the paint. Add in 12 rebounds and 53% shooting and it was one of Stoudemire's better games this season.
  • <3 Iman Shumpert <3 (I'm going to scribble that all over my notebooks at school, like an impassioned school girl). He has endeared himself to the MSG crowd with his athleticism, tough defense, and genuine, 100% effort. Shump crushed the 2-4 week timetable to come back from a sprained MCL, and instead returned in 10 days. And what a return it was. 18 points on 6-10 shooting (4-6 from downtown), 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block in 30 minutes of action. He was the Knicks' best player and the lone true bright spot. He won't/can't play at such a high level each night, but if nothing else, he's a reason to watch the Knicks.
  •  Don't be fooled by Carmelo's 32 points. Most of them came in garbage time when the Knicks made a couple of futile attempts to come back. His shot was a little flat and he played a lot of iso-ball, which isn't good. Actually, it was kind of a quiet, strange night for Melo.
  • Toney Douglas got booed in the 4th quarter when he checked into the game to replace Shumpert. It made me feel bad. But Douglas (obviously) still needs to learn the finer nuances of being a point guard. Particularly picking and choosing his shots. The Knicks made a few runs in the 3rd quarter to cut the lead to single digits, but Douglas killed the momentum with some turnovers and pull-up jumpshots only five seconds into the clock. 13 points on 6-17 shooting with 4 assists and 4 turnovers. Not the best night for TD.
  • Only 3 minutes of action for Josh Harrellson. Kind of surprising considering they could have used his defense, and he seems like somebody that could have guarded Boris Diaw better than Stoudemire. Then again, Mike Breen probably could have guarded Diaw better than Stoudemire.
Odds and Ends
  • Not seeing Mike Bibby on the floor made this game feel a little happier
  • At one point in the 3rd quarter, Mike Breen was talking about Boris Diaw's general dominance of the night, and he said it's surprising because, "Diaw looks heavy." Clyde excitedly responded, "He IS heavy!"
  • Another Breen and Clyde note. During one stretch of boo's from the Garden crowd, Clyde described them as vociferous. About two minutes later, Breen took Clyde's word and called the same boo's vociferous. It sounded stupid. Don't take Clyde's words, Mike Breen.
  • The alley-oops to Tyson Chandler are starting to become a regularity, especially early on in the game. It could become a good late-game play for the Knicks to run when they need baskets, because it always seems to catch the other team off guard. Like this one in the first ten seconds of the game: 

That's about it, folks. Washington Wizards on Friday, Detroit Pistons on Saturday, and the Bobcats again next Monday. The Knicks need to capitalize on these easy games because the schedule gets tought after that.

A quick reminder for panicking fans. The Knicks started off last season (albeit with a very different team) 3-8 and lost many similar games to this season. After that 3-8 start, they won 13 of 14 games. Just something to keep in mind.

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