Thursday, January 19, 2012

Suns 91, Knicks 88

Probably the most upsetting part of this loss is the fact that everyone knew it was coming. That the Phoenix Suns were on a 5-game losing streak, embarking on a difficult road trip, and their game against the Knicks was deemed the most winnable. That with a few minor tweaks, the Knicks would be sitting at .500 instead of two games below it.

Both teams entered last night needing a win, and it ended up being decided by a lucky bounce on a 3-pointer, cool free throw shooting by Steve Nash, and some unseemly chucking by the Knicks two superstars.

Take the jump for the grisly details.

This game was a back-and-forth contest for the entire 48 minutes. The score would indicate that it was a defensive affair, however it was really just a poor offensive outing by both clubs. The Suns shot the ball well enough, but didn't go to the line as frequently as the Knicks. Actually, the Knicks 66.7% shooting from the charity stripe ended up being the difference maker in the game. Change that 20-30 line to 24-30 and the Knicks would have had the ball game.

In the end, the Knicks couldn't get the defensive stops when they needed them. A Steve Nash jumper, a Shannon Brown stepback jumper in the paint, and a Shannon Brown 3-pointer that bounced high off the rim, hit near the top of the backboard and swooshed in kept the Knicks at bay in the final 2:30 of the game.

We'll start with the positives first:

- Landry Fields looked superb last night. 17 points on 6-12 shooting, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals for the Landry man. Fields did a lot of his work off the dribble, either taking it to the hole, gettin' some in the fast break, or on give-and-go's. He also had some active hands and made some good decisions in the open court that sometimes resulted in points, and other times mistakes by his silly teammates.

 - Iman Shumpert took over the 4th quarter, which was pretty exciting to see. The Knicks were never able to completely close the gap, but Shump had 12 of his 20 points in the 4th, which included his three 3-pointers. Throw in 4 rebounds and 4 steals too, and Shump looked marvelous, though the two late baskets by Shannon Brown were both because of poor defense and close-outs by Iman.

And now onto the bad:

 - Carmelo Anthony was awful. Just awful. 12 points on 5-22 shooting (!!!!) for Melo. It was forced attempt after forced attempt, sometimes trying to draw a foul, other times trying to shoot himself into rhythm. It's been noted that Melo's wrist is bothering him, and he's currently missing practice due to a family problem, but as the team's best player, he has to learn to hold onto the ball and do other things because his lackluster night really hurt the Knicks. 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, with some other tip-aways on defense are nice numbers and should have been what he focused on more instead of chucking away.

 - Amar'e Stoudemire wasn't much better. Stat did get himself to the line and notch 23 points along the way, but his 7-22 shooting was unsightly, as were his 6 turnovers and 4 blocked attempts. The jumper wasn't falling, he barrelled into cemented defenders on numerous occasions, got stripped on lackadaisical frolics to the rim, and flat-out made bad decisions all night. Factor in his poor defense, whether it was leaving Channing Frye wide open on three attempts from downtown, or letting Hakeem Warrick waltz right on by him for a two-handed jam, and Stoudemire was awful as well.

 - 12-44 shooting between the two superstars, if you didn't want to do the math.

 - The switching. Oh my goodness, the switching. These Knicks have seemingly been taught to never go fight through, or go under a screen, so on nearly play, there is a mismatch. We saw it all last night; Stoudemire and Chandler on Steve Nash or Shannon Brown, Fields and Shumpert on Marcin Gortat... it was terrible. At some point, the Knicks will absolutely run into teams who take advantage of the mismatches better than the recent opponents have, and it will be costly.

 - I don't know what happened to Toney Douglas, but it's getting uglier. The man really just can't do anything on the offensive end right now.

Odds and Ends

 - Is it me, or does it seem like Tyson Chandler always loses the jump ball at the beginning of the game? I feel like I've never seen him win one.

 - Speaking of Tyson, there was a play where he went up for a dunk and was fouled hard by Channing Frye. Frye fell to the ground while Tyson walked away. What was notable to me on this play, was the Phoenix play-by-play guy (they showed the Suns broadcast on League Pass) then called Chandler, "Channy". I didn't know he and Tyson were such good buddies.

 - I'm a big fan of Marcin Gortat, and as I was watching him during the pregame and during any breaks in action, I thought, Gortat seems like the type of guy who has the "just-happy-to-be-here" mentality. He then prompty got a technical foul called on him and had to be restrained by teammates from going after the referees.

 - Oh, and Gortat's name should really be MarNOSE Gortat instead of MarCHIN! Am I right?!

That's pretty much it. The wheels are falling off this wagon right now, and they could really use a fresh ox like Baron Davis to steer the cart back onto the right trail. I'll leave you with that analogy that was as unsightful as this loss.

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