It was the start of a New Year, but the ugly trends that marred the end of 2012 reared their ugly heads again in the form of bad defense and rebounding. These factors are the main reason the Knicks are on a two-game skid and now 2 games behind Miami and just one more loss removed from the third seed. It’s looking like some serious changes might have to be made before we face off against San Antonio tomorrow.
OUR STARTING LINEUP DIGS ANOTHER HOLE: The defense and rebounding was very bad to start this game. How bad? How about the Blazers outrebounding the Knicks 14-5 in the first quarter with 8 of them coming on the offensive glass! We had nothing going to the basket and our jumpers, even the open ones, were not falling. The Blazers shot 52% in the first half and the only reason their lead was only 11 at the half was due to Melo’s literally carrying the entire offensive load on his back, including a desperation heave three-pointer before halftime. Might be time to start JR as we can’t keep trying to overcome these first half deficits with late game heroics.
MELO’AND JR CAN’T DO IT ALONE: Melo had 45 points in this game with 24 of it coming in the first half. He had some nice three-pointers and his outside jumper was working well. JR didn’t have the best shooting night, but he was very active all over the court in contributing 28 points, 11 rebounds (team high), 5 assists and 3 steals. Outside of these two, the rest of the team might as well have continued celebrating New Year’s are they only combined for 24 points! Outside of Melo, the starting lineup only had 15 points the entire game (10 for Tyson and 5 for Brewer).
IT”S GOING TO BE A LONG MONTH: Jason Kidd and Pablo Prigioni have more than proven their value to this team over the last two months. But without Felton, we’re seeing the limits of their abilities. The younger guards of the league have been blowing by them at will which puts more pressure on Chandler and our also thin front line. Damian Lillard had 21 points and Nicolas Batum was the latest player to come into the Garden and go off, dropping 26 points and going 6-7 from downtown. Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do but gut it out over the next month. Iman Shumpert’s return will help a lot, but everything can’t be put on him as he’s returning from major surgery. Which leads me to my next point…
GIVE AMAR’E TIME: Stat made his return last night and got a very nice standing ovation. After that there was a lot of struggling on the offensive and defensive end. Stat managed 6 points, missing his first 5 shots, getting beat backdoor by the likes of JJ Hickson, and missing two key free thorws down the stretch. With all that said, Stat did show glimpses of good things to come in working a nice pick and roll with Prigioni and getting a monster block and later a facial. It’s going to take a lot of time, probably after the All-Star break, before we see any semblance of the old Stat, but he’s sorely needed.
MORE CAMBY AGAINST BIG FRONTCOURTS: Camby held up well in the limited minutes he had last night. While he’s not a scoring threat, his presence is sorely needed when we have to deal with large frontcourts. We made nice run when he was paired up front with Chandler.