It was not a pleasant Sunday for the Knicks yesterday as a fourth quarter hammering (outscored 31-18) at the hands of the talented Los Angeles Clippers resulted in a bad 102-88 loss at home. The Knicks were never completely in sync throughout the game but had a slim lead to start the fourth before everything simply collapsed. Want to know what went wrong? Let’s start with what else but the perimeter defense…
CP3 FEASTS ON SHUMPERT: We’ve been begging for Shumpert to get moved off guarding small fowards to the guards that have been killing us in recent games. Well, Shumpert had no easier time stopping Paul, who drained several three-pointers off picks and got by Shumpert at will in the first quarter. Coach Woodson said Shumpert’s timing and lateral movement are still slowly coming back since his ACL tear, so we just had to live with CP3 going off, unfortunately.
USELESS DOUBLE-TEAMS AND SWITCHING: We’ve seen it every game. Our Knicks players end up switching defenders way too easily and we end up with a gross mismatch in someone like Tyson Chandler trying to guard Paul (that happened a few times yesterday). Or we double-team players that aren’t that big of a threat leading to open threes when we can’t rotate back soon enough. The most blatant example yesterday of a useless double was on players like Lamar Odom, who haven’t warranted that type of attention since 2010.
Still, a lot of this stems from the fact our guards can’t stay in front of their man.
CRAWFORD ON FIRE, SMITH ICE-COLD: The battle of best bench players in the NBA was definitively won by Crawford, who dropped 27 points on an array of long treys and circus shots in the paint. JR Smith was a woeful 1-9. And it wasn’t like it was the Clippers defense that kept JR in check — he bricked plenty wide open shots. We’ve come to expect these type of games from JR, but it’s a death sentence when he plays this bad and we also don’t get big contributions from Amar’e.
STAT STRUGGLES: Amar’e Stoudemire had his worst game since early January with 9 points and 6 rebounds. The Knicks had problems getting the ball to him in the second half. And defensively Stat missed a few assignments.
NOVAK EXPLOITED: Novak had another scoreless game and his defensive liabilities swung the momentum in the Clippers favor early in the fourth. The Knicks had a 73-71 lead and the Clippers went straight at Novak to kick off a 7-0 run. At times like this, it would have been better to go with Ronnie Brewer. It would have done nothing for the offense, but at least our defense would have vastly improved.
MELO’S 42 AND FELTON’S 20 WASTED: Melo and Felton were the only two that had energy and really seemed to want this game. Melo had an amazing first three quarters where he dropped 38 points. That worried me because he was carrying nearly all the offense (including an 18 point 3rd). We saw in the last game against Brooklyn he had nothing left in the fourth. While Grant Hill did a good job guarding him in the last quarter, I feel the real reason he only had 4 points was due to fatigue.
Felton suffered whiplash but toughed it out and did his best to try and contain Paul, who dropped back to back buckets (one of them a three-point play), to seal the game in the fourth 96-86 with just a few minutes remaining.
HORRID REBOUNDING: The Knicks gave up way too many offensive boards but this isn’t on Chandler, who have 11 rebounds and several tip-outs. Melo even contributed 8 rebounds. With Camby and Wallace out, other players have to crash the boards. In recent games, we’ve seen Shumpert and SMith do this. Yesterday, they only had 4 rebounds combined. The Clippers nabbed 13 offensive rebounds and won the board battle 43-35.
BENCH SLAUGHTER: How badly did the Clippers bench outplay the Knicks’s second unit? How about a scoring edge of 48-15. Only one Clippers bench player, Ryan Hollins, failed to score. Our bench had no scoring outside of Stat and JR, who combined for 15 points.
JR Smith went on Twitter yesterday and called Wednesday’s home game against the Raptors a must-win. Let’s pray the whole team brings that mentality to the Garden.[youtube http://youtu.be/V_sDjUWHDp8]