Nothing comes easy for this Knicks team, even when playing a banged up Detroit Pistons with only eight available players. New York got some scares throughout the night, but this one was decided in the end by talent and execution. A win is a win, but we better see a massive improvement tonight if our team hopes to be competitive against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
WHITE AND THOMAS STARTING?: When I saw James White and Kurt Thomas in the starting lineup, I expected a long night. They played for a combined 12 minutes in the game, so there wasn’t too much damage from this. But when you see Kenyon Martin still languishing on the bench, you wonder what could possibly be going through Coach Woodson’s head. Marcus Camby got six minutes, so at least there was some progress made in opening up the lineup.
STAT EATS UP DETROIT: The Pistons only had two players (who happened to be rookies) 6’10 or taller in the lineup last night, making it a feast on the inside for Stoudemire. Stat bullied his way to 10 points in the first quarter and 17 at the half. Woody made a misstep in taking Stat out with a few minutes left in the second. That, combined with the horrid ball-handling (15 turnovers), lead to a Pistons 13-2 run to get within six (44-38).
Stat started the second half, but the Knicks were more interested in chucking long jumpers than really working through Stat again. He would only post five points over the second half, but contributed solidly on the boards (9 rebounds, 6 offensive).
CHANDLER OUT OF SYNC: Tyson Chandler was mentally out of it on defense and offense for most of this game. The interior defense, which starts with him, was inconsistent and particularly bad in the opening quarter with Detroit scoring the majority of their points on layups and dunks. With Detroit’s lack of bigs, Tyson should have been feasting inside like he did to the Warriors last week in the absence of David Lee.
JR FEAST AND FAMINE: The Knicks kicked off the third quarter on the wrong side of a 10-2 run and a big part of that was due to JR chucking from the outside (4-16 early on). Brandon Knight got hot due to lazy defense and the run extended to 18-4 with the Knicks facing a 65-55 hole with just over two minutes left. JR then found his three-pointing (as did Raymond Felton) and helped erase the lead and tie it at 65.
JR nailed three treys in the fourth but his most significant contribution came when he got three big steals to help deflate Detroit.
FELTON CAN’T MISS: When Melo’s out, no other player on this Knicks squad decides to pick it up on the offensive end more than Raymond Felton. He did it in the December when he lit up the Heat for nearly 30 points and did again last night, going 10-15 from the field (4-5 from trey) for 26 points. How in the zone was Felton? The man caught a lob from Pablo Prigioni like he was Chandler.
MORE FROM SHUMP AFTER THE FIRST: I’m liking this trend of Iman Shumpert coming out aggressive and being…well… a shooting guard that actually shoots. He dropped 9 points in the first quarter off three treys but like previous games, his offense disappeared after that.
KNICKS SLOPPY BUT PISTONS “SLOPPIER”: The Knicks average a league-low 11 turnovers and had 20 last night. However, the Pistons also had 20 and theirs were way more costly with six of them coming in the fourth quarter.
WHEN MELO COMES BACK: Can we just cut the nonsense now, Woody? You’re getting a lot of deserved heat for the constant and unnecessary defensive switching and parading these crazy lineups out there. Our starting lineup needs to be Felton, Shumpert, Melo, Stat and Chandler. Mix and match as you please, but our Big Three needs to start and end games. They either prove definitively they can play together or they crash and burn. This team was put together to “win now” and that only happens with your best players on the floor.
No time like the present to get that lineup going tonight against the Thunder.[youtube http://youtu.be/6XFCRgoPoDY]