You give a garbage effort, you get garbage results. This has been the case in the last two pathetic games: first the Warriors embarrassed the Knicks with a 30-point blowout, and the Nuggets added to the misery of Melo’s homecoming with a 117-94 defeat last night. It was a horrible game in all facets, including more serious injuries to two of our best players. When it rains it pours…
BLOOD IN THE WATER: Even though the Knicks were only down 5 points (26-31) at the end of the first quarter, the writing was on the wall. The defense was very porous with the Nuggets being able to outrun the Knicks in transition to get repeated layups. The Knicks repeated their folly the entire quarter — after every made basket, they were slow to get back as the Nuggets pushed the ball down their throats. The Knicks made a few treys to keep it close, but the energy level was alarmingly high in the Nuggets’ favor with the Knicks looking every bit like the older, banged up bunch they are.
2ND QUARTER MASSACRE: Nuggets coach George Karl told his team regarding their uptempo style that, “We run them, they don’t run us.” With Melo resting on the bench, the offense attempted to go through JR Smith to disastrous results. Smith missed a bunch of long jumpers and coughed the ball up several times. The stagnant offense was mirrored on the defensive end with the Nuggets going on a back-breaking 16-0 run. Novak couldn’t hit anything from downtown, and Wilson Chandler outran him down the court repeatedly for layups and dunks.
The Nuggets run extended to 21-1 and when the smoke cleared, The Knicks were looking at a 64-42 halftime deficit. To make matters worse, Tyson Chandler had to be carried off the court after banging his left knee on Corey Brewer and suffering a left knee contusion.
MELO CALLS IT A NIGHT: Melo’s right knee wasn’t much better than the previous game against the Warriors. He could only muster 9 points on 3-12 shooting before he headed back to the locker room. The rest of the team look bewildered at him leaving, and I’m sure that did nothing for their moral. The Denver crowd had booed Melo every time he touched the ball and have a great time even in his absence with chants of “Where is Melo?” and “Who needs Melo?”[youtube http://youtu.be/9mtDxKoWDto]
COMPLETE AND UTTER FAILURE: Melo can be criticized in a few areas this season like taking nights off on defense and being erratic with his shot selection. But these recent games are a collective failure. Our guards can’t keep anyone out the paint and our defensive rotations are horrible. Our best paint defender in Tyson Chandler constantly finds himself switched out onto the perimeter. The offense consists heavily of isolation plays with lots of standing around. The accountability is not there. Just last night, JR Smith appeared to have free reign while Iman Shumpert, who had his best game since returning from ACL surgery (20 points, 8-10 shooting), was seen getting chastised by Woodson after one bad three-point shot.
We are in trouble, guys. With Melo possibly out for a game or two and Chandler for God knows how long, it would not be a surprise to go through this road trip 1-4 or 0-5. We could find ourselves in the fourth seed and out of the Atlantic division lead by the time we make it back to Madison Square Garden to face the Magic on March 20.[youtube http://youtu.be/8pxAuUqxrp8]