Useless Backcourt: Sixers 108, Knicks 92

Beasley-Redick

Be forewarned — it’s only going to get more ugly from here on out. The Knicks were in Philly last night and delivered another stinker of a second half to lose 108-92. I would love to say “trust the process,” but outside of hoping for a high lottery pick, this looks like a team without direction.

BACKCOURT WOES: In my recap of the Indy loss, I mentioned some concerns about the Mudiay-Ntilikina backcourt, namely being that neither can shoot. They combined for 3/11 and just 2 assists in 40 minutes of play. Frank was especially awful in that he didn’t score (0/4) or get any assists in his 21 minutes. In today’s game, you can’t expect to be competitive with these type of numbers.

More alarming was the fact Trey Burke only got four minutes. This was a game where I would’ve liked to see if he could’ve given us an offensive spark. Ironically, Jarrett Jack proved to be our most productive PG, tallying 11 points in 18 minutes. However, his failure to get even one assist shows how bad the offense was.

2ND HALF SURRENDER: After going down by as much as 12, the Kicks managed to only trail by two (55-57) at the half. But our usual glaring defensive holes didn’t give you much hope for improvement. The Sixers were shooting 61% (57% from three). We went down early in the third due to relying on crappy long jumpers, and then started to get killed by transition buckets from Ben Simmons and Robert Convington.

The Knicks made their usual faux runs and even tied it late in the third before Philly started to pull away. We got outscored 13-22 in the fourth and the miserable evening was capped by backup TJ McConnell notching his first-career triple double.

HARDAWAY STILL LOST: Junior’s shooting woes continued last night. He was 4/16 and a putrid 0/8 from downtown. Not to mention he got killed repeatedly on screens. His confidence is in the toilet right now and I’m beginning to wonder if he’s feeling any ill effects from the leg fracture.

“I wish I could make a fucking shot,” Hardaway fumed in the post game. “I am frustrated. Kind of in a slump right now. Just got to try to shoot my way out of it. Can’t harp on it. You can’t keep on letting it go. I mean, it’s too many games in a row now. I’ve got to figure it out. My teammates are doing a great job of encouraging me every step of the way. I’m not going to lie and sit here and laugh about it. It’s frustrating. Pissing me off.”

POSITIVES: Kanter had his umpteenth double double of the year with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Courtney Lee was our lone spark of the bench with 18 points on 50% shooting (3/4 from downtown). Beasley shot 9/17 to finish with 22 points.

The Knicks have now dropped seven straight and sit at ninth in the “tankathon” sweepstakes. We face the Wizards Wednesday night at MSG.

 

A Smart Return: JR Smith Ignites Knicks Over Sixers

That’s the worst feeling in the world, someone takes the game away from you, especially something you love. It’s all you know, you’ve been doing it your whole life. – JR SMITH

JR_Knicks

It took only one game for JR Smith to get his mind right (for now). Our knucklehead two-guard came off the bench in the second quarter and has his best 12 minutes of the season, scoring 11 points and dishing 4 assists to help ignite a 25-6 run and power the Knicks to their fourth-straight win. The Knicks are now poised to start climbing the playoff ladder.

SLUGGISH START AND OPEN PAINT: Melo had to sit early with two fouls and without their leader, the Knicks were sluggish all-around. No Tyson Chandler again (flu) had the paint wide open with the young Sixer guards like Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten blowing past our defenders for easy layups. The Knicks were only shooting around 35% despite getting open looks and not defending the three-point line, allowing for the Sixers to take a 28-20 lead after the first.

JR’S SPARK: The team did a complete 180 with JR in the lineup to start the second. JR nailed his first three jumpers (one a three off a Melo offensive rebound), and everyone’s energy picked up. JR made sure to make the extra passes needed to keep Stoudemire and Melo feasting on the Sixer defense. When the smoked cleared, the Knicks had went on a 25-6 run over the last 8:40 and outscored Philly 32-12 in the period to take a 52-40 lead into halftime.

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NEVER PUT AWAY, BUT NEVER BACK IN IT, EITHER: The Knicks never delivered the crushing blow to blow this game open, but they never lost focus enough to let Philly back in it. The latter was great to see considering NY has blown numerous big leads all season. The Knicks were up 84-68 after the third and let the Sixers get no closer than 8 points in the waning two minutes of the game.

REBOUNDING IMPROVEMENT: With Chandler out, the Knicks are making a concerted effort to crash the boards. Everyone chipped in to give NY a slight edge in the board battle (39-38): Melo (9), Martin (8) and Shumpert (7) were the strongest in this department.

STOUDEMIRE CONTINUES TO TURN BACK THE CLOCK: Someone must have told Amar’e it was 2009, because he came out and stayed in beast mode the entire night. He made his first seven shots, which included a handful of nasty dunks. His post moves were crisp and he fought for rebounds, often tipping it to fellow players when he couldn’t get it himself. We saw this same Stoudemire before he went down with knee problems last year so we can only pray he stays healthy. None of the teams we’ve played during this streak have had an answer for him. And even more promising is he’s doing a lot of his damage working two-man ball with Melo on the floor. Stat finished with 21 points and 5 rebounds.

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TEAM DISTRIBUTION: The Knicks had 26 assists, a clear indicator the ball stayed moving. The stat lines for everyone were great with no one carrying too much of the load: Melo (18 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists), Stat (21 points, 5 rebounds), JR (14 points, 6 assists), K-Mart (8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks), Shump (7 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals), Felton (9 points, 6 assists) and Bargnani (10 points, 4 rebounds).

The Knicks are back home on Monday to face the Phoenix Suns.