Another Buzzer Beater: Knicks Choke Away Fourth Quarter Lead, Sixers Win

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Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

What a joke. A team meeting was supposed to get things in order for the Knicks. They played like it at times, but ultimately they did what the Knicks do in losing focus and blowing a 10 point lead over the last 2:29 of the game to lose 98-97 on a game-winner from TJ McConnell.

Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. This team has no killer instinct or basketball IQ.

The Knicks had a 17-point lead in the second quarter and promptly gave up a 15-3 run to let Philly close it to five-point deficit at the half. That problem continued in the third with Philly extending their run to 28-7 to take a brief lead.

That’s when Melo took over. After delivering 11 points in the first quarter, he poured in 15 in the third to help put the Knicks up 75-71 to start the fourth. The bench, lead by a solid offensive night from Brandon Jennings (9 points), ignited a 10-0 run to push the lead to 82-71. Later, a Jennings trey kept the lead at 10 (89-79). That’s when the problems started.

CAN’T GET A STOP: It doesn’t matter how good the offense looks. Derrick Rose can drop 25, and Melo can have 28, but no lead is safe with this trash defense. Joel Embiid started to work in the paint and even hit a three to slice the lead to 95-92. Buckets were exchanged with Rose hitting a good mid-range jumper and a driving layup. The killer play came when Rose drove and kicked the ball back out to the perimeter. The ball was passed to a wide-open Porzingis who airballed an open three, leading to the Sixers pushing the ball and McConnell delivering the dagger.

Speaking of Porzingis, it seems the losing and turmoil from the Rose fiasco has zapped his confidence. He was very passive out there (7 points, 3/10) and that airball won’t help his confidence. He did manage 4 blocks with several of them coming on Embiid.

KYLE O’QUINN STEPS UP: This man rebounded (pun intended) from the Pelicans ejection by hitting his first five shots and finishing with 10 points and 15 boards. His effort lifted the team with KP’s struggles and Noah not getting going until the fourth quarter.

This mentally damaged team has to get it together within 24 hours to face the Bulls. The Knicks record this year on back to backs? 0-7.

 

[Video] Robbed? Refs Waive Off Porzingis Buzzer-Beater, Hornets Escape with 95-93 Win

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Karma for Toronto? What should have been the biggest highlight of Kristaps Porzingis’ young career turned into massive disappointment when his three-point buzzer beater was waived off for being a millisecond too late.

Here’s my take — I’m not mad at the refs for calling it off. From most angles, the ball appears on Kris’ fingertips with 0.0 remaining on the clock. My main problem is the time he was given to make the shot. Zoeller’s layup on the previous play should have left 0.08 on the clock instead of the 0.06 we were given. If that had been done, Porzingis would rightly have his buzzer beater.

Nonetheless, that’s not why we lost. The rotations were head-scratchers at times and one the catalysts that helped Charlotte erase two double-digit leads we had in the second half. Robin Lopez has proven to be our best defensive big and needs to be coming in the fourth as early as possible. Amundson needs to be in the rotation before Kevin Seraphin. And speaking of Kevin, playing him and Derrick Williams at the same time should never be done again. Losing this game rests solely on being outscored 14-26 in the final 12 minutes (Note: a lot of it was due to dumb fouls on NY’s part). Not to mention Charlotte dominated the bench battle 45-29.

Despite the bad bench play, we had a few bright spots. Arron Affalo looked good offensively in his first game back. He had 12 points (50% FG) and 6 rebounds in 28 minutes. The only issue for him was defense as Nic Batum beat him off screens several times. Porzingis notched another double double (10 points, 15 rebounds), and Melo had a scorcher of a second half to finish with 29 points.

The Knicks will quickly have to put this heartbreak behind them as the Cavaliers come to town on Friday.


[Video] Nowitzki Shocks Knicks With Buzzer-Beater

It’s a damn shame. – MIKE WOODSON

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You have heard this story before. Knicks start slow only to go on a strong run late in the first or second quarter to make it a game by halftime. They play well on offense, but keep shooting themselves in the foot on defense in the second half, making the game a life and death struggle going into the fourth quarter. The team then fails to get any stops over the waning minutes and simply hope for Carmelo Anthony to bail them out, leading to another heart-breaking loss.

Last night was a Knicks rerun, in Dirk Nowitzki getting a lucky bounce on a buzzer-beating jumper to hand the Knicks their ninth loss in the last 10 games. This is the third game in a row the Knicks have collapsed down the stretch. If you’re looking for a silver lining, it can be that at least the game was tight for the most of the second half, as opposed to the 14-point and 17-point leads New York blew in the previous two games against Orlando and Atlanta.

There was another wasted Melo effort of 44 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block. If you told me before the season started that Melo would be posting these type of the numbers and we’d by this far below .500 and effectively out of the playoffs, I’d have laughed. And yet, here we are. Until we get guards who know who to defend the perimeter, we may not win a game for the rest of the season. When the ghost of Vince Carter is lighting you up for SEVEN three-pointer off the bench, there is literally no hope.

Knicks Game-Winner Falls Short, Thunder Win 95-94

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I’m not even mad at this one. Well, I’m not mad at the players. Coaching, that’s another matter. With Melo again sitting, no one gave the Knicks much of a chance to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder last night. But for the entire game, the Knicks fought tooth and nail, putting themselves in position to take the win off a buzzer-beater from JR Smith, who spent much of the game lighting up whoever was assigned to guard him.

 

SURVIVING THE FIRST PUNCH: Coach Woodson started James White and Kurt Thomas again, but this time they contributed in their limited minutes. White hit two treys and Thomas hit a jumper and played decent defense. Nonetheless, the Thunder promptly began abusing the Knicks in transition to the tune of a 16-0 run to take a 23-13 lead. It was looking ugly, but the Knicks rallied behind their defense. Although they produced way too many fouls (10 free throw points), it kept the game from getting too out of hand, and the Knicks faced a 26-35 deficit after one quarter.

 

JR’s GREEN LIGHT: With Melo out, JR gunning was a formality. He delivered a scorching second quarter with 18 points. His shooting, which came on a nice mix of treys and drives to the basket, ignited the rest of the Knicks. Kenyon Martin was very physical with Kevin Durant, and K-Mart also supplied offense with a putback dunk and alley oop from JR.

 

THUNDER LIVES AT THE LINE: As hard as the Knicks played, their fouls allowed the Thunder to stay in it no matter the runs. Of course, there were questionable fouls. Other times, NY just made mental mistakes. A game like this is a perfect example of why Woody’s philosophy of constant defensive switching is bad news. On multiple plays, you saw Chandler and Stat isolated out on the perimeter against the likes of Durant and Westbrook. In all, OKC got 29 free throw attempts and made 25 of them. The most annoying pair came in the closing minutes when Woody took out Felton, who had just scored on a nice driving layup, to insert Martin on Durant. K-Mart promptly fouled in out 5 seconds, but gave up two free throws to Durant. You don’t want to pin a one-point loss on a random play, but that foul sticks out.

 

STAT HELD IN CHECK: We were all hoping for a big game from Amar’e, but OKC is not the Pistons. Serge Ibaka harassed Stat all night and turned him back at the rim no less than 4 times. Stat got a couple of good moves on him (including a nasty facial), but he never got a sustained rhythm, going 5-16 for 16 points in 28 minutes. On a positive note, Stat nabbed eight rebounds and made a concerted effort to crash the boards.

 

4TH QUARTER COLLAPSE, PART 2: Might be weird to read that considering the Knicks only lost by a point, but this was a slow death. No, it wan’t as dramatic as the damage the Heat did last weekend, but the same problems surfaced. The Knicks couldn’t score consistently (13 points in the quarter), who was settling for jumpers that were now off the mark. Going small with 3-4 guards only truly works if said guards can create their own shots, and the length of the OKC on the perimeter made that increasingly difficult. Still, the fact that the Knicks seemed content on jumpers with nothing going to the hole was frustrating to watch. And even with that, the Knicks got two stops in the final minute to get a chance to win it with 7 seconds left.

 

A TOUGH FADEAWAY JUMPER?: Of his 29 shots, the only one that truly baffled me was the long fadeaway JR took to end the game. His shot had been off for most of the fourth, so a drive to at least get him facing the basket for a better look would have been ideal.

As I said in the beginning, this loss doesn’t bother me much. K-Mart got significant playing time (which hopefully has opened Woody’s eyes), the team played with excellent effort, and nearly won a game they had no business even being in without their best player. Onto the next one, which is a home game against the Jazz Saturday night.

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#@*! a Moral Victory: Knicks Erase 27-Point Deficit But Lose on Kings Buzzer-Beater 106-105

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It finally came back to bite us in the ass.  Playing pathetic defense and letting trash teams hang around has happened a few times this season, most notably in December on the road to the Bobcats and Suns. But each time, the Knicks played great fourth quarter D and JR Smith hit heroic buzzer-beating shots to steal the games. Well, this time we got to feel the heartbreak ourselves with James Johnson heaving up a miracle three to snatch away what would have been the greatest comeback in Knicks history. Personally, this game still has me pissed off and these are the reasons why.

 

LESSON LEARNED: You play two halves of basketball for a reason, New York. I don’t know if the Knicks were thrown off because of the last start time (10 p.m. ET time) or what, but their defense in the first half was the worst it’s been the whole season. Coach Woodson was incredulous watching Kings guards essentially having an open look shooting drill from the three-point arc. You had guys like Jimmer Fredette coming off the bench and scoring 15 points in 12 minutes off 6-7 shooting from downtown. The Knicks had no effort on each side of the ball and our ineptness was puncuated by Chris Copeland getting blocked on a fast break by little guard Aaron Brooks. And not to mention that block lead to a Kings fast break and a three-pointer.

It doesn’t matter that we were missing a good chunk of our starting lineup; giving up 71 points at the half to the Kings is not acceptable. In the second half, the Knicks held Sacramento to 35 points. I hope the lesson that Woodson crashed home in the postgame is that if we had of played any semblance of defense in the first half, this would have been a Knicks blowout win.

 

KIDD’s KEY MISTAKE AND CRITICAL MISSED SHOTS: Jason Kidd is our glue, but last night 2 of his 5 turnovers resulted in us not being able to steal the victory. Kidd turned the ball over twice, the last in trying to get a lob to Chandler, that lead to Kings forward James Johnson hitting his first three-pointer of the season. In hindsight, our last three possessions went heavy on isolation and trying to wear the clock down instead of ball movement to maximize scoring opportunities. Chandler made several offensive tipbacks to give us extra possessions but we failed to convert on any which would’ve iced the game.

The other problem is the missed free throws. Chandler was a beast everywhere else in getting 21 points and 18 rebounds, but his 3-9 at the free throw line (including a key miss in the final minutes), came back to haunt us. The rest of the team was no better as we shot 12-20 (60%).

 

IF SOMEONE ELSE GETS INJURED I’LL SCREAM: How much more bad luck can we have? The early word from last night was that Tyson Chandler was seen limping in the locker room due to a sprained ankle. He won’t miss any time but I’m really desperate, as most Knicks fans are, to see this squad at full strength. Melo, Rasheed Wallace and Amar’e Stoudemire are all scheduled to come back sometime next week, with the first two expected to be back on January 1. Their presence is sorely needed.

 

THE BRIGHT SPOTS: Chris Copeland’s first half defense was trash like everyone else’s, but his scoring was very impressive. He had the jumper working and was aggressive in dropping 23 points. JR Smith continued his excellent play with a season-high 28 points coupled with 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Marcus Camby didn’t have a strong rebounding game (just 2 boards), but his 11 minutes were key in our comeback as he had four emphatic blocks around the rim.

In the end, we’re still 21-9 despite the erratic play of the last two weeks. In a few days we’ll start 2013 with several of our most important players back and our best perimeter defender in Iman Shumpert is scheduled to make his return by mid-January. It would have been great to end the year with our greatest comeback in overcoming a 27 point deficit, but Knicks fans have many reasons to be hopeful in the New Year.

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