I was too pissed off to write about this game last night. After three quarters of competent basketball, the Knicks players and coaching staff reverted back to their worst traits and received the most crushing loss of the season in an overtime loss to the Rockets.
What makes this loss so heartbreaking and infuriating? Let’s look at a few facts.
The Knicks shot 58% from the field.
Without Melo (out with an illness), the two next best scorers stepped up big time — Arron Affalo had 31 points (13/19) 7 rebounds and 4 assists while Kristaps Porzingis chipped in 20 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocks.
New York was up by 14 points with less than 10 minutes left in the game.
AND WE STILL LOST!!! A closer look at the numbers reveals why.
New York started playing defense with their hands in the fourth quarter and allowed Houston to live at the line. Overall, the Rockets got a staggering 36 trips to the charity stripe. Where some of those fouls suspect? Absolutely. But too often the Knicks put themselves in bad positions where the ref’s flaky dispositions become a factor.
Horrible turnovers. This marked the fourth and OT with Calderon, normally reliable with the ball, having five of them. Galloway and Seraphin also had costly brain farts that allowed Houston to snatch the lead.
Coach Fisher seemed to have a handle on the rotations until it counted. Kevin Serpahin had a great game off the bench (14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 blocks), but his turnovers (5) helped kill the team in crunch time. 32 minutes was probably too much and Robin Lopez’s defense would have been the better tradeoff.
A lot of fans have been complaining about the uncalled moving screen Dwight Howard put on Arron Affalo, which allowed Trevor Ariza to hit a dagger three-pointer. My issue is the Knicks should have never been in that position by allowing Houston to go on a 12-0 run to help push that game into OT.
On Wednesday, we play the Sixers, who at press time are still winless. We can’t possibly loss to them, right?
Who knew all we needed was some Latvian magic to break our streak of futility against the Rockets? Having lost the last 11 encounters dating back to 2004, the Knicks held tough and rode Kristaps Porzingis remarkable two-way performance to beat Houston 107-102.
Even without Dwight Howard’s presence, Porzingis still had to contend with an array of defenders like Terrance Jones and Trevor Ariza. But KP showed his versatility in punishing the Rockets with threes, deep jumpers and even running hook shots. Along with his 24 points, Porzingis added 14 rebounds (5 offensive) and 7 blocks, the first rookie to do so since Shaquille O’Neal in 1992.
Although Porzingis lead the way, it was a full team effort. Four of the five starters hit double figures, and Langston Galloway lead the bench with 12 points.
Games like this show another value to Porzingis’ potential that’s been overlooked. If he develops into the star we think he can be, that will add at least three more productive years to Melo’s career. Melo had a quiet night logging just 25 minutes (14 points, 50% shooting), but he didn’t need to push himself because KP handled the load. In years past, how often did we see Melo push himself through rough nights and get beat up because there was no help with the scoring load?
The scary thing is, we’re going to get nights where both Melo and KP are on fire. And when that happens, it’ll be a sight to see.
The New York Knicks cemented their willingness to retain Carmelo Anthony by offering a five-year, $129 million max contract during last night’s meeting in Los Angeles.
The Knicks offer came after Anthony met with the Lakers, the final team on his free agent list. LA reportedly offered the maximum contract available within their cap — $97 million over four years.
Although the Knicks are reportedly the favorite to resign their star player, Anthony has not given a verbal commitment and advised he would use the rest of the weekend to make a decision. The lead alternatives to New York remain the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets.
With all the rumors that have spiraled over the last week, I deliberately refrained from writing much about “Melodrama 2014.” Like most fans, I’ll be happy when this is over. I’d definitely prefer him to stay and even the max contract isn’t that big of concern. I’m more worried about what free agent star gets paired with him next year at a max contract.
As of now, I’d say it’s 75% in New York’s favor that he stays.