[Video] Inspired Knicks Can’t Close Show Against Clippers

Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

Last game, the Knicks were rightly trashed for a despicable effort against the Lakers. Tonight, the effort was there, but a few miscues in the final four minutes allowed the Clippers sans Chris Paul to pull out an 119-115 at Madison Square Garden.

Yes, outside of Charles Oakley’s arrest there was an exciting game that took place.

16665122_378587262508430_8899374567017256668_o

BIG THREE LOCKED IN: This was one of the rare times that Melo, Rose and KP all played well. All three scored 20 or more and shot at least 50%. Melo lead the way with 28 points and 9 boards. At times, he was engaged in an intense duel with Blake Griffin, who had a first quarter rampage with 18 points and finished with 32. Melo kept his heat-check shots to a minimum and played well in the flow of the offense.

What I liked most about his game is he got to the rim and in most cases finished, got fouled or kicked out. The 1 assist doesn’t reflect it, but he had a few hockey assists and it kept everyone involved.

16700502_378588222508334_5090038626186354934_o

We got our best game since D-Rose’s return with 20 points, 7 boards and 8 assists on 63% shooting. The most surprising thing about it was he did a lot of his damage on mid-range jumpers from all over the court. That was pivotal in keeping the floor spaced as the defense couldn’t pack the paint for his drives. And for the first time in what feels like ages, you saw Rose actively looking to pass to KP and others.

16601664_378587182508438_588230347846829800_o

Looking to keep Porzingis involved did wonders for the kid’s confidence. He didn’t feel the need to defer to the vets and attacked the Clippers defense from the perimeter and inside with cuts to the rim. The three-pointer was there (4/7) and he finished with 27 points, 6 boards and 2 steals. The two glaring issues were the unwise personal fouls (5) and being unable to keep Deandre Jordan off the boards.

KP didn’t foul out, so in a twisted way that can be seen as progress. But if we had him for the stretches he had to sit, the game might have turned out differently. As for getting muscled in the paint by Jordan, that is something that only time can correct. However, it’s a good indicator that we are still a few years away before KP can consistently battle at the center position.

DEFENSE AND BENCH: So as good as the Big Three played, how did we lose? First, the defense simply couldn’t sustain their energy and focus. After outscoring the Clippers 95-88 over the first three quarters, the Clippers stormed back to outscore the Knicks 31-20 over the final 12 minutes. Former Knick Jamal Crawford burned us for 20 points (nine in the fourth) off the bench and even Deandre Jordan hit four straight free throws.

The other area that killed us was a lack of bench scoring. In recent games, we could count on a great showing from some combination of Jennings, O’Quinn, Holiday or Hernangomez. But last night they were overwhelmed and outscored 36-18. The highest Knicks bench contributors were Hernangomez and Holiday, who scored 5 points apiece on a combined 2/9 shooting.

The Knicks are home again on Friday to face the Nuggets.

 

[Video] Calderon Buzzer Beater Steals Show in Final Kobe-Melo Duel

Calderon_Kobe_game_winner

The Knicks blew a 16-point second half lead but relied on late heroics from Carmelo Anthoy and Jose Calderon to pull out a 90-87 win at Staples Center.

The game came down to a broken play with the scored knotted at 87. After nearly two violations (inbounds and backcourt) and Melo not getting free, Calderon was left to make something happen.

He did by getting free behind the arc for his only three-pointer of the night.

The Knicks looked like they were going to pack it in when the Lakers went up by five with less than four minutes remaining. But Melo lifted them with seven straight points (12 in fourth) to get the Knicks back in it. Kobe Bryant, who was nursing a sore right shoulder, made three key jumpers in the final minutes to set up the thrilling finish.

The Knicks will need all the confidence they can from this game as next up are the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

*************

[Video] Knicks Losing Streak Extends to Nine with Defeat to Clippers

CarmeloAnthony_DeAndreJordan

Tonight wasn’t so bad, but I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring. – CARMELO ANTHONY

Melo’s above quote was about his sore left knee, but easily could have been attributed to the team’s performance in last night’s 99-78 defeat to the Clippers. Melo had 19 points (7/18 shooting) and was the only Knick to hit double figures. No one shot well, as evidenced by the team shooting 38% overall and 23% from downtown. The Clippers had six players hit double figures. DeAndre Jordan ran amuck in the paint to the tune of 14 points and 12 rebounds.

New York’s inept perimeter defense provided a feast for JJ Redick, who scored 20 points. The game essentially went out of reach in the third when the Clippers turned a 10-point lead into 23 courtesy of a 13-0 run.

Andrea Bargnani made his return and scored 9 points (4/11) in 19 minutes of play. JR Smith also returned and had 7 points (3/10) in 17 minutes off the bench.

*********************

[Video] INDEFENSIBLE: Knicks Disgrace Themselves in LA, Crushed by Lakers 127-96

 SmugMelo

I hope it was the greatest alcohol and sex-filled party of all time on Monday night. That would be the only thing that could explain the embarrassing display of what the Knicks called “basketball” last night at the Staples Center, where they further sunk their playoff hopes with one of the worst defensive displays in recent memory against the Lakers. If you are a Knicks fan, the game was disgusting on many levels — the (lack of) defense, giving up early in the second half etc. etc. If you stayed up to watch this madness, I’m sure you’re still infuriated this morning.

 

51 POINTS IN 12 MINUTES: The Lakers set a franchise high by scoring 51 points in the third quarter. That mark of defensive futility is also a Knicks record for points given up. The Lakers had six three-pointers and stretched what had been a 8-point halftime lead to 30 by the start of the fourth quarter.

BENCH MASSACRE: The Lakers didn’t miss Pau Gasol or Steve Nash since the bench trio of Nick Young (20 points), Xavier Henry (22 points) and Kent Bazemore (18 points) destroyed the Knicks. Those three were a combined 10/14 from three-point land. From the starters, Jodie Meeks did the most damage, going 4/7 from downtown. In comparison, Tim Hardaway was the only competent Knicks player off the bench (from an offensive standpoint, anyway), scoring 17 points (5/7 FG).

The Lakers bench outscored their Knicks counterparts by 82-21.

HOPE UNCLE PHIL WAS TAKING NOTES: Our new president Phil Jackson was in attendance, and you just know his brain was spinning at how badly this team needs to be deconstructed. It’s been put out there this morning that Melo and Jackson had a sitdown meeting last night. I hope they both came to an agreement that damn near the whole team has to go by next season.

STILL ALIVE: Mathematically, the Knicks are still in the playoff hunt simply due to how the Hawks have been sliding recently. But honestly, does this game give you any enthusiasm about their playoff hopes, or their ability to be competitive should they make it? For them to come out this flat with what’s at stake and after the Cavs debacle shows this team’s mental focus.

The Knicks have little time to dwell on their embarrassment, as they visit Sleep Train Arena to face the Kings at 10 p.m. on Wednesday night.

Knicks Sign Kenyon Martin to 10-Day Contract

Kenyon_Martin

The Knicks’ long-standing interest in Kenyon Martin has come to the fruition today with the two sides agreeing to a 10-day contract.

The Knicks appeared close to signing Martin during the off-season but were reluctant to offer a long-term deal, instead choosing to invest multi-year agreements with veterans Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby. With Camby and fellow big man Rasheed Wallace out indefinitely with injuries, the Knicks are hopeful Martin will have an immediate impact on the team’s problem areas of rebounding and defense.

Martin finds himself reunited with several teammates — Carmelo Anthony and JR Smith, with whom he made it to the 2009 Western Conference Finals with as a member of the Denver Nuggets, and the Jason Kidd, two vital parts in the back to back NBA Finals Nets teams of 2003 and 2004.

The 35-year-old Martin played 42 games for the Los Angeles Clippers last season, averaging 5 points and 4 rebounds in 22 minutes of play.

Martin will not be suiting up this Friday when the Knicks head to Toronto to face the Raptors.

******************************************

Solid move. No, it’s nothing spectacular, but Martin’s addition should provide welcome relief when it comes to rebounding and interior defending. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s quite familiar with three of our core players in Melo, JR and Kidd. And hopefully some of his goon mentality can toughen up the overall team mentality.

With that said, Knicks fans need to tempter expectations. I’ve noticed over the last year fans have become enamored with annoiting “saviors.” Last year it was Baron Davis and Jeremy Lin. This year it was Shump’s return, then Felton’s. There is no one player that will save this squad — team ball had us riding high atop the East, and it’ll be a team effort to get us back there.

The main concerns with this signing will be what type of shape Martin kept himself in and praying to the basketball gods that he can remain healthy. I can’t wait to see how he does over these next 10 days. Woodson better not be stingy with the playing time. Case in point, see the below impact Martin can have on a game on offense and defense.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkToMdLtIrA&feature=youtube_gdata_player]

[Video] A Bench Massarce: Clippers’ Second Unit Runs the Knicks Out of MSG

NBA:  Los Angeles Clippers at New York Knicks

It was not a pleasant Sunday for the Knicks yesterday as a fourth quarter hammering (outscored 31-18) at the hands of the talented Los Angeles Clippers resulted in a bad 102-88 loss at home. The Knicks were never completely in sync throughout the game but had a slim lead to start the fourth before everything simply collapsed. Want to know what went wrong? Let’s start with what else but the perimeter defense…

 

CP3 FEASTS ON SHUMPERT: We’ve been begging for Shumpert to get moved off guarding small fowards to the guards that have been killing us in recent games. Well, Shumpert had no easier time stopping Paul, who drained several three-pointers off picks and got by Shumpert at will in the first quarter. Coach Woodson said Shumpert’s timing and lateral movement are still slowly coming back since his ACL tear, so we just had to live with CP3 going off, unfortunately.

 

USELESS DOUBLE-TEAMS AND SWITCHING: We’ve seen it every game. Our Knicks players end up switching defenders way too easily and we end up with a gross mismatch in someone like Tyson Chandler trying to guard Paul (that happened a few times yesterday). Or we double-team players that aren’t that big of a threat leading to open threes when we can’t rotate back soon enough. The most blatant example yesterday of a useless double was on players like Lamar Odom, who haven’t warranted that type of attention since 2010.

Still, a lot of this stems from the fact our guards can’t stay in front of their man.

 

CRAWFORD ON FIRE, SMITH ICE-COLD: The battle of best bench players in the NBA was definitively won by Crawford, who dropped 27 points on an array of long treys and circus shots in the paint. JR Smith was a woeful 1-9. And it wasn’t like it was the Clippers defense that kept JR in check — he bricked plenty wide open shots. We’ve come to expect these type of games from JR, but it’s a death sentence when he plays this bad and we also don’t get big contributions from Amar’e.

 

STAT STRUGGLES: Amar’e Stoudemire had his worst game since early January with 9 points and 6 rebounds. The Knicks had problems getting the ball to him in the second half. And defensively Stat missed a few assignments.

 

NOVAK EXPLOITED: Novak had another scoreless game and his defensive liabilities swung the momentum in the Clippers favor early in the fourth. The Knicks had a 73-71 lead and the Clippers went straight at Novak to kick off a 7-0 run. At times like this, it would have been better to go with Ronnie Brewer. It would have done nothing for the offense, but at least our defense would have vastly improved.

 

MELO’S 42 AND FELTON’S 20 WASTED: Melo and Felton were the only two that had energy and really seemed to want this game. Melo had an amazing first three quarters where he dropped 38 points. That worried me because he was carrying nearly all the offense (including an 18 point 3rd). We saw in the last game against Brooklyn he had nothing left in the fourth. While Grant Hill did a good job guarding him in the last quarter, I feel the real reason he only had 4 points was due to fatigue.

Felton suffered whiplash but toughed it out and did his best to try and contain Paul, who dropped back to back buckets (one of them a three-point play), to seal the game in the fourth 96-86 with just a few minutes remaining.

 

HORRID REBOUNDING:  The Knicks gave up way too many offensive boards but this isn’t on Chandler, who have 11 rebounds and several tip-outs. Melo even contributed 8 rebounds. With Camby and Wallace out, other players have to crash the boards. In recent games, we’ve seen Shumpert and SMith do this. Yesterday, they only had 4 rebounds combined. The Clippers nabbed 13 offensive rebounds and won the board battle 43-35.

 

BENCH SLAUGHTER: How badly did the Clippers bench outplay the Knicks’s second unit? How about a scoring edge of 48-15. Only one Clippers bench player, Ryan Hollins, failed to score. Our bench had no scoring outside of Stat and JR, who combined for 15 points.

JR Smith went on Twitter yesterday and called Wednesday’s home game against the Raptors a must-win. Let’s pray the whole team brings that mentality to the Garden.

[youtube http://youtu.be/V_sDjUWHDp8]

[Video] Bah Humbug! Knicks Out of Sync in the 4th, Lakers Prevail 100-94

 

Knicks_Kobe

To hell with Christmas! Well, maybe I shouldn’t go that far, but watching the Knicks slowly become unglued in the fourth quarter yesterday afternoon to drop a very winnable game to the Los Angeles left a sour taste in my mouth. It was a game of runs and standout performances, most notably Metta World Peace’s 16 point second quarter and Carmelo Anthony’s 17 point third, but in the end the Lakers got the stops they needed and punctuated the game with a Pau Gasol waltz through the lane for a dunk with just six seconds left on the shot clock.

It’s not the end of the world, but yesterday’s game was one that could’ve made a statement instead of highlighting our squad’s glaring flaws.

 

WEAK OFFENSE: Outside of Melo’s 34 points and JR Smith chipping in 25, everyone scored in single digits and shot horribly. Raymond Felton was the worst culprit in missing several floaters in the game and having one horrible sequence where multiple layups were missed under the rim. He shot 5-19 and the one positive of his performance was the 0 turnovers. But as the point guard, the flow of the offense falls on him and it was terrible in the decisive fourth.

 

HOWARD BESTS TYSON: All of last year, Tyson Chandler pretty much neutralized Dwight Howard one on one. Yesterday, it was Dwight who got the better of our center, especially on the defensive end. Howard repeatedly deflected our money Felton-Chandler lobs and altered nearly every shot at the rim. Chandler fumbled multiple passes and finished with a stat line of 6 points and nine rebounds before fouling out.

 

NOT FINISHING: Our free throw shooting was infuriating, going 9-16 for an unacceptable 56%. Aside from that, we couldn’t finish at the rim for nothing. Yes, Dwight Howard was down low, but much of it was our players failing to go up strong.

 

CAMBY MESSED UP, BUT GIVE HIM TIME: Marcus Camby returned for the first time in a month and nabbed 4 rebounds in 8 minutes. We lost the rebounding battle by just two (40-42) and that’s promising. Camby did mess up badly with one bad turnover and a missed defensive switch assignment that allowed Gasol to finish off the game with a dunk. However, if we are to compete strongly for the rest of the year, his backup minutes behind Chandler for defense and rebounding will be essential.

 

ARE WE REALLY PANICKING AT 20-8?: Everyone take a deep breath. Yes, this squad isn’t playing their best basketball. No, the defense isn’t as strong as it was at the beginning of the season. Time for everyone to be realistic — these guys are not robots and will have off/down periods. Considering Melo and Felton are banged up, Wallace is out, Iman and Amar’e are still waiting in the wings and we’re barely out of first place with a record of 20-8, are we ready to really start signaling the end of the world? Even with this uneven stretch of basketball, we are 3-3 over our last six and 6-4 over our last 10 and just a half game out of first place. Don’t listen to the talking heads. Outside of season-ending injury to our core, we’ll get it together. In the words of our fearless leader Carmelo Anthony:

We missed a lot of easy shots, a lot of little chippers around the basket, shots that we normally make,” Anthony said. “There were some plays that we thought should have went our way down the stretch, but for the most part, we fought. I’ll take this effort any night. If we continue to play with this effort, we’ll win a lot of games.

Getting it together starts tonight when we face the Phoenix Suns. No reason not to get that one.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9qmfKkYxWM]

Welcome Back, D’Antoni — Knicks Start Hot and Defeat Lakers 116-107

Melo_lakers

The Madison Square Garden dominance continues! There were many storylines headed into last night’s clash between the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. Would NY be fired up to face their old coach Mike D’Antoni? Would Kobe Bryant have a classic game to turn his squad around? Would Carmelo Anthony added further credence to his MVP campaign? But in the end, the biggest story is that a better constructed team beat up on a vulnerable, lost squad. With that said, there were several moments that I’m sure had every other Knicks fan on edge despite the final score.

Melo Drops 22 in the 1st Quarter: After Melo hit his third consecutive three-pointer to start the game (two in transition), you just knew it was one of those nights for our star player. He was on a mission to show before a national audience and also to his former coach what a talent he is. Melo got to the rim at will, simply blowing by Metta World Peace for dunks and layups. After getting a fouled for a three-point play off a drive, the “MVP!” chants rained down as the score had ballooned to 41-27, a record quarter this season for the league. Melo’s hot start had the rest of the team fired up as well with Raymond Felton getting easy penetration and Tyson Chandler drawing two fouls on Dwight Howard. Melo would finish the game with 30 points.

Hot Shooting Even with Bad Stretches: At one point in the second, the Knicks were shooting an astounding 74% from the field. Melo got to sit most of the quarter and the scoring slack was picked up by JR Smith and Steve Novak to push the lead to 26 points at one point courtesy of a 27-9 run (58-32). That was the peak though for NY, as our team got sloppy with the isolation plays and allowed LA to creep back to as close to 15  before having to settle for a 68-49 deficit at halftime.

The Knicks had to do without Melo for most of the second half when he sprained his ankle following a hard foul from Dwight Howard (punk). The Lakers hovered around 20 points for most of the quarter but some timely shots by Kobe and World Peace had them just down 93-80 going into the fourth. The offense wasn’t pretty at times in the decisive quarter, but the shooting remained solid and allowed the Knicks to push back the Lakers when they cut it six. For the game, NY shot 53% from the field and 48% (12-25) from downtown.

Chandler’s Help Goes Beyond the Stats: Tyson had 18 points, but when you look at the rebounds (just 4), you’d think he had a completely awful night on the boards. That’s not to say he couldn’t have been much better, but he did seal the game with two offensive tip backs into the backcourt that allowed NY to hold possession in the final minute and effectively ice the game. That made up for the underwhelming time he had at the free throw line, just shooting 8-14 (57%).

The Supporting Cast: Novak had to play heavy minutes (26) with Melo’s injury and made good use of it with 12 points (all from downtown). Although he got exploited on offense by the likes of Devin Ebanks, that was offset by a solid shooting night from JR, who dropped 18 points on 7-14 shooting, including a key late three-pointer. Felton was much more streaky (an ugly 9-26 from the field), but made some key jumper throughout the game. He just needs to work on those floaters. Also check youtube later for a nice crossover he put on Dwight Howard.

The Knicks are now 9-0 at home for the season and still sit atop the Eastern Conference standings at 17-5. It was nice seeing Spike Lee teasingly stare down Charles Barkley for his Knick criticisms. Steve Kerr brought some balance to Barkley’s declarations the Knicks can’t go deep in the playoffs, pointing out how Dallas and Miami won titles without dominant rebounding or low-post scoring. Melo might be sitting tomorrow night when we continue our home stand against the Cavs. That could be a tough game if Melo is out and our offense is cold.