Knicks Falter in OT, Lose to Suns 113-111

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Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

There was so much optimism coming into this game. We had a real chance to be 3-0 on this road trip headed into a difficult game on Thursday against Golden State. So what did the Knicks do? They played lethargic for most the game, get the lead, then choked away a 6-point cushion that results in a BS overtime loss.

There will be a strong desire to point fingers at the glaring culprits (Melo’s shooting and Jennings’ defense), but this loss goes deeper than that.

WAITING TOO LONG TO CARE: The Suns destroyed us in transition, holding a 33-8 edge in fast break points. Simply put, the Knicks just weren’t getting back on defense. In the second and third quarters, the Knicks went down by as much as 14. It wasn’t until the bench combination of Baker-Holiday-O’Quinn-Thomas-KP that New York got their offense together. You can credit a flagrant 1 committed by Marquese Chriss late in the third on Porzingis for finally getting the Knicks fired up.

BAKER OVERSTAYS HIS WELCOME: With Derrick Rose leaving in the first with back spasms and Jennings (3 points, 1-6) not playing well, Coach Hornacek turned to Ron Baker early in the fourth. The moved paid off immediately as the Suns racked up fouls and went into the penalty at the 9:18 mark.

A 19-4 run powered by Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn got New York a 95-91 lead. Then Baker showed his rookie decision-making. He blew a layup, made a bad pass for a turnover, and made an ill-advised one on one move to the basket. By the time he was pulled at the 1:40 mark, the game was tied.

MELO AND JENNINGS: I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed with these two. Melo was a horrific 3/15 (13 points). We saw the worst of Melo from airballs to getting stuffed at the rim by a guard in Devin Booker. With Jennings, he was a virtual turnstile on defense, allowing Bledsoe (31 points) to get to the rim at will. This resulted in KP fouling out and Bledsoe hitting the go-ahead OT jumper that sealed it.

KP and O’QUINN COULDN’T DO IT ALONE: These two nearly won the game. Porzingis had one of his best games  — 34 points, 8 boards, 3 steals and 3 blocks. O’Quinn added 22 points and 14 boards. A key mistake from Hornacek was pulling Kyle in the fourth to get Melo back in during crunch time. That allowed Tyson Chandler (13 points, 23 rebounds) to crash the boards for second chance opportunities.

Let this be the game that’s a sobering reminder that we have a lot of work ahead. A good team has no business going life and death with the Phoenix Suns.

Black Friday Thriller: Melo’s 35 and a Rose Block Hold Off Hornets in OT 113-111

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Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images

24 hours after Thanksgiving, the Knicks tried to give their fans a heart attack with a dramatic last-play win over the Charlotte Hornets. With Kristaps Porzingis struggling most of the game, the load was on Melo to will the Knicks to victory. He did, but not without timely plays down the stretch from Rose and Porzingis on both sides of the ball.

WHOSE TEAM IS THIS???: The rumblings had started again. “Melo is freezing out Porzingis.” “Porzingis needs to be the #1 option.” Last game we even heard boos when Melo went iso. Tonight, all that nonsense was silenced with Melo shooting and passing (gasp!) his team to victory. As Porzingis found himself limited by foul trouble and 2/6 shooting (5 points), Melo picked up the slack for his protegé with 16 points in the first quarter (6/8 shooting).

After falling behind by 13 in the third, a tech on Coach Hornacek seemed to ignite the Knicks, who reeled off a 15-2 run to tie it at 72. That run was driven by a Melo three-point play and a three-pointer.

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The extremely tight game saw trading hoops in the fourth with Melo again making big plays. He found Hernangomez twice for drives to the rim. And when the game went into overtime, Melo was the dominant offensive player with two jumpers, including the game-winning fadeaway, to cement the 113-111 win.

The final stat line is monstrous — 35 points, 14 points, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block.

PORZINGIS AND ROSE MEET CHALLENGE: These two didn’t have great shooting nights, but Rose and Porzingis left their marks on this win. Rose (16 points, 5 assists) made Kemba Walker work on defense by being aggressive with rim drives in the fourth quarter and overtime. His bank shot that put the Knicks up 104-101 with 22 seconds left would have been the game-winner if not for a bonehead rookie foul from Hernangomez. And with three seconds left in OT, Rose’s block on Kemba Walker’s three prevented a heart-breaking loss going into the weekend.

Porzingis (16 points 6/16, 8 rebound, 2 blocks) had several threes in the fourth to put New York in the lead, but his strongest contribution was on defense. Two dramatic blocks at the rim on Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky in crunch time prevented Charlotte from building momentum. Although he was a -12, his aggression on defense was essential to holding off Charlotte.

QUIET PERFORMANCES: Hernangomez (6 points, 9 rebounds) got a lot of deserved grief for his dumb foul that sent the game into OT, but his overall play means all is forgiven. In 20 minutes, he was a +16 and ignited runs with his cutting to the rim.

Overall, the second unit had issues with Kuzmiskas being held scoreless (0/6) in 24 minutes, and Brandon Jennings not being able to push the pace with KP struggling. The Hornets’ bench outscored them 44-28 behind 32 combined points from Kamisky and Belinelli.

The Knicks won’t have much time to rest on their laurels as the back to back concludes tomorrow in Charlotte.


[Video] No Melo, No Closer: Knicks Blow 14-Point 4th Quarter Lead in OT Loss to Rockets

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Seth Wenig/AP

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.

  1. The Knicks shot 58% from the field.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

Right?!

Ferdette Goes for Career-High as Knicks Fall in OT to Kings

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Jimmer Ferdette? JIMMER FERDETTE?! Have you no pride, Knicks? No sense of honor in what you do? Yes, the Knicks limp into the All-Star break with another defeat, but this might be the most damning of the season, as Jimmer Ferdette of all people came off the bench to drop 24 points (6/8 from three) to lead the Western Conference-worst Sacramento Kings over the Knicks. After last night, there are some people I never want to see on a Knicks sideline again…

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FELTON: Who else did you think I’d start with? Only our star-crossed point guard could turn a game where he dished 12 assists into a nightmare. He had a bad shooting night (3/11), including an open three-pointer with 36 seconds left that could have extended the Knicks lead to 96-91. Rudy Gay followed Felton’s miss with a left elbow jumper to tie and take the game into overtime.

From there our offense went straight to the trash. In addition, Felton committed a crucial turnover that lead to a King fast break dunk and a 98-93 deficit. Later, he’d go 1-2 at the free throw line to make the deficit 102-98, allowing the Kings to have an easier time nursing their lead with just 49 seconds left.

So, let’s sum it up. The point guard position is our biggest hole on the offensive and defensive ends. Felton takes too long to get offensive plays going (if you want to call them that), can’t consistently penetrate, and can’t keep athletic guards in front of him. Oh, don’t let me forget that he’s a streaky shooter (including 67% at the free throw line) and injury prone.

The season is beyond salvageable, but if the Knicks want to at least have a respectable finish, this man has got to go.

WOODY’S ONE-MAN COMEDY SHOW: Is there anyone in the league that can’t outcoach Mike Woodson? For months, you’ve heard commentators defend him, stating that the “pieces don’t fit” and it isn’t his fault. YES IT IS. To keep doing the same thing over and over is the definition of insanity. Felton is a net negative, yet he continues to get heavy minutes. Small ball has been our best weapon this season, yet we go big in crunch time last night and wonder why the defense collapses. ISO MELO has been shown to not effectively work all season, yet that’s what happened with the game on the line in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter.

One of our main candidates to replace Woodson, Jeff Van Gundy, has already made it clear he doesn’t want to take the reins mid-season. I can definitely understand that, but I’d rather see Herb Williams patrolling the bench than endure two months more of coaching blunders from Woody.

THJ HAS MUCH WORK AHEAD OF HIM: Tim Hardway Jr. plays with a lot of confidence and fire. He’s one of the few guys who you can never doubt is bringing 100% effort every night. With that said, his defense can be downright horrific. He was -28 for the game and every time he can in, starting with the Knicks holding a 33-22 lead after the first quarter, the leads evaporated.

Normally, the bad defense can be offset by his hot three-point aim, but this time Hardaway was ice-cold, shooting 3/12 (1/6  from downtown). The fact that Fredette scored 15 points in the seconds quarter alone says it all.

MELO’S DESCENT: As has been pointed out for the last 2 weeks, Melo shooting percentage has been dropping alarmingly every quarter. For the season, he starts out shooting 51% and goes under 40% by the fourth. It’s no surprise to anyone who’s watched the Knicks this year, as he has to work so hard just to keep the team afloat.

Last night, Melo played 48 minutes, including all of the second half. There’s very few players that can remain productive logging that much time on the floor. From the fourth quarter on, he went 1-7, including a blown layup and missing an open three in overtime (0/5 in OT).

It doesn’t matter if you personally don’t like Melo’s game. Hell, I wasn’t a big fan of our beloved Ewing’s game. But it says a lot that Melo is one of the best players in the league and we can’t utilize him better than what we’ve seen, and get a competent team around him to highlight his strengths.

INJURIES: You already know you can’t have a Knicks game without someone getting crippled. Iman Shumpert left the game early with a bruised left hip flexor. There’s no timetable on his return, but he’ll likely be ready to go after the All-Star break. JR stayed out, still nursing the face injury he received courtesy of an errant Kevin Durant knee last Sunday.

BRIGHT SPOTS: Tyson Chandler did a decent job on DeMarcus Cousing and also managed to drop 17 points and grab 11 rebounds. However, his defense on driving guards in the fourth and overtime was lacking. Stoudemire had a good offensive game (20 points on 10/15 shooting)… you already know about his defense.

The Knicks front office has A LOT of work to do over the next week. Word is they’re back to exploring the Kyle Lowry and Shumpert/Kenneth Faried trade ideas. Anything would be better than what we’ve been seeing on the court.

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[Video] Knicks Hold Off Suns in OT, Extend Winning Streak to Five Games

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The Knicks blew an early 14-point first half lead, but showed the poise and grit that was missing from the first two months of the season to battle back and defeat the Phoenix Suns in overtime, 98-96. It wasn’t pretty and the defensive switching made this one harder than it needed to be, but the squad got the job done despite Melo working on fumes and refs making suspect calls in key moments.

FAST START AND SLACKING: Melo came out strong with 13 points in the opening 12 minutes to give New York a 28-21 lead. They went up by as much as 14 in the second quarter, but bad defense allowed the Suns to pull within four at one point. The Knicks had to settle for a nine-point halftime lead, 52-43, after Goran Dragic hit a three at the buzzer.

WHEN THE PROBLEMS STARTED: The Knicks took a 75-68 lead into the fourth, but Coach Woodson went with the lineup of Toure Murry, Tim Hardaway Jr., JR Smith, K-Mart and Amar’e Stoudemire. Murry uncharacteristically took back to back bad shots and Stat was continually expoited by Leandro Barbosa’s (21 points off the bench) drives to the rim. The lead was erased and Melo was forced to come back at the 9:03 mark, giving him little rest after already working hard to nab over 10 rebounds.

TIC FOR TAC: Even with Melo back in, the ball movement struggled and the teams traded baskets before NY turnovers and horrible help defense allowed for a Dragic open layup and a 88-83 deficit. The Knicks looked dead in the water, but Woody made a key substitution of Andrea Bargnani, who played solid interior man to man defense once paired with Martin. Unfortunately, Melo’s legs were gone on his jumper and he couldn’t deliver a dagger to knock out the Suns, including a missed wide-open mid-range shot. Nonetheless, he made one of the game’s most important plays in driving and kicking out to an open Felton who swished a three-pointer to put the Knicks up 92-90.

FINAL CHANCES: Now with the lead, Melo had to take a shot that would leave roughly 10 seconds on the clock. He was clearly fouled on the arm going up for a jumper, but the refs either missed it or decided to swallow their whistles (Melo had been jawing with the refs earlier, including a brief face to face that almost earned him a technical). Melo was furious and had to be calmed by Woody in the huddle.

Barbosa went for a drive and appeared to have been tied up successfully by Martin for a jump ball. However, the refs deemed this one a foul, and Barbosa hit two foul shots to send the game into overtime after JR missed good inbounds fadeaway (ironically, the same shot that beat the Suns in regulation last season).

MELO GRINDS IT OUT: Melo scored four of the team’s six overtime points to put this one away. One was a nice alley-oop from K-Mart, and the other a tough fadeaway in the post over Gerald Green, who had been giving Melo a tough time all night. The Suns couldn’t convert on open threes. K-Mart got two crucial stops on Dragic at the rim despite being switched off and having to cover him from the perimeter both times.

Although Melo didn’t shoot the ball well in the second half (9/24 overall), he found other ways to lift his team with his rebounding (16) and assists (4). K-Mart was huge on the defensive end in addition to several monster putbacks, contributing 8 points and 9 rebounds. And despite being torched at times by Dragic (28 points), Felton had his own moments with 19 points.

BACK IN THE PLAYOFFS…FOR NOW: This win put the Knicks ahead of the Brooklyn Nets for the final playoff spot in the East. If the Knicks hope to keep it that way, it’ll be important for Tyson Chandler to make his return tonight against the Bobcats since most of the starters will be dead tired.

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[Video] A Touch Foul Away: Pacers Wear Down Knicks in OT

I thought we had the game won. And in overtime, I don’t know, they just walked away with it. – CARMELO ANTHONY

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I wouldn’t be surprised if Iman Shumpert hasn’t gotten any sleep yet. Ahead 89-86 with just 9 seconds left in the game, the Knicks needed one stop to snap a three-game losing streak, and more importantly show themselves that they have the ability to hang with the league’s best teams. Instead what happened was Shumpert committing an absent-mined, slight touch on Paul George’s elbow as he shot a three, allowing him to sink three free throws to push the game into overtime and hand the Knicks a heart-breaking sixth straight home defeat.

As usual, there were positives, but they’re hardly consoling in light of the end result. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at what the Knicks can take out of this game.

UDRIH MAKES HIS CASE: With Raymond Felton again out, Beno Udrih got the starting call and delivered a season-high 18 points, snatched 8 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists. He spaced out the floor with his three-point shooting (3-4 from behind the arc), and hit several circus shots (one late in the 4th to give NY a 87-85 lead) on broken plays. Hopefully his performance prompts Coach Woodson to keep him in the rotation when Felton returns.

JR SMITH COMING AROUND: Outside a late 4th quarter three-point attempt too early in the shot clock, JR had a strong game. He contributed 21 of New York’s 26 bench points and added 5 rebounds. 10 three-point attempts is excessive, but that’s JR and he hit several key ones to keep us in the game.

KNICKS HOLD THEIR OWN WITHOUT MELO AND BARGNANI: The Knicks have had numerous third quarter collapses this season. When Melo and Bargnani had to sit with fouls, there was danger of it happening again. JR Smith picked up the scoring slack and Metta World Peace added good defense to keep Indiana at shooting 32% and take a 64-58 lead into the fourth.

REBOUNDING EDGE: The Knicks should use this game as a blueprint of what they can accomplish on the boards with effort and intensity. Despite the big and bruising Pacer front line, the Knicks held a 52-49 rebounding edge behind 18 rebounds from Carmelo Anthony. Everyone in starting lineup made a concerted effort there including Bargnani, who snatched down 9.

THE DEFLATING MOMENT: Shumpert’s touch foul on George’s three-pointer was absolutely crushing for the team’s psyche. All their energy and confidence disappeared and the Pacers pounced behind George’s hot mid-range shooting and outscored the Knicks 14-7 in the extra period.

Shumpert has already struggled with confidence due to the trade rumors and this will do him no favors. Woodson even chipped in some pointed criticism, calling Shumpert’s foul “lazy.”

MELO LEAVES IT ALL ON THE FLOOR: Melo didn’t have a good shooting night (10-28), but he played his heart out in every aspect of the game. He fought hard for rebounds (9 of his 18 were offensive boards) and even got a key block on George in the closing minute of regulation. It’s hard to even complain about the repeated isolation plays in overtime because he appeared to be the only New York player still fighting for the win.

The Knicks will get three days of rest and return Saturday (November 23) to face the Wizards in DC.