The less said about this game the better. The Knicks took the lazy Sunday afternoon motif to heart and came out yesterday sans defense and any offense fluidity, giving up an inexcusable 40 points in the first 12 minutes and going down by as many as 23 points in the first half. The Wolves lead a balanced inside-outside attack helmed by Ricky Rubio’s ball movement (10 assists), Kevin Martin’s shooting (30 points, 5-5 from downtown), and the formidable frontcourt of Kevin Love (34 points, 15 rebounds) and Nikola Pekovic (11 points, 12 rebounds).
Meanwhile, the Knicks struggled mightily on both ends of the court. The shooting was wretched (Melo 8-21 for 22 points, Hardaway Jr. 3-12, 6 points). and the Wolves were able to repeatedly beat the Knicks down the floor for transition layups off long passes. Iman Shumpert was mentally out of sorts due to picking up early fouls and had way too many lapses with his help and perimeter defense.
The Knicks made a go of it in the second half and got as close as two points with 4:49 remaining. Then the offense sputtered to only one field goal over the remainder of the game and the Wolves executed on their end to keep a comeback out of reach.
The Knicks get the chance to redeem themselves tomorrow before their fans when they face the Bobcats.
This was way harder then it needed to be. With a little less than seven minutes in the game, the Knicks were down 11 points (76-87) to the lowly Timberwolves. Their guards, whether it was Luke Ridnour or Ricky Rubio, were looking like superstars blowing by Knick defenders. The prospect of back to back losses to sub. 500 teams had most Knick fans on Twitter going irate. Thankfully, the Knickstape woke up and did what they should have done all game in executing defensive stops.
MELO CARRIES THE LOAD: With the team dead in the water on offense and defense, Carmelo Anthony had to work through his shooting struggles to create something. Although he would take 26 shots, Melo found fire in the 4th to the tune of 12 points, including a game-sealing 20 foot jumper in the final minute. Melo was also strong on the boards with nine rebounds.
MORE STAT PLEASE: Amar’e Stoudemire went 5-7 from the field for 11 points. The Wolves tried to play him physical and got a few turnovers, but we would’ve have been wise to go into the post more, especially that atrocious third quarter that saw us get outscored 18-31. However, we have to remember that Coach Woodson is big on defense and the lapses made by Stat at times did him no favors. Not to mention, Stat got a stupid technical for ref complaining at the beginning of the fourth. Stat had another nice block (he’s been getting at least one per game), but Woody and the rest of the coaching staff have to realize playing Stat and Novak together creates too many defensive liabilities when our guards keep getting beat.
WHERE ART THOU PERIMETER DEFENSE?: This is the biggest problem with our defense and frankly I don’t know for sure what’s the solution. We had better defense with Ronnie Brewer starting, but suffered on offense and constantly had to fight out of deficits after the first quarter. With Kidd starting, we get better offense (sometimes), but can’t keep the other guards out the paint. Felton has been back for 8 games and Iman Shumpert 11, so in theory we should still be giving them some slack about getting back into the swing of things (especially Shumpert coming off ACL surgery). But with February being very favorable schedule-wise, we cannot afford to be dropping games to trash teams. Leave that nonsense to the Nets (ha!).
One lineup we haven’t seen recently is Felton and Shumpert in the backcourt, Brewer at the 3, Melo at power forward and Chandler at the 5. But even this is problematic as Shumpert and Brewer struggle to finish at the rim and Shump’s 3 in not a consistent threat at this point. *Sigh* When are Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace coming back again?