Knicks Implode in Second Half, Fall to Heat 99-93

Melo_James

I needed 24 hours to cool down before writing about this game. For one quarter, the Knicks looked like the formidable team we saw in November and December — sweet passing, hot three-point shooting and our bigs rolling to the basket for easy slams. As expected, the Miami Heat made a second half run that was exacerbated by bad defensive rotations and head-scratching lineups down the stretch. No, yesterday’s game isn’t a sole reason to become irate as a Knicks fan, but it sure as hell was one to make you highly annoyed.

JASON KIDD RESURRECTED: Without question, the Knicks highlight of the game was Kidd retrieving his jumper from El Segundo. The man was on fire in the first half in nailing fourth straight treys.  In addition, he nabbed eight rebounds, caused several deflections and got three steals. The Heat defense phased him out in the second half, but hopefully this performance will do wonders for his confidence.

REALLY ONE GOOD QUARTER: A lot has been going around over the last 24 hours about the Knicks playing really well over the first half, but it was really just the second quarter, where NY outscored Miami 37-22. In the first, no one could score outside of Melo, who had 17 of NY’s 22 points.

THE WALKING USELESS: James White got the starting assignment again and might as well have been wearing a Heat uniform. In less than five minutes, he had three fouls, one of which being a three-point play given up to Mario Chalmers on the Heat’s first possession.

Steve Novak had three open looks from downtown that he bricked. His biggest detriment was on defense, where he gave up a defensive rebound by being out-hustled by Ray Allen which lead to the LeBron James trey that tied the game.

Why these two got burn while Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby languished on the bench was mind-blowing.

JR GUNNING: Jr Smith went 5-18 from the field and took 14 treys! Where was the leash for this man? Another Woodson blunder had JR still in chucking while benching Stoudemire, who had been giving Miami fits down low. JR was handling the ball way too much with his more blatant mistakes being two telegraphed cross-court passes that LeBron picked off (the last being the game-killer in the last 30 seconds).

MELO HURT AND SHUT DOWN: Melo had 24 points at halftime but injured his arm on a three-pointer in the second. He only went 3-11 in the second half which was combination of James, the Heat help defense, and Stat not being on the floor. When they did play together, Melo’s pick and roll with Stat lead to two easy dunks.

GET IT TOGETHER, WOODY: Coach Woodson is quick to give guys the Ice Cube early 90’s screwface when they mess up. He needs to give himself that face in the mirror. The Heat experimented with many lineups, but in crunch time their Big Three is on the floor, and that’s why they closed the fourth strong (outscoring the Knicks 26-16). On our end, Stat rotted on the bench while JR was cold and the Heat defense zeroed in on Melo.

And again, not playing K-Mart or Camby while guys like Novak weren’t scoring and getting the red-headed stepchild treatment is inexcusable.

CRYING AND GIVING UP POINTS: Sure, LeBron James did his share of complaining (and even gets caught on camera calling a ref a “bitch ass nigga..”). But guess what — King James doesn’t do it when the game is still in play. Raymond Felton did it at the end of the third and didn’t get back on defense, leading to an open three-pointer from Shane Battier that brought the Heat within four, 77-73. In the fourth, James got away with a foul on Chandler, who sat on his ass and literally threw a fit while James sprinted back, got an offensive rebound, and put in a layup to get the Heat up 91-87. Those two sequences where huge momentum swings and five important points the Knicks literally gave away.

The Knicks get to redeem themselves tonight in Cleveland against the Cavaliers. This is by no means a guaranteed win, as the Knicks have had a lot of problems winning up there in recent years going back to the LeBron era.

[Video] Steve Novak’s Funny Message to Nate “Little Nathan” Robinson

Novak

It was another bad loss last night to the Bulls, but Steve Novak gave Knicks fans something to smile about. As most know, Nate Robinson likes to run his mouth and in recent years seems to get off in beating his original NY team. After hitting a three-pointer last night, he mocked Novak’s Discount Double Check belt celebration. When asked about it after the game, Novak gave the below classic response. JR Smith is really rubbing off on our three-point specialist. I love it!

Knicks Unravel In Physical Game, Fall to Celtics 102-96

Melo_KG

I HATE LOSING TO BOSTON! It was a story of composure and physicality last night at the Garden with the Celtics, being the veterans they are, rattling the Knicks with hard defense to execute down the stretch for their third straight victory. Our leader Carmelo Anthony mentally checked out and got into a personal battle with Kevin Garnett, leading to several ill-advised late contested shots and trying to win the game by himself. It’s a learning experience for sure, but this game also shines light on our recurring problem dealing with physical teams.

 

MELO VS. KG: Garnett does what he’s done for most of his career — throw sneaky elbows and other fouls to get under his opponent’s skin. Melo was already having a horrid shooting game, but I firmly believe the stuff with KG got him even more out of sorts in the pivotal 4th quarter with the game on the line. After the double-tech was called on both, Melo hit a clutch three and then proceeded to stink it up the rest of the way. He got caught repeatedly on switches where he fouled KG in frustration 10-15 feet from the basket.

As we saw in the games against Chicago and Memphis, Melo doesn’t channel his anger with physical play well. He makes stupid fouls (his second in the first quarter far away from the basket caused him to sit most of the half) and puts his team at a disadvantage. I don’t give Melo any points for trying to confront KG after the game. That does nothing for the team or himself. If he wants to truly get KG and the Celtics back, and I’m sure Coach Woodson told him this at some point last night, you stay poised and kick their ass on the court with ball movement, defense and playing NY basketball.

 

 

NY FOLDS UNDER DEFENSE: The Knicks had a horrible third quarter exacerbated by the play of Pablo Prigioni. He had awful time handling the Celtic full court pressure. The Knicks couldn’t get into their offense until late in the shot clock, causing sloppy pick n roll passes that were intercepted for turnovers. Speaking of turnovers, the Knicks had six in the third and only scored 16 points. And keep in mind the Celtics didthis with Pierce on the bench, who had picked up his fourth foul.

 

ISO VS. BALANCED SCORING: The Celtics shot 53% from the field and got contributions from everyone. Pierce dropped 23, KG 19, and Avery Bradley 13. Their bench, lead by Jeff Green’s 16 points, contributed a total of 39 points. Melo lead the Knicks with 20 points on a putrid 6-26 shooting night. Tyson Chandler had a few rebound lapses late but it’s hard to criticize his 13 point, 17 rebound night. JR Smith chipped in 24 points but on 7-18 shooting and Amar’e Stoudemire added 13 points. The reason our points came on 41% shooting was due to heavy isolation plays and long three-pointers, while the Celtics made the extra passes needed to get many wide open jumpers.

 

THE WORD IS OUT: Until the Knicks prove otherwise, the scouting report on them will be they can’t handle physical play. This game, along with the losses to Memphis, Chicago (2X) and Houston (2X), prove that in spades. The bitching and moaning has to stop and it starts with our leader Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks will have to turn it around quick because later this week they face two more physical teams in the Pacers and Bulls.

And on one last ironic note, Melo has won NBA Player of the Week.

[Video] What Bum Ankle? Melo Drops 31 and Chandler Goes Off as Knicks Rout Nets

Brooklyn Nets v New York Knicks

You had this coming, Brooklyn. After a summer spent boasting about being the best team in New York and much trash-talking after beating the Knicks in overtime last month, NY gave their BK little brothers a big dose of reality last night with a 100-86 beating at Madison Square Garden. I will give Brooklyn credit — they played a good first half anchored by excellent outside shooting from Joe Johnson and Keith Bogans. However, there’s also a second half to the game, and that’s where this contest was won (and dominated) by the Knicks.

We Missed You Melo!: With Steve Novak sitting due to the mysterious “flu-like symptoms” and Rasheed Wallace still out, it wasn’t looking promising earlier in the day when it was believed Carmelo Anthony might sit for a third straight game. Instead, Melo came out and did what he’s done all season and that’s torch the Nets. You can tell the ankle was still bothering him in his spots as he relied on more jumpers instead of driving completely to the basket, but that didn’t help Brooklyn any. Melo shot 12-22 and was 4-8 from downtown. And the best thing is he didn’t have to work too hard as the bench allowed him to rest most of the fourth.

This is the JR Smith We Love: JR has had some very bad shooting games, but seeing him on like he was last night was beautiful to watch. JR was not just shooting well (7-11 for 19 points), but flat-out out-hustled the Nets by nabbing five rebounds and playing smart defense. He was a +24 on the court and was one of the key offensive sparks that took an eight-point lead entering the fourth and pushing it at one point to 18.

Chris Copeland Again Contributes: Cope is gonna mess around and earn a regular rotation spot if he hasn’t already. He contributed a solid 8 points off the bench. Although he had some defensive lapses in the first half that lead to some open threes, he tightened up that D in the second half. Great effort.

A Tyson Possessed: Raymond Felton had a bad shooting night, but we should thank him for making sure he did one thing right — feed the beast that was Tyson Chandler. Those alley oops Tyson caught were sick and was key to us taking control in the third. Chandler had an awesome and balanced stat line of 16 points, 12 rebounds and 3 blocks.

The Lead Grows: The Knicks now hold a six-game lead in the Atlantic Division. Our closet rival is the Nets, who have lost their third straight (8 of the last 10) and currently sit at 13-12. And against eastern conference teams, the Knicks are 13-2. With Amar’e coming back soon, there is reason for high optimism that we put the lead completely out of reach over the next month.

Next up is Chicago on Friday. I’ll be at MSG for that one. Can’t wait!

BK Draws First Blood: Nets Down Knicks in OT 96-89

The bragging rights on the historic first “Battle for NY” goes to the Brooklyn Nets, who showed poise and efficiency down the stretch to overcome big efforts from Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler to take a 96-89 overtime victory in a highly entertaining game last night from the Barclays Center. The game had me on the edge of my seat and pacing all night. Of course, not seeing a Knicks victory was highly disappointing, but everyone will agree this is the start to what will be an amazing rivalry over the next few years. Here’s what stood out to me last night.

Melo and Tyson Beast…Everyone Else Falls Short: Melo dropped 35 points and Tyson contributed a career high 28 points. Outside of that, the state line is abysmal with the next highest scorer being Raymond Felton with 8 points on 3-19 shooting. I was especially impressed with Tyson meeting the challenge of guarding Brook Lopez and drawing a key offensive foul in the last-minute that unfortunately couldn’t pull out the win. Our bench was invisible and got outscored solely by Jerry Stackhouse (15 points) of all people. No way we win with just two guys showing up on offense.

Kidd Missed…Felton is Horrid: You never want to place blame on one guy for a loss; we win and lose as a team. But damn it, Raymond Felton contributed heavily to this defeat. I sincerely believe he got too caught up in the atmosphere and trying to “win” his matchup with Deron Williams. Felton had 5 turnovers and even more disastrous kept bricking jumpers and airballing floaters during the crucial fourth quarter. The value of Jason Kidd cannot be overstated. Not having his outside shooting to the space the floor and court generalship really hurt us. There’s no way with Kidd on the floor that Melo gets frozen out of getting solid looks over the last 6-7 minutes of the game.

Melo’s Free Throw Irony: The cruel irony last night is that Melo, who’s been rightly complaining about not getting fouls, finally got them last night in shooting 16 free throws. And of course, Melo only goes 10-16 from the line. Make about three more and it’s likely this game doesn’t see overtime. But in his defense, Melo played a total of 50 minutes and had no rest in the second half. Fatigue likely played a huge part.

The Knicks have to jump right back on the saddle tomorrow when we head to Milwaukee to face the Bucks, whose backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis are sure to give us fits. All of our losses have been on the road this year, so getting this one would bode well for our confidence with a winnable stretch of games following against Washington, Phoenix and Charlotte.

The Battle for NY: Knicks vs. Nets Preview

Tonight it finally goes down. Hurricane Sandy delayed for several weeks the much-anticipated season-opener that was supposed to be the Knicks taking on the Nets at the Barclays Center. In retrospect, the delay is probably for the better. Both teams have had roughly 10 games to get familiar with personnel changes and get some chemistry down. Each has played well and sit atop the Atlantic Division, but there’s been recent streakiness in their last handful of games (both squads are 2-2 over their last 4 games). Nonetheless, even with the injuries (Deron Williams’ ankle, Stoudemire and Shumpert still out), there should be no excuses from either side come Tuesday morning. Let’s break down a few fun and key matchups for tonight.

Raymond Felton vs. Deron Williams: You could argue this is the most important matchup. Felton has all but quieted critics who said the Knicks made a mistake picking him over Jeremy Lin. While Deron Williams has struggled the last few games, you know he’ll be up for tonight’s contest. Felton will have to make Williams work hard on both ends by attacking the basket and playing tight defense. I don’t expect Williams to go off scoring-wise, but his rhythm needs to be disrupted because his passing, in particularly yesterday late in closing out the Trailblazers, will give the Knicks fits.

Tyson Chandler vs. Brook Lopez: This is not the game for Chandler to not come with it. Tyson has had a few horrid games were he was destroyed by his man like the recent one in Houston (Omar Asik) and a few weeks back against San Antonio (Tiago Splitter). Chandler needs to contain Lopez offensively: no lazy closeouts on Lopez’s jumper and no weak boxing out. Lopez has been beasting offensively in Brooklyn, scoring over 20 in three of their last four games. Tyson needs to be very smart with his fouls because should he go to the bench early, the Knicks will be in trouble down low.

Melo will be Melo, but Protect Him Woody: If anything is a sure-fire thing tonight it’s that Melo will get his on the offensive end. Last time he met the Nets he torched them for 21 points in the first quarter.

The concern is on defense, as BK has physical, big forwards that can not only push Melo around, but get in him foul trouble. Tonight is not the time for Woodson to forget he has guys like Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas to help out  with rebounding. If he does, expect Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans to have a field day on the boards.

Defense: This is what this game comes down to. If the Knicks that started the season 6-0 show up tonight, they cruise to a comfortable win. If the streaking defense of the last few games rears its ugly head, the Knicks will be clawing from behind all game and likely lose decisively.

Prediction: It will be a playoff atmosphere with the Knicks fans taking over the arena early. For how long depends on the play. I think the refs swallow their whistles much to the continued chagrin of Melo and company. I don’t see either team taking  a commanding lead and this being decided in the fourth quarter, where I feel the Knicks experience and ability to get defensive stops leads them to a tight win and a great beginning to the NY rivalry. The game starts at 7 p.m. live on TNT.