The Knicks lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, 100-86, Friday night, at Madison Square Garden, because the defense was, again, not what it needs to be. They allowed the Bucks to shoot 48 percent from the field, which is too high.
The Bucks were without Stephen Jackson, because he was suspended for missing shoot-around. He is in his 11th season in the NBA and is averaging 13.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists. However, the Knicks could not capitalize on the Bucks missing one of their best players.
The Knicks record now stands at only 6-9 and Baron Davis needs to be playing in a week, as has been reported. He should be able to decrease the amount of turnovers, as there were 24 during this game. He will also be able to set Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire up for easy baskets. There also needs to be more ball movement on offense, since there is too much one-on-one. This is surprising since D’Antoni is supposed to be an offensive genius.
Anthony was the high scorer for the Knicks, but he only made 11 out of 26 shots and took six 3-pointers. He needs to not take as many shots and pass the ball a little more, like he is capable of.
Carmelo Anthony had a strong first quarter scoring 13 points, on 4-7 shooting, with one 3-pointer. He shot very well in the first quarter, considering the fact that he has a sore left wrist. They obviously need his scoring, and his 36 points are impressive, but since they don’t have a natural point guard right now, he should be the point-forward.
Jeremy Lin, who was signed to possibly replace the impressive rookie Iman Shumpert, while he was injured, should still be on the Knicks. He was demoted to their D-League affiliate, the Erie Bayhawks, and in their game last night he recorded a triple double. Lin could definitely do as much, or more than Mike Bibby, and is more of a point guard than Toney Douglas.
Landry Fields showed some signs of busting out of his shooting slump by nailing a corner three with 10:15 left in the second quarter to give the Knicks a 30-29 lead. Bill Walker, who returned to action after a one-game absence, due to injury, made a three to cut the Bucks’ lead to 35-33.
Shumpert proved that he can start a fast break, because with 1:15 remaining in the half, he got the rebound, took two dribbles and then made a perfect full-court pass to Fields. To finish off the fast break, Fields would execute a reverse lay-up to tie the score at 48.
The half would end with the Bucks on top 55-51, as their 52 percent shooting in the first two quarters was the difference. The Knicks continued to struggle from long distance, as they shot 4-13 in the half.
With 4:07 left in the third quarter, D’Antoni called a timeout as the Knicks were down 74-62. They were going through another stretch, in which they forgot how to play defense.
Josh Harrellson, made a corner three with 1:52 remaining to get the Knicks within 13, 78-65. They needed a three on that possession because they couldn’t afford to have the Bucks lead increase.
New York was down by 12 at the end of the third quarter, as they had a chance to be down by 10 or even nine points, but Anthony missed a contested nine foot jumper. He missed the last two shots of the quarter, but he was not really on the floor with any offensive weapons, since Jeffries, Harrellson, Walker and Bibby are not real threats by any stretch of the imagination.
Melo made a three with 3:30 left to make the score 89-80 and make the game interesting. He would then get ejected from the game with less than two minutes left for arguing with Brandon Jennings. That was his second technical foul.
The Bucks were 0-8 on the road before tonight’s game, but the Knicks can be relied on to help other teams reverse those kinds of trends, since they are not playing any defense.
Brandon Jennings, who the Knicks could have drafted instead of Jordan Hill in the 09 draft, scored 36 points and had five assists. He made it look he could have been at Rucker Park, not Madison Square Garden, since he went 15-26 and only had three turnovers.
The game on Saturday night is against the Denver Nuggets who come in with an 11-5 record. New York knows them well, since Al Harrington, Timofey Mozgov and Danilo Gallinari either start or play significant minutes for the Nuggets. This is a recurring theme for the Knicks, but their defense will have to improve if they want to get the win, so that they can snap their five game losing streak.
There are definitely reasons to fire D’Antoni right now, but there should be some blame on Stoudemire and Fields, since they can play better than they have so far. Stoudemire, who finished the game with 15 points, 11 rebounds and five turnovers, needs to be more aggressive on offense, while not trying to go one on three. He will probably benefit most from playing with Davis since he doesn’t really create his own shot. Steve Nash helped make him a top three power forward when he was with the Phoenix Suns.
Another loss on Saturday would bring Dolan closer to pulling the plug on D’Antoni, so let’s hope the Knicks can come out and play some real basketball.