Aaaaaand the preseason is over.
In the Knicks’ official unveiling of the fully transformed Madison Square Garden, New York lost to the Charlotte Bobcats, 85-83. The score was mostly a sidebar, though, as coach Mike Woodson elected to play Amar’e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith, and Kenyon Martin, each of whom is coming back from various injuries. It was both surprising and encouraging to see Stoudemire take the court, but the self-professed “hardest worker in the league” didn’t seem to have any doubt about his readiness when questioned before the game. On record that his goal for this season is to be a high-caliber, yet highly efficient player, STAT was both against the Bobcats. 12 minutes of play, New York’s $100M man scored 6 points on 3-of-4 shooting, adding a block on the defensive end. Those zero rebounds and three turnovers? Whatever, at least his legs didn’t fall off.
After a lengthy heart-to-heart discussion with Carmelo Anthony — probably in connection with J.R.’s new hairstyle — the latter looked good coming off knee surgery after re-signing with the Knicks over the summer. The mercurial guard dropped 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting, and delighted the crowd by draining a 30-foot buzzer-beating heave at the end of the third quarter. J.R. also chipped in with three rebounds, one assist and a handful of step-back, fade-away jumpers.
Nursing a sore left ankle, K-Mart played sparingly, but he was his typically active self on defense, keeping Charlotte from penetrating the lane. Assuming he can stay healthy, that’s really all the Knicks need Martin to do this season.
As a team, New York played very well during the first half, but eventually cooled off shooting the rock. Their second half effort left much to be desired — this is starting to look familiar — especially on the defensive end.
Effort aside, it seems very clear that Woodson is going to receive a lot of scrutiny this season with respect to his rotations and minutes-allocations. For each of Andrea Bargnani, Metta World Peace, and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s attributes, each has deficiencies that are only more glaring when the lineup isn’t properly balanced to minimize same. Time runs short, of course, as the Knicks are set to open the season this Wednesday night, but it sure seems like this roster has enough talent to be successful if deployed properly.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Iman Shumpert led the Knicks with 16 points (4-of-7 from beyond the arc), 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
- World Peace knocked down 3-of-7 from long range, and Pablo Prigioni, Hardaway Jr., and Smith also had a three-pointer each. The Knicks led the universe in threes attempted and made last season, and they’ll need to be lethal from deep this year if they hope to contend.
- Speaking of Prigoni, he really deserves a healthy amount of time on the floor in the regular season. He had another steal during an inbound play, he directed traffic en route to three dimes, and he even snatched 2 boards, all in limited minutes. There are actually times when Peblo looks better than Raymond Felton, believe it or not.
- J.R. looked like he was ready to lay down more pipe last night. Keep pipin’, Bro, keep pipin’.
- Tyson Chandler, y’all! The Knicks’ center had 9 rebounds, a blocked shot and an assist, but more importantly, he stayed out of foul trouble despite harassing Bobcats who dared to come into the lane. If only he could have added a few screams, yells, or TYSON SMASHES, but he was probably just saving that stuff for when the games count.
- Last season, New York ranked dead last in the NBA in blocks with just 3.6 per-game. Against Charlotte, however, the Knicks blocked 8 shots, two of which came courtesy of Mr. Bargnani.
- The Knicks defended the three-ball well, only permitting the Bobcats to shoot 21% from behind the arc.
- Chris Smith didn’t play. That’s good, right?
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- The entire second half felt like a nightmare. Maybe the Knicks were so distracted by the new Garden Vision that they couldn’t concentrate on the game, but at one point in the third quarter, New York missed approximately 68 shots in-a-row. (They scored just 12 points in the quarter.)
- Iso-Melo returned in the fourth quarter, requesting the ball numerous times only to see his errant shots corralled by an omnipotent Bismack Biyombo.
- There are times when Shumpert really needs to play more conservatively. We all love intense-Iman, but allowing his man to beat him for a layup, or losing track of his man switching on a pick-and-roll should never happen, given his defensive skills and awareness. Less highlight reel stuff, more fundamentals, Dude.
- Remember when people said Bargnani was a “great” shooter? Yeah, about that. The Italian was a dreadful 2-of-10 from the field (0-for-3 from three-point territory), he passed on open jumpers and didn’t look comfortable with his dribble-drive. And his defense. Oh, my. The Knicks are going to have to pair Bargs with either Chandler or Martin whenever he’s on the floor if they want to have a prayer to stay with the opposition.
- The Knicks were out-rebounded again (57 to 46). Biyombo had 20 rebounds by himself.
- Felton went 1-for-7 and finished with 2 points. Yuck.
- Hey, can someone tell Metta to stop taking some many silly shots and/or trying to create off the dribble? It’s great that he’s willing to dive for loose balls, and we all value his ability to scare the living crap out of the opposition and little kids alike, but even Clyde laughed aloud on the telecast about Ron-Ron’s spin-and-fall-down move.
- The new Garden Vision is HUGE. Mike Breen made a funny about it, asking Clyde if his television is a big. Duh, everyone knows that Clyde’s TV is a hundred times bigger.
- Knicks Twitter swears that Jill Martin, “host” of the halftime festivities, blurted out an on-air F-bomb. Great to have you back, Jill!
- Woodson inexplicably shaved most of his beard. He’s back to his trademark “Mr. Potato Head” goatee.
- During the pre-game show, Alan Hahn was video bombed by Knick legend, Patrick Ewing. If only Patrick had said “Hey Alan!” before running off and dunking the ball.
- Stoudemire’s 2013-2014 “Phenomenal” Count: 0
- The Knicks open their regular season campaign against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Garden on Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.
Keep up with all things Knicks by following The Knicks Wall on Twitter.