You know what stinks? Going to the movies and forking over $12.50 for a ticket, just to figure out the surprise ending 15 minutes after the show starts. Last night at the Garden, only it took 12 minutes get a sense of how the Knicks’ 109-100 loss to the Timberwolves would end up. Confounded by a dreadful first quarter performance which saw New York (1-2) go down 40-19 after a 21-5 Timberwolves run, the Knicks had 16 total turnovers (six in the first) and shot just 44.9% from the floor (28.1% from three). Minnesota moved to 3-0 on the young season, which includes a dominant win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Once again, turnovers were a big story for the Knicks, as Minnesota scored 16 points off New York’s giveaways. Making matters worse, the Knicks were called for a mind-boggling 26 personal fouls — Carmelo Anthony and Iman Shumpert took foolish fouls early in the game and neither was able to get into much a rhythm until a frantic Knicks’ comeback attempt late in the game – and Minnesota took fool advantage, converting a whopping 2 free throw attempts (Kevin Love had 12 points from the line alone).
The aforementioned Anthony (22 points on 8-for-21 shooting) came alive in the final quarter, hitting three straight baskets to bring the Knicks within 5, but it wasn’t enough. Shumpert’s 3PM with 4:48 left to play cut the lead to just two points, but that was the closest the Knicks would get. Overall, it was an uneven effort by New York, must like the first two games against Milwaukee and Chicago. It sure seems like this Knicks team can be better defensively than they were last year, but it remains to be seen if their various parts, incongruous as they may be, can integrate well enough on the offensive end.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- But seriously, though, it wasn’t all doom and gloom at MSG last night. Anthony was a “beast” per Mike Breen on the glass, pulling down 17 rebounds. It is refreshing to see ‘Melo actively try to contribute in other ways when his shot is not falling. Thus far this season, Carmelo hasn’t found his shooting stroke, but he sure looked pretty lethal in the fourth quarter last night. Here’s hoping it was a sign of things soon to come.
- Metta World Peace had a solid game, scoring 17 points in a variety of ways. He sank a few corner treys, attacked the rim, and even hit a few of his trademark off-balance jumpers.
- Andrea Bargnani had his “best” game as a Knick with 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting (2-for-4 from downtown, but he only grabbed three rebounds and was a -11 in +/- for the game. Despite his defensive shortcomings (more on that later) and rebounding-allergy, Bargs does have a nice mid-range game. The key for the Knicks will be Mike Woodson’s ability — or lack thereof — to deploy the 7’0 Italian at the right times and in the right matchups.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- It’s the turnovers, Stupid! New York has coughed up the rock 53 times in three games this season. It is a legitimately alarming trend that needs to be addressed.
- Felton? More like Felt-Off, amirite?! The Knicks’ diminutive PG was an awful 3-for-12 from the field and posted a -17 plus/minus last night. He did hand out 12 assists, but Raymond’s sore leg may be hampering him more than he’s let on.
- The Knicks need an intervention with respect to their transition defense. It was an issue last year and despite the new personnel, it remains a problem now. Minnesota pushed the ball after every defensive rebound, it felt like, scoring 24 fast break points and enjoying an absurd FTA-differential (38-to-13).
- Similarly, the Knicks themselves do not push the ball in transition nearly as often as they should. At times, it feels like New York just doesn’t play with a sense of urgency. With the athleticism of Shump and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the wings, there are easy points to be had with an increased tempo, but to date, the Knicks do not seem interested in playing to their strengths.
- Hardaway Jr. had a night to forget, finishing with six points on 3-of-12 from the floor — Woodson was forced to turn to him for 25 minutes because of Shumpert’s early foul trouble. You have to love the rookie’s moxie, and he certainly isn’t afraid to shoot, but at some point Timmy’s gotta know when to pump the brakes and reel himself in.
- Yes, Bargs shot the ball well. But his offensive contribution wasn’t enough to cancel out how he hurt New York defensively. Jared Dublin took a stab at quantifying same, but beware, these numbers are not for the faint of heart. Again, here’s looking at you, Coach Woodson.
- Late in the third, Hardaway, Jr. slammed home a ridiculous fast-break dunk on the break that awakened the crowd and caused me to experience a seizure:
- Beno Udrih logged his second straight DNP-CD, which was eyebrow-raising, considering how badly Felton struggled last night.
- The Knicks play tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. against Charlotte at the Garden.