GAME RECAP: Nuggets 97, Knicks 95

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Knicks.

Knicks who?

Knicks lost.

/cue nervous laughter and single-eye tear.

Two days after another crushing defeat and another “closed-door” team meeting, the Knicks (3-12) fell to the unexpectedly streaking Denver Nuggets (9-6), 97-95. After the loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Carmelo Anthony told ESPN’s Arash Markazi, “We got to do it for one another. Right now the game is not fun for nobody. We’re just not making it happen.”

Interesting you say that ‘Melo, since your team had a chance to tie or win the ball game in the last 19 seconds of the game, only to see you dribble up the floor, call for an isolation play, and get blocked by 6’4″ Nuggets guard, Randy Foye. Foye, a product of Villanover (thanks Clyde) is four inches shorter that you Carmelo! Let that sink in for a moment. Oh, not to mention, you had gunslinger, J.R. Smith in the elbow, wide open, and Iman Shumpert, coming off his best game all week, also waiting for a pass from you!

Seriously, this was the most bipolar game for the Knicks, from an emotional standpoint. For the first three quarters, they looked like a team that had their Thanksgiving meal right before the game and decided to let the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing digest while running up and down the court. Then, when they had a tiny, sliver ray of hope to win the game, the food finally digested and they were driving to the basket, shuffling their feet, stepping in front of the defenders, and contesting every shot the Nuggets put up.

Too bad the five or so minutes of effort in the fourth quarter went to waste, because that was the most enjoyable part of the whole game. But, hasn’t that been the case for the Knicks during this eight game skid? Play like absolute crap for x amount of minutes, then play well for x/4 amount of minutes? It’s maddening, I tell you. Maddening! During the eight game losing streak, there has been: no defense, terrible three-point shooting, horrible pick-and-roll defense, an absurd amount of switching, abysmal shot selection, and lack of communication.

It’s baffling. How can a team that knows they’re struggling continue to make the same mistakes night in and night out? The team that once looked like a championship team on paper, now looks like a lottery-bound team — obviously without the picks in next year’s draft or any draft until 2080. Mike Woodson will have to do something to get the fire lit under his team. Here’s a hint: play Toure’ Murry. But, until then, fans will just have to watch the Knicks get out of their early season woes on their own. At least we have tons of Mike Woodson displeased stare .gif’s right?

WHAT WENT RIGHT:

  • Welcome back, Shump! The shooting guard dropped 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting, which also included a three-pointer. In addition to his highest scoring game since November 19, he grabbed seven rebounds and had one steal. He was aggressive on defense and stayed in front of Ty Lawson for most of the night. It’s enjoyable to see Iman come back from two embarrassing performances.
  • Make that back-to-back 20-point games for Andrea Bargnani. Il Mago was efficient last night, scoring 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He knocked down a three-pointer and went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe. Another note to mention, this was the first time since November 10 where Bargs failed to block a shot. Surprising, right? Andrea Bagnani: PAINT PROTECTOR.
  • ‘Melo continued his torrid scoring pace. The swingman from Syracuse scored 27 points on 8-of-22 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and two blocks. Anthony failed to hit a three-pointer, but he was able to drop 11-of-13 from the free throw line.
  • The precocious neophyte, Tim Hardaway Jr., nailed two big three-pointers in the fourth quarter to reduce the Nuggets lead. “Rook” ended the night with eight points, including two off of a nifty layup after a quick drive to the hoop.

WHAT WENT WRONG:

  • Pick-and-roll defense. My goodness. Everyone knows Bargnani is the worst P&R defenders in the league, so naturally, the Nuggets pick him off. What happens next? You guessed it! Bargs slowly goes back to try to play defense on his original man, only to see him run back because he already scored a buckey. Not only is that infuriating, but the Knicks don’t do anything to help him out. Help defense was pitiful — well, just like every night — but last night’s effort made it seem worse.
  • In addition to their Division III pick-and-roll defense, the Knicks continued to switch like a madman. They switched here. They switched there. Everywhere a switch, switch. Old Coach Woodson had a switch, E-I-E-I-O. Dang nab it! *stares into soul*
  • Can someone find J.R. Smith? The reigning Sixth Man of the Year continues to be a ghost on the floor. Smith lost defenders off switches, was not trying on defense, and made some bonehead shots. Smith scored 11 points, but was 1-of-7 from beyond the arc. J.R. is now shooting a dismal 32% from the field. Now that I think about it, maybe J.R. had himself a good Thanksgiving because they were in Denver — where some form of herb is legal. Hmm.
  • Shot selection has actually been pretty bad for all of the Knicks. Last night, the heroes in blue and orange attempted 48 jump shots and only knocked down 15 of them. Yes folks, that’s 31% shooting off jump shots. Also, their three-point shots were also off, as they were only able to hit 6-of-22.
  • Ball movement wasn’t perfect either. The Knicks had 16 assists, tying their season low.
  • Get well soon, Pablo! According to Mike Breen, Pablo Prigioni is currently suffering from a case of plantar fasciitis. Whether this is true or just a smokescreen deployed by the Knicks to explain his low minutes, we at The Knicks Wall hope for a speedy recovery.
  • Metta World Peace stunk. He continued to chuck up bricks and it’s hurting the team. In early November, Metta was knocking down corner threes, but now? Nothing.
  • Hey, Amar’e! He got blocked by former Knicks great, Timofey Mozgov. Fantastic.

KNICK KNACKS:

  • Coach Mike Woodson sported a non-tie outfit last night. Mr. Potato Head is a few more article of clothing away from showing his true form.
  • Oddly, the Knicks and Nuggets were almost identical in a few categories. Knicks had 42 total rebounds, eight offensive rebounds, ten turnovers, four fast break points, and 36 points in the paint. The Nuggets had 44 total rebounds, five offensive rebounds, 14 turnovers, two fast break points, and 38 points in the paint. I blame Nate Robinson.
  • Speaking of which, last night’s game featured a ton of former Knicks: Wilson Chandler, Nate Robinson, and Timofey Mozgov. Anthony Randolph is also on the Nuggets, but received a DNP-CD because he’s Anthony Randolph.
  • The Knicks return back to Madison Square Garden on Sunday to face-off against Anthony Davis, his unibrow, and the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.