Context is everything.
Had I simply told you the Knicks lost on the road to the Indiana Pacers last night, most fans would be naturally upset, yet rational with their displeasure. There’s no shocker here. It’s obvious that the Pacers are currently the cream of the crop, with their conference-best 31-7 record, and the 15-24 Knicks are fighting tooth and nail to pull their season out of it’s current nosedive. Something something spilled milk.
But what about when I reveal that the Knicks lost by 28 points, and were essentially toyed with by Indiana throughout the entire second half? That this resounding beating comes only a few days after a promising stretch of wins against some of the NBA’s elite, including San Antonio and Miami? That there was seemingly no sign of effort; no noticeable level of resistance shown by anyone not named Carmelo Anthony? That Mike Woodson was flat out stumped by Indiana’s Frank Vogel, and showed a total inability to adjust when the noose started to tighten?
It’s one thing to lose to the better team, it’s another thing entirely to throw up your hands and assume the position.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Indy makes no qualms about their defensive strategy: beat the daylights out of Anthony at every opportunity. Does David West have him on the low block? Feed the former Xavier Musketeer and make Melo work. Melo gets the ball on the other end? Slap Paul George on him, then when he finally gets a step, funnel him straight towards the dream crusher known as Roy Hibbert. Even though the Pacers walked away with the win, no one can possibly hang that on Melo. 28 points on 17 shots and 7 rebounds is as valiant an effort as any.
- Anyone who’s ever had bronchitis can attest to how it totally robs your body of any and all energy, so it’s understandable whenever Chandler is a bit slow to rotate or doesn’t appear as explosive around the rim as he should be. Still, the former DPOY held his own against Hibbert, posting 13 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and a block.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- My beef with Mike Woodson is well documented: I’m not a fan of his defensive philosophy, I feel his hiring was partially because of his “company man” traits, he’s ridiculously stubborn, and his offense consists entirely of A.) Get Melo the ball, B.) Kick your feet up and watch the show. After a 31-30 first quarter powered by Melo’s 18 point outburst, the Knicks were right there with Indiana. Over the next 3 quarters, Vogel adjusted, cranking up the aggressiveness and blowing up the Knicks pick and rolls. Many a Knick possession was spent dribbling on the perimeter, no one besides Melo consistently able to beat their man off the dribble and force Indy to rotate. Woody seemed perfectly content playing into Vogel’s hands and it was infuriating.
- The hot/cold act with Shumpert is getting old. 2 points in 20 minutes of play? 0-3 from deep? Look, nobody in their right mind expects his six 3-pointer explosion against San Antonio every night, but when can we even start to expect performances like the one he had against Miami (12 points, 9 rebounds) to become the norm instead of occasional blips on the radar?
- When Bargs ended up in NY, I had to sift through dozens of homers tweeting me that his strength lied in his ability to pull defenders away from the rim with his midrange shooting, and would thus make Melo and gang’s forays into the paint much more fruitful endeavors. Not only was that proven last night to be a total load, but Bargs came up small against the main team he was presumably acquired to help the Knicks beat, finishing with 6 points on 9 shots, and the worst +/- with a rating of -23 in 32 minutes of play.
- Raymond Felton grossly overrates his offensive capabilities. I’ll leave it at that because I’m dead tired and a recap shouldn’t be this long.
- Amare and Kenyon both suffered ankle injuries last night. Their status is up in the air.
- A photographer managed to catch Prigioni and Copeland hanging out before the game, with a rather healthy looking Donnie Walsh in the background. Just made me smile: HERE
- The Knicks return to NY for a 7PM matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, kicking off a lengthy 8-game home stand.