This game, in which the Clippers defeated the Knicks 109-95, was a complete juxtaposition between the roster constructions of the contending Clippers and the floundering Knicks. Los Angeles, despite being without their best player, dominated New York in just about every way. This was not a fluke game. The Clippers did not shoot the lights out by any means (they shot 43% and 27% from 3). Over four quarters, they were just a vastly superior team. The Knicks looked lost on both offense and defense, but this is more the norm than an exception.
Whereas a team like the Clippers have a system in place, backup plans in case of injury, and a roster that fits into those plans, the Knicks were constructed in a way that Carmelo Anthony needs to be more than great for the team to have a chance against a good team. Melo had his worst shooting game of the season, and the Knicks had no second option to rely on, no plays to run. It was just a series of midrange jumpers and fumbling over-dribbling. New York certainly had a chance in this game as the Clippers struggled early on, but their defensive strategy of leaving good shooters shockingly failed when the opponent started hitting shots.
When the Knicks reeled off 5 straight wins, people questioned whether it was sustainable because the Knicks lacked a true identity. Three games later, it seems like the doubters may be right. There is really nothing that this team does particularly well. Their offense is designed to get mid range jumpers for the likes of Raymond Felton, JR Smith , and Andrea Bargnani and their defense system tells them to switch on every screen when their defenders are too lazy/slow to rotate.
The Clippers can survive the loss of Paul because they have players that fit into their system and a coach who will play lineups that work. The Knicks get destroyed when Melo has a bad shooting game because they literally have no other sustainable option and a coach whose rotational decisions are based on playing “big” lineups that do not work. It is coming to the point where you watch Carmelo Anthony fight to score 26 points and grab 20 rebounds despite making only 4 of 23 shots and begin to feel bad that he is being surrounded by such an inept supporting cast. The Knicks are a broken team and no one can blame Melo if and when he decides to leave.
WHAT WENT RIGHT:
- Very little.
- The Knicks started strong again, leading 17-9 after some poor Clipper shooting and 6 points from both Chandler and Bargnani. Things went down hill from there.
- Carmelo Anthony was 16-16 from the line and the Knicks as a team shot 36 free throws, nearly doubling their season’s average.
- The Knicks as a team out-rebounded the Clippers 55-44. Mike Woodson will point to the big lineups as reason for that except Melo had 20 of them, many of which were off his own misses.
- JR Smith knows how to make shots in garbage time. Regardless of when he scored them, Smith scored 24 points on 50% shooting seems like a positive.
WHAT WENT WRONG:
- The Knicks shot 35% from the field, including Melo’s ghastly 4-23.
- Raymond Felton proved once again why he is the worst starting point guard in the NBA. He scored only five points and had 4 turnovers. Much of the offense’s stagnation had to do with Felton’s inability to get the Knicks into their sets. This doesn’t include the other side of the court where he got completely lost on every screen.
- Toure’ Murry was even worse than Felton. The offense completely died when he was in the game and Murry can’t run a fastbreak to save his life. He also wasn’t particularly helpful defensively.
- The Knicks had an uncharacteristic 18 turnovers.
- Iman Shumpert putting up only 4 shots in 25 minutes is unacceptable. All of the positive momentum from the Texas trip seems to be gone.
- The Knicks had a lead in the third until the Clippers went on a 12-0 run to completely take control of the game.
- Mike Woodson played with no point guard for more minutes than he played Melo at power forward. If the injuries to Martin and Stoudemire don’t make Woodson play Melo at the four then nothing will. Look at it this way: Woodson would rather play a guy that the team rostered Chris Smith over than play his best player at his best position. He is completely clueless.
- For ESPN’s coverage of the game, Jay Bilas joined Breen and Van Gundy. I almost put Bilas into the “WHAT WENT RIGHT” section until he said Mike Woodson did a great job coaching the Knicks this year.
- The Knicks missed multiple alley oop attempts in the game including one line drive from Anthony that bricked off the rim.
- Before the game, the Knicks announced that Kenyon Martin and Amar’e Stoudemire would both be out with ankle ailments. And Mike Woodson still started Bargnani at power forward.
- Tonight was the first game of an 8 game homestand for the Knicks.
- The Knicks next play the Brooklyn Nets in the annual MLK Day Matinee. The game will be in MSG @ 2:30 PM, televised on ESPN, MSG, and YES.