“You can’t come out like that. You can’t come out that soft.” – Mike D’Antoni
“It just all went down hill from the beginning. They knocked down shots and we weren’t able to rebound. It’s tough. We keep putting ourselves in these positions where every shot is so important because we are down by so much.” – Chris Duhon
Starting point guard Chris Duhon was absolutely right; it was downhill from the beginning for the Knicks. It was only the second game of the West Coast trip but the Knicks already looked tired and perhaps they were after wrestling with the World Champion Lakers the previous night. Beginning in the first half, the Kings were more aggressive and efficient than the Knicks. At least they were consistent. The Knicks suffered from defensive non-chalance and offensive malaise throughout the entire game. The Knicks shot 38.5%, including 10 for 39 from the arc, while surrendering 48.3% to the Kings who seemed to have open shots from the perimeter and easy access to the lane ALL NIGHT LONG.
– In the first half, combinations of David Lee, Danilo Gallinari. Wilson Chandler, Jared Jeffries and Al Harrington teamed up in the interior. As a result, the smallish Kings were dominant around the basket. Spencer Hawes looked like an all-star as he dominated inside and finished the game with 18 points on 7-8 shooting. The best thing that could be said about the Knicks early was that at least Jeffries hustled consistently. Last year the Kings were the worst team in the NBA, but Paul Westphal has his young team (now 6-8) prepared, excited to play ball and eager to end their recent four game losing streak with a cooperative Knicks squad.
– Starting point guard Chris Duhon, who continued his campaign of uselessness for 29 minutes, was replaced by Douglas early in the game. Duhon provided a little support with 7 points (on 2 for 8 shooting) and 2 assists.
– It remains extremely difficult to understand D’Antoni’s rotations beginning with the starting line up of Chandler, Gallo, Lee, Hughes, Duhon. He began the third quarter by replacing Chandler and Gallinari with Al Harrington and Nate Robinson who were much better offensively in the first half. He also put in Duhon and Hughes as the backcourt. The move did little for the defensive end as the Knicks continued allow free access to the interior.
– It seemed that in order to protect the interior, the Knicks decided to play a sagging defense as the Kings popped perimeter jumpers. It was a career night for former Syracuse star Donte Greene who went 6 for 7 from the three point line. In 35 minutes, he scored 24 points with 5 assists, 6 blocks and 3 rebounds.
– In the third quarter the Knicks were down by as much as 23 points.
– In the fourth with the game out of hand, D’Antoni gave his most interesting and active front court of Hill, Gallinari and Jeffries some burn. At least they were a little more active, but they were not good.