“I think we were all stunned. I’ve taken a licking before, but I don’t know what’s worse that that.” — Mike D’Antoni
“They kept giving us a lot of open shots. They were giving us so many easy shots.” — Brandon Jennings
“He had every right to take me out. That’s an easy play that I’m supposed to make and I didn’t make the effort.” –Chris Duhon
It is extremely difficult to analyze the obvious. In the Knicks’ case the obvious is the analysis. The Knicks suck and they allowed the Bucks to show us how much.
The Knicks collectively and individually appear to have mailed the season in as they failed to make an honest effort after getting whupped the previous night at home by the Garden’s heir-apparent, LeBron James.
Truth be told, the Knicks are not this bad. No professional team could possibly be this bad. (No, not even the Clippers) The Knicks were down by 31 points at halftime and by the third quarter the Bucks were up by 36 points. That reflects an absolute lack of effort and leadership on both the coaching staff and the players.
How long have I been writing that Chris Duhon (20 minutes, 1 point on 0-4 shooting, 4 assists and 1 steal) is not the point guard for this so-called system? It got so bad that I felt the need to throw him some love, because it is not about his skills — it is about his lack of urgency, his heart and understanding of being a well-rounded point guard. He is a back-up 2 guard which is why we found him on the Chicago bench. But there is something else wrong with Chris which has little to do with the basketball court. Of course, I have no idea what it is. No idea, but I would not be surprised if a year from now we find out that he is upset that he was not received as the leader of the team and that he felt undermined when he tried to step out front and criticized the team’s play. He is playing like someone who has lost total confidence because someone has lost confidence in him. I don’t know, but I’ve seen this type of effortlessness in life and work before. He needs a hug so that he could go back to being just a bad fit instead of a sad sack.
How good is Gallinari? It is impossible to judge by these games. If you judged by the score and his impact as a starting teammate, you would conclude “not so good.” When Gallo left with two fouls in the first quarter, you could see that the game is still a little fast for him except when he is standing on the ar waiting for the pass or coming around picks for the quick tre-j. Otherwise, he is slow on defense (doesn’t close quickly on shooters and is susceptible to being caught in screens) — he looks almost as lost as David Lee on D. Gallo has plenty of defensive mental laspes although his length allows him to be disruptive especially on broken down plays and rebounds.
If you looked at his numbers out of context, you would be deluded into thinking he is the best player on the floor. Against Milwaukee, Gallo shot 5-7 and got 15 points in 30 minutes with a perfect 3-3 from the tre-arc. In his 30 minutes, he had a plus-minus of +3, but his other stats were anemic: 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 fouls. It was not until Gallo left the floor in favor of Harrington that the Knicks quickly got into a DDD. So how good is he? He’s a rookie who probably should not be in the starting lineup, but quickly off the bench.
Harrington could be great if the Knicks concentrated on the inside offensive game. The first DDD was totally Harrington’s fault primarily. His first shot was a mid-range jumper stopping all ball movement. The first turnover after his entry into the game came after he went behind a dribbling Lee drawing his man to Lee resulting in the ball being swiped out of his hands and Harrington did not get back to defend the break fast enough. The next turnover was the result of him having his back to Duhon who bounced a pass off his butt. And Harrington’s lazy swipe at Jennings led to an And1 situation. Where was this guys head at?
David Lee is one of our best (and most consistent) scorers and this after all the talk last summer about Lee not fitting because of his offensive game. But that tells you not only how good he is, but what type of shape the Knicks are in. We may gain points with Lee on offense, but we give them back on D. There is no way DLee can stop the centers he is asked to guard. They are too big and too strong. Lee does a decent job of gaining position. But when you are 6’9″ posiitoning does not stifle someone 7′ and over. A dumb ass matchup. But worse is that Lee does not protect the paint when guards get by their man. Lee barely moves always leaving a nice wide lane to the hoop. Why is that Mr. Lee? What the hell are you thinking?
D’Antoni is a lousy coach (see David Lee as starting Center). Sure he won a lot of games, but he had a top flight coaching staff which included Marc Iavoroni guiding the defense and Alvin Gentry, who is now coaching the Suns. Both these guys are accomplished NBA guys and know something about defense. D’Antoni’s saving grace was MVP Steve Nash. The answer to the riddle of which came best, the Chicken (D’Antoni) or the egg (Nash), is that D’Antoni’s record came after the egg was hatched. Fanatics have been complaining since day 1 after the introductions that D’Antoni does not know defense. Now after D’Antoni admits that he needs to focus on defense, he can’t and herein lies the problem for the Knicks. D’Antoni is coaching outside of his element and style. He is trying to create a team on the fly because he does not know what he is doing, but the answer is right there in his face and was during training camp.
I will repeat it. Put Nate Robinson in the starting lineup and make Duhon (or Hughes) the two guard. The first guard off the bench should be Douglas. The remainder of the starting unit will be Chandler, Lee and Jeffries since he is too stubborn to start Milicic, Hill or Curry. That unit will not give up and will give you energy and a little more energy on defense. During training camp this unit was also a lot more physical, not afraid to use fouls. On this team, it is essential to have Jeffries on the floor because he will work. It is also important to get into Chandlers head and tell him to follow Harrington’s lead and go to the basket four times before he takes one mid-range jumper and six times before he takes a tre.
Harrington, Gallinari and Douglas off the bench will maintain the attention, focus and energy you need not to lose horribly. Sorry, but either Duhon or Hughes must sit (or use Landry). If Duhon is not going to give effort, it should be him. But, if he will defend, then he is a better shot than Hughes and should have the place on the rotation. I also imagine that putting Duhon on the bench will also disrupt the chemistry (ha ha) of the team for a while.
The bottom line is to get units on the floor that would give consistent effort. For whatever reason, probably because he was catering to vets, Isiah refused to recognize the obvious when his players refused to try and he left his second unit with Lee and Robinson in it to clean up the DDD mess. The Knicks are not this bad — but the coaching and effort are.
Turnovers and Loose Balls: I added several new teams and blogs to the “Behind Enemy Lines” sidebar. Included are websites for the Clippers, Grizzlies and Nuggets. All of the teams and corresponding websites should be up by next Sunday. . . . Look out for the opening of “FILTHY” — The Fanatic Institute of Leadership Technology and Higher Yearning.” This on-line education center will be established to train others how to lead in life and basketball. Tag Line — Get Down and Dirty With FILTHY Learning. . . .Brandon Jennings had 5 turnovers when he was taken out but scored 17 points in 26 minutes.
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