Thursday, December 31, 2009

Knicks lose to Nets...Should I Just Kill Myself?

Ok, so last night the Knicks helped the Nets snap a 10 game losing streak and win for just the third time all season. The final was 104-95, and it is just depressing that the Knicks cross river rivals were the ones to break the streak of keeping teams under 100 points that lasted 11 games. Obviously, it is very disappointing when the Knicks dominate the Pistons one night and then get crushed by the worst team in the NBA the next. Then again, who can expect any team in the NBA to win when Yi is in the opposing lineup?

Now for some bullets.

  • "The Chairman" Yi was an absolute beast, an unstoppable force. He dominated the low post with numerous hookshots, and finished with 22 points on 9-16, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals, and a +/- of +13 which led the Nets. Combined with Brook Lopez, it was just too much height for the Knicks.
  • David Lee and Brook Lopez were going at it and chatting it up all night. Lee won the statistical battle with what has been his norm lately, 24 and 15, plus he added a career high 8 assists, 2 blocks (!), and 2 steals. Nice work from the Knicks point center. Lopez was too big for Lee to handle on the other end, as he went for 21 and 14 with 4 blocks. While Lee got 14 of his 15 boards on the defensive end, half of Lopez' 14 were of the offensive variety, which really hurt the Knicks.
  • Larry Hughes has been in a stupor lately, and has not been making the impact as backup point guard that he was a few weeks ago.
  • Danilo had his most dreadful game of the season by my eyes. He had 3 turnovers and was 3-9 in 31 minutes. He tried a ridiculous driving, jumping, twirling behind the back pass that was easily stolen (but would have been amazing if he pulled it off). He got stripped a few times, and looked to be more sluggish than ever. I wish he would be more of a focal point of the offense, and I wish he would start to be consistently awesome instead of sporadically awesome.
  • Bender still doesn't look like he can move very quickly, but he managed 5 rebounds and 2 assists in 14 minutes, so that was good.
  • Duhon rained down a few early threes, which got him thinking he was actually good. How many times do we need to see Du Du airball heat check 3 point bombs after hitting a couple? Why can't he just be satisfied with nailing the good shots? Ugh. Duhon was good in the 1st and sucked majorly the rest of the game.12 points on 13 shots is far from ideal for a facilitator point guard.
  • Why does Al Harrington keep attempting 3 pointers? He should take a page from Josh Smith's book and only shoot close shots. He is shooting a nice 66% at the rim (better than guys like Amare and Bosh) He is shooting 30% on 3's, and therefore should not be attempting near his current 5.4 per game. He had 25 points on 10-19 shooting last night, which is good, but he was 1-6 on 3 point attempts. I'd rather he had 22 points on 9-13...
  • The Nets outplayed the Knicks. The shot well, and took more shots at the rim and less 3's than the Knicks, which made all the difference.
  • The Knicks defense seems to hinge on Jared Jeffries. He is the cornerstone, the lynchpin, and as much as I want him off the books so we can be assured room to sign Lee and LeBron, I hate to imagine how much worse the team will be without him. Maybe once/if he is dealt, Jordan Hill will fill his place with energy and activity, but Jeffries plays intelligently, something Hill may not yet be capable of.
  • Al Harrington doesn't seem to be all there, mentally. After stuffing Yi in the 4th quarter, you could see his heart and passion turn off his brain, as he fist pumped and cried out triumphantly. As he ran down to join the offense, you could just tell he was about to do something crazy, like maybe dunk and hang on the rim too long in celebration. This time he chose to go for an MJ'esque tomahawk slam from near the foul line, that unfortunately went awry, but at least he drew a foul. It is funny to see him get taken over by his emotions, even if the results are usually bad shots or fouls or techs.

That's all folks, hopefully next year will be better for the Knicks. See you in 2010.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Knicks Cruise to Victory Against Hapless Pistons

Great win for the Knicks tonight against the plummeting Pistons 104-87 in Detroit. David Lee was the star of the game and has been playing at superstar level for the past few games. Lee led the way with 30 points 12 rebounds and 5 assists. He scored in a variety of ways including long range jumpshots, drives starting from outside the 3 point line, layups off pick and rolls, and tip ins and put backs. D Lee was unstoppable and his 30 points came on a super efficient 13-19 shooting.

The rest of the Knicks played the part of role players and everyone seemed to chip in with a solid performance. Danilo Gallinari found his stroke and finished 4-9 on 3 pointers. Another efficient game from the Rooster, who really isn't looked to often by his teammates. Gallo also had a block. Jeffries was swarming to the ball and doing his usual routine, and did a nice job on the weak and small Pistons. He played just like you want him to, scoring 5 points on only 4 shots, with 8 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks. Wilson Chandler scored 23 points, snagged 9 rebounds, and had 3 steals and a block. Al and Duhon were quiet but efficient which is perfect.

Unfortunately Jon Bender looked shaky again, and Toney Douglas didn't show much either.

It was a rough night for Clyde the Glyde, who has been a little off his game lately if you ask me. He has been mumbling and not speaking with his usual flair and eloquency.

It was a slow game and the Knicks played equally well on offense and defense. They shot 51% and held the Pistons to 42%. The Pistons lacked an inside presence to slow down Lee, and lacked organization and flow on offense. Ben gordon was 6-9 and score 17 off the bench, and should be a starter in place of Rip Hamilton, who scored 16 points, and only took 11 more shots than Gordon.

The Knicks are showing a lot of promise for the playoffs, with David Lee really stepping up and dominating lately. His last 5 games he is averaging 22 points 15 rebounds and 4 assists and shooting 64%. The Knicks offense runs through Lee and I can't help but envision Lee and LeBron thriving together next year, but right now Lee is the clear star of the team. Good thing they resigned him!

Next up are the woeful Nets. Is it too much to ask for 2 easy wins in a row?

One Trick Rooster?

John Hollinger is a really smart basketball guy. I like reading his articles, and I like how he invented PER (player efficiency rating (duh)). I do not like how he incessantly talks smack about the Knicks and especially Gallinari.

I wrote recently about how the ESPN writers all preferred Michael Beasley over Gallinari, and how they all seemed to think Gallo is bad at defense and rebounding, and all he is good for is shooting 3's.

Hollinger talked about Danilo in his chat on today, and it showed he has probably not watched the Rooster play very much. Here is what went down in the chat:

Rotem (New York)
Do you think Gallinari should be in the 3 point contest? Also, do you think he'll be an all-star within 2 years? I do

John Hollinger (2:59 PM) I doubt Gallinari will ever be an All-Star. He's a one-trick pony but between the back and a general lack of athleticism I can't imagine him turning into a Nowitzki. I think he'd be a good choice for the 3-pt contest though.

He'd obviously be a good choice for the 3-point contest, and would no doubt win, sinking every shot, but he is not a one trick pony!!! He is a multi-trick Rooster! Let's list his tricks.
  1. Obviously, his number one trick is the 3 ball. Struggling as of late but still is at 40% this month. Pretty good for a slump.
  2. Newsflash. Gallo is a shot blocker. He is averaging 1.3 blocks per game this month, and 1.2 per 40 minutes on the year (.3 above league average).
  3. Gallo draws fouls nearly every time he puts the ball on the floor. He gets to the line a decent amount, but also gets teams in the penalty quicker by drawing non shooting fouls a ton. As he gains experience and confidence I am sure his and 1 opportunities will increase dramatically.
  4. The Rooster is a solid rebounder. It is tough to get a lot of boards when David Lee is sucking them all up, but Danilo has shown a fierce side on the glass, and is getting over 6 rebounds per 40 minutes, which is a lot considering how much time he is on the perimeter.
  5. He is a pesky and tough defender. He may be a step slow on closeouts, but he has shown the ability to stay in front of speedy point guards, using his length and savvy well.
  6. He is starting to show the midrange game. This is an area where Danilo can really utilize his size advantage to get easy buckets. Maybe Mike D'Antoni can give him some more looks curling off screens toward the elbow or picking and popping like David Lee.
  7. He can drive by you and slam it on you.
  8. He can sing!
Of course Gallinari can be an all star. He will probably finish this season averaging about 18 points per game, and will likely eclipse 20 ppg next year and be a 50/40/90 player. But Hollinger doesn't even think he is as good as a young Peja Stojakovic.

HeathMalc (Cleveland,Oh)

John Hollinger (3:01 PM)
As a young player, Peja was great at moving w/o the ball and a better rebounder than people realized. Gallo can't touch him in those phases.

Ok John...Peja's best rebounding year was 03-04, when he averaged 6.2 rebounds over 40 minutes per game. Gallo is currently averaging 5 rebounds in 30 minutes. Gallo is used to being on the ball so his off ball movement could use some work, but it is undeniable he has been getting more involved as the season progresses.

Just stop with the one trick pony stereotyping of Gallo and watch him play a little.

Knicks play the Pistons tonight, and hopefully Gallo will be matched up with fellow 6'10" handsome, young. hair gel loving European Jonas Jerebko, who hails from Sweden (google image search Jonas Jerebko...the third result is a picture of Gallo)


Friday, December 25, 2009

How Dwyane Wade Stole Christmas

You're a mean one Mr. Wade.

Dwyane Wade ruined my Christmas yesterday (not really I still had a wonderful time with my family), scoring 30 points, and many crucial buckets down the stretch to down the Knickerbockers by a score of 93-87. Wade was unstoppable slashing to the lane, and it seems like his jumper always starts falling once the 4th quarter starts. He hit some tough shots and showed why you need a superstar to win in the NBA.

The game was physical, ugly, and surely brought back plenty of memories of the knock down drag out wars that used to be routine between these two teams. The refs played a major role in the game also, giving Wade the unfortunately expected superstar calls, including one play where he shoved David Lee as hard as he could while chasing after a loose ball, and Lee was called for the foul. Heinous calls and no calls were frequent. And refs please stop calling travelling on Gallinari, just because he is gangly and goofy doesn't mean he is breaking the rules.

Al Harrington also played his part in the loss, shooting woefully and frequently. This guy has to stop bombing so many 3 pointers. He was 0-7 from deep and has been shooting an amazing percentage this season from close range. Al should play to his strengths and stop launching.

As part of the pre game media coverage, a bunch of ESPN analysts were asked which soph they would rather have, Danilo or Michael Beasley. Everyone picked Beasley, and they all seemed to think the Rooster is a one trick pony. A gunner, a shooter, a one dimensional player who is bad at defense. Maybe Gallo was trying to prove a point yesterday, as he shot a sub par 3-11 from downtown, but still managed 26 points on 18 shots. Everybody should know that Gallo is a versatile player, far more versatile than Super Cool Beas, who is shooting um, 20 percent on 3 pointers and is widely known to be a pitiful defender. Beasley impressed yesterday though, scoring 19 points, but Danilo won that argument. 8 rebounds and 3 assists also for the Rooster, who played nearly the whole game, logging a team high 43 minutes.He also wore some nice (hideous) Green Christmas shoes.

David Lee is on the verge of becoming a star in the league. He put up his normal double double, with 19 and 16, and any player who has an average game and scores 19 and boards 16 should be an all star. Lee nailed the outside jumper, banged down low, and worked his magic with the right and the left. His defense on the nearly 7 foot Jermaine O'neal was a little rough, but it must be tough to close out on a 7 foot jump shooter with a high release when you are 6'9".

Q-Rich reminded the Garden faithful what he's all about, going 1-7 on 3 pointers. Wilson Chandler was the only other Knick besides Lee and Rooster who played well, netting 15 points on 11 shots. Bender looks like he may have been a flash in the pan. He seems to want to be a go to scorer instead of the role player he is. He should stick to the corner 3 and stop turning it over every dribble drive. Knicks fans chanted we want Nate a lot throughout the game, because I guess they thought we needed to give the heat some easy baskets.

The loss snapped a six game home winning streak, which will hopefully start anew against the Spurs tomorrow at the Garden. I will likely be in attendance (if you have tickets you need to sell, let me know) with my best friend and newly converted Knicks fan, Connor, who is visiting for the holidays from sunny Santa Monica. It would be nice for the Knicks to hit more than 18 percent of their 3 pointers. Come on Knicks, do it for Connor.

Hope you all managed to enjoy Christmas even though the Knicks couldn't pull off the victory. At least they are playing hard and competing every game. The defense has been solid and the playoffs look like a serious possibility if the team keeps up the hard nose play and if they can just hit a few more treys. Just think, next Christmas we will be watching the marquee matchup, Knicks vs. Lakers, LeBron vs. Kobe. What a present that would be.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Knicksmas

Hi everybody. Just wanted to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. Santa comes tonight but I'm more excited for the game against the Heat tomorrow. I already got some great gifts (Knicks Lakers tix!), but all I want for Christmas is a Knickerbocker W. It is a rare national broadcast for the Knicks, and a chance for the team to show the ignorant people out there that they are a force to be reckoned with in the NBA. And everybody knows Christmastime is Rooster Time!

Ho Ho Ho and Cockadoodle doo.

P.S. sorry for not recapping the last couple games. I watched them but decided to take a little holiday from the blog. Tomorrow I'll have a recap up soon after the game. Let's go Knicks.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lay off the Pringles Man

A lot of hate is being tossed around toward Mike D'Antoni after the past 2 crushing losses. In the words of Michael Jackson in South Park, "that's ignorant"
Here's how I feel about it:

Everyone acts like it is easy to take a crappy team and turn it into gold. Rome wasn't built in a day ya know. The Knicks just don't have enough talent to consistently win. Look at the good teams in the NBA...The Lakers have Kobe, Pau, Bynum, Artest, and Odom who are all better than any single Knick player. The Magic have Howard, Lewis, Carter, and Nelson, who would all be upgrades for the Knicks. Boston has Allen, Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, Perkins. The Suns have Nash, J-Rich, Stoudemire. The Hawks have Johnson, Horford, Smith, Crawford. I mean just about every team who is successful just flat out has loads more talent than the Knicks. It's a fact of life right now we have to deal with.
Remember a few years ago when Celtics fans thought Doc Rivers was the worst coach in the NBA? Now he is a god there, ever since he happened upon acquiring KG and Ray Allen. D'Antoni was a coaching legend in Phoenix thanks to Nash, Amare and Co, now he is hated by Knicks fans for not putting a good product out there. Talent makes a coach, coaches don't win games, the players do, and the Knicks don't have enough.
There just aren't many things for Donnie Walsh and D'Antoni to do right now. The most sound plan is to hope to get LeBron. What other ways do you know of to instantly turn a bad team into a contender? Sure they could have been better if they signed Sessions, and maybe they made a mistake in the draft this year. The thing is the Knicks have repeatedly gone for the quick fix, like Marbury or Curry or Randolph or whatever, and it hasn't worked, so no we have to be patient and if LeBron does sign, everybody is happy and Walsh is a genius and I'm sure D'Antoni will have better success utilizing the King than Mike Brown in Cleveland.

I don't like people acting like there is a clear, quick, easy and surefire fix that D'Antoni and Walsh are missing. There isn't one. The team is not good enough, but they are still my team so I cheer, hope for wins, have discussions about what should be done, enjoy the glimpses of Gallo's star potential, etc. Just don't blindly bash the team you supposedly love when there aren't any real solutions right now.

And if you think Nate Robinson is the solution, well "that's just ignorant."

Knicks shoot themselves out of a Win

I don't really want to talk about what happened last night. The Bulls sagged on defens and conceded the 3, and the Knicks were happy to go along with the plan. They shot a franchise record 3 point attempts, and missed a lot. The team attempted more 3's than 2's. I'm flabbergasted.

For the first time in his career Danilo had a very bad game. He was lazily chucking threes for the first three quarters before he turned it on in the 4th. He did end up with 18 points on 17 shots, but was a team worst -22. I was not happy last night. Is he hurt? Is he just sore and tired from what is essentially his rookie season? I hope this was just a fluke bad game but the rooster did not have any pep in his step.

The whole team lacked pep, and maybe it is because only 6 guys played major minutes. Maybe Coach D'Antoni should look at the way Taj gibson and the rest of the Bulls reserves outplayed the Knicks regulars. Is it time to expand the rotation and give Toney Douglas and Jordan Hill some more playing time? Judging by how fatigued the guys looked last night, I think the gameplan might need a little tweaking.

Tonight the Blake Griffinless Clippers come to town for Friday Night Knicks, and as always, let's hope for a big win to get the Knickerbockers back on track. That would be a huge help in forgetting the travesty we watched last night.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

David Lee, attrocious D

David Lee was playing matador D in crunch time last night, and many fans are likely wondering whether he is worth keeping around for the future. Lots of people think Lee is a sixth man energy guy who thinks he's a star, mainly because he sucks at defense.  Lee is a top notch offensive player but his defense is no doubt below average. He has shown more effort this year than last I think, but if he was really a blue collar hustle player, I think that would convert to defense.

Lee is very agile and athletic on offense, he has decent size at 6'9" and 250 pounds, and has good leaping ability. He gets a lot of offensive rebounds and putbacks on a quick second jump. He obviously reads offensive situations very well, knowing how and when to cut off the pick and roll. Judging from Lee's offensive abilities, it seems like he has the quicks, size, athleticism, awareness, and desire to be a great defender. So why does he suck at defense so much?

Maybe it's effort. He exerts himself on offense, so maybe he saves his energy on defense. He doesn't exactly look to be in the best physical shape, and you never hear stories about his outstanding work ethic or anything about his training in the offseason. Maybe he just relaxes in the offseason. I have no idea and I hope this is not the case.

It's possible Lee just doesn't get it on the defensive end. A huge part of being a good defensive player is mental, and maybe a guy like Shane Battier just understands how to play D, and a super athletic guy like Derek Rose or Nate Robinson just do not have the innate ability to defend. David Lee might just be like that.

He could just be mailing it in because he realizes the team sucks. If LeBron James comes to the Knicks, he will instantly bring with him the belief that the team will be champs. David Lee may be more motivated and confident with LeBron leading the Knicks. LeBron would demand Lee step up, and maybe he will. He may have some potential to untap.

Lee has played some occasional good defense this season, and maybe he will step up his game and lead the team. The Knicks do not have a clear leader, but right now I think David Lee is the best thing they got. Maybe Danilo if he is given a bigger role from D'Antoni could be that guy.

Here is a good post that I pretty much agree with completely. Good example of Lee's lackluster defense.

Thoughts from Bobcats Tragedy

  • Jared Jeffries picked up a bunch of charges, and leads the league. He flops more than professional soccer players.
  • Gerald Wallace is the antithesis of Jared Jeffries. Jeffries gets easily knocked over from minimal contact, Wallace plows guys over with maximal contact.
  • Doing what they do best.
  • The Bobcats jersies have really stupid collars that don't go all the way around the neck

Who designed this?
  • Danilo "Dikembe" Gallinari had 2 blocks in just 21 minutes last night. He is averaging 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game in December. Who says he is just a glorified Wally Szczerbiak?
  • I love Mike D'Antoni, but why can't he play Gallinari for 36 minutes per game? Or throw Toney Douglas some minutes when Hughes and Duhon begin to falter.
  • Jonathan Bender is only 28. He is 7 feet tall and has been training with an olympian high jumper for a long time. I am drinking the Bender Kool-Aid right now and can't wait to see him in action.
  • I said to myself heading into the fourth quarter "this is one of the games the Knicks usually blow, but they are different now." I guess I was wrong.
  • Jeffries for 3!
  • JJ was +15 on the game and Gallo was the only other Knickerbocker in the positives with a +2. Hughes and Al were -15 each and Wil was -14 despite playing well.
  • 43 turnovers makes for some ugly basketball. Gotta take better care of the ball.
  • I hate when Eddy Curry is in the game. It is like telling the opponent "ok we aren't trying to win for a few minutes, we need to force it to Eddy so we can showcase him for a trade." Winning should be the top priority.
  • The Bobcats don't have many fans.
  • The Knicks have been playing a lot of zone. I personally hate playing against a zone, and it is amazing to see how much trouble NBA teams have against the Knicks nebulous 2-3/3-2. Jeffries is the crux, his length and agility up top can close out on shooters, disrupt passing lanes, and come with the help block.
  • Duhon missed 2 out of 3 foul shots and Gallo missed 1 of 2. Rare.

Knicks lose to Bobcats, Make me Cry

The Knicks should have won last night. They played very hard and had one of their best defensive showings of the year, but the pressure of Larry Brown's defense led to a ton of Knicks turnovers (21) which cost them the game. Jared Jeffries was all over the place and scored a few buckets too, having probably his best game of the year and showing why he gets PT. Gallo seemed out of it, was almost scared to shoot, and missed a few treys by a couple miles. He did get his usual 2 blocks in just 22 minutes, prompting me to ponder who will go down as the better shot blocker, Danilo or Dikembe?

The Knicks had 10 swats last night

You could feel the momentum swing in the Bobcats favor as the Knicks sluggishly finished the 3rd quarter and let the Bobcats back within single digits. It was deja vu when Raymond Felton stuck the dagger in with 2 uncontested layups down the stretch, which I think he did at the Garden in the previous fiasco against the Bobcats.

I really hate this guy

Why is Eddy Curry playing? I know they want to showcase him or whatever, but is anybody dumb enough to want to trade for him? The only reason anyone would trade for Curry is if it saves them money down the road. For example, maybe the Bobcats deal Desagana Diop and Acie Law for Eddy Picante. Diop's contract goes into 2011/2012, when he will make an insane 7 million, but it would lower the Knicks cap figure by about 4 million next year. The Bobcats would like it because it would save them a couple million over the long term. Is it worth it getting that extra cap space for next year if you have to take back one of the worst contracts in the NBA? I don't know. I just wish Jordan Hill or Toney Douglas were getting minutes instead of Eddy.

The Knicks will bounce back tomorrow against the Bulls. It's just the beginning of another winning streak.

Bender, star of 2010 Knicks?

Monday, December 14, 2009

An Early Christmas Present (Not About Jonathan Bender)

Wow this made my day. Some guy Big C makes Knicks video mixes and today he let his latest video out on the internets, and I gotta say it is an instant classic. Just watch it. See all Big C's videos at

In other Knicks news, they have signed former Indiana Pacer Jonathan Bender. He came out of high school as a raw 7 footer with guard skills, and was supposed to be in KG's mold, but bad knees put a stop to his career a bunch of year ago. Now he is back and we have to assume better than ever. Some think this signing indicates a coming trade, maybe of a big man, but I think it is just Donnie Walsh helping out an old player of his who is supposedly a great guy and hard worker. The contract is non guaranteed so no risk really. Optimistic fans, dream that he is bigger stronger faster than he once was and maybe becomes Jared Jeffries with a jump shot.

LeBron DeBate

As a New Yorker I like to think that this is the best city in the world. Every day I feel priveleged to walk amongst the skyscrapers, thinking about how many billions of people have saved up to come here for vacation, to witness America in all it's capitalistic glory. Some people not from here, like people from Cleveland or something, probably think New York isn't so great and has rats and bums and LeBron can be just as huge staying in Cleveland.

I think LeBron will be a Knick. The Cavs are a pretty crappy team sans LBJ, and the 2010 Knicks will be an awesome team, regardless of the supporting cast, if they have LeBron. The media makes a big deal about supporting cast, but LeBron is bigger than that, and NY prob has a better supporting cast to build around anyway (ahem Danilo Gallinari ahem). I don't like talking much about LeBron because I care so much about the season at hand, but once the off season comes I will talk much much much more about it.

Here is a great discussion NBA fanhouse talking about the possibilities for the King. It's a real good read and covers a lot of the sides of the hypothetical debate that will not be over until the summer.

For all the NY haters (I doubt any read this blog, not many people read this blog at all) just look at these pics of and try not to be filled with awe.

Knicks best 5 man unit is # 3 in NBA

If I had to guess the Knicks most effective lineup, I would go with Lee Jeffries Gallinari Chandler and Hughes. Jeffries Chandler and Hughes bring the D, Gallo does it all, and Lee takes care of the offense and the resounding rebounding. I would be wrong though.

According to, the best 5 man unit on the team, and the 3rd best in the entire NBA (with at least 5% of the teams minutes) is Duhon, Hughes, Harrington, Jeffries, and Lee. With this group on the floor, the Knicks allow a mere 79.37 points per 100 possesions, which is the 9th best number in the NBA. Are these group of guys the 9th best defensive 5 man unit, ahead of groups like the Magic's Nelson, Carter, Pietrus, Barnes, Howard? Probably not, but it has to mean something.

On offense this group of 5 scores 133.87 points per 100 possesions. Theoretically, this means that if this team played 100 possesions together, the score over that span of time would be 134-79, and their overall rating is +54.5. In actuality, when on the court together this group has outscored their foes 83-50. Not bad for the group of vets. It is still early in the season, but it will be interesting to keep an eye on the numbers as the season progresses.

Looking some more at the 5 man units, it seems like whenever Wilson Chandler is in the game, the team struggles. If you look at the individual plus minus numbers, Wil is the rotation player who has the worst impact on the team. The team is 3.04 point per 100 possesions better on offense without Wil, and surprisingly 4.7 points per 100 possesions better without Wil on the defensive end.

The Knicks rotation players who make a positive impact on defense are in order, Jeffries, Hughes and Danilo. Lee, Chandler, Harrington and Duhon are in the red for defensive rating.

On offense Harrington, Hughes, Lee, and amazingly Jeffries are impacting positively, while Nate, Chandler and Duhon are bringing the negatives.

I'm no stat guru, and I am sure that the conclusions to be drawn from these stats are debatable. It is early in the season, and as the sample size grows thing will become more clear. But I would like to think that the Knicks 5 vets are the 3rd best unit in basketball, behind only the Magic group of Nelson, Redick, Barnes, Anderson, Howard; and the Warriors team of Curry, Ellis, Morrow, Radman, and Randolph.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Knicks Remain Unstoppable

I guess it is about time to admit the truth. The Knicks are unbeatable. They have now won 4 games in a row, and my quick attempt at research told me that they haven't achieved this since March 4th, 2005. Tonight they toyed with the New Orleans Hornets, playing them even for about 3 and a half quarters and catching fire in the last 5 minutes. The Knicks trailed by one, 96-95 with 4:43 left on the clock. In the final 4 minutes minutes the Knicks attempted seven three pointers, and made six. First Duhon hit what would be the game winning 3 pointer from well beyond the arc, then he came back down and sank one from even deeper on the wing to put the team ahead 101-96. Next up was Al Harrington, who coolly drained two consecutive bombs of his own to stick the dagger in the Hornets, it Knicks 107-96. Duhon was banking and thanking with 1:06 left as he dropped his third three of the serquence off glass, and the bank remained open for Danilo Gallinari with the clock winding down and the Knicks won the hard fought game, 113-96.

Just as amazing as this stretch of three pointers was the fact that the Knicks held the Hornets scoreless for the final 5 minutes of the 4th. Staunch D and a barrage of threes is a recipe for wins if you ask me. Gallo and Jeffries both played pesky defense, and had 2 blocks a piece. Ragdoll also had 3 steals. The Knicks continue with this newfound swarming defense, and they had 7 steals and 7 blocks as a team. I love it!

The Knicks are playing like a true team, and embracing the key to Mike D'Antoni's offensive system, ball movement and unselfish play. Everyone is taking good shots for the most part, they are looking for each instead of jacking up shots, and making smart decisions. Lee, Harrington, Duhon, Gallinari, Chandler, and Jeffries all could be player of the game.

Harrington led all scorers with 28 points (only 20 shots!) and hit the 2 clutch threes. Wil the Thrill had 20 points on 15 shots, played strong defense and had 3 blocks. Duhon ran the show and had 9 assists to 0 turnovers, scored 22 points on just 11 shots, and also was huge in the clutch. Welcome back Chris Duhon wow keep it up please. Jeffries didn't do much on offense, which is a good thing, only had 1 turnover, and wreaked mild havoc and flopped frequently. David Lee and the Rooster had typically awesome games. Lee had a solid 17 and 14, and did a decent job on defense. Gallo was 4-8 and 2-4 on 3's, and notched his third double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He is consistently awesome, and keeps getting better. You now see little things like a smart cut to the basket, crashing the offensive glass, deflecting passes, and scoring off a pull up mid range jumper. I can't imagine he will be out of the starting lineup for long, but right now there is no reason to mess with the teams success.

The Hornets played ok and Chris Paul was very enjoyable to watch. He is so in control of everything on offense, it really seems like he can do whatever he wants. He finds his teammates with simple passes for open looks over and over. He had 13 and 13, but it was a poor game by his standards. Peja Stojakovic hurt the Knicks in the first half with a bunch of 3's but was a nonfactor after that. The defense of the Hornets couldn't do anything and allowed the Knicks to shoot 55 percent from the field, and 52 percent on 3's.

It is getting pretty normal to see the Knicks go down big early, 11-0 tonight, and end up winning.

My hopes keep getting higher for this team, and the playoffs look like a real possibility. Next up are the Bobcats, Bulls, Clippers, Bobcats and Bulls, and a 9 game winning streak.

Al Harrington banked home a half court halftime buzzer beater, and Duhon put on a show for his Momma in NOLA.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gallo on the Rise

ESPN writer David Thorpe has a running column featuring the top 20 NBA sophs, and guess who is climbing the rankings? Danilo debuted as the 13th best second year player, but in the second installment is up to 8th. In my eyes he should undoubtedly be higher. I'm sure next week he will continue his climb. Anyway check out what Thorpe has to say about The Rooster.
"The Knicks are on the upswing, and Gallo is part of the reason why. He continues to be a shooting threat and has scored in double figures in three of their recent wins. He's also making defensive contributions, adding 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks so far in December.

Knicks fans are surely envisioning his skills meshing well with a certain MVP-caliber 3-man. I'll put it another way: If Gallo was a Cav, Cleveland would be the best team in basketball."
It is nice that Gallo and the Knicks are starting to get some positive attention from the national media, and also that Danilo is getting props for his defense. He has been blocking shots, stealing the ball, and wreaking havoc on D. He is a little slow to closeout a shooter now and again, but he has been much more active on both sides of the ball and will only continue to improve.

In response to Thorpe's hypothetical situation with Gallo on the Cavs, I think it would work the other way around as well, and if Bron was a Knick, they'd be the best team in the NBA. Hopefully if he does join the Knicks, he won't act like such a douche.

Here is a link to the Full Article. (Might be Insider only)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Goodbye Nate the Great?

Nate Robinson used to be one of my favorite Knicks. He played his butt off every game, made some of the most unbelievable plays (like blocking Yao, who is 2 feet taller), and showed desire and hustle that the Knicks lacked. He is also jacked like a mini TO.

Nate has always been an entertainer, and now it looks like he'd be more valuable for Vince McMahon than Mike D'Antoni. Nate has always needed to mature, and grow up, and take the game more seriously, and now that he is a veteran 25 year old, his antics are far less excusable than in years past. Nate has been benched that last few games, and when he doesn't play much, the Knicks appear to be much better off as a team. Surprisingly Nate has kept it professional, and is not throwing any Twitter tantrums, so that is good, but he may be stuck to the pine for a while. He is eligible to be traded on the 15th Christmas Eve, so expect the rumors to start flying.

Some fans seem to be pining for Nate to be freed from the pine (outdated reference, they don't sit on a pine bench they sit in metal chairs), but the proof is in the pudding, and the Knicks do not have minutes for Nate.

Nate may be a good scorer but he is bad for the team. He celebrates when they lose. I think this is a main reason why he is benched. Sure he shot 10 for 11 in the 4th against the Magic, but the team did not gain any ground during that stretch, and they still lost. If you watched Nate after he hit his 6th or 7th shot, you would think the Knicks had just sealed a victory, yet they were persistently down by 10. If I were D'Antoni, I wouldn't want a guy celebrating like that while losing. He just doesn't get it, it's about the team.

Imagine if a baseball player hit his 3rd homerun of the game (and his team is losing say, 10-3 in the 9th) admired the blast from home for a little too long, pumped his fist around the bases, tossed his helmet up as he crosses home, and takes a curtain call from the dugout. This is essentially what Nate was doing down the stretch against the Magic. He seemingly cares about individual success over team success, and that is why he is benched. He cleary does not know how to Do What Toney Douglas Do, and I think Douglas is better than Nate anyway.
Who could the Knicks acquire for the Lilliputian leaping lighting bolt? There are some issues with trading him. First off, Nate has the right to reject any trade since he signed a 1 year deal for his old team or something. Despite this, he isn't likely to reject going to a team where he'd be guaranteed minutes. Another thing is the base year compensation stuff (details here . I don't know a lot about it, I know it makes it hard to match salaries for cap purposes, so it will be tough to deal Nate to another team that is over the cap. The Thunder are under the cap, and maybe they'd like to bring in Nate as a backup guard to help with the playoff rally, in exchange for one of their 2 first round picks(the better of which will likely be in the 12-16 range). Maybe if Curry gets back in shape the Thunder would like Nate and Eddy Picante for a first rounder and...wait no nevermind they won't do that. Whatever happens it will be interesting to see how the Nate situation goes down.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I miss Z-Bo

I am watching the Grizzlies game against the Cavs on NBA TV and it really makes me sad watching the force that is Z-Bo dominating for another team. The Knicks were wise to take the deal, but Donnie Walsh sure didn't show his usual patience with dealing Z-Bo. If the Knicks held on to Z-Bo last season, they would have probably finished better off than they did. They might have got a better player in the draft if they had a better record and picked in the late lottery (Lawson would be my guess, how cool would that be?). Also, Z-Bo's contract does not look so as bad since you only have to pay him for one more year. The Knicks would be looking to deal Z-Bo now, and I am pretty sure he would be putting up over 20 ppg and 10 rpg. In the end it was too risky not to deal at the first offer, since we now hypothetically can get LeBron or Wade. Joe Johnson would be nice too, but beyond him I really don't rate Bosh that much higher than Z-Bo.

Z-Bo was a graceful scorer for the Knicks, and his interesting look and equally interesting attitude and play style made for great entertainment. His jumpshot did not involve jumping, and in fact he rarely jumped at all. D'Antoni did like Zach's game, and might be looking to sign him when Curry and Jeffries expire for 2011, in my dreamworld. For more of my thoughts on the greatness that was Zach Randolph, check out my tribute to him.

I now leave you with this quote from the Memphis Grizzlies announcer, with a bit of a southern twang,

"Zach Randolph has done it all year for the Grizzlies. Just don't know if there could have been a better fit for the Grizzlies than Zach Randolph. Lemme tell you what, I'm gonna say off the court too. He has been absolutely a dream and every time the grizzlies do something, it's 3 rookies and zach. He's there everytime."

Wow never thought I'd hear anyone say such kind words for Zach, but good work Z-Bo.

Also, check out this story about Randolph's untradeable contract. Interesting read in hindsight (they underestimated Isiah Thomas). This guy may have been ahead of his time talking about the value of the 2010 free agent crop, and there are some real funny comments that he was way off. For example, the guy says Eddy Curry is a reasonably decent value at under 12,000,000, but says Jason Richardson is more borderline untradeable.

Update: The Grizz went on to win the game in OT behind a monster night from Z-Bo. 32 points on 19 shots, 14 rebounds (7 offensive), 4 steals, 2 assists, a block (!) and only 1 turnover. The Bull is a monster.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Knicks are Unstoppable

The Knicks are on a 3 game winning streak for the first time all season, and are now 4-1 in December. They just beat the Blazers with relative ease, 93-84, and are looking like they might actually be a good NBA team. The Knicks played real team basketball and were simply the better team on both ends of the ball throughout the game. Brandon Roy could not muster any heroics, and the Blazer team looked lackluster and a step slow throughout. The Knicks featured a quintet of double digit scorers, featuring efficient output from Larry Hughes, David Lee, Wilson Chandler, and of course, Danilo Gallinari. Those four combined to score 66 points on 46 shots (I think that's good). The defense was described as "swarming" for the first time in a long time, and the team forced 18 turnovers, led by 2 blocks and 2 steals for both Jared Jeffries and the Rooster. Gallo had 2 emphatic Cockblocks on Andre Miller, and could be a developing shot blocker.

Look out NBA Gallo keeps breaking out new tricks.

All in all the team rocked the house and played awesome, again without the Lilliputian one seeing a minute.

More random thoughts from the game:

  • Kelly Tripucka has got to be one of the worst sports commentators out there. He seems like a great guy and was mentioned a bunch of times in Bill Simmon's book, which gives him some cred, but he is a run-on sentence waiting to happen. Here is an example, from the pregame talk. This is all said in one breath, as one sentence, with little to no audible pauses. "Oh I think mike it starts with playing hard and they have to play hard every single night i think they're doing that for longer stretches but i think as the players and the coaches spoke, they're playing more as a team at both ends of the court but i think defensively they're playing better for longer stretches, they don't have to be a good defensive team or a great defensive team they just have to be good in spots for longer stretches and i think they're starting to get that and its nice to see team basketball." It also doesn't make much sense. Makes me miss Clyde so much more. What happened to Gus Johnson by the way?
  • Tripucka did make a solid comment when he talked about how Jeffries needs to learn what he is good at and stick to that and not do what he isn't good at, like shooting.
  • The Knicks made hustle plays all game and that is the type of thing that is totally in the players control. Nice to see proud, motivated play.
  • Al Harrington started ice cold and stayed that way. He ended with 12 points on 15 shots.
  • Gallo had one of his best games despite shooting only 4 for 10, 3 for 7 from deep. It seemed like he drew ten fouls. After Martell Webster blatantly tugged The Rooster's jersey for a silly off the ball foul, I thought to myself "These teams are scared to give him an inch. Smart foul because it sends him to the line for 2 points and he would have most likely nailed a 3."
  • Gallo also forced a turnover by blanketing point guard Jared Bayless off a made basket, denying the inbound. Duhon stole, and Al finished it off with a 3.
  • Jared "Ragdoll"Jeffries is the king of taking charges. He had 2 today and the Knicks team as a whole made big plays that don't show on the stat sheet.
  • Toney Douglas did what Toney Douglas Do, but only for a measley 11 minutes. 
  • Nobody shined for the Blazers, and their star Brandon Roy was not much of a factor. I still love watching him play. It is like he is underwater or in molasses. He has a very methodical and unique game.
  • Jared Bayless looks like a player. Kind of in the mold of Monta Ellis, very explosive. 14 points in 17 minutes
  • Chris Duhon had an acceptable game by his lowered standards. He had 9 assists which is a lot these days, and the ball was moving crisply most of the game. I don't know how much Duhon's supposed facilitating of the offense influenced this, but he did play very hard and was all around ok.

  • For the halftime show, they should definitely televise whenever they have little kids play basketball. It is riveting. Also, Celine Dion is a terrible interview, poor Jill Martin.
  • Jared Jeffries made a long jump shot!
  • Juwon Howard?
  • The Blazers had a 14-0 run in the fourth extinguished by Danilo's signature stutter step three from the top of the key. Right before this happened I wrote in my notes "Rooster Time?" I kid you not.
  • David Lee could be earning himself some big bucks this season. He is consistently very good, and is improving at his major weakness, defense. He really stroked the jumper tonight. I just tried to google search for his shooting percentage on jump shots, but all I could find was this David Lee Jumpshot Secrets. 
It was nice to have another end to end win, like the Suns game. Dangerous thoughts are going through my head. Could they be beginning a ten game winning streak? Are the Knicks actually good. If any of you read Bill Simmons Book of Basketball, he talks about the secret. It comes from a convo with our very own Isiah Thomas, who says like a wise sage "the secret of basketball is not about basketball." It's basically team chemistry, knowing how to make your teammates better, passing players the ball where they like it, keeping everyone involved and going to your strengths, inherently knowing what it takes to win and executing. I think Mike D'Antoni knows the secret, and I am beginning to feel like the Knicks may have figured it out.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ya Gotta Take the Crookeds with the Straights

      The Knicks decimated the top of the table Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, by a baffling score of 126-99, while amazingly holding the high flying Suns under 100 for the first time all year. How did they do it? The ball was moving, the dishes were leading to swishes (31 team assists), and the whole team was hustling, bustling and muscling their way to every loose ball. It was truly a beatiful thing to behold. I was skeptic yet hopeful at the half with a 13 point lead, with the knowledge that the team was playing its best ball of the season, but also remembering how abruptly the Knicks often turn for the worse. Luckily the Rooster spread his wings and flew in the 3rd quarter, as the team actually built on a lead and was up by 24 after the period.

The Knicks actually blew a team out, and cruised to an easy win. Today was filled with suspense. Would the Knicks play two great games in a row and beat Superman and the Magic? Unfortunately the answer was no, the tables turned, and the Knicks were beaten handily. The score was a semi-respectable 118-104, thanks to a late run by the Future Knicks.

The big win against the Suns was a euphoric experience. I had almost forgotten what it felt like to root for a good team. The Knicks, Mets and Jets so rarely win in convincing fashion, and every win or loss is a heart attack waiting to happen. The sublime feeling of watching my favorite team dominate one of the best in the NBA was probably magnified exponentially by the rareness in which games like these occur. If the Knicks ever get consistently good, I will probably be a happier fan, but the win against the Suns was like a guy getting out of jail and sleeping with his lady for the first time in a long time.

Danilo Gallinari was at his best all game, showing a dazzling array of abilities and playing with a cocksure swagger. He led all scorers with 27 points on 6-12 from beyond the arc, and added 10 boards, 2 blocks, 2 assists, and some pizzazz for the crowd. The Knicks decided to thaw out the Rooster, and he was noticeably given a more prominent role in the offense. He was cutting, getting passes down low, coming off screens, crashing the boards, and of course raining all kinds of 3's. He hit one of an iso dribble from about 5 feet beyond the top of the key as the shot clock expired. Danilo got 19 shots, and he deserves 20+ per game.

Gallo showed his versatility and star potential with a flurry of great plays. Just check out these highlights and tell me he can't be a star.

David Lee was great and is becoming more of a scorer, Larry Hughes ran the offense better than Duhon ever could with 12 assists, and Jared Jeffries had a +/- of +30.

The loss against the Magic was easy to take. After such a great win against the Suns, I would be greedy to expect the Knicks to win again, against another top team. Basically Rashard Lewis and Mikael Pietrus burned the arena down in the 3rd quarter. The Knicks were crushed, but this also brought me great joy. Why? Because for a long stretch of the 4th quarter, we saw a glimpse of the future, as Jordan Hill, Gallo, Wil, Marcus Landry, and Toney Douglas shared the court for the first time. Unlike nearly every lineup the Knicks utilize, this group of young guns are all a pretty good bet to be on the squad next year. It was nice to see D'Antoni let them get out there, mesh, and get better together. Douglas, Chandler,and Landry all looked particulary good tonight.

Gallo turned a poor shooting night into a decent game, ending up with 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 3 assists despite only going 5-14. He was aided by 10 free throws, of which he made 8. The scouting report is out, and the Magic defenders (Matt Barnes, Rashard Lewis, and Mikael Pietrus), all played very tough, physical, and tight D on Gallo. It seems like most of Gallo's forays to the hoop end in a trip to the line, where he is at 88% for his career. If the 3 is not there, Gallo should be more assertive in driving to the rim. Or maybe he can just keep shooting 3's which may be the most efficient play, I dunno. Perhaps the best thing about this game for Danilo was he played 40 minutes in the second game of a back to back. If his playing time stays like this I will be a happy man.

The future Knicks were fun to watch. Toney Douglas is a sharp shooter, and  could be superceding Nate as the 1st guard off the bench. As he gets more playing time, I look forward to Toney eventually taking over the point guard reigns. He had 17 points in 21 minutes, shooting 7-11. Marcus Landry is solid and looks like he will be at least a good defensive role player, who can also shoot the 3. If he improves like his brother Carl on the Rockets has, he could become more than a role player.  I was so pumped by all 5 Knicks of the future playing together it made me forget about the blowout and feel kinda good about where this team is headed. Coach D'Antoni was getting after these guys late in the blowout, and wants them to be good just as bad as we do.  Hopefully as the a chance at the playoffs approaches mathematical impossibility, these 5 young Knickerbockers will get more and more burn.

I am becoming very adept at enjoying watching bad teams. Like August Wilson wrote in his play Fences "You gotta take the crookeds with the straights" and with the Knicks, you also gotta find the straights in the crookeds.