Amar'e Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert both returned from injuries to play for the Knicks last night.
Unfortunately, neither one's presence and/or offensive firepower was enough to propel their team to victory as the Knicks suffered a 118-110 loss at the hand of the Bobcats.
The Bobcats, who in fact improved to 2-4 as the Knicks fell to that same record, really appeared to have their opponent's number last night.
Charlotte exposed the Knicks' defense (or lack there of), allowing Gerald Henderson to take Landry Fields to school all game long, torching him for 24 points. Also spreading the floor well for the Bobcats for a plumped up Boris Diaw, who of course had the breakout season(s) of his career while being coached by Mike D'Antoni on the Phoenix Suns. Diaw went amuck for a 27 points and sunk three shots from beyond the arc.
One would think after helping him explode onto the NBA scene, D'Antoni would know exactly how to prevent Diaw from scoring. Boy, would they be wrong. Big man Byron Mullens did his best Josh Harrellson impression, adding 16 points on an array of jump shots for the Bobcats, who had five scorers reach double-figures.
The Knicks' defense looked stumped, and the team merely admitted such, with multiple players praising the Bobcats as though they were a championship contender. New York played "catch-up" nearly the entire game, falling behind as many as fourteen points.
Allowing the Bobcats to exploit their defensive weaknesses was certainly problem number one, but the fact of the matter is some major difficulties still existed for the Knicks on offense, even with STAT and Shumpert taking the court last night.
Stoudemire had an impressive return with 25 points and an even more crucial 12 rebounds (the Knicks actually out-rebounded their opponent for the first time this season). There is no doubt that he was involved in the offense, as was Carmelo Anthony, who scored a game-high 32 points.
Aside from Iman Shumpert, who scored an excitable 18 points in his own return, the Knicks still struggled to get other key pieces effectively involved in their offense. Though the offense of STAT and Melo may be enough to lead the way on an average night, giving up 118 points to the Bobcats does not qualify (or at the very least, should never qualify), as a common occurrence.
That said, to compensate for the points allowed, other Knicks needed to score. Fields looks like a fish out of water on the court, even more so than he did initially following the trade for Anthony. Though Toney Douglas is averaging double-digits, his offensive impact is doing more bad than good for the Knicks as of late, only converting on six of his seventeen shot attempts last night, good for an underwhelming 13 points.
At 2-4, including three losses to seemingly weaker teams, there is certainly room for improvement for the New York Knicks. It's important that the team's offense and defense begin to click during the same game on a daily basis, and when they don't, it is imperative the offense overcomes any misshapes (i.e. allowing Boris Diaw to score 27 points) the defense may have.
The Knicks will revamp and look to bounce back on Friday vs. the Wizards, who are currently the NBA's only winless team at 0-6.