All season long, the Knicks have surprised NBA fans for different reasons. A big shocker has not only been how elevated the team's defense has been since the arrival of Tyson Chandler, but also how stagnant the offense has appeared at times.
Such a reversal has been quite strange considering the offensive smarts of Coach Mike D'Antoni. The good thing, however, is that because sound defensive play has been so difficult to come by in the past, one would have to think (now that the defense is present), both sides of the ball will click at some point for the Knicks considering their offensive prowess.
Last night was simply not the night for it all to happen. Though the Knicks' offensive game displayed more fluidity than in has in recent weeks, their poor defensive effort was reminiscent of years past.
Without Tyson Chandler and Jared Jeffries, the Knicks were unable to stop the Spurs from scoring on all cylinders. As mentioned in our pre-game post, the Spurs thrive on the offensive end by attacking to the basket and penetrating the defense. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are two of the best in the league at doing so, and without a defensive presence inside for the Knicks, San Antonio's backcourt could not be stopped. Parker led his team with 32 points, and Ginobili added 17. Also pouring in 17 points of his own was Tim Duncan, who took advantage of the lack of intimidation down low from the Knicks.
The Spurs are by no means a run and gun team, but their points total certainly suggested such. They exploited the Knicks' weaknesses on defense and moved the ball quite well, pouring in a total of 118 points in the victory. Everyone was on the same page, finding each other in the right spots and executing efficiently on the offensive end.
The type of chemistry the Spurs play with night in and night out (as demonstrated last night) is the same kind the Knicks can only pray they eventually find. It's the type of chemistry and camaraderie champions are made of.
Though the Knicks' defensive effort was nearly non-existent, as mentioned, their offensive play showed promise. Carmelo Anthony found a bit of rhythm, shooting well and leading his team with 27 points. Getting Anthony involved in the offense is obviously crucial, but the Knicks (especially Jeremy Lin) more importantly need to get him the ball in the right places for him to succeed. Make things easier for him, rather than harder. There's no need for him to force up shots. Last night, the Knicks did a decent job of finding him. Lin scored 20 points of his own, but was completely overshadowed (and exploited) by Parker's strong play.
The Knicks were also paced offensively by Amar'e Stoudemire's 18 points and 11 boards. As the team looks for things to go their way, Stoudemire's physicality will be of the utmost importance. Getting to the basket effectively and rebounding well, some of STAT's prowess from last season has been on display as of late. J.R. Smith broke out of a mini slump for the Knicks as well, scoring 18 points off the bench.
Josh Harrellson, who got the start in place of Chandler, was one of two Knicks, was one of only two Knicks to a have a positive plus/minus on the night, leading his team with plus 8.
Losing by a final score of 118-105, the Knicks fell to 18-21 on the season. They will look to bounce back on Friday vs. the Bucks.