Saturday, January 12, 2013
Lack of Floor General Sinks Knicks Against Bulls
Knicks' Coach Mike Woodson is clearly a defensive-minded fella. Looking to put forth that same commanding and gritty defensive effort their winning teams of the past had become known for was the same reason New York retained Woodson as head coach this season.
So naturally, it's easy to understand why whenever the Knicks lose, the coach continuously cites the lack of defensive effort as the problem. It's the very area in which Woodson can help, and furthermore, improve enough to make sure the Knicks stay competitive in each and every contest.
The Bulls may have killed the Knicks early on in Friday night's contest, but the fact of the matter remains that New York has only continued to sink themselves with such stagnant ball movement.
Without the likes of Raymond Felton and Rasheed Wallace, the Knicks have experienced their first signs of struggle this season. Whereas many may cite the impact Wallace makes on and off the court (and his current absence) as the key to what's hurting New York lately, I'd say otherwise.
Whether he thrives in isolation or not, Carmelo Anthony is undeniably more comfortable playing alongside a steady floor general. It certainly takes the pressure off of him, if nothing else. What's so great about Felton, furthermore, is he's not a point guard that needs to have the ball in his hands at all times. He can play off of Anthony and well and move without the ball until the play called looks for him to truly run the show. He, Anthony, and even J.R. Smith all play well off one another, and understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. Things come easy when they are all on the floor together.
Such an examination of what works and what doesn't also applies to Jason Kidd. Without Felton, the future Hall of Famer is hurting. Though Coach Woodson is a defensive-minded coach, the best decision he made all season long on the offensive side of things was to slot Kidd in at two guard. In his older age, taking such pressure furthermore off Kidd helps him play well within his current means. Things come easy when you have complementary players on the floor.
That wasn't the case on Friday night. Kidd has thus far shown an inability to run the offense while not playing alongside Felton. No fluidity on offense undoubtedly takes players like Anthony and Smith (the Knicks' two most potent and reliable options on offense) out of their respective rhythms.
Coach Woodson took a while to recognize what could have been the source of quite the feeble effort from his team offensively. Relying on Kidd on the second night of a back-to-back so heavily early on likely led to the Knicks' downfall. By the time Pablo Prigioni was fully inserted and he really begin to get things going with his unit, the Knicks had clearly run out of time.
It didn't help things that after already defeating New York twice in quite physical fashion this season, the Bulls were out for more blood. Carmelo Anthony may have led the Knicks with 39 points, but it wasn't until late in the game that he started to heat up some, albeit just a bit.
Instead, the more impressive offensive leader was Luol Deng, who added 33 points of his own to pace the Bulls' efforts throughout the game.
Anthony and Smith combined to shoot 18 for 49 from the field for New York. Smith's streak of 17 consecutive games with 15 points came to a close on Friday as well.
The Knicks' wasted an 18 rebound effort from Tyson Chandler as they fell 108-101. Kidd's 0 for 6 shooting effort (with no assists) resulted in a team-high plus/minus of -21 for the game.
As dreadful as such a contest was....there is one thing that may have given Knicks fans some relief.
When Nate Robinson checked into the game for the Bulls, I personally clapped for the lilliputian. Over a course of multiple seasons, Robinson provided his Knicks squads (and their fans) with some jolts of excitement during what was otherwise known as a depressing period for the team.
But his imitation of Novak's celebratory belt during Friday's contest was aggravating to watch. But at least Novak thought so too. The forward hit Robinson with what was potentially the zinger of the season.
The Knicks will look to bounce back on Sunday against the Hornets.