New York Knicks: Finding A Way In Big Spots

TOJ on the New York Knicks finding a way to gut out a win in Milwaukee last night

The New York Knicks can be infuriating to watch at times. This season has been a bizarre roller coaster of about five different teams, all of which are deeply flawed but unquestionably talented. The current version is entirely too reliant on Carmelo Anthony on the offensive end and is still prone to mind numbing lapses on defense despite having two candidates for first team All-Defense in Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert.

Prior to this week starting, we knew the Knicks would need to split with Chicago and beat Milwaukee if they wanted a chance to make the playoffs. They pulled it off. Last night was a textbook example of this team finding a way despite their flaws. Milwaukee gave them their best shot in their building. Monta Ellis finally woke up and ripped off 35 points. Brandon Jennings hit a number of ridiculous shots en route to 22 points. Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders were blocking shots like Serge Ibaka and Dwight Howard but the Knicks still prevailed.

The primary reason is that Carmelo Anthony is playing as well as he ever has in his career. He dropped in 32 points on an efficient 13-26 from the field, along with grabbing 10 rebounds. Whenever the Knicks offense begins to sputter, he has found a way to bail them out. His support on the offensive end has been erratic at best. Tyson Chandler added 19 last night but really at this point JR Smith or Iman Shumper is the team’s number two scoring option.

Smith has been wildly inconsistent. He literally has zero conscience and will continue to jack up shots and make head scratching plays mixed in with making unbelievably difficult shots and distributing the ball like a point guard. Last night he was brutal for 3 and a 1/2 quarters but woke up when it mattered most and hit what turned out to be the game winning 3 pointer in the final minute. Simply put, he deserves the minutes over Landry Fields, a shooting guard who can’t shoot. I like Landry’s intangibles but you can’t play him in crunch time.

At point guard, Baron Davis is the starter in name only. He logged a forgetful 19 minutes last night and had more turnovers than assists. For some reason Davis repeatedly drives into the paint and passes up an easy shot to attempt a difficult pass that is usually stolen. The Knicks crunch time point guard is turning into rookie Iman Shumpert who played 42 minutes last night. We know how good Shumpert is on defense but his offense game still has a ways to go. He is inconsistent shooting the ball but similar to Smith, doesn’t lack confidence to attack the basket.

So this is what you have with the Knicks. A team entirely too reliant on an erratic shooting guard and a rookie point guard but a gutsy team that has shown an ability to scrap out wins. When you play defense and with confidence on offense, the wins will come. Will they come consistently enough to win a playoff series? That is the question that still needs to be answered.

Carmelo Anthony Takes Over

TOJ on the show Carmelo Anthony put on at MSG today

The performance Carmelo Anthony put on at Madison Square Garden today was the type that made you laugh at anybody who regretted giving up Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari and the immortal Timofey Mozgov. For all the headaches of the past season and a half, the Knicks victory over the Chicago Bulls, the de facto best team in the league, showed why the Anthony was worth it.

There are only a handful of players in this league with an ability to completely take over a game and will an inferior team to victory over a superior team, Anthony is one of those players. He put up a gaudy 43 points on 16-31 shooting from the field but more importantly was on when it mattered the most as he hit the game tying 3 to force overtime and the game winning 3 in overtime.

Both shots were drilled with a defender right in his face and both shots are an example of why nobody wants to play the New York Knicks in the first round. The Knicks were able to overcome a dreadful performance by JR Smith, who missed more shots today than some people miss in a season, a no show from starting point guard Baron Davis and a rare goose egg from sharpshooter Steve Novak.

It was Anthony taking charge on offense, Iman Shumpert playing like a grizzled veteran with his defense of Derrick Rose and Tyson Chandler protecting the paint that carried the now 29-27 Knicks over the Eastern Conference’s number one seed, a team they could very well see again in the first round.

We knew when Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin were lost to injuries, it would be on Anthony to carry this team and so far he has embraced and excelled with the task. His work is far from finished, the Knicks could still go anywhere from out of the playoffs to a number four seed over their last ten games. Yet for today, Anthony gave New York City a performance to remember and to remind us that he was worth the blockbuster trade that acquired him, worth parting ways with Mike D’Antoni and worth dealing with his previous rough patches.

Few players in this league can own crunch time how Anthony did today, the Knicks are lucky to have a player who can and will always be a threat as long as they have him.

New York Knicks: All About ‘Melo Now

It is time for Carmelo Anthony to make his mark on this city

Carmelo Anthony has had his moments since joining the New York Knicks last season. Unfortunately, they have been overshadowed by an alleged dispute with former head coach Mike D’Antoni and a winning streak that he wasn’t apart of. Yet, now Anthony is part of the Knicks winning 7 of their last 8, moving back to .500 and getting within striking distance of first place in the Atlantic Division…and now, more than ever, Anthony must assert himself as this team’s franchise player.

Amare Stoudemire is likely out until the playoffs begin, if he is lucky and the Knicks happen to get there. Jeremy Lin is banged up and won’t be suiting up tonight against Orlando, the conference’s third best team. Anthony is dealing with a groin pull himself which he gutted through in the fourth quarter and will gut through again tonight against the Magic. It is admirable to see him play through pain, especially when the lifting will be so heavy without his power forward and point guard.

The Knicks have quality role players around Anthony and have learned to win ugly with defense, hustle and rebounding which is a beautiful and welcome sight to basketball fans in this city who have fond memories of the early 90s. Yet, if they are going to get through this brutal stretch of the schedule which is filled with playoff caliber opponents, it must be Anthony who takes the lead on both ends of the floor. The Knicks need their franchise player to carry them to a playoff spot and just maybe a division title.

These are the kind of situations where elite players are made and Anthony knows that.

“A situation like this requires me to step my game up a little bit more, take it up a notch,” Anthony said. “I love moments like this.” – Carmelo Anthony on Monday.

The Knicks brought him here to love moments like this and to thrive in them. There is enough talent around Anthony to make some real noise in the Eastern Conference, now it is up to him to lead the charge.

New York Knicks: D’Antoni Quits, Focus Shifts To ‘Melo

TOJ on Mike D’Antoni’s resignation, along with Justin’s thoughts on Carmelo Anthony moving forward

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article by Justin was written prior to Mike D’Antoni’s surprising resignation this afternoon. This is a player’s league so nobody should be surprised that the Knicks stuck with Carmelo Anthomy over D’Antoni as the two of them clashed. Beyond that, we know how James Dolan feels about Anthony. He isn’t going anywhere.

You can make a strong argument from both sides on this one. D’Antoni has been here for three seasons and hasn’t accomplished anything. Anthony hasn’t even been here a full 82 games. Then again, D’Antoni continually had his roster shuffled around and whenever he seemed to find a unit that was working, a drastic change was brought upon it. In the end, Anthony lost a scapegoat and now needs to carry this team amid talks that the rest of the locker room is fed up with his style of play. Winning cures everything and the Knicks need to start doing that…now.

Mike Woodson will be the coach for now but expect the Knicks to make a push in the off-season for a big name like Phil Jackson, Jerry Sloan or John Calipari. – JC

I used to make a crack about the Knicks wearing the same colors as the Mets. The Mets, in case you aren’t an aficionado of America’s Game (which is really politics, but I’ll let Charlie Pierce toe the line on that one) are the most poorly run organization in baseball. Don’t bother checking the ESPN NY site or their own official website (where that creep Mr. Met is hiding somewhere, crying to himself), it’s only horror tales and sick demented smiles from the ownership group, who are still insisting they’re gonna “give them boys from Philly a good run for their money this season. How you ask? With sheer DETERMINATION.”

It was always good for a smile, and a brief moment of David Lynch-like terror for those who have spent any time watching Knicks classics from the 70’s or the 90’s. To be in ANY way associated with the Mets is essentially the death knell. We’ll look what wears orange ladies and gentlemen.

Carmelo Anthony, in the BRIGHT orange, who is looking like a guy attempting to back down a power forward and leaning like a dope addict, expecting to get the ball and somehow contort himself into a layup And 1.

I personally like that kind of crazy, that “forget reality, this is FUN” kind of insanity that lives on it’s own, somewhere far away from where it can affect other people. So what does this have to do with Carmelo Anthony? Well, he really does think he’s better than he is, that the best answer to scoring is for him to fake a post up, spin, and try and drop one from 8 feet, which is good and all, except they need to go in.

The Knicks have devolved into the sort of thing that belongs in some 12 year old’s 2K12 season and does not in any way resemble a NBA roster. 6 shooters, 2 defenders who can’t play because the shooters are out there for scoring, a power forward who should really be playing center, a center who is overpaid and on the wrong side of 30 despite his obvious 110% work effort, 27 guards and the 2/3/4 man that is Landry Fields.

But hell, I’m a Thunder fan, so when I told some friends last night that the Knicks are the most hilariously entertaining team that doesn’t involve JaVale Magee or Kemba Walker, and boldly predicting them to go up 5, then be down 5, then lose by 10 (which was close), I didn’t say it with any emotion. I said it in a monotone of someone reading a sports almanac.

This is where it is with the Knicks. It’s so fractured and hopeless that people are starting to despise their Lin jerseys. Right Joe? They don’t even want to talk about him or comment as he charges the lane, flailing like a blindfolded, “sans equilibrium” “paper tiger” version of Derrick Rose, (who promptly proceeded to stomp all over everyone’s dreams that Lin could even be on the same court and not look like a complete joke).

Is it going to get better? Sure, just get rid of Amare and Melo, blow everyone’s minds simultaneously, and let Steve Novak, Jared Jeffries, Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields and Tyson Chandler take the reigns as everyone attempts to figure out how to have James Dolan arrested for emotional genocide.

There’s no hell deep enough for a man like Dolan, who let Donnie Walsh go and spends a large amount writing songs like “Wish I Had A Life”, (not even gonna touch that one). He deserves an epic amount of public humiliation for what he has done concerning ticket prices, hopes at relevance, and keeping Knicks fans from watching their team for a good portion of the season, that is until they brought the “fantasy roster” back and couldn’t get a decent string of momentum for longer than 4 minutes.

Everything the Heat did, as bogus and Nixonian as it was, was done knowing full well that these 3 guys will work harder than everyone else in the league at making a system that can utilize their athleticism, length, and basketball IQ. The Knicks are built on old expectations (Carmelo being a 24 year old scoring machine), shaky knees/eye sockets (Amare), ugly point guards (Douglas/Bibby) and overlapping parts (Novak/Smith).

Will I watch? Of course. Everyone in New York is obligated to go down with the ship.

TOJ New York Knicks Rant

A needed release of anger about the New York Knicks, the world’s softest professional sports team

As I wait for news of free agent meetings and hopefully signings to trickle in about the New York Jets. I need to get a quick rant off about the New York Knicks, who are truly nauseating to watch these days.

How soft can you be? You can’t put into the words the disgust around New York City right now when it comes to this team. Amare…you are making 100 million dollars, stop being outworked by Taj Gibson on every single play. Jump. Get rebounds. Play defense. Have pride in yourself as an athlete and as a man as you watch opposing basketball players continually slam the basketball down your throat and jump over you repeatedly for rebounds.

Carmelo…nobody wants to hear your whining about Mike D’Antoni, not until you dive on the floor for loose balls and stop letting the person you are covering continually out hustle you. You aren’t doing enough on offense to merit the lackadaisical effort on the other side of the court…really, nothing should merit lackadaisical effort on defense but it would be easier to stomach if you shot a higher percentage and took over on offense down the stretch. Don’t come to New York and sulk. Be a leader and take this city over.

Mike D’Antoni…you are good as gone but the least you could do is pick a rotation, stay with it and call your superstars out when they aren’t performing. Why not? You think you are coming back next year as your team scraps with the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers for the 8th seed?

Jeremy Lin may not be playing as well as he was last month but he is a rookie (based on playing time) point guard dropped into this toxic situation. He has been good enough for the Knicks to win and at least he is hustling around. At least Iman Shumpert and Landry Fields for all their shortcomings, play defense and run every second they are on the court. Tyson Chandler is currently the only player on this roster worth his big contract, as he battles through injury and still manages to rebound and defend.

The blame goes to the big three, the two “superstars” and the coach. The city is embarrassed of you and you should be embarrassed of yourself.

Gutless New York Knicks Keep Losing

The gutless New York Knicks hit rock bottom today

A week ago I wrote an article about the New York Knicks failing a big test in Boston when they lost an overtime heartbreaker. The reality is that since Paul Pierce hit that ridiculous three pointer, the Knicks have played their worst basketball of the entire season.

You can tolerate losing when a team is out there scrapping and playing their hearts out. If you don’t have enough talent or catch enough breaks, losses happen and you can accept it. This isn’t the case with the Knicks team, who is overloaded with talent but lacks heart, leadership, and physicality which makes them nearly insufferable to watch at times.

There is no shame in losing in Dallas and San Antonio. Those are tough places to play against two very good teams. It is how they lost those games, by carelessly throwing the ball away and allowing a barrage of uncontested dunks, lay-ups and open three point attempts.

There is shame in losing in Milwaukee, especially when you allow 119 points to a subpar team. How are you letting the Bucks so clearly want a game more than you? Where is the pride?

Today was a must win game at home against the division leading Sixers. The Knicks responded with turnovers, weak defense, and a muddled offensive attack. It became clear by midway through the third quarter that they were going to be outclassed. Outclassed, despite having a roster with their type of talent.

Where does the blame go? Most people want to throw it at Carmelo Anthony but I think Bill Simmons was dead on his analysis of the anger being directed at Anthony in this article. He needs to get better on defense but he is the least of the Knicks problems right now. This is a team that needs to get better across the board on both ends of the floor. Mike D’Antoni needs to find the answers on offense because that is what he is supposed to be able to do. Defense comes from energy, hustle and the willingness to be great on that end of the floor. D’Antoni can’t force that on his players. They need to look in the mirror and step up.

There is a hesitancy to criticize Amare Stoudemire because he came here first last year and chose the Knicks in free agency. I don’t even care about him losing a step on offense. What I do care about is the putrid defensive that trickles down to the rest of this team. He is nearly 7 feet tall and has some measure of athleticism left. There is no reason for him to be THAT bad on defense.

Jeremy Lin has come back down to Earth. Nobody expects him to score at the rate he was last month. He must learn to protect the basketball however, just like Baron Davis must learn to protect the ball.

You can’t have a prominent big man on your team not defend and your point guards not protect the ball. It trickles down the bad habits to the rest of the team.

We are now at the point where it looks like the Knicks will be scrapping for the number eight seed in the East. I still believe anything can happen in these lockout shortened playoffs (see the Knicks last run to the NBA Finals), especially when you have Anthony in short series. For now, can we at least see a little heart?