Good weekend morning Gents. It is a pleasure to be e-seen and to e-see you. It's the half-way point of the Knicks' season and our heroes are 17-24, 2 1/2 games out of the 8th, and final, Eastern Conference playoff spot. We often say the Knicks are their record which is exactly the same as it was this time last year. Yet in yesterday's game, there were notable signs of improvement in individual and team play.
This is not exactly meant to be a half-year review, but this year D'Antoni has finally abandoned all hope of running his fast break-no defense "system." He has realized that Duhon is not emotionally or physically capable of running that type of offense for an entire season. Except for the pick and roll, Duhon hasn't run the offense as D'Antoni had visualized it since the departure of Crawford and ZBo. However, now, as in the Lakers' loss, the offense runs much smoother through bigs such as Lee, Jeffries and Chandler increasing ball-handling duties. D'Antoni has also encouraged his players to play closer to the basket and not to shoot trey's just because they look like open shots. The most significant improvement is a greater emphasis on defense. In the Laker contest, he smartly doubled the bigs,
Bynum and Gasol, who had trouble passing out of the traps.
However, D'Antoni is neither as crafty or weaponized as former Knick champion, Phil Jackson. Anyone who has watched Jackson and Kobe for a while, knew that Kobe was not going to pick his game up and the Laker's defense was not going to intensify until the 4th quarter because they just arrived into the city from a road lose to Cleveland last night. The Lakers were not going to lose the game by wearing themselves out in 48 minutes of intensity.
Peaceman, one of our stalwarts, just needs to stand up and admit that David Lee (31 points, 17 boards and 4 assists) can play better basketball than Peace gave him credit for. Lee is an offensive force. Admittedly, the Lakers were not in top form defensively, but it is clear that Bynum and Gasol could not contain Lee one-on-one. Lee easily took his first step by Bynum and skillfully popped that mid-range jumper over Gasol's outstretched arms. Yes, unfortunately, on the flip side Lee could not stop from being bullied and pushed around by Bynum and Gasol in the paint. But the Knicks had far more points (48) in the paint than the Lakers (26).
This guy is good and he is a smart baller. Some folks want to question his basketball IQ because he talks slow, soft and like he doesn't like public speaking, but whether he can explain his game in a mike to the public is not a test of basketball IQ. Making the right move at the right time is the real test and he passes far more often than he fails now that he relys on his mid-range game and creating his own shots to the basket. Chandler scored 28 points. He was weak on the boards with 3 boards, but he is becoming more consistent. In the last five games, he is averaging 16 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. When he is struggling in one area, he seems to play harder in another.
Chandler, along with Jeffries, brings some physicality to the Knicks game. Against the Lakers, he took five fouls although we need to discount the charging foul.
Is Donnie Walsh going to get some love for this pick? Hill is young, active and athletic. He also has a quite hunger about him. He was killing on the offensive boards (5) in his short 11 minutes on the floor. He also scored 8 points. He is looking much more fluid in his movements with and without the ball. And he has a nice jumper for a big.
I am not really sure what to say about Danilo. Some of the things he does are nice, but sporadic. Against the Laker's he seemed to be spurred by his competition against Ron Artest scoreing 20 points and grabbign 4 boards. He had a nice block of Ron's shot and then ran right by him after getting his own shot blocked and had a loud slam. Gallo is improving, it seems, but he disappears at the oddest times. Against the Lakers his +/- was an abysmal -17. If we treat this as his rookie season, we should still be slightly impressed with his game at least. He is definitely a bench player right now for a good team.
The Knicks offense stalled with the ball in Hungry Larry's hands. He hadn't touched it in so long that it seemed stuck to his hands when he was supposed to be passing and dribbling or vice-a-versa. He scored two points in 7 minutes and probably wondered why D'Antoni even bothered.
He really needs a group hug now. He finally broke his 0-fer streak and scored 2 points on 1-9 shooting. He did have eight assist in his 31 minutes.