|(2-5, 1-2 away)|
|(3-3, 1-2 home)|
It's a long season. I will be disappointed if we don't get better from this point. There were a lot of factors that go into it." -- Mike D'Antoni
"We've got to figure out what the plan is as far as down the stretch. We're a young team, we're just really together for the first time this year. . . . We're still learning about what type of team we are and what we can do down the stretch." -- Amar'e Stoudemire
Tough game, early game but no excuses. They wanted it more than we did.-- Raymond Felton
It felt like the Knicks should have won this game, but the truth is that the Knicks were out-played by a very smart and patient team. Coach Collins is clearly doing a heck of a job instilling the little things into this team which beat Knicks for the first time in three games. The 76ers did not force shots, limited the desire to shoot the three and found ways to drive to the basket, created contact and drew fouls with headfakes, effectively employed a variety of zone defenses, took away the easy three point shots and made timely steals. It was a smart team with a very solid core of young players and a rejuvenated all-star in Elton Brand. According to Brand, this is not a 2-6 team -- they have been in most losses. According to Collins, they are learning how to win, how to finish games. They clearly learned their lesson against the Knicks.
The Knicks on the other hand, are also a young team but their play was not quite as heady. Although, Stoudemire finally had his statisitically impressive game at the Garden, the numbers are a bit misleading and he did not have enough help. The Knicks were beset with foul problems muting some of the aggressiveness of the guards: Douglas had five fouls and Felton played with 4 for the entire 4th quarter, and for Felton, most of the third quarter too. While some will point ot the poor three point shooting of the Knicks as the culprit in this contest, games are won with defense. They lost in the end because of bad defense. Even D'Antoni knew that as he blasted both Anthony Randolph and Toney Douglas after late game lapses on the defensive end.
Amare Stoudemire -- Amare finally had his statistical breakout game at the Garden, but they lose. He scored 21 points and snatched 15 rebounds in 36 minutes. Most significantly he had two steals and only one turnover; that turnover, a bad pass stolen by rookie Turner, just happened to be an extremely costly one in the fourth quarter with the Knicks down only four at the 3:13 mark. The steal led to a Turner lay-up and seemed to break the Knicks' back.
Toney Douglas -- Might as well throw Landry Fields and Raymond Felton in this pot too. As mentioned above the 76ers took the Knicks out of their game by deftly drawing fouls against the Knicks. Landry Fields was also suckered by Lou Williams' pump fakes as he fouled him twice within 64 seconds in the third quarter which allowed them back into the game. Unfortunately, while Douglas was muted defensively, his shot also was turned down though the volume was up. He scored 17 points on 5-13 shooting. He was aggressive to the basket and hit all 7 of his freebies but he missed all four of his three point attempts. He also had only one assist but he did have three steals. The Knicks as a team had more steals (12) than the 76ers (9) but both scored 23 of their points off turnovers.
Raymond Felton -- Felton sorta-kinda indicated that he was impacted by the early start to the game. If he was, it showed in his atrocious shooting: 2-11 for 7 points in 33 minutes. His shooting performance did not stop him from hustling though as he grabbed 8 rebounds and handed out 10 assists. Still the 76er guard corp -- Holiday (19 points), Turner (14 points) and Williams (19 points) -- was more than the Knicks could handle. Overall, the Knicks shot only 40% while the 76ers shot 47% from the field.
Danilo Gallinari -- Gallo continued his inconsistency from game to game, half to half even. Gallo scored 15 points but was only 4 for 11 overall and 2 for 6 from the arc. He was a little more aggressive however, scoring five of his points from the charity stripe. He disappeared in the second half again and hit only one shot, a 25-foot three pointer off a pass from Stoudemire. Danilo's shot chart for the game is below:
Which Gallo will we see against Milwaukee?
Timofey Mozgov -- But for Timofey's three turnovers, his offensive efficiency was improved. He scored nine points on 4-6 shooting. Still it is incredible that he had no rebounds in 15 minutes (channeling his inner Eddy Curry, I think).
Landry Fields -- He just continues to be a solid player (8 pts on 4-5 shooting, 5 boards and 2 assists) although he got outsmarted by Lou Williams for a couple of fouls. His plus-minus differential was the highest on the Knicks at +15 and he was on the court for only 20 minutes. Don't expect him ot have as much trouble guarding Lou Williams next time.
The Knicks continued to have problems at the beginning of the game stopping a player with the hot hand. Against Chicago it was Taj Gibson; in this game Elton Brand (20 points on 7-11 shooting and 6-10 at the free throw line) presented a tough match-up for the Knicks. That mid-range jumper was silky smooth and Brand looked like his old self as he grabbed 7 boards too.
Overall, the last three games simply indicate that the Knicks will win on effort and defense. Their strength is their ability to control the game and tempo by handling the opposing guards. They were able to take Rose and Wall out of their games, but Turner, Holiday and Williams played solid, thoughtful ball in roughing up the Knicks' guard corp.