Too bad we don't have another chance to whip up on the San Antonio Spurs this season, not just because they look ripe for the picking even by our current collection of Knicks, but because the Fanatics had so much fun collaborating with the crew at Project Spurs. Last night O&B and I joined Jeff Garcia and Michael A. De Leon on their pre-game SpursCast to talk about our teams. Then Post-Up Prince joined in at the live blog. It was on and live.
To end our festivities, so to speak, Jeff and I have exchanged post-game Q&A's about the Spurs victory. My answers to his questions can be found at Project Spurs here. Jeff's comments are below. Feel free to holla back. He'd dig and appreciate the responses.
"Whether we win or not ... everybody wants to win, but the objective is, we'd better be competing. And that's what we did tonight." -- Mike D'Antoni
"We really have to make our shots to beat a team like the Spurs, and tonight we didn't do it. We were reckless."-- Mike D'Antoni
"They hit that three, and that did it for us. We have to keep our motor going." -- Toney Douglas
I gotta tell you, it is really hard to find anything significant to say about a game at this point in the season. It is what it is and what it is is practically irrelevant. It's almost like commenting on tryouts. Oh wait, it is like commenting on tryouts.
For more exciting and incisive view of this game you should really check out Post Up Prince and O&B's visit to the Spurs Cast. They brought that great brand of Knicks Fanatics Blog commentary to the scene and it was great. Special thanks to Jeff and Michael at Project Spurs for being such gracious hosts. Stay tuned today though because Jeff has promised to gift us a post game analysis in Q&A form. I also answered some questions for him about the game which you might want to check out.
--The positive about this game is that the Knicks hung in there and "played" the entire game against a better squad. The Spurs looked very sloppy with 13 turnovers but part of the credit must go to the Knicks' defense.
Editors Note: I Love Project Spurs. One of the top NBA blogs going and they are here at Bloguin. Not only do they have great analysis and stories, they have both a spanish-speaking and english podcast. Impressive, which is why I had no problem responding when Jeff asked Knicks Fanatics to answer a few questions for tonight's game and to attend tonight's podcast. If we're lucky, our brother Orange and Blue will appear on their show tonight. But until then I completed the following Q&A about tonight's game and David Lee who I think is worth a helluva lot more than we want to give him credit for. Read to the jump and follow the rest of the article to Project Spurs. It'll be worth the visit.
Are Knick fans still holding out hope that LeBron James will be with the New York Knicks next season?
To a great extent Knick fandom is in absolute disarray which is what happens when your team is in absolute disarray and constantly losing. Knicks fans are all over the place emotionally and intellectually. A few are still holding out hope against reality that New York is the ultimate destination for a basketball star regardless of money and the quality of the team. I understand that even the team was still exploiting this hope by selling next year's season tickets as "LeBron Insurance." Yet, despite our longing optimism more and more New York fans are starting to see the reality over the marketing. LeBron James is most likely not coming to New York except to play a couple of games of horse against the Knicks and watch the Yankees.
Mike D'Antoni. Your thoughts on what he has done for the Knicks and is he the right coach to lead this team back into the playoffs?
Ah, Mike D'Antoni. Ye Spurs knew him well and were not neighborly enough to warn us.
Judge a coach by how he responds to pressure and difficulties, especially if he is the source of much of it.
Mike D'Antoni has suffered much under Donnie Walsh's 2010 plan which was really a concept more than a plan -- the concept was to get under the cap and pretend to be competitive towards the playoffs. Donnie had hoped (and so had I quite frankly) that while he dismantled the team and turned it into expiring contracts, D'Antoni would shape those contracts into an exciting up-tempo product for the fans. The notion was that an exciting product would tide us over until we got to the summer of 2010 and seduced one of the big three -- LeBron, Wade, Bosh. Unfortunately, Donnie Walsh didn't really think this through when he hired a coach who skipped out on Phoenix because they lost confidence in his 7 Seconds of Less program and who avoided the Chicago Bulls because they doubted the efficacy of his "a great offense=a good defense" strategy.
In all fairness to Mike, Walsh has built this team on malcontents and bench retreads. The majority of his non-draft personnel decisions, including hiring Mike D'Antoni, has brought in someone either at odds with their previous employer, a player rotting and brooding on an opponent's bench (Chris Duhon, Al Harrington, Larry Hughes, Tracey McGrady) or someone damn near retired (Jonathon Bender, Cuttino Mobley, Tracey McGrady). Mike also came into an environment where he did not have his type of players. He was forced to work with Walsh in a ridiculously elongated effort to kick out Stephon Marbury. He never really warmed up to Nate Robinson and he thought that David Lee was not fast enough to play his type of ball. So you can say he did not have the tools.
"It was kind of like a panic play almost. I'd seen Jamal drive so I just rotated basically, just by instinct." -- Wilson Chandler
"He [Danilo Galinari] was the star of the game. He did an unbelievable job for us. He did a great job forcing Joe [Johnson] into tough shots. Sometimes they went, but he did a good job of forcing him into them. Gallo played well on both ends for us." -- David Lee
"I've learned a lot. I can honestly say, not playing, I've become a better student of the game on the bench. Watching the veterans out there, watching the other teams, watching the whole NBA, being a student of the game, watching film, knowing what I need to work on and what I can do to get better. I feel like I have a lot more to keep doing, and I'm gonna keep doing it until I can't get better no more."-- Toney Douglas
The Knicks have beaten the Hawks three times this season which makes it hard to believe that the Hawks are really as good as their record. The three losses also cast doubt on the ability of Joe Johnson to be that top tier go-to player who can turn a team, especially the Knicks, into a championship contender. The Hawks coach, Mike Woodson, blames the losses on the match-ups, which indicates that Woodson doesn't have a clue himself. The Hawks lose to the Knicks because they are a poorly coached team against the Knicks. The Knicks win the battle of the Mikes. It's that simple.
The keys to beating the Knicks are fairly clear and should be obvious at this point in the season: solid defense for at least 2 1/2 quarters, post play and fast break offense to place pressure on the Knicks' transition defense. The Hawks did none of the above and lost a game they should not have lost.
"It is as bad as it can get," --Mike D'Antoni
"We cannot come out and lose against New Jersey - they have the worst record in the league - especially at home. We have to play aggressive every game.'' -- Danilo Gallinari
"It was bad because we lost at home, not necessarily because we played the Nets. I can't really see why they're 7-, 8-55." -- Tracy McGrady
If you're going to be a bricklayer, be the best bricklayer you could possibly be.
The Knicks continued their reconstruction project by throwing bricks at it, as they missed an NBA record 18 three pointers in another demoralizing loss to the lowly New Jersey Nets. Although the Knicks jumped out to an early 16-point lead, they could not sustain the performance, especially considering they played the Bosh-less but energized Raptors the night before.
"As good as they are at home, with Bosh not playing, we should have won this game. No matter what quarter we didn't play well in, with Bosh not playing, this is a game we should have won." -- David Lee
"I just didn't think we had the necessary gumption to get up on them and guard a little man-to-man and stop it. We couldn't do it. They scored every time." -- Mike D'Antoni
"He's been here for quite some time now. He personally has been successful. The team really hasn't done that much. Maybe he wants to start off fresh with another franchise. Or maybe he's doing it for tax reasons. I'm not speaking (for) Chris Bosh. I'm just saying, the individual that wants to move on ... there are different reasons why a guy wouldn't want to play (in Toronto)." -- Tracy McGrady
"I didn't see how you could improve this franchise by making trades or building through the draft over a long period of time. So I looked and said, 'We could get under the cap.' So I tried to do that. And if that doesn't work right away, I would continue to try to do it. And if I'm not the guy, I'll leave. I don't know another way to say it. But I don't think I put Mike in a situation where I think he should be winning with this team." -- Donnie Walsh
And according to our last poll, you Fanatics thought the Knicks weren't going to get a Cavalier. . .umm. . . . I mean cavalier.
The truth is that Donnie Walsh has always been a stand-up kinda guy. So it's no surprise that with the anti-D'Antoni furor gaining momentum, not just by the loss, but by the lackluster and uncommitted performance of the team, Donnie Walsh stepped up and fell on the sword for his coach. As he should have. He said, "Mike's my coach, all right? I have more responsibility for whatever you guys are writing about than he does. So I should be the guy looked at. I'm taking the responsibility for these first two seasons. I did it the first day I got here".
When Walsh first arrived he said a major part of his plan was to make the Knicks competitive. In order to do that he hired Mike D'Antoni and committed to giving him players while buying cap space. The effort to provide a quality product has reached "Epic Fail" proportions which Walsh did not anticipate. He probably did not tell D'Antoni, when he hired him, that the next two years would be the worst of his career. At least D'Antoni, with the many new gray hairs of managerial stress, doesn't express his emotions like he expected to fail to be competitive.
After a brief public expression of doubt about the 2010 Plan, D'Antoni quickly pulled it back together and clarified that he believes in Walsh and the plan. "That's why I came here, because I have so much faith in him that we can get the job done together. There's nobody out of the boat. Everybody's in the same boat, so everybody's got the same responsibility, same blame, same everything else. So that's nice of him to say. Everybody has to share the responsibility and that's what we're going to do. We're sticking with the plan and we're going to try and see it through," he told reporters
He's right. There's enough blame to go around.Check out following Hot Links for more on Walsh's "My Bad."
Peter Vecsey, Donnie's master plan may cap-size Knicks
New York Post, Down on losing, D'Antoni keeps chin up
"Nate is pure energy, man, I said it from Day 1, since he has been here. We hated to lose E. House but not only is [Robinson] pure energy, he's good energy. He's almost like fresh air. He fits right in with our team, he's unselfish. We all knew he could play, but his personality is what stands out most about him - very respectable person, very high energy. And, like I said, I love the way he plays. We love the way he comes out and just puts it all on the floor.''-- Kevin Garnett
Nate Robinson is not Eddie House. Nate Robinson is not Stephon Marbury. But, the Celtics are thrilled that Nate Robinson is Nate Robinson and Doc Rivers has been very smart and flexible in learning how to use the guards considerable talent and energy. When we lost to the Celtics a few days ago, we witnessed Doc's willingness to put faith in Robinson in his first game as a Celtic. He kept Nate in the rotation late in the contest although Nate was not having a great game. It was clear that he intended Nate to be more than a novelty act.
Doc confirmed the importance of the Nate trade to the Celtics when he approached the guard to have him teach the team a play the Knicks used to get Nate going. Not only did Doc treat Nate as though he wanted him on the team, he immediately gave Robinson a leadership role by delegating responsibility to him to teach and interact with his teammates. Just brilliant coaching and leadership by Doc who clearly understands the importance of delegation and the need for players to have an affinity (not necessarily like) for each other.
"He [Bill Walker] knows how to play. He's got a nice feel for the game. He's just got to get in shape and stay in shape and keep working on his game. ...I don't want to go too far, but I'm pretty excited by what I see." -- Mike D'Antoni
"I always thought I could play on this type of level. It just took a while for me to get the opportunity." -- Bill Walker
"Today was one of those days where I actually felt like my old self as far as my movements and my timing and everything, my rhythm. I felt like I had another step." -- Tracy McGrady
Before we get carried away, we will admit that the Knicks were fortunate to play the piss-poor Pistons who arrived into the Garden on the end of a back-to-back after traveling from Detroit. The previous night the Pistons suffered a competitive loss against Nate Robinson's Celtics as Robinson taught his teammate a Knick play that allowed him to get more comfortable and make a significant contribution to the team's win. Ben Wallace, who injured himself last night, was absent, but his presence actually could have helped the Knicks.