Knicks Select Their Next Victim

The search is over!!

The New York Knicks officially have another career to ruin. Since parting ways with Jeff Hornacek, on April 12th, the Knicks have conducted the wildest interview process known to man. But Thursday, the madness came to an end.

David Fizdale will be the next head coach of the New York Knicks.

David Fizdale’s coaching career began in 1998 at his alma mater, the University of San Diego. There, he was an assistant coach for four years before moving on to Fresno State. After calling Fresno State home for two years, Fizdale got his shot in the NBA. He worked as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks, and Miami Heat (with LeBron). That opportunity catapulted him to his 1st head coaching position, with the Memphis Grizzlies. Fizdale led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in his 1st season (2016) but was bounced in the 1st round. And just 19 games into the 2017 season, Grizzlies’ star, Marc Gasol, followed in the footsteps of the NBAs prima donna’s and had Fizdale fired. He’s been doing broadcast work for ESPN ever since and will be 44 at the start of the upcoming season.

And now, the ultimate challenge lay at his feet; turn the Knicks around. Turn the Knicks around could be the four scariest words in the English language. A concept that has spread fear internationally and has been passed down from generation to generation. It often sends grown men and women running for the hills. You laugh, but if you think I’m overstating the pressure, anxiety, and fear that comes with being the Knicks’ head coach, you’re sorely mistaken.

knicks coaching search

As you know, the list of coaching candidates was long, but distinguished….(let’s see if my movie buffs figure that one out):

David Fizdale, David Blatt, Mark Jackson, Mike Budenholzer, Mike Brown, Jay Larranaga, James Borrego, Mike Woodson, Jerry Stackhouse, Juwan Howard, and Kenny Smith.

Long, but perhaps not as distinguished as you’d think. The fact that Jerry Stackhouse, Juwan Howard, Mike Woodson, and Kenny Smith were interviewed is absurd. The rest are reasonable candidates, however, Fizdale is the right man for the job.

Fizdale has shown he can relate to players, as evidenced by his work with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh. LeBron and Wade actually endorsed Fizdale when he was in consideration for the Grizzlies job.

The question is: Will James Dolan keep his greedy, stubby, little fingers off Fizdale’s leash, giving him ample time to turn this broken ship around??

 

Did the Knicks get this right?? Post your thoughts, feelings, and snarky remarks in the comment section below. 

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Melo Takes Paycut to Return to Knicks

carmelo-anthony

After weeks of deliberation, Carmelo Anthony has finally decided to return to the New York Knicks.  Anthony made the announcement Saturday (even though he had probably made up his mind by Friday) that he would be re-signing with the Knickerbockers.  The deal will be worth $122 million over the next 5 years.  Who said Melo wasn’t a team player??  This guy just made the ultimate sacrifice by taking a whopping $7 million less than the max deal over 5 years.  He just saved the franchise $1.4 million per year over the next 5 years.  What a guy!  Now the Knicks have the cap space to sign Kurt Thomas.  Can you say game changer?!?!  In all seriousness, the Knicks did what they had to do and so did Carmelo Anthony.  The Knicks, as much as they didn’t want to, had to throw the whole bag of cash at him, because if they missed out on Melo, where would they be?  And Melo actually wanted to leave for a better, more championship ready situation.  The only problem was that option didn’t exist in this years free agency.  The Chicago Bulls were only a better option if Derrick Rose is healthy, and at this point I’d say that is an enormous if.  I don’t believe the Lakers were ever a real option seeing as they don’t have a coach, and they actually have a worse roster than the Knicks.  And as good as the Houston Rockets would have become with the addition of Melo, who wants to live in Houston?? 

 

As for the Knicks, in the horrid eastern Conference, they shouldn’t fare too badly this upcoming season.  They are no championship contender, don’t get me wrong, but don’t be surprised if they creep up to the 4 or 5 seed.  Yes, Derek Fisher is a wild card in this equation, but I have the utmost confidence that Phil Jackson will steer him in the right direction.  Now, I need to say something to all of the Carmelo Anthony haters of the world.  Y’all are out of your damn minds!!  As much as critics and fans alike enjoy picking Anthony’s game apart, he is undoubtedly one of the best players in the NBA.  He may not be the best defender in the NBA, but does defense really exist in the NBA??  And the notion that a team can not win with Carmelo Anthony on its roster; is ludicrous.  Carmelo Anthony is what he is.  He is one of the best pure scorers the game has ever seen who also happens to grab 8 -10 rebounds a night.  Everyone is trying to turn him in to a player that he simply will never be.  You know what Melo’s biggest mistake is?  That he isn’t Lebron James.  Ever since high school, the two have been linked.  Their head-to-head matchups in high school were televised, they came out of the same NBA draft class, and most recently they shared the same free agency spot light.  Melo is not the passer Lebron is, he’s not the defender Lebron is, and he simply is not the all around player Lebron is.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t win a championship with Carmelo Anthony on your roster.   Phil Jackson will put a roster in place that highlights the strengths of everyone on it, and most importantly, Carmelo Anthony will be utilized correctly for the first time in his career.  Just watch for Anthony’s 4th quarter contributions under Phil Jackson opposed to the tired, wobbly legged Anthony we’ve grown accustom to seeing under the likes of Mike and Mike (no not that Mike and Mike); Woodson and D’Antoni.  Anthony has always been asked to do too much.  With a real point guard and a proper system in place, don’t be surprised to see Anthony thrive as a member of the new look Knicks.    

 

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!         

1 Down 2 To Go

I’m glad I was wrong about the New York Knicks (for game 5 at least). The Knicks handled their business by beating the Indiana Pacers by a score of 85-75 Thursday night, at Madison Square Garden. They stared elimination in the face and came out on top with a solid team effort. Now, they will travel back to Indiana for game 6 where they’ll look to extend the series to a decisive game 7. In order to do that they will need to duplicate their effort from game 5. And what did they do in game 5 to earn a victory you ask? I’ll tell you, just calm yourself please.

There were multiple reasons that contributed to the Knicks win Thursday night, but one sticks out above all the rest. And that reason is……Ah, I’ll give you a hint: What wins championships? Ah yes, Defense. The Knicks swarming team defense remains the most important aspect of this series. And last night the Knicks showed the energy required to hold the Pacers to 75 points, and to force 19 turnovers. Those are the numbers they’ll need to see night in and night out if they are going to win this series. The Pacers are inept offensively to begin with so this shouldn’t be too difficult. Plus, George Hill will most likely not play in game 6 due to the concussion he suffered in game 4. The NBA has strict policies when it comes to concussions, and it seems that the process of getting Hill back on the floor could take at least a week. As for the Knicks offense (which has seemed rather inept itself as of late), they showed a balanced attack that found 4 players in double figures. It wasn’t so much the scoring that was so key (considering they only scored 85 points themselves), it was the fact that more than Carmelo Anthony was taking and hitting shots. Raymond Felton hit some timely jump shots, and he also remembered that he is allowed to drive into the paint and force the defense to make quick decisions. J.R. Smith decided to hit a couple of shots as well (which was really nice of him don’t ya think? Thanks J.R.), but he still needs to play better. He needs to take the ball to the basket, period. It was also the fact that Jason Kidd and Amar’e Stoudemire were left on the bench while Pablo Prigioni and Chris Copeland actually saw some playing time. Playing Prigioni is smart because he is truly a team player. He is a pass first point guard who can also hit an open shot when asked. More importantly he infuses the kind of energy that I’d love to see from everyone on the roster. Playing Copeland stretches the floor in a good way because he’s big and he can shoot the three ball. Coach Mike Woodson tried going big in game 4 and that backfired because Kenyon Martin is useless offensively unless he’s catching a pass off of a high pick and roll going toward the basket. Woodson needs to stick with what works for game 6, and implore his team to give it their all. If they do that and show the kind of urgency necessary for another elimination game, than they just might force a game 7.

I’m not going to lie to you; I thought I was watching a team that was going to throw in the towel last night. After their game 4 performance, the lifelong Knicks fan part of me said, “hey I’ve seen this before; they are going to give up now”. But, to their credit, they didn’t. They fought through game 5, and I think they are capable of fighting through game 6. I am still skeptical of the Knicks though, seeing as they haven’t strung 2 solid performances together in about 14 years. Plus, don’t forget game 6 will be played in Indiana. However, I believe the absence of George Hill and the pressure that is mounting in the Pacers heads will prove to be too much or them to overcome. This will be no easy feat for the Knicks, but I think they can pull out a gritty win on the road and force game 7 back home. Tune in to ESPN on Saturday night @ 8:00 P.M. to watch the Knicks and Pacers battle it out in game 6. 89-87, Knicks.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Now That’s More Like It!!

The Knicks entered Tuesday’s game 2 with their backs against the wall. This game was being looked at like a game 7 for the Knicks, and not too many people were giving them much of a chance after their performance in game 1. Everyone (well almost everyone) was talking about the Knicks possibly being swept by the Indiana Pacers and how bad of a matchup they are for the Knicks. Yes, the Pacers are tall, defensive minded, and physical, but there’s a reason they are the 3 seed and not the 1 seed. They struggle to score the basketball, and anyone with a brain should have realized that D.J. Augustin and Lance Stephenson aren’t going to score a combined 27 points every night. The game 1 loss was also more on the Knicks and their lack of effort than anything else. Now, some of what we saw may never happen again, statistically speaking. I mean 30-2 runs don’t happen everyday. However, it is the style of play and the desire to win we saw in game 2 that the Knicks can duplicate going forward. Let’s breakdown what transpired at Madison Square Garden last night.

The Knicks jumped out of the gate to an early lead last night. They got the crowd involved in the game, and it seemed as if they had a definite game plan and they stuck to it. Or, they finally read my last post about what they need to do in order to beat the Pacers. They did just about everything I said they needed to do. They pushed the pace, they played great defense, and their offense was efficient (except for J.R.). He has been beyond awful. Why he stopped taking the ball to the basket I’ll never understand. I must put some of his poor decision making on Coach Woodson. If I were Woodson, I would sit Smith down and say, “Son, you don’t shoot from outside of 15 feet unless you are WIDE OPEN or the shot clock is under 2 seconds!” If he doesn’t listen then you sit his ass on the bench for Iman Shumpert. Speaking of Iman Shumpert, let me just say ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh babyyyyyyyyyyyyy!! Was that dunk awesome or was that dunk awesome? His ferocious dunk from last night was filthy, dirty, and it was disgusting! For those of you who missed it, click below to check out Iman Shumpert’s sick one handed put back:

His athleticism is outstanding and he’s a special talent when he’s 100% healthy (as you can see he now is). Now if you go back to that video and pause it at 12 seconds you can actually see his hair hit the ceiling. It’s pretty cool. Anyway, there was 1 component to the Knicks victory that stuck out above the rest; their swarming help defense. Any success the Knicks have had or are going to have starts with their defense. As for last night they helped each other, they rotated to the ball, and they forced numerous turnovers. They won the turnover battle 21-6. Without that same defensive intensity throughout the rest of the series, the Knicks will not advance to the next round. Solid defense is also so important because it turns into easy offense. The Knicks scored 32 points off of turnovers, making life a whole lot easier. As for their offense, like I said earlier, they pushed the pace, they swung the ball, and they made quick decisions. Most importantly Carmelo Anthony let the game come to him instead of forcing the issue. It’s no secret formula, but when you normally shoot the ball a million times and then one day you decide to pass the ball and wait for it to cycle back to you, you find yourself OPEN, magically. It’s shocking I know. Melo didn’t get to the free throw line as often as you’d like to see, but he was 50% from the field going 13 for 26. He finished with 32 points and 9 rebounds, which was clearly his best game of the playoffs so far. I would be committing a crime though if I didn’t give credit to Iman Shumpert. He played a fantastic all around game, and maybe now Woodson will leave him on the floor down the stretch.

Now the run in the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th quarter was impressive, but don’t forget that the score of this game at one point was 64-62, Pacers. The Knicks after jumping out to an early lead, slowly regressed back to their usual selves. There was a stretch toward the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half where they looked like they were going to let a victory slip through their fingers. As I’ve been saying all year, they lack a killer instinct. In the playoffs that’s one attribute you’d love to have in your back pocket. But in the end we must give them credit for their resiliency. They fought back and went on that historic run to not just close the door on this game but slam it. I think we will see the Knicks carry this momentum to Indiana. I think they will take the Pacers down in game 3 on Saturday. To watch all the action tune in to ABC @ 8:00 p.m. I see another low scoring affair in the Pacers future. 94-89, Knicks. You can book this one too.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Okay We Are Going To Start Trying….Ummm…..Starting Now!

Can the Indiana Pacers play any better, and can the New York Knicks possibly play any worse? I don’t think so. I’m not trying to make any excuses for the Knicks. Trust me, I watched that entire game and let me be the first person to say that the Knicks made me throw up in my mouth; twice. Now, I’m also not trying to take anything away from the Pacers victory, but everyone needs to hop off that panic button once again. Let me shed some light on what the Knicks have done and what they need to do to make it past the Pacers.

If J.R. Smith can remember that he is allowed to take the ball to the basket, they might fare better in the rest of the series. And Mr. Anthony is not getting let off the hook so easily either. Since the end of game 3 against the Boston Celtics, he has been downright awful! We all know the statistics, so I’m not going to bore you with those. He, and the rest of the Knicks, are a jack up shots and hope they go in team right now. Despite what everyone thinks, their best recipe for success is not to live and die by the 3. Yes, they succeed when they hit OPEN 3-pointers at a high percentage, but they really work best off of dribble penetration by Raymond Felton or Carmelo Anthony. This either leads to a bucket or trip to the foul line for Anthony, or an open shot for Felton or Iman Shumpert. Their other best offensive option is the high pick and roll involving any combination of Felton/Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin/Tyson Chandler. This has led to the best offensive possessions the Knicks have seen all year. For some reason Mike Woodson doesn’t stick with what works. No matter how good the Knicks look at times they always revert back to their old habits (Iso-Melo). What Woodson needs to preach is sound defense first and smart offense second. They also need to recognize that the pace of play from game 1 completely favors the Pacers. The Pacers want to slow the ball down and work the ball through the low post (because they have a clear size advantage). The Knicks should look to push the pace at all times and take Roy Hibbert and their other big men out of play. And for the love of god, Coach, please leave Jason Kidd at the hotel napping next time you head over to the arena. He is god awful. Even when he’s wide open he doesn’t shoot the ball, so what’s the point of having him out there anyway? I’ve been screaming this from the hill tops all season, but Woodson has this secret love affair with Kidd that no one else is talking about. And at the same time, he has this odd hatred for Iman Shumpert that I can’t seem to figure out. Shumpert, especially against a defensive minded team is one of your most valuable weapons. They need Shumpert’s young legs and energy on both ends of the floor. And think about any of the Knicks fast breaks that aren’t being led by Raymond Felton. They’re being led by Shumpert aren’t they? Chew on that thought for a minute while I delve into what occurred on the Knicks home court Sunday afternoon.

As I stated before, the Pacers played a very solid game on Sunday, especially their role players. Now if Lance Stephenson is going to have a double double every night and D.J. Augustin is going to hit 45 three pointers than the Knicks have no chance in this series. However, if you want me to realistically believe that that’s going to happen, that also is not going to happen. I just can’t see the Knicks rolling over and dying in this series. Maybe I’m telling you what I want to see more than what I think, but for everyone’s sake they better show a better effort than they did in game 1. I think we will all see what this team is made of in game 2. At this point in the season, they need to lay it all on the line and leave every ounce of energy on that floor Tuesday night. I think they’ll stand up to the challenge and win what is without a doubt their biggest game of the year. It’s playoffs time baby! It’s do or die! 99-88 Knicks. Book it.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

Do you know that expression, “Act like you’ve been there before, and act like you’re going there again”? Obviously the New York Knicks have never heard that one before. Now let me just say that I am so angry/frustrated/upset with the Knicks performance Wednesday night that I almost didn’t write this article. However, I need to get my point across to express just how PITIFUL they were last night. Im going to very briefly start with the positives from last night: The MVP of the Knicks roster so far in this series has without question been Raymond Felton. Felton needs to stop complaining to the ref’s every time he’s called for a foul or doesn’t get a foul call, but other than that he’s been great. Last night Iman Shumpert played a nice game as well, but he is still young and raw and gets ahead of himself too often. However, his defensive intensity is unmatched and should be utilized as a weapon for the Knicks (ahem, Coach Woodson, that message is for you). Shumpert was clearly the only person who could slow down or agitate Paul Pierce last night, but somehow I kept watching Raymond Felton or Old Man River (Jason Kidd) try to guard him. Positives, check. Let’s move on to the negatives. This may take a while so get comfortable.

The negatives for the Knicks started well before the opening tip of game 5 in Madison Square Garden. They started with the insanely moronic and boneheaded elbow thrown by J.R. Smith to Jason Terry’s face. This action as we all know resulted in a flagrant 2 foul, an immediate ejection from game 3, and ultimately a suspension for game 4. We also all know that the Knicks despite their best comeback efforts dropped game 4 in overtime. Now there is almost no way, on paper, for you to comprehend the hatred I have for the way the Knicks have carried themselves as of late. Forget the on court ineptitude, I’m speaking to their off court behavior. First, J.R. Smith decides to open his big ol’ mouth after the game 4 loss. He said that the Knicks would have won if he had played, and he would be spending his day off playing golf somewhere instead of preparing for game 6. Oh yeah??? That’s what WOULD have happened IF you played? That’s nice, and if the queen had balls she’d be the king. How about you (J.R.) shut your stupid mouth and apologize for your senseless actions that ultimately hurt your team. How about you say that you have grown on and off the court this season and you feel horrible that you let your emotions get the best of you in a game that was already out of reach. And lastly, how about you assure your teammates, organization, and fans alike that you will not allow anything like this to happen ever again. This is the playoffs! You need to keep your composure and stay focused on the task at hand at all times. I guess these things would have been too much to ask for huh? Silly me. Second, the Knicks decide that there is no chance on this heavenly earth that they could lose game 5 on their home court. So what do they do? They all decide to dress in all black as if they are attending a funeral for the Boston Celtics. YOU STAY CLASSY SAN DIEGO!! How are you going to act this immaturely in the midst of the 1st round of the playoffs and think it’s okay?? Plus, can anybody say bad timing? I’m sure the Einstein’s behind this idea didn’t have any real malice behind this stunt, but following the tragedy in Boston you’d think New Yorker’s would be a little more sensitive to any inclination toward death. News flash: This is the 1st round and you are the 2 seed. They are the 7 seed. You are supposed to win this series handily. So win it already. As for their lackluster play on the court, what is the main reason for Knicks losses this season?

Is it:

A.) They get early leads and don’t know how to blow team’s out?

B.) They play lazy defense with no intensity or purpose?

C.) Coach Woodson doesn’t utilize his roster effectively?

D.) They turn into a one on one isolation team that stands around and watches Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith jack up bad shots?

While most of you would pick D, the answer is actually secret option E, all of the above. These are the main reasons that the Knicks lose. This is why they lost game 5, and this is how they will lose this series if they don’t give themselves a serious wake up call. Whenever they wake up and answer that call, let me provide you with a little insight into what they need to do. Even when Melo looks to pass first he still get’s his 25-30 shots, simply because he’s Melo and that’s what he does, he shoots. The defense from the 2nd half of game 2 is what they need to copy going forward. And lastly it would be nice to see Coach Woodson get passed his hatred for Shumpert, and let him play extended minutes. He appears to be 100% and needs to put Paul Pierce on lockdown. I don’t know if the Knicks will solve all of these problems all at once, but they are an enigma sometimes. One day they will play like the Charlotte Bobcats and the next day they will play like the best team in the league. That is why the Knicks will turn right around and close out this series Friday night in Boston. It might have a little to do with an aging Celtics team playing on short rest as well, who knows? Tune in to ESPN on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. to watch the drama unfold. And ah hell, Let’s Go Knicks!!

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Melo Jr. Gives It His All

Well apparently the Knicks didn’t get the memo about Kevin Durant.  He is a beast in the 4th quarter!  Durant scored 12 of the Thunder’s 20 points in the 4th quarter and they won the game 95-94.  J.R. Smith and the Meloless Knicks gave it their all against one of the best teams in the league, but it just wasn’t enough.  J.R. Smith did his best Carmelo impression last night scoring 36 points on 29 shots.  He played a good game off the “bench”, but he couldn’t beat the Thunder by himself.  Raymond Felton and Amar’e Stoudemire both added 16 points, but the offense was pretty inefficient as a whole (they shot 40% from the field and 32% from 3 point range).  Believe it or not, the Knicks actually had a 6 point lead heading to 4th quarter, so it makes sense that they got outscored by 7 points in the 4th quarter (haha, figures).  That leads me back to my original point.  Kevin Durant is the best player in the NBA that is not named Lebron James.  The Knicks obviously didn’t realize that.  They should have been double teaming Durant in the 4th quarter and forced someone else to beat them.  Outside of Durant and Westbrook, no one else on the Thunder took more than 7 shots.  If you had doubled them and forced Serge Ibaka or Kevin Martin to beat you, I bet you would have had some success.  Unfortunately, the Knicks decided to go one on one with Kevin Durant, and he killed them when it mattered most.  I have to put most of the blame on Coach Woodson.  Mike Woodson keeps preaching that it doesn’t matter who starts games, it only matters who finishes games.  Well Mike, you continue to screw up the lineups at the end of games so what exactly are you talking about?!?!  How you don’t have Amar’e Stoudemire in against the Heat down the stretch is beyond me.  Plus last night he did the same thing with Tyson Chandler sitting him for 5 and a half of the most crucial minutes of the 4th quarter.  How many times do I have to hear about the questionable moves and substitutions from Woodson before someone questions him as a great coach?  People think because the Knicks have a good record that he must be doing a great job, but I’m here to tell you that their record could and should be even better.  Woodson needs to pull his head out of the sand and start managing his roster properly.  For starters, I like Kurt Thomas, but send him off to the nursing home already.  Secondly, James White should be a star in the D-League, not A STARTER on an NBA roster (let alone on a good NBA roster).  The next step for Woodson is to get Melo 100% and bring he and Amar’e back to the starting lineup together.  This will infuse some instant offense into the starting lineup and will keep them from getting down early in games.  It will also bring some size into the starting lineup, and while Amar’e is not a great rebounder, he’ll certainly grab more boards than James White or Kurt Thomas.  Everyone questions Amar’e’s defense, but everyone’s defense on this team is questionable besides Tyson Chandler.  At least Amar’e is trying on the defensive end, which is more than you can say about Steve Novak.  Is he not the worst defender in the NBA?  I defy you to find a worse defender in the entire NBA than Steve Novak.  Woodson should leave J.R. in his role as the 6th man, because it would make no sense to have 2 “Carmelo’s” on the floor at the same time.  If Woodson continues to bring Jason Kidd in as the backup point guard, Kidd can manage Smith’s personality and mold him in to a well-rounded basketball player.  As for size, defense, and toughness the Knicks have Chandler and need to hope and pray that the combination of Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby can help in those departments.

Let me get back to last night’s game.  The Knicks should take only positive notes away from this loss to the Thunder.  Think about it this way, did anyone in the world besides a completely biased Knicks fan think they were going to win that game last night?  No chance in hell.  I personally thought they were going to lose by 10 points.  The fact that they had a lead heading into the 4th quarter and only lost by 1 point without their top scorer is an impressive feat if you ask me.  It would have been a nice game to steal since they have an insane schedule in March, but they should feel good about themselves moving forward.  The Knicks have a much needed day off on Friday, but will be right back in action Saturday night at home against the Utah Jazz.  Maybe we’ll see Carmelo Anthony back in uniform by then.  Either way, tune in to MSG @ 7:30 P.M. to watch the Knicks beat the Utah Jazz.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well.  Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Phantom Injury Sparks Comeback

Let us rewind to Monday evening at around 8:00 P.M.  The Knicks were getting BLOWN OUT by the Cleveland Cavaliers.  We were witnessing one of the most embarrassing performances of the year in the NBA.  The expletives that were flying around my head are words I would never dare say out loud.  The Knicks looked like they were running in quick sand.  They looked sluggish, and lazy, and they were playing uninspired basketball.  During the 1st quarter, you saw the Knicks go from up 2 points to down 10.  However, the 2nd quarter is where the flood gates opened.  The Cavaliers led by Marreese Speights, simply couldn’t miss.  Speights went a perfect 10 for 10 in the 1st half.  This is a Cavaliers team who is ranked dead last in field goal percentage.  Was it the Knicks poor defense that contributed to the Cavaliers offensive explosion, or was it simply a hot streak that couldn’t be stopped?  I’d like to think it was a combination of both, but the Cavaliers were shooting 81% from the field and found themselves with a 22 point lead less than four and a half minutes into the 2nd quarter.  Yes you read that right, the Cavaliers were beating the Knicks by 22 in the 2nd quarter.  Then, in a blink of an eye, everything changed.  With 6:48 left in the 1st half, Carmelo Anthony caught an outlet pass near half court.  As he caught the pass he tripped over his own two feet and fell down.  It looked awkward, it looked like it could have been slightly painful, but all in all it didn’t look too serious.  Carmelo Anthony picked himself up and walked (not limped) his way to the locker room.  Minutes later, we found out that he would not return to the game.  Amar’e Stoudemire took Anthony’s place in the game, and sparked an immediate comeback.  In just over one minute, the Knicks cut the lead from 22 to 15.  The Cavaliers quickly took a timeout and tried to regroup.  That did not help, as the Knicks cut the lead back to single digits.  The Knicks accomplished this by attacking the basket and cutting down on their three point attempts (other than J.R. Smith).  J.R. Smith added a much needed 18 points but went 1-7 from three-point range.  Smith is very athletic and can pretty much get to the basket at will.  He needs to concentrate more on that and spend less time jacking up countless three pointers.  With a combination of Amar’e Stoudemire’s effective post game and efficient outside shooting by the rest of the team, the Knicks staged an epic comeback.  The Knicks scratched and clawed their way back into this game and with four minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the score was knotted at 64.  The Knicks turned up the heat on defense and held the Cavaliers to just 13 points in the 3rd quarter.  These teams battled back and forth throughout the rest of the game, but in the end the Knicks proved to be too much for the Cavaliers to handle.  They pulled out a tough (much needed) victory, 102-97.

When Carmelo Anthony went down for the count in the 1st half, the Knicks found a way to pull together and storm their way back into this game.  It was truly a team effort led by Amar’e Stoudemire.  Amar’e scored 22 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the field.  Running the offense through Amar’e allowed the Knicks to play a nice inside out game.  If Amar’e wasn’t able to take the ball to the hoop aggressively, he kicked the ball out to an open man.  The Knicks found effective outside shooting from Jason Kidd and Steve Novak.  Novak made four timely three pointers, while Kidd added three of his own.  It’s nice to see Jason Kidd find his stroke, as he added 12 points off the bench.  Mike Woodson still seems to have a problem with Iman Shumpert though because he seemed to find his stroke as well in the 1st quarter.  He hit three of his first four shots but only racked up six total shots for the entire game (in 19 minutes).  I really hope that Woodson is just being cautious with Shumpert’s knee because the Knicks are going to need his production on both ends of the floor if they have any plans of making a run in the playoffs.  I find myself using the same expression over and over again, but ‘a win is a win’ no matter how it looks.  For now that might work against the Cavaliers and the Wizards, but come playoff time that is not going to cut it against the Miami Heat (if they get that far).  The Knicks have a much needed day off today, but will continue their road trip against the Detroit Pistons, Wednesday night at 7:30 P.M.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well.  Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

So Close But Yet So far

Lebron James is better than Carmelo Anthony.  It is as simple as that (it also doesn’t hurt to have Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on your team too).  Sunday afternoon, Lebron showcased his all around skills and proved why the Heat are the team to beat in the NBA.  This basketball game was a tale of two halves, and it took a turn when the best player in the world took the game over.  The Knicks opened the game with loads of energy, and Madison Square Garden seemed to be filled with that “playoff” electricity.  The Knicks played a nearly perfect first half and at one point had a 16 point lead over the Heat.  Carmelo Anthony came out on fire and hit 4 out of his first 5 shots.  He also got to the free throw line 4 times in the first quarter, hitting 8 out of 9 free throws.  Jason Kidd finally woke from his slumber and decided to hit 4 three-pointers in the first half.  As a Knicks fan I loved what I saw in the first half, but I had this sneaking suspicion that the Heat weren’t down for the count.  A 14 point halftime lead was cut to only 4 with 6:52 still left in the third quarter.  How did that happen you say?  Well, Chris Bosh came out of the locker room like a bat out of hell, scoring 7 points in the first 3 minutes of the third quarter.  Now, the Knicks showed great perseverance stretching the lead back out to 11 points with 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  And from there it was the Lebron James show.  Lebron took the responsibility of guarding Carmelo Anthony for the entire 2nd half.  Lebron shut him down, limiting Melo to only 8 2nd half points.  He also helped the Heat close the 3rd quarter on an 8-1 run, cutting the lead back down to 4.  Melo did start the 4th quarter with a quick basket, but Lebron came right back and hit the two biggest shots of the game.  He nailed back to back three-pointers tying the game at 79.  Both teams traded baskets over the next couple minutes, but when the Heat took the lead with 4:28 to go, they wouldn’t relinquish the lead for the rest of the game.  The Knicks still had a chance when they were down 4, with the ball, and 30 seconds to play, however what transpired next became the nail in the coffin for the Knicks.  J.R. Smith threw a lazy pass across the top of the key toward Carmelo Anthony.  Lebron jumped the passing lane, stole the ball, and threw down a ferocious dunk.  This put the game out of reach, and the Heat won 99-93.  This has also officially put the Eastern Conference out of reach.

The name of this game was defense.  The Knicks started the game with great intensity.  They were playing solid team defense.  They were doubling, and switching, and rotating perfectly in their defensive assignments.  This kept the Heat’s offense at bay and allowed them to sustain a lead throughout the entire 1st half.  Lebron though, headlined the defensive attack for the Heat in the 2nd half.  Like I mentioned earlier, he completely shut down a tired Carmelo Anthony and forced the rest of the Knicks to beat them (that obviously did not happen).  The Heat’s swarming defense forced 18 turnovers by the Knicks.  This is very uncharacteristic for the Knicks who only average just over 11 turnovers per game.  The turnovers were crucial in this game, and they all seemed to come at inopportune times for the Knicks.  On top of his stellar defense, Lebron also added 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists (just another day at the office).  This is clearly Lebron’s team, but everyone needs to realize just how fortunate he is to have such a talented player by his side.  Dwayne Wade had 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists.  Combined they shot over 50% from the field, and were just 2 rebounds and 5 assists away from having 2 TRIPLE DOUBLES.  It’s basically unfair, but I’ll save my excuses for a later date.  We all know how good the Heat are, the story here is the Knicks and their confused lineup.  I like Mike Woodson finally making a move in changing up the starting lineup, but JAMES WHITE?!?!  I know it’s not a real thing, that it’s just a move to bring Kidd off the bench, but JAMES WHITE?!?!  James White shouldn’t be on an NBA roster, and he is starting for the third best team in the Eastern Conference?  Are you serious Mr. Woodson?  You might as well call up the Oklahoma City Thunder and try to get Ronnie Brewer back.  At least when he started games for the Knicks, they were winning.  What the Knicks need to do is insert Amar’e Stoudemire into the starting lineup at the 4, and allow Shumpert and Melo to slide down into their natural positions to the 2 and 3 respectively.  This will allow Melo to roam free offensively and not take on the task of guarding power forwards on the other end of the floor.  Amar’e can still manage to stay under 30 minutes per game, and should keep the Knicks from getting down early in games.  This has been one of the biggest parts of the Knicks downfall over the last two months.  Coach Woodson should also go back to resting Carmelo Anthony at the start of the 4th quarter.  Melo is not a guy who can play 40-plus minutes every night and still remain effective.  No matter what the Knicks do with their lineup going forward, they need to play defense and scale back the amount of three-pointers they shoot.  It makes them too streaky, and streaky in the NBA doesn’t win Championships.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well.  Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports.  Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!

Sooooo….That Didn’t Go As Planned Did It??

WOW!!!!  Just when everyone thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.  I am not going to break down last nights game because I don’t want to make anyone sick to their stomach.  In case you missed it the Knicks lost to the Pacers by a score of 125-91, and have now lost four of their last five games.  Let’s just say it was ugly, pathetic, and the Knicks looked like they didn’t want to be out on the court.  After a nice week off for the All Star break, the Knicks looked like they were still on vacation.  With that being said, last night the New York Knicks looked like, well the New York Knicks.  As Knicks fans, we are used to this by now aren’t we?  I know I am.  They toy with your emotions.  They trick you into believing they are a complete team and they’ve put their woes behind them.  And then what happens?  They go through horrid stretches that make you wonder what’s next.  It may sound like I’m jumping ship, but I’m not.  Let me explain to you what’s happening with the New York Knicks.  They are a jump shooting team that has an affinity for three pointers, they play next to no defense, and they have a confused lineup.  Earlier on in the season the Knicks weren’t good, they were great.  This is because the three’s and jumpers were falling.  Jump shooting teams are streaky.  They lose games they have no business losing, and sometimes they win games they have no business winning.  Don’t be surprised if the Knicks turn this ship around and go on a nice little stretch in March.  Let me tell you something, that would leave everyone scratching their heads saying, who are the real Knicks?  This is because the Knicks, in March, play ten of their first fifteen games on the road.  I know you all feel like I did two months ago (as a Jets fan), and you believe Murphy’s Law is in affect.  However, it’s not time to give up, yet.  Like I said, they are a jump shooting team, and they will start falling again real soon (right Jason?).  Jason Kidd can talk about how rejuvenated he is after his week off, but I think he left his jump shot in Cabo along with his sunscreen.  All the Knicks need to do (besides trade for a power forward who can play defense and rebound) is stop playing one on one, get some ball movement, and play team defense.  I know that is easier said then done, but that’s what was happening at the start of the season.  And hey, guess what?  The more you move the ball the more open shots you’ll get.  The more open shots you get the more shots you will probably make.  More made shots = more points (I know that’s a wild concept).  The defense issue is the toughest problem to solve because you only have three guys who actually want to play defense on the roster; Tyson Chandler, Iman Shumpert, and Ronnie Brewer.  Brewer never sees the light of day because he is more useless on the offensive end than George W. Bush in a library.  Shumpert is still not 100% and Woodson doesn’t seem to be his biggest fan.  And Chandler is doing his part, but he can’t defend five guys at once.  Finally, the lineup is as confused as Andy Dick (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  This falls on Coach Woodson.  I understand that Woodson needs to shuffle around the lineup when things aren’t going well, but he needs to find some continuity for the team to thrive.  It’s certainly not looking good right now, but it ain’t over til the fat lady sings, and I don’t see Rosie O’ Donnell anywhere so I think they have some time to figure this out.