Thursday, December 29, 2011

Knicks Look Bad in Loss to Warriors

(Photo courtesy of

It's tough to expect NBA teams to come out firing on all cylinders this season after the lockout severely shortened training camps. The Knicks signed Tyson Chandler in the offseason and, two weeks later, they were playing the Celtics on Christmas Day.

It takes weeks, even months for a basketball team to gel on the court. The Knicks had the same issues last season after trading most of their roster for Carmelo Anthony and chemistry was still a work in progress two months later in the playoffs.

The need to preach patience with this team is evident. Last night's road loss to the Stephen Curry-less Warriors, however, was a poor performance all around. The Knicks held an eight-point lead with eight minutes to play in the third quarter but were outscored 52-30 over the final 20 minutes.

Brandon Rush scored 11 points in a nine-minute span and his 19 points in the game matched the output Golden State could have expected from Curry. Ishmael Smith, who started in place of Curry, outplayed Toney Douglas and exposed the Knicks' biggest weakness right now: The lack of a true point guard.

Upon signing Chandler, the Knicks had no choice but to amnesty Chauncey Billups and his $14 million salary. In losing Billups, the Knicks lost the only true point guard they had on their roster and, while Douglas had some good moments in the opening-round playoff loss to Boston, he's struggled to prove he's the answer in the season's first two games.

There's no real reason to rush to judgment as I alluded to earlier; the season is still young and even championship-caliber teams are going to have their inconsistent games in the first two or three months this season. But watching the Knicks struggle last night was extremely painful, especially against a team as defensively inept as the Warriors.

Chandler couldn't stay on the court with foul trouble, logging just 22 minutes, three rebounds and no blocked shots after swatting six against the Celtics in the opener. Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire shot 8-for-27 from the field and had just 29 points combined while Bill Walker had 14 points and made six of his eight shots off the bench.

When Bill Walker is your best offensive option, you're in trouble as a basketball team. The Knicks shot just 40 percent as a team and made only four of their 21 three-point attempts, allowing Golden State to generate easy baskets and build momentum at home late in the game.

A better performance should be expected from the Knicks against Kobe Bryant and the Andrew Bynum-less Lakers tonight. We saw last night though that it's not about who their opponent is missing, but whether the Knicks can keep their stars in rhythm.

This is not a deep basketball team, especially without Iman Shumpert for up to a month. Chandler needs to stay out of foul trouble because without him, the team's interior defense is even worse than it was last season. The Knicks also won't win many games when both Anthony and Stoudemire have bad shooting nights.

Last night was the worst-case scenario for the Knicks this season and boy, did they look pathetic. I don't expect games that bad very often this season but if they start to become the norm, New York basketball fans will be screaming Baron Davis' name before we know it.

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