Playing in Paris, the new-look Knicks’ first game against a NBA opponent, resulted in them coming in second place to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, 106-100. Many people (including yours truly) feel that this year the TWolves could be the worst team in the league, so it ain’t a great sign that we lost to ‘em. Still, as it is pre-season, just as one can’t read too much into our win on Monday against Milan, neither can ya read too much into a loss here. Then again, we’ve got nuthin’ better to do, so let’s voice our concerns, knowing full well that by the next game they may be obsolete.
Except for the rooks (oh, and all the healthy players got minutes today), pretty much everyone else looked worse than in the first game. Amar’e Stoudemire managed only 11 points on 36% shooting. Will that bring back out all the nay-sayers who said he’d struggle without Steve Nash giving him easy feeds. I hope not. Two games does not a sample size make.
The turnovers were lower (19) than last game, but still not low enough. The two other main issues I brought up also came back to haunt us in this outing:
Issue #1: Poor rebounding
We lost the battle of the boards by a depressing 35-62. Minnesota’s Kevin Love got as many rebounds (14) as four of our five starters (Ronny Turiaf, Amar’e, Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler). Our fifth starter, point guard Raymond Felton, was at least solid with 4 rebounds, although that paltry amount gave him more than Amare and Chandler combined. Both of those guys I called out for their sub-par board work last game, and again they’ve disappointed. In 19 minutes off the bench, shooting guard Roger Mason Jr. grabbed 6 rebounds, which tied him for the lead with Gallo and Turiaf. Our two other players (Anthony Randolph and Timofey Mozgov) who rotate through the center spot each only managed 2 rebounds.
Issue #2: Fouls
Fouls not only limited the playing time of many of our players, but it also allowed the Twolves to get 21 extra free-throws for 16 giveaway points. If we hadn’t done that, instead of losing by 6 points, we win by 10. Specific offenders were Mozgov, who fouled out in just 15 minutes, Chandler who racked up 5 in only 21 minutes, while both Amar’e and Felton each had 4 in just 20 and 29 minutes respectively.
Other Random Bits From The Game:
-We started out actually looking pretty decent and even had a 13 point lead shortly into the first quarter. One then might be tempted to chalk the loss up to the second unit, but our starters began the second half up by two and promptly fell behind. In a weird twist, we were ahead for most of the first half with our biggest lead being those 13 points mentioned above. The TWolves were ahead for most of the second half, and guess what their largest lead was? Yup, again, lucky number 13.
-Our 3 point shooting was seriously off, with Gallo bricking the most by going 1 of 8 from long distance. Randolph took 3, making 1, but again, I really, really, really wish he wasn’t taking those shots. Bill Walker after a decent show in limited minutes went 0-for-2 from downtown.
-Rookies Landry Fields and Andy Rautins got to play some fourth quarter minutes, and both fared admirably. Fields, in 16 minutes, shot 5 of 9 from the field and hit 1 of 2 three-pointers. Rautins, in 12, went 2-for-3 from long-range, gathered 3 rebounds and even a block.
-Even Shawne Williams got on the court. Somehow he managed to jack up three shots in just three minutes, even tossing up a three-pointer (of course, it didn’t go in). Why are they keeping him around? If they don’t cut him the minute they arrive back in the US, that’d just be cruel ‘cuz he clearly ain’t got a shot at making the roster.
-Wil the Thrill, despite the fouls and poor rebounding, was one of the few bright spots offensively, going for 12 points on 55% shooting. After having a sub-par training camp, supposedly Donnie Walsh has still been contemplating a trade of him for the Portland Trail Blazer’s disgruntled shooting guard, Rudy Fernandez. After two solid performances in a row, probably Walsh will stop fielding the Blazers’ calls now.
-Randolph may’ve barely lead the team in points with just 14, but it was on an embarrassing 27% shooting, so he only got his points due to free-throws. Beside his piddly 2 rebounds, he also didn’t get any blocks. Had he played well, he could’ve been the one guy who saw more minutes since he only had 1 foul. Despite his ineffectiveness, since everyone else was in foul trouble, his 23 minutes actually gave him the second most time on the court.
In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart famously said, “We’ll always have Paris.” After the way we played while in Europe, we’d rather have Milan.