Sorry for the slight delay on this recap, my effort today has been slightly on par with Carmelo Anthony’s. It’s incredibly difficult to come back from a 32-9 deficit—what the Knicks faced after one quarter—and make a basketball game competitive, so hats off to New York for doing just that. But that’s about the only positive to be taken from this Sunday matinee. The first quarter saw apocalyptic level shooting from just about every Knick player—they shot 4-25 in the first 12 minutes and didn’t seem interested in switching up the offensive game plan. The much maligned defense played like its described, specifically in the transition game. On one early Chauncey Billups miss, the Bucks quickly pushed the ball up the court and, with three Knicks back and ready on defense, found a wide open Carlos Delfino whose facial expression said “why isn’t anyone guarding me”. Coming off a game two days ago where he hit eight three-pointers, Delfino, of course, drained the shot. His first of six behind the arc for a career high 30 points.
Behind Chauncey Billups (21 points) and the usual suspect, Amar’e Stoudemire (25), the Knicks were able to cut their 23 point deficit to six by halftime. Most of it was due to an outstanding protection of the basketball. (The Knicks only had six turnovers in the game.) But none of that really mattered. The team shot 38.6% on the day. When your interior defense is a Kleenex, it’s very difficult to win any games shooting the ball like that.
* Carmelo Anthony had 23 points on 14 shots, five rebounds, and one assist. Not to pile on the poor guy, but the numbers have a difficult time describing how terrible a performance this was. Defensively Anthony was atrocious. His main assignment, Carlos Delfino, was the one flaunting the superstar swagger Anthony normally hones. Delfino was open all day long. It’s like Carmelo doesn’t know guarding players when they don’t have the ball counts as “playing defense”; I don’t understand it. Taking pride in your defense doesn’t mean your man goes off for a career high scoring performance when you’re guarding him. Hopefully he ratchets it up come playoff time.
* Landry Fields was a ghost today, but I have a difficult time putting blame on his shoulders. Nobody’s sacrificed more in the field of scoring points than the rookie, and it seems he’s having a difficult time finding shots within the flow of the game. He had 0 assists, and due to an inability to defend John Salmons (the Knicks reluctantly switched Turiaf onto the Bucks shooting guard on a few plays), only played 21 minutes. New York usually loses when Fields has games like this one.
* D’Antoni started Shelden Williams at center. He played the first six minutes, then watched the following 42 from the bench. What the hell is the point in doing this? Williams was his usual terrible self in his minutes on the floor, adding further evidence to the “Shelden Williams isn’t an NBA player” argument.
* Toney Douglas is getting floor time for his defensive abilities, but it’s his offensive play receiving a majority of the scorn/praise. Today it’s mostly scorn. He had nine assists, but shot 3-13 from the field for seven points. Douglas has become the team’s true X-factor, and his up and down play has been symbolic of the team’s, so usually when he either shoots lights out, plays solid defense, or just makes solid decisions, the Knicks contend. Today his shots weren’t falling. Result: loss.