Things are not good in the Big Apple right now as the New York Knicks have lost five of their last eight games.
The last came as a result of another slow start and another poor defensive effort against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland shot 50.6 percent from the floor in the 105-100 loss for the Knicks as they fell behind by as many as 19 early and even though they crept within three on a couple of occasions, defensive breakdowns cost the Knicks a game they probably should have won.
Amar’e Stoudemire returned and struggled, and while Carmelo Anthony went for 45 in his return, the early hole proved too big to climb out of.
Here’s how each Knicks’ player graded out in my daily report card.
Field Goal Percentage: 42.9 %( 36-of-84)
Opponent’s Field Goal Percentage: 50.6% (41-of-81)
Three Point Percentage: 27.0% (10-of-27)
Opponent’s Three Point Percentage: 33.3% (11-of-33)
Free Throw Percentage: 75.5% (18-of-24)
Opponent’s Free Throw Percentage: 66.7% (12-of-18)
Assists: 22-18 (Blazers +4)
Rebounds: 47-37 (Blazers +10)
Points in the paint: 48-36 (Blazers +12)
Jason Kidd (0 points, 0-of-5 shooting, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals)
Are the increased minutes getting to Kidd? Usually a stat sheet stuffer, Kidd was anything but that Tuesday night. Rookie Blazers’ point guard Damian Lillard abused him as Kidd couldn’t stay with him at the defensive end and he missed every one of his open jump shots badly. The usual intangibles that Kidd brings weren’t there last night. Grade: F
Ronnie Brewer (5 points, 2-of-4 shooting, 1 rebound, 1 assist)
Brewer played only 12 minutes and his night was pretty much done after the first half. The Knicks must guard the perimeter better and Brewer absolutely has to be a big part of that. But when you are down double digits most of the game, it is hard to have him out there. Nicolas Batum finished with 26 and it would have been nice to have Brewer on him late in the game, but the Knicks needed offense so it is hard to fault the decision. Grade: D
Carmelo Anthony (45 points, 14-of-24 shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists)
Anthony returned to the lineup by scoring the Knicks’ first 10 points and having 24 at the half en route to a 45 point night, despite seeing aggressive double teams the entire second half. It is scary to think about how bad the Knicks would have lost had Anthony sat out again. Like everyone else, he could have done more at the defensive end, but ‘Melo came to play. Grade: A+
Kurt Thomas (0 points)
Thomas picked up three fouls in the first four minutes of the game and never returned. Grade: F
Tyson Chandler (10 points, 4-of-7 shooting, 7 rebounds)
The Knicks got crushed on the boards and the Blazers, especially J.J. Hickson, dominated the paint. However Chandler gave the Knicks extra possessions with six offensive rebounds. But that means the Knicks’ big man grabbed only one defensive rebound all night. He shot a high percentage but got only seven touches on the night. To be fair, bad perimeter defense, allowing easy penetration and allowing easy interior passes forced Chandler to scramble all night. His teammates hung him out to dry in this one. Grade C
Amar’e Stoudemire (6 points, 3-of-8 shooting, 1 rebound, 1 block)
Stoudemire got a classy standing ovation from the Madison Square Garden crowd when he checked in, but that was as good as it got for STAT in his season debut. He played 17 minutes and his first touch resulted in a turnover. He missed his first five field-goal attempts, coming up short on jumpers and failing to create enough space to drop in a couple of close-range hooks in the paint. He was aggressive and looked for his own shot, but he didn’t let the game come to him, which is something he needs to learn. However, defensively he was worse. He did have a big block but Portland made an effort to attack him. He struggled with LaMarcus Aldridge in the pick-and-pop and was exposed when Hickson attacked him going to the rim. Grade: D
Steve Novak (0 points, 0-of-5 shooting, 1 rebound)
Mike Woodson can’t justify leaving Novak on the floor if he’s not hitting from downtown, which he wasn’t on this night. At one point the frontcourt featured Novak, Chris Copeland and Stoudemire, with neither of the three capable of guarding anyone. Novak has to knock down shots to get minutes. He didn’t and played 20 minutes. Grade: F
Chris Copeland (2 points, 1-of-5 shooting)
Copeland’s minutes dropped to only seven with Anthony’s return and missed open shots for a change. If you are getting five shots off in seven minutes, you have to knock some down. Grade: F
Marcus Camby (2 points, 1-of-1 shooting, 3 rebounds)
Woodson elected to go “younger” when he started the 38-year old Camby over Thomas in the second half. He played only nine minutes but the Knicks were a +7 during that time, one of only three players to have a positive plus-minus on the night. He should see more minutes in the future. Grade: C
Pablo Prigioni (2 points, 1-of-3 shooting, 3 assists)
Woodson had to play the “younger” 35-year old Prigioni 22 minutes because Kidd was not having success at the defensive end of the floor. He tried to involve Stoudemire in a handful of pick-and-rolls, but very little materialized there. He had a decent, though not spectacular night. Grade: C
J.R. Smith (28 points, 10-of-22 shooting, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals)
Smith continues to be spectacular and fill the stat sheet. He made hustle plays and heated up in the second half after a 3-for-8 start. Smith played 40 minutes and was the only other Knicks’ player other than Anthony to have a positive impact on the game: Grade: A
Rasheed Wallace: DNP (Foot)
James White: DNP (Coach’s Decision)
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