Insanity is defined by doing the same thing the same way, but expecting a different result. James Dolan met with the New York Knicks the other day and promised the team no changes in the foreseeable future. The rewarded their owner with no changes last night in a 95-83 loss to the Toronto Raptors. The Knicks once again blew a lead late in the game and got out-scored by the Raptors in the fourth quarter to lose the game.
The Knicks had this game, a big game at home, but limited offense and terrible shooting in the second half led to their downfall. Once again, the Knicks failed to deliver in the fourth quarter. Many reporters blame the loss on Carmelo Anthony and his ankle injury and the loss of Raymond Felton. Sure, the Knicks are a better team with Anthony, but with him the Knicks only have 9 wins.
Two years ago, when Anthony had his injuries, a young Asian guard, came in and Linsanity was created. Last year, during Anthony’s absence of 18 games, a bright, young rookie named Chris Copeland stepped in and provided a scoring punch. Amazingly, both these young talents were allowed to leave New York for literally NOTHING.
The same Knicks that worry so much about draft picks allowed two young talents to just walk away with not even a coveted draft pick in return. With a little love and support, both could have been kept. Management allowed them to leave, by never making a legitimate offer until it was too late. If these two youngsters were with the Knicks, the Knicks would be a better team. Both stepped in and scored during Anthony’s absence. The Knicks have no such player this year. I blame this on management. Although neither was, nor might never be an All Star, they knew how to win. This current Knick team doesn’t know how to win.
Last night, many blamed the loss on Andrea Bargnani. Facts are facts; Bargnani is not now and may never be a superstar. However, he fills a role. Last night he had a double-double, 18 points and 12 rebounds. As he was the Knicks primary option without Anthony he was often double teamed. In the second half Toronto made adjustments to limit his touches. The Knicks offered no response. He took 5 shots in the second half. If the Knicks had a true offensive set, which they don’t, the coach could call plays to get him the ball. This did not happen; they forgot what got them the lead and instead hoisted a bunch of poor shots.
With Anthony out with a sprained ankle, for the second straight game, Bargnani displayed much-needed offense and rebounding from the outset, putting up 14 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in the first half. Toronto made the necessary adjustments in the second half, limiting Bargnani to only four points while shooting 1-of-5 from the field, and grabbing only three rebounds. This was a team loss.
In the last Knick win, Bargnani made two key baskets at games end with Anthony on the bench. It is a coach’s job to give players confidence and trust, Woodson has failed in this area with many players. During the second half, the offense didn’t focus on Bargnani, didn’t offer him the ball, and didn’t get him many shots. The shots he got were difficult shots. This is the coach’s job, to control the tempo, to reward players for playing well. Woodson again did not do his job of maneuvering his players and making the appropriate changes.
Bargnani is not a selfish player, he is still trying to fit in and does not have 100% of the coach’s confidence. In the loss on Christmas day, he played only 17 minutes. What does that tell you? The coach has never treated him like a star, he is trying his hardest to just fit in to an Anthony-based offense. This team has no plan B, and that is a coach’s fault.
Bargnani said after the game: “I’m part of the team, so I played like the team played, very good in the first half, and in the second half, I’m not happy about it… I don’t think it’s just one thing. It’s many things together. It’s focus, intensity, we didn’t have the same energy that we had in the first half. It’s a bunch of different things.”
For the game Bargnani was a -7; however, Tyson Chandler was a -22 in the 12 point loss. He had 6 rebounds for the game — half that of Bargnani. Chandler scored 7 points while the opposing center Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and 18 rebounds. Yet no blame ever goes to Chandler. Yes, Chandler has heart and soul and is a fan favorite, but last night he was outplayed. However, many times he had to cover players or double teamed when he shouldn’t have. The Knicks defensive philosophy and schemes have been a complete failure this year.
As a team, last night the Knicks were out rebounded 50 to 42. Toronto had 21 assists compared to the Knicks’ 19. Each team had 16 turnovers. The Knicks had four players in double figures and Toronto 5. The Knicks shot 10 of 19 for 52% from the 3 pint point line. Toronto shot 42% form inside the three, compared to the Knicks 38%. Statistically, it was a close game, the difference is Toronto made big shots at the end of the game. The Raptors executed while the Knicks executed themselves.
There is a ton of talent on this Knick team, but they are unorganized and play poor defense. They continually switch, play defense with their hands and never fight through screens on defense. They go through the motions. Toronto played tough defense, double teaming the Knicks the entire fourth quarter and holding the Knicks to 12 points while they scored 29. There lied the game. There were no changes last night.
This is a team that needs changes. Carmelo Anthony has not shown the leadership skills it takes to win. Some blame can placed on the injuries, but injuries are a part of the NBA. In Oklahoma, their top point guard Russell Westbrook just had knee surgery and is out until the All Star game. Yet the Thunder will likely march on and win without him. Maybe not at the same torrid pace, but Kevin Durant will hold that team together.
Face the facts: Anthony is a selfish, me-first player. Not being on the bench last night was not a good sign. He stated he was in the locker room rehabbing. What did he do all day? Last year, Rasheed Wallace was on the bench showing leadership during his absence. This is not a team built to win. I did not examine Anthony’s ankle but watching him turn his ankle it didn’t look that serious. Tape it up and play, that what Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan did in the day. If it didn’t need surgery, they played.
There is the story of legendary baseball player Ralph Kiner, (who announced for the New York Mets) when he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He went in after the season and asked the owner for more money. The owner asked Kiner what place they came in this year. Kiner responded “last place”. The owner responded, “No, because I could just as easily come in last place without you.
Anthony is coddled by Dolan and Dolan does whatever Anthony and his team of managers and agents tell him to do. The right message should have been to ask the player, tell the players either step it up, or I will make whatever changes are necessary.
This is a team that needs change. I’m tired of the same old thing, that thing is losing.
Dr Eric Kaplan is a Bestselling Author www.5minutemotivator.com
Follow him on twitter @drekaplan