Last night after a solid first quarter, the New York Knicks folded to the toughness of the Indiana Pacers and lost 117-89.
The major factor, is the difference in these two teams in just one year. Last year, the Knicks lost to Indiana in the second round of the playoffs. Since then, Indiana has gotten better while the Knicks have gotten worse. Indiana currently has the best record in the NBA while the Knicks are once again outside of the playoff picture. Although these two teams were close in talent last year this year Indiana proved at this juncture to be the better team. The Pacers played solid team ball while the Knicks looked like a team of lost individuals.
Carmelo Anthony scored 18 points in the first quarter and predictably Woodson sat him down. I have always said when a player is on fire, play him till he cools off. Robotic substitutions just don’t work within the rhythm of the game. Anthony scored 10 points the rest of the game. By the time Woodson brought Anthony back into the game he cooled off and Indiana imposed their will on the Knicks.
Woodson continues to go back to Raymond Felton who slows the Knick offense to an alarming pace. His defense, or lack of, continues to allow other teams guards to score at will. In his absence the Knicks played Beno Udrih and Toure’ Murry at the point and that tandem was much more productive. Udrih and Murry got the ball moving, with Udrih having the ability to penetrate and Murry provided a better defensive solution than Felton the Knicks simply had more chemistry.
Last night Felton was a minus-19.
Woodson needs to learn to push Felton’s buttons and force him to play with an increased intensity as he did when he first returned from his injury. Last night he was back to his old slow ways and both he and the Knicks’ offense suffered.
Iman Shumpert who excelled in Felton’s absence, last night only shot 1-of-4 and was a minus-10 in only 20 minutes. Alan Hahn, said in the postgame show “the Knick point guard play was substandard”. I have stated all year long you cannot win in the NBA without point guard play.
Felton has never been complimentary to Shumpert. He rarely looks in Shumpert’s direction and they are lacking in chemistry. Woodson has to get more shots more minutes for the third-year guard.
Last night Lance Stephenson outscored the Knicks backcourt by himself. He not only outscored them, he added an energy the Knicks lacked.
As players returned from injuries this year Woodson has plugged them right back in to their old places in the lineup. Woodson has to play players that play well together. This team looked and played like the lifeless 2013 team. Not the team that recently won 5-of-6 and had won five games in a row.
As many Knicks returned to the lineup, the Knicks also returned to their losing ways.
Bargnani would be better suited to play at center and rotate with Chandler to add offense to the second team.
In the second quarter with Bargnani and Anthony on the bench, the Knicks had no offensive chemistry. Woodson has failed to incorporate Felton and Chandler back into the chemistry the Knicks had in their absence.
In 2010 Donnie Walsh selected Andy Rautins of Syracuse (38th) and Landry Fields of Stanford (39th). Unfortunately for the Knicks, that draft drew two terrifying parallels to dreadful drafts of years past.
The second of the parallels will hit much closer to home for Knicks fans. Reports had former Lincoln High School star Lance Stephenson high on the Knicks’ list in the days leading up to the draft, but the team instead went with Fields.
Is it any wonder the same Donnie Walsh now is again with Indiana?
Once the Knicks passed up on Brooklyn’s Stephenson, the Pacers wasted no time scooping him up with the very next pick. The Knicks left fans with similar disappointment when the team chose to forgo selecting the homegrown Ron Artest in the 1999 draft — before having to watch as he was selected just one pick later. Why the Knicks continue to pass up homegrown talent is beyond me.
Last night Stephenson scored 28 points and was a plus-30. James Dolan’s front office has failed on many fronts, not selecting Stephenson and allowing Chris Copeland to go to Indiana are just two examples of this mismanaged franchise.
These two teams that only one year ago went head to head during the season and playoffs, now Indiana appears to be far ahead of the Knicks.
Amar’e Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin both left the game with sprained left ankles and appear doubtful for tonight’s game. Hopefully we will get a chance to see Jeremy Tyler who will add some youth and toughness to this Knicks team.
Last night they were simply outplayed and outhustled. The chemistry they started year 2014 with was just not there last night.
Woodson should consider playing Udrih more and starting Stoudemire over Bargnani.
The Knicks need to watch tape of their wins early in the year and return to their winning ways.
Dr. Kaplan is a bestselling Author www.5minutemotivator.com
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