After winning five straight games, the Knicks have lost their last three — what happened? After a promising start to the year, the Knicks have fallen back in time. Two teams the Knicks could have beat were the Charlotte Bobcats and Los Angeles Clippers, but instead they surrendered to them both. So what happened, why did the Knicks start to lose again? What can Steve Mills and Mike Woodson do to fix this problem to salvage the season?
First and foremost, Woodson needs to alter Raymond Felton’s game and minutes. Now, it is not that Felton isn’t talented — he is. The problem is he is one dimensional and his pace of play and inability to drive to the basket hurts Carmelo Anthony, Iman Shumpert and his teammates. His game is simply to walk the ball up the court and and find Anthony. Friday night, Felton shot 2 of 8 from the field and 0 for 3 from the three point line, for a total of 5 points. He only shot 2 foul shots in 32 minutes, a sign he refuses to penetrate. Where as his running mate Darren Collison shot 8 of 9 from the line. Felton’s defense is also the weakest of any Knick player in the lineup.
During their win streak, Beno Udrih penetrated and moved the ball on offense. Friday night he did not play. Although not a great defensive player, Udrih is a better option than Felton. Friday night Anthony was back to holding the ball, as he and Felton went 2 on 5. Anthony shot a dreadful 4 for 23. A point guard must get teams to commit which allows him to dish off. A point guard should make it easier for all five players; it starts with the point. What makes matters worse the Clippers played without their top point guard Chris Paul. On paper, this Knicks team is a better team than the Clippers without Paul on the court. But the Clippers were were the hungrier team, the better coached team. Felton finished the game a minus 6.
In his short stretch, Toure’ Murry was pathetic, his jumper is limited and he keeps shooting. He is a 10-minute-a-game man at most, if he even manages to stay in the NBA. In case you were wondering, Kyle Lowry from Toronto scored 24 last night in Toronto’s win. Toronto, who people thought were tanking when they traded Rudy Gay ,keeps winning. Even with Gay gone, the Raptors continue to win thanks to, in part, Lowry. The Knicks starting backcourt of Felton and Shumpert scored 5 points. If you add in Murry, ( who scored 3 points) you have a collective 8 points. Just not acceptable.
J.R. Smith was not the problem and probably had his best offensive game in a while. Smith was 9 of 18 for 24 points and played hard on both ends of the court.
Steve Mills is now officially on the clock. I realize he is being patient, but that comes with a fault. This is not a good defensive team. Mills must put Woodson on the clock and it starts with his lineups. I would play Udrih more, Felton less. Felton who is capable, must get Shumpert going and not solely relying on Anthony to score.
Mills must entertain talks for Tyson Chandler. Strangled by the salary cap, Andrea Bargnani or Chandler must go. As Bargnani has limited trade value, let’s get some players and draft picks. Bargnani and Chandler just don’t gel on the court. The Knicks have lost all three games upon his return. I don’t blame Chandler, I love him, but he is an asset that must be leveraged. I would also dangle Shumpert again, another player I like, but we need a point guard, an energizer bunny. Small ball and slow ball don’t work together. You can out-run teams, but the Knicks try to out-walk teams.
Felton must step it up, Shumpert must wake up and play like he played in Texas, with Udrih as his running mate. Woodson said ” either I got to change the lineup, or I got to get my starting five clicking”. Well Coach DO SOMETHING.
The Knicks started out strong against both the Clippers and the Pacers. They utilized their offense, moved the ball and shot well. As teams adjusted the Knicks didn’t. Their defense wilted and once they lost the lead, they lost their confidence and just played Mello Ball. Listen Anthony is a warrior 20 rebounds, he gets NO RESPECT, no calls from referees. He is the Rodney Dangerfield of the NBA. HE NEVER FLOPS. Breathe on James Harden and refs make a call, with Anthony if opponents bang him the refs say play on. The referees treatment of Anthony, last years leading scorer in the NBA is not fair. Coaches tell their players hold him, hit him, frustrate him because the refs won’t call a foul every time. LeBron James flops and gets calls, the double standard of the NBA must end.
Mills and Woodson have their work cut out for them. They both need to look in the mirror and do a better job. Now, while the East is weak, while teams like Boston unload, the Knicks need to reload.
Dr. Eric Kaplan,is a Bestselling Author www.5minutemotivator.com
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