There is little doubt that Mike D’Antoni has raised the level of this organization. I won’t even get into the strides that this team has made. Regardless of their record, the Knicks are playing competent basketball, relatively speaking.
And credit the coach for that.
But what you saw tonight was the coaching staff’s inability to close the game out defensively.
We know D’Antoni is an offenisve mastermind. There is little doubt that he can’t win games on offense, especially when the horses arrive.
But some games, like say, the playoffs, a coach needs to capture a game. In fact, Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy walked out with Ws because of defensive strategy PLENTY of times. Some in the playoffs when the team should have lost.
I know the game has change, but if a coach with a defensive mind is on the Knicks bench tonight in Portland he convinces Mike D’Antoni, who tried to excuse the strategical blunder by saying Brandon Roy would have pulled up and got to the foul line, that the team has to foul and make the Blazers take the ball in again.
Riley had the best defensive guru in Dick Harter and Van Gundy had Tom Thibodeau. It seems that D’Antoni needs a defensive wing man. Shoot, I bet Donnie Walsh was screaming as loud as I was at him to give a foul.
But he told his team not to apparently, and that is a scary notion moving forward. I blame Jared Jefferies too, who should have taken it upon himself to recognize the situation. He IS supposed to be this high-IQ player after all.
So the Knicks battled their collective asses off to put themselves in a position to win the game offensively, but defensively the need to know better at the end of the game.
Someone needs to teach them and if I have any confidence in D’Antoni, which I do, he’ll learn from this poor call.
Heck, even the calm, cool Clyde Frazier lost his shit when the Knicks didn’t foul.
That speaks volumes.