Ben KopelmanEvery Knicks fan struggles with the optimistic angel on one shoulder (we got Eddy Curry!) and the ever-depressing devil on the other (we still have Eddy Curry??!!). After each week this season, we will offer up the positives and negatives of the last seven days in Knicks-land to help sort it all out and put your mind at ease.
Record during the week: 2-1
Game results: Win @ Brooklyn (113-83); Win vs. Magic (121-83); Loss vs. Celtics (114-73)
Overall record / Games Behind: 5-14, 3.5 GB
Ball Movement…Kinda: In the first two games of the week, the Knicks played 2013 Knicks basketball. Crisp, quick passing, good ball movement and open looks from behind the arc. Melo was skip passing out of double teams and finding open shooters for what felt like the first time all season. Prigioni showed flashed of being the floor general he has shown he can be, running an offense that looked more “well oiled machine” than “out of service for repairs.” The Knicks went 33-for-61 from deep in their two wins, an absurd 54%. That was not just because J.R. or Shump found their shooting stroke, but because they were set up in rhythm, with a good, open look. Hot and cold streaks happen, but open shots off good passing will always improve your chances.
Shump’s Energy: Two weeks ago, Shump put up the saddest line of his young career against Portland, where he failed to tally a single point, rebound or assist. Playing with that chip on his shoulder this week, Shump reminded the team and fans why we all had such high hopes for him heading into the year. He looked energized on defense against the Nets and Magic, buried 5-of-7 threes in Brooklyn, and threw down the Knicks dunk of the year against the Magic. While the entire team took the day off on Sunday, Shump put in his best week of the season. If it takes him being angry at everything, then stay angry, Iman, because the team needs your spark.
Amar’e Stoudemire: Amar’e is obviously no longer the player we once knew, so he is no longer judged on that scale. Rather, he is a role player who is a giant defensive liability, and so he should be compared to other role players who cannot play defense. Along those lines, STAT had a very solid week, putting up 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in Brooklyn and then 17 on 5-of-7 shooting against the Celtics. Considering he did not play in the Magic game, STAT went 2-for-2 in his opportunities. Granted, he still plays no defense and looks like a lost child out there when back peddling down the floor, but like I said, for a role player who can’t play D, he had a strong showing.
Ball Movement…Kinda: As well as the team moved the ball on Thursday and Friday, they failed to do anything with it on Sunday. The Knicks continue to play horribly when they resort to one-on-one offense. Melo will get his iso chances even if the team swings the ball well, as defenders will be forced to respect the shooters, and thus stop cheating, leaving Melo with a favorable one-on-one match-up. But the dribble-dribble-shoot possessions — from Melo, JR, Hardaway, Shump, whoever — are not a recipe for success. In case anybody on the team disagrees, they simply have to look at the standings for a harsh reminder.
Protecting Their House: The Knicks are 2-8 at home this season. Last year, the team lost its 8th home game on February 13th, at which point they were 32-18. What a difference a year makes. The renovated Garden looks shiny and new, it is just a shame the team playing on its floor looks so old and crappy.
Ray Felton: Of all the bad out there right now, Felton may well be the worst. Even when the team played well this week, whipping the ball around the perimeter and getting solid possessions on offense, Felton was not the cause or the catalyst. With each passing game, he looks more suited for the bench with Prig taking over as the starter. His shot is off, he has no pick and roll game without Chandler and his defense leaves plenty to be desired. Last year, Felton had a bulldog mentality about him that made him, at the very least, fun to watch and root for. This year? I kind of get why Blazers fans have so much hate for the guy.
THE WALT CLYDE
Put A Spoon In That: During the first half of the Magic game, Breen and Walt stumbled on to the topic of Moe Harkless’ yoga routine. After commenting on the various exercise regimens in professional sports these days, Walt noted that he did yoga back when he was playing. The technique was so unknown, however, that Clyde surmised his teammates “thought I was saying yogurt. And they did not understand.” Whether they thought he was going to do some yogurt, was sweaty because he had just come from a bikram yogurt class, or had carried a rolled up foam pad “you know, for yogurt” remains unclear.
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