Harris DeckerLosing to teams like the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat is one thing. But the Detroit Pistons are a sloppy team without a firm grasp on what their team identity is. Sound familiar? The same can be said about the New York Knicks. Still, losing to teams like the Pistons hurts more than up against the true class of the Eastern Conference. Especially when you blow a big lead.
The Knicks came out Monday night with an intensity that we’ve seen flashes of during the entire season. Carmelo Anthony was draining his shots, Amar’e Stoudemire was getting great pushes in the paint and Tyson Chandler was on his way to a big rebounding night. In the first quarter, the Pistons turned the ball over six times. That’s double the amount of turnovers that the Bulls had during the entire game on Sunday. Things were looking good for the Knicks in the first half, as they led by five at the break.
In the third quarter, things really went down hill. The Pistons shot 58 percent from the field, led by Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, who combined for 17 in the frame. Down at the other end of the court, the Knicks struggled mightily. The ball movement, which had shown up in the first half, had disappeared. Only three Knicks scored in the third quarter (Stoudemire, Anthony and a lone Raymond Felton three-pointer).
By the second half of the fourth quarter, the game was well out of hand for the Knicks. They trailed by 13 with 3:42 to go and that’s all she wrote.
J.R. Smith took the opportunity to finally hit a few shots. After opening the game 0-for-his-first-10, he scored an amazing 16 points in just under nine minutes, but by that point the game was over. Smith’s 5 for 17 might not look that bad but he literally couldn’t make a shot when the Knicks needed him most. Tim Hardaway Jr., Felton and Chandler also had horrendous nights shooting the ball.
The body language was also a huge issue down the stretch. Anthony, Smith and Chandler were all visibly upset and when that happens, the team plays even sloppier. They were careless with the ball and went into extreme isolation mode in the third. When the fourth quarter started, it was Pablo Prigoni, Hardaway Jr., Iman Shumpert, Jeremy Tyler and Chandler. When the ball was being dribbled up, Walt Clyde Frazier asked a pointed question: Where would the offense come from?
The answer came a few minutes later when Anthony checked back in. In the two and a half minutes he was on the bench in the fourth, the Knicks didn’t score a single point.
Another tough loss and another uninspired performance from the Knicks.