Harris DeckerIt’s amazing that we’ve arrived at a place like this. It’s February and we’re still trying to define the various ways the Knicks are finding to lose games. Wednesday night against the Trail Blazers, the story was simple: The starting lineup is getting massively outplayed by the bench and things have to change.
While the Knicks starters, Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler scored 40 points, the bench, made up of J.R. Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Tyler, scored 50. You heard right. The four players coming off the bench scored more than the 5 players in the starting lineup. That is just ridiculous.
Smith led the bench in scoring with 18. Over his last 10 games, Smith is averaging 18.1 points per game, shooting 47 percent. Hardaway Jr. was able to put up 12 points, despite shooting 1 for 7, from behind the three-point arc. Stoudemire added 15 points and 7 rebounds in just over 21 minutes.
It was the starters that were completely ineffective. Anthony scored 26, while Felton, Prigioni, Shumpert and Chandler added 14, combined. Shumpert was 0 for 5 from the field, failing to score a single point for the second time in 2014. After scoring seven points over the first three quarters, Mike Woodson decided not to play Felton during the fourth quarter, riding Prigioni instead. Neither player was particularly effective, but at least Prigioni plays defense.
Another disturbing trend that continued on Wednesday night for the Knicks was a failure to hit threes. The Knicks attempted 21 threes as a team and no player hit more than a single one. They ended the game having shot 19 percent from behind the arc while the Trail Blazers shot 38.1 percent.
In the end, it was another loss and another night of trying to explain what happened to the Knicks who lost to one of the better teams in the Western Conference. Things don’t get much easier as they take on the Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder over the weekend.