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: 0-4
Game results: Loss @ Portland (102-91); Loss @ LAC (93-80); Loss @ Denver (97-95); Loss vs. Pelicans (103-99)
Overall record / Games Behind: 3-13, 3 GB
Prigioni at the Point…for a Few Minutes: For all of four minutes in Sunday night’s tilt against the Pelicans, the Knicks turned back the clock and looked like last year’s team. With Pablo Prigioni running the floor, the team made quick, smart decisions with the basketball and turned swing passes into open looks from downtown. Hardaway Jr. and J.R. Smith both benefited from the ball movement and for one short stint, the Knicks looked like they had regained their form. Then that moment passed, Smith went back to hucking bad shots and the Knicks lost. Nine-game losing streaks are awesome, especially when you catch a glimpse of a team that could be on a nine-game winning streak hidden within.
Bargnani: I spent all off season hating on this guy and I still have trouble getting behind his game, but there is no denying his effectiveness right now. He averaged 18.75 points on an efficient 46% from the field last week, and has been contributing in — gulp — defensive categories as well, notching four and six blocks against the Clips and Pels respectively. Granted, those teams made a point of attacking Bargs down low given his lackluster defense, but every block counts. Throw in some improved rebounding numbers — averaging seven a game this week compared to 4.9 for his career — and Bargs is playing solid ball and deserves some credit.
Crunch Time Buckets: Melo is now 0-3 in game winning shots this season, missing a potential clincher against Denver on Friday night. Throw in his missed three at the end of the Pels game (not a game winner but a huge shot with under a minute to play), and Melo has missed what seems like every big shot in the final 30 seconds of games this season. With the team desperate for a win, a crunch time, chest-pounding, “Let’s Gooo!!” yelling, game-saving or game-winning shot would really be nice. Alas, it was not meant to be this week.
Amar’e’s Defense: I do not even know what to call what Amar’e does on defense. He looks like an excitable high school player who never gets off the bench and so when his number is finally called he plays way too aggressively, with way too much unbridled energy. He is so far from his old self in every way, and watching him try and play defense is just beyond embarrassing. I will always have a place for Amar’e given that he chose NY, but if we are being honest with ourselves, right now his place is on the bench.
J.R. Smith: JR has looked lost since he swung that infamous elbow at Jason Terry in last year’s playoffs. He continues to settle for contested, bad shots from the outside, refuses to use his athleticism to go to the hoop and get fouled, and has gone from a strong on ball defender to somebody who seems to get beat on the regular. Add in a healthy dose of over-dribbling and lazy-passing, and JR is playing about as poorly as anybody could have imagined. Sure he hits a big three now and again, but in case you have not noticed, those threes do not spur this team on to victory. I appreciate a loyal coach, but Woodson has to sit JR in favor of Hardaway starting Thursday night — assuming he is still the team’s coach by then, that is.
THE WALT CLYDE
Silent Night: Last night’s Time Warner feed cut out the sound for half the game last night. Instead of being able to enjoy Walt’s analysis, I just ad-libbed his lines and had a pretty good time doing so. While I can only guess what genius phrases Walt Clyde was spitting, taking a turn to rhyme about the Knicks’ bumbling and stumbling ineptitude was the silver lining to an otherwise horribly depressing end to a horribly depressing week.
You can follow Ben on Twitter @bkop2000