Observations from the Knicks’ preseason win over 76ers

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

On Monday night, it was clear that the Raptors simply took advantage of a lazy effort by the Knicks. Though Toronto wasn’t the better team, New York’s own lack of urgency gave the opponent a window of opportunity. And while the Knicks looked similarly rusty once again, the 76ers weren’t able to capitalize in similar fashion on Tuesday.

Able to pull away with a 84-77 victory, New York did just enough to close the door on Philadelphia late in the game. It was clear that the Knicks are benefitting from positive individual performances, much more so than team continuity.

USATSI_8142180_110579513_lowresHere are some other observations from the contest and the team’s level of play thus far:

- The Knicks had some good moments, but looked out of rhythm overall. Having to adjust to a new system, new coach, and different teammates are all visibly taking a toll on the players.

-Despite a tired effort overall, Samuel Dalembert continued to be a bright spot for the team. Tallying 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 blocks, the big man is proving to be a more than worthy successor for Tyson Chandler, especially for the money. He had a plus/minus of +10.

- The offensive output of junkyard dog Quincy Acy has thus far been a welcomed bonus for the Knicks, but Coach Derek Fisher needs to ensure his touches come more so in the flow of the offense. Four turnovers proves he had the ball in his hands too often.

-For the first time this offseason, Jose Calderon looked to take a backseat offensively. He wasn’t as aggressive, wasn’t as active off the ball, and failed to look for his own shot.

-Despite 17 points, Carmelo Anthony looked visibly fatigued. After back to back games, players will benefit from a break.

- Iman Shumpert continued to look for his offense even more. Completely rejuvenated on that end of the floor, he added 12 points, created opportunities for others with 4 assists, and owned a plus/minus +11 for the game.

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J.R. Smith’s back spasms cause for concern?

J.R. Smith left Tuesday night’s game in the second quarter due to lingering back spasms, but was able to return in the second half.

Smith, who finished with four points on 1-for-7 shooting in 23 minutes played, suggested the back spasms are nothing to worry about.

“It’s all right. It’s been going back and forth the last few days, but it’s all right,” Smith told the Daily News. “As long as the trainers and the doctors say I can play, I’m gonna play, whether it’s preseason, playoffs, regular season, whatever.”

Sam Spiegelman

Smith blamed the spasms on the Knicks’ long bus rides during the preseason. The Knicks have traveled to Hartford and Mohegan Sun. He said he has previously experienced back spasms once before.

But coming off of a disappointing 2013-14 campaign, Smith needs a strong year this year, especially if he wants to avoid hearing boos at the Garden.

Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. are going to push Smith for minutes. Because all three are just getting their toes wet in the Triangle Offense, they’re all going to have a fair shot at starting and being second to come off the bench. Smith is renowned for being a sixth man and has even helped the Knicks as the starting No. 2 guard, but since signing his big contract last offseason has been very much a disappointment.

Smith needs to stay healthy in order to salvage his job — or at least earn valuable playing time. Injuries are only going to frustrate the team, the front office and fans, and not playing is going to bury his spot on the depth chart and likely ruin his credibility upstairs among those tasked with making personnel decisions.

Knicks coach Derek Fisher has yet to address Smith’s back spasms and/or whether the shooting guard will play any more or less this preseason.

Melo ‘didn’t have an issue’ with Boeheim writing about his grades

Adam Zagoria, Team Reporter

In his return to the Carrier Dome, Carmelo Anthony got a chance to reconnect with Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and the two apparently smoothed out whatever issues remained over grades-gate.

Anthony told reporters he “didn’t have an issue” with Boeheim writing in his book that Anthony received four C’s and a D in his freshman year at Syracuse in 2003 — when he led the Orange to the NCAA championship.

“I talked to him. He explained it, how he was saying it. I didn’t have an issue with it,” Anthony said after going for 17 points and 7 rebounds as the Knicks beat the 76ers, 84-77, according to Ian Begley of ESPN.com. “That was 13 years ago. So it’s not really something losing sleep over at this moment.”

Boeheim earlier defended his position Sirius XM’s morning radio show with Frank Isola and Stacey King.

“The point I was trying to make was he had four C’s, and he got a D and of course he should have gotten a C in that one,” Boeheim said. “That’s what everybody thought, the academic people all thought. And they were all — English, math, science — they were all the same courses everybody takes. And I wanted to make the point that he was a good student, he was engaged, he did work at his school work, he didn’t just play basketball. And I thought that was the point I wanted to make. … Some guys said a 1.8 wasn’t that good, I had a 1.8 my freshman year and I made it through.”

Now that that’s settled, everybody can move on with basketball.

Game recap: Knicks 84 — 76ers 77

Recap: The Knicks got off to a hot start and then held off the 76ers at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.

Need to Know: Carmelo Anthony had 17 points and seven rebounds in his return to his old stomping grounds. Anthony played 27 minutes, and not just because he was back at the school he led to the 2003 NCAA title. Coach Derek Fisher said before the game it was time to “ramp up.”

Fisher also said before the game the Knicks would need to “hang their hat” on defense until they become more comfortable with the triangle offense. The offense was a little better than Monday against Toronto. Jason Smith (14 points) Iman Shumpert (13) and Tim Hardaway (12) were the other Knicks in double figures.

The Knicks led 45-29 at the half.

Andrea Bargnani (hamstring) sat out again; Fisher said he hopes have him back in the lineup next Monday against Milwaukee.

Links: AP recap | Box Score

What’s Next: The Knicks have six days off to master “mindfulness” before hosting Milwaukee next Monday at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m.).

The Knicks Blog Podcast: Jerry Stackhouse calls in

Anthony Donahue and Moke Hamilton discuss the first couple weeks of Knicks training camp. Plus, the guys chat with two-time NBA all-star Jerry Stackhouse about the triangle offense and his thoughts on the NBA’s new TV deal.

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For the show rundown, click here...

  • Knicks preseason thoughts
  • Phil Jackson’s comments on Spike Lee and James Dolan (13:10)
  • Jerry Stackhouse interview (19:10)
    • Lockout in 2017?
    • Knicks offense
    • Melo
    • Surprise NBA team
  • Around the League

Knicks learning that old habits die hard

Keith Schlosser, Lead Writer

The Knicks’ adjustment to the triangle offense is clearly a work in progress, but although the effort is there, it hasn’t looked pretty so far.

Over 33 percent of the team’s players are newcomers, and those who have been carried over from last year are more familiar with Mike Woodson’s isolation offense. It’s a transition for everyone on any number of different levels.

This is why many of the players have been tentative on the offensive end. Carmelo Anthony has looked confidant early on, but the likes of J.R. Smith, Amar’e Stoudemire and other returning players have looked as though they’re over-analyzing what they need to do on the court. Thinking too much slows up the ultimate execution.

Following Monday night’s loss to the Raptors, Iman Shumpert not only acknowledged the stagnant manner of the triangle thus far, but also admitted that the team’s natural reaction is to fall back to the isolation offense when things slow up.

Plenty of teams in the NBA embrace isolation towards the end of games in an attempt to allow their top offensive options to shine and take over with minutes to go. It’s likely the Knicks still will as well.

With Coach Derek Fisher hoping to remain competitive throughout this transition, the team could use a secondary set of plays to fall back on in order to help the offense continue to flow. Perhaps something more basic is preferred.