I missed most of this game during my nighttime drive back from D.C., not wanting to get home at 2 in the morning. While I looked around for it on the radio, most of my driving was in the DMV and all I could find were the Pelicans SPANKING the Wizards less Wall, Beal, and Paul Pierce. The beauty of the MSG network is that the whole thing was being re-broadcasted today, so you don’t have to watch me miss a beat. On to last night:
Calling this the OJ Mayo game may be a bit of an overstatement. Yes, he put up Carmelo Anthony scoring numbers with 24 points, including 6-10 from deep and a huge shot every time the Knicks pulled ahead by a few. Yes, he exposed one of the Knicks’ most glaring problems on D, which continues to be capably contesting the 3 pointer. And yes, he looked like an absolute beast of a shooter. He jacked almost all of his shots within a second of catching the ball and frequently had a defender draped all over him. Nothing at all like the disgruntled, chubby version of Mayo that Milwaukee saw last year. But I have to say that this (rough) loss was really more about the Knicks’ failure to play any kind of defense than OJ shooting them out of the building.
First of all, when PGs like Nate Wolters and Kendall Marshall are just having their way with our defenders- pushing them all the way into the paint before flipping in little floaters- there’s a serious problem. Not only are these guys not great, they’re not even starters. Brandon Knight should be starting for the Bucks at PG this season but sat this one out. Of course, Calderon also left the game with a stressed calf, but I can’t imagine him being much of a solution to this problem.
Not only PGs, though, but the Knicks seemed to have a hard time keeping any wing player in front of them as they drove into the lane. Worse still, our defenders frequently resorted to fouling their assignments, even though the help D looked to be there. Dalembert, in particular, did a great job of rotating to help but the Knicks’ perimeter defenders would commit the foul before he had a chance to contest the shot. These guys are going to have to learn to trust one another; if they don’t buy into a team defensive scheme, this is going to look a lot like last year. Yikes.
On to the good stuff:
Melo led the way for this squad, putting up a 24-9-6, which one of the commentators called a “regular season stat line”. Does anything look out of place there? Wait for it… HE HAD SIX ASSISTS!! Honestly watching it he could have had a couple more, and played a nice two-man game with Stoudemire, rifling in some passes for STAT down low.
Hardaway just continues to impress. This guy hit some huge shots, went 4-6 from deep including a 4 point play, and had a huge block in the 2nd quarter. Unfortunately going over the stats, he had a Knicks worst +/- of -15, meaning he may still have a lot of work to do with his defensive play. However, if we just need this guy for his scoring off the bench, he’s going to be great.
When Mayo first checked in and started splashing shots, my thought was “why is Shump not on him?”. Because Shumpert started and Mayo came off the bench, their minutes didn’t coincide at first, but this trend continued later when the Knicks went small with Shump at the 3 and Hardaway covering Mayo. However, Fisher eventually figured it out and Shumpert did a great job of bottling up Mayo, forcing him into some missed shots and a turnover. Nice to see we may have at least one perimeter stopper on this roster.
Well, that’s about it for now. Wizards on Wednesday, see you then!