I’ve noticed a certain trend for Knicks home games over the last two seasons. While most teams use homecourt to lock down on their opponents behind the encouragement of a cheering crowd, Madison Square Garden, “The World’s Most Famous Arena” causes pretty much everyone to play at a higher level. Sure, the Knicks play better at home (sometimes), but something about those bright lights/big apple causes random opponents to just GO OFF on us for career high scoring outbursts (see Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry,…) and the most recent beneficiary of this was… Evan Fourier.
The Magic acquired Fournier over the summer in a trade that sent their best player Arron Afflalo back to his Denver Nuggets. That trade can be looked on as a number of ways: getting rid of a higher paid player to save cap room, getting rid of your leading scorer to allow your young guns to get in some more shots and development, or just a pity-concession to Afflalo who had a KILLER campaign on one of the league’s worst teams. Now its kind of looking like he might want to have remained in Orlando with the way the Nuggets are playing, but whatever.
The problem I have watching these losses is that there’s no one issue the Knicks need to work on to win these games. They can’t defend without fouling, they can’t box out, they can’t contest the 3 point shot. Their offense is clunky and inconsistent, they don’t really force turnovers, they have different players step up every night, meaning Fisher has no idea who to play in crunch time. Simply put, the Knicks are bad in a ton of ways, and I don’t even know what this team needs to bring on board over the offseason to right the ship. A two-way center? A two-way power forward? A PG? (Still would really like to see Calderon play a game.)
True, the game last night was pretty fun to watch if you can acknowledge that the Knicks are not a playoff team. Even though the Magic were on the second half of a back to back (coming from Toronto no less), these guys are a feisty squad with a lot of young talent. Tobias Harris shined when he wasn’t in foul trouble, Vucevic is having a MONSTER season, and yes, Evan Fournier went off for a career high-28 points, scoring from pretty much everywhere on the floor. (It should be really troubling that Fournier did this despite being guarded all game by our “defensive ace” Shumpert, who has yet to learn to finish a game with fewer than 4 fouls).
Still, the Knicks gave these young guys a run for their money and the league went right back and forth for most of the game. Melo did his Melo heating up in the fourth quarter, including a desperation 3 pointer that suddenly made the game interesting with under a minute left. Of course, JR bricked away a game-winning 3 on the next possession, but I’ll forgive him because he actually had an excellent all-around night and carried the team while Melo and Shump were on the bench with their fouls. Timmy was terrible all game, though.
I know its early in the season, but these are still games we’re supposed to win. I’m letting everyone know I am massively readjusting my expectations right now, for a rebuilding/learning season so that I can watch these games without throwing a dumbbell through my television screen. Because, believe it or not, the Knicks are now the 4th worst team in the league (third worst if we don’t count Philly).
Utah? Please give us this one.