Stick A Fork In The Knicks’ Season

The Knicks season ended tonight, for all intents and purposes, with a lackluster 106-96 defeat at the hands of the lowly Washington Wizards.

The team played mostly lifeless basketball (save for a few positives) and the Knicks were absolutely manhandled on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 59-40 while surrendering a whopping 24 offensive rebounds. All those rebounds earned the Wizards 13 more FGAs than the Knicks, and they put all those extra shots to good use. Worse still, the Knicks coupled the shoddy boardwork with some of their worst three point field goal defense of the season as the Wizards shot 11-21 from behind the arc, including a particularly brutal stretch late in the third during which Mike Miller drained two threes in a row prompting D’Antoni to call a timeout to correct the issue. But immediately following the TO, Miller came right back and canned another 3 ball, basically kicking the Knicks in the nuts. From a practical standpoint, the Knicks season came to an end right about the moment that Miller’s third three splashed through the net. They kept fighting, a hallmark of this team, but weren’t able to mount a serious challenge.

Notes:

* Another great outing from David Lee. It was apparent that he didn’t have that little extra something tonight, but Lee personifies the Knicks’ never-say-die mentality. During the last five minutes of the third quarter (the stretch that included Miller’s three crushing three-pointers) Lee scored all of the Knicks’ points. They were still down 13 points at the end of the period, but Lee’s fortitude kept things closer than they ought to have been.

* Gallo chipped in with a solid floor game tonight, snagging 10 rebounds and dishing out 4 assists. But he only scored 11 points on a night when the team desperately needed offense from him (with Al Harrington out) and shot the ball poorly (4-12, 3-10 from 3). That’s pretty much the story of Gallo’s season. One night you get the great scoring, another night you get the good floor game. Rare is the night when he gives you both at the same time. He has all the tools, though. Just needs to put them together all at once.

* I loved the way Jordan Hill played tonight. The quality of his contribution was obscured by the fact that he shot the ball poorly (just 2-9) but he gave the Knicks great energy, especially in the second quarter and finished +9  in a game the Knicks lost by 10 points. Hill’s an athletic big and he flashes some nice skills. And on top of that, he’s active, always around the ball trying to make things happen. Guys like this aren’t easy to find. With the season effectively over, it’s time to give Jordan some heavy rotation minutes and see what he can really do.

* I almost forgot to mention that Nate Robinson played very well tonight. He’s played much more controlled, unselfish basketball since he returned from his exile, rim-hanging notwithstanding.

* I was paying close attention to Randy Foye tonight because he could well be a person of interest for the Knicks during 2010 free agency. I’ve advocated for Foye before and tonight I once again liked what I saw. Foye is a sturdy, physical guard who protects the ball and knocks down open shots. He’s not a natural PG, though. Yes, he’s a solid ball-handler and he does have some ability to collapse the defense and make kick-out passes to open shooters. But he didn’t show much in his (limited) chances to run the screen and roll and he doesn’t exhibit great court vision or instincts for how to run a team.

If the Knicks add a player like LBJ or Joe Johnson during the summer, Foye could be a perfect compliment in that “Mo Williams” role as a secondary ball-handler and spot up shooter. But if the team is unable to sign a playmaking wing of that ilk, I think they’d be better served adding a purer point guard like Raymond Felton.

*Quick plug: I’ve recently joined the twitter community, so please check me out over there as well.

8 comments

  1. Dan L

    Not the first time the Knicks have been outworked on the glass. It’s disconcerting that they’re outplayed in an aspect that is mostly about effort and fundamentals. The wiz are a bit bugger than us, but the disparity was too much.

  2. Italian Stallion

    Rebounding has been one of my complaints all season. Lee is obviously very good, but they don’t have a second good defensive rebounder. Gallo and Chandler spend a lot of time on the perimeter and don’t board especially well, Jeffries is OK on the offensive glass but poor on the defensive glass, and Harrington is below average for a PF etc… A lot of teams have eaten us up and gotten way to many shot attempts.

    That’s one reason I’ve been advocating playing Hill with Lee a little. It almost has to help on the boards.

    I’m not sure how to work it in because they like to keep Jeffries in for defensive purposes, but on some nights the matchups can work when Jeffries, Gallo, or Chandler is resting

    • Jon

      Lee entered the league with a stronger base, though, and was already an exceptional finisher. Hill takes very different shots as a rookie than Lee did. But he absolutely has to improve his ability to finish close to the rim. Hopefully that’ll just come naturally as he gets stronger.

      • Dan L

        He’s not going to get very far missing gimme’s at the basket, although it only seems to have become a problem in recent games.

        • Jon

          Agree, but I think it’s unlikely to be a long term problem. Hill’s not like JJ, who lacks touch and looks totally lost around the rim. When Hill gets an opening, he’s shown nice ability to finish and he’s looked very smooth finishing in the pick and roll on occasion.

          Right now, I think it’s more a function of Hill lacking the strength to complete the play when he’s under any duress at all. Even the slightest bit of contact seems to pose a problem, especially when he’s being fouled with the body. In a year or two, hopefully he’ll have the strength to withstand that contact and go up strong.

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