Final Score: Philadelphia 76ers 106 New York Knicks 94
There are quite a number of teams that are grinning ear to ear after this game. The Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers both logged victories Sunday, pulling within 1 game of the 8th place Knicks. The Knicks lost their 5th straight game, and have fallen to 5 games under .500 with an 18-23 record. The Knicks scored only 94 points, as they gave up over 100 for the third straight game. This was a great opportunity for the Knicks to not only pick up ground on the division leader but also turn their season around. Instead, they came out flat and unable to match the 76ers intensity, whom ran the Knicks off the court.
-Perimeter Defense Again a Problem
Evan Turner continued his hot play, torching the Knicks for 24 points and 15 rebounds. Landry Fields could not stop him from the start, as Turner scored 7 points in the first quarter and never got out of rhythm. Like every other game during this tough stretch for the Knicks, an opposing Point Guard went off on the Knicks. Lou Williams scored 28 points in 28 minutes off the bench, facing very little resistance by the Knicks. There were a number of defensive lapses throughout the game which Coach Mike D’Antoni and players had talked about, but did not fix. “Swiss-cheese defense,” as Walt Frazier put it was all the effort the Knicks put into that end of the floor. The Knicks did play well on pick-and-roll defense, allowing only 5 assists and forcing 5 turnovers by 76ers Point Guards, just the effort was not there consistently.
-Carmelo Anthony Strong Performance
Carmelo Anthony stepped up to the pressure, giving the Knicks their only source of scoring for most of the game. Anthony started the game hot, scoring 12 points on 5-7 shooting, and was aggressive getting to the rim, a result of his 11-12 free throw shooting. He was inexplicably benched twice though by Coach Mike D’Antoni, to start the 2nd quarter and the whole 4th quarter. Amar’e Stoudemire was also on the bench throughout the whole 4th quarter; just sitting there with his arms crossed watching the Knicks blow a great opportunity. Having your two highest priced superstars sitting on the bench for the better part of games is no formula for winning.
The Knicks will not win without Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire leading the way on the offensive end. There is a lot of work that needs to be put into this team, and it starts with the coaching staff. They have to light a fire underneath these players who believe they are above playing full games of basketball. A solid rotation has to be set so players know their roles and can start to become comfortable in them. They cannot expect to win many games with Jeremy Lin taking the most shots on the team like this afternoon against the 76ers, when he went 5-18. That is double the amount of shot attempts that Amar’e Stoudemire took and 5 more than Carmelo Anthony. As the point guard you have the ball in your hands the most, but that does not mean they should take the most shots. With the players on the Knicks roster, Lin should look to distribute more and set up the superstars which will make for a more cohesive offensive unit.
The Knicks have a quick turn-around, playing Monday, March 12th at the Chicago Bulls at 8:00 P.M. ET