It has been over a month since the nation has been swept up in the insanity of Linsanity, but as of late, the Knicks have stopped winning. The disappointment and frustration have led to one significant question -- who is it to blame for the team's current slide? The schedule has clearly gotten more difficult, but a loss to a team like the Milwaukee Bucks is unacceptable. When you have two perennial all-stars like Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, you shouldn’t have an issue with lower-tier teams. It is easy for us to point the finger at Carmelo and his style of basketball, but let’s not forget that basketball is a team sport. Carmelo may commit the sin of holding on to the rock too long in isolation, yet that doesn’t give the rest of the team an excuse for not moving without the ball. Movement puts pressure on the defense, but what we are seeing is Carmelo with the ball and the other four simply standing around idly. As it is in football, you can argue that the receiver who is not thrown to is just as important to the success of the play as the receiver targeted.
The defensive possession does not end when the other team takes a shot, but watching the Knicks last night you would think it did. No, the possession ends when the defense secures the defensive rebound. The Knicks had 29 defensive rebounds while the Bulls had a ridiculous 22 offensive rebounds. In other words, the Bulls got another chance to score on 43% of their misses. This allowed the Bulls to take 13 more shots in a game where both teams basically had the same amount of turnovers. If you are lazy playing defense and then lazy boxing out, please do me a favor and sit on the bench. This is New York, and we are tired of players who won’t put in the effort for a rebound.
Will the return of Jared Jeffries help? I sure hope so, but until then, every Knick need to focus on boxing out their man and finding some way to get every defensive rebound available. If you take out that one part of the game the Knicks would have possibly walked away with an upset win. This team is talented, and I've seen a lot of positive things from the offense that should only improve with more time playing together. Although Jeremy Lin’s numbers have dropped closer to 16 points and 8 assists in recent weeks, that is good enough for this team to start winning. Jeremy did have a sick block on the reigning MVP, so I guess I need to give him credit there after all the hating I did earlier in this post.
If the Knicks want to make the playoffs and be competitive in round one, they must play with more effort and energy. The egos should have been left at the door when they came to New York City, but even last night’s TV announcers felt that too many of the Knicks players are here to enjoy being a star when what they need is to be focused on winning -- no matter what that takes. I think the this team will make the playoffs when it is all said and done, but unfortunately, the Knicks' effort (or lack thereof) is the reason it's underachieving. The final burning question is if that will ever change.
Photos and video courtesy of youtube.com, Bill Kostroun /AP & Charles Rex Arbogast /AP Photo