Knicks Lose 4th Straight
Just 12 for 44. That's what Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony combined from the field last night. No way 27% shooting will cut it for the Knicks' top scorers. Another lackluster performance by the offense led the Knicks to drop their fourth straight game as they fell to the Suns 91-88.
Ever since Mike D'Antoni arrived in New York, the Knicks have been known as a team that could score but couldn't defend. They weren't very good, but at least they did something well. Now the Knicks don't excel at anything. Not defense, not offense. Nothing.
New York's defense has certainly improved, but it's been less than satisfactory against the better teams in the league. The Knicks had a chance last night to right the ship with a win against a bad team and they blew it. They missed open shots and got just seven points from their bench.
The difference in this game was the play of each teams' stars. The Knicks' two stars were horrendous. The Suns' star was brilliant. Steve Nash finished with 26 points and 11 assists, as well as 6 clutch free throws to close out the game. He took advantage of the Knicks' inept pick-and-roll defense, and didn't show any signs of fatigue playing in back to back games.
The loss drops the Knicks to 6-8. As their offensive struggles continue, people will ignore the improvements they make on the other side of the ball. Who can blame them? Mike D'Antoni is known as an offensive guru, and he's coaching a team that can't score. If he can't fix things soon, Knicks management will make sure somebody else does.
Nets Get First Home Win
It took them long enough, but they finally got it done. The Nets became the last team in the NBA to win their first home game as they defeated the Warriors 107-100. Yesterday I said the Nets could win if they took advantage of the Warriors recent schedule and if Deron Williams had a big game. New Jersey did both.
This was Golden State's fourth game in five days. New Jersey outhustled a fatigued Warriors team, dominating the glass with a 45-25 rebounding edge. The Nets were also a stronger team at the end of the game, closing out the contest with a 20-8 run. Lately the Nets have fallen behind early and haven't had enough to make a comeback. Last night they stayed with the Warriors until pulling away at the end.
Deron Williams had maybe his best game of the season. He finished the night just two rebounds shy of a triple double. Williams controlled the flow of the offense, leading the Nets to their second highest scoring output of the season.
It's a small step, but that's all the Nets can expect at this point. They're not talented enough to compete with the better teams in the league. Any win is a good win for this team.
South Florida Routs St. John's
Here's another game that played out pretty much as expected. St. John's kept it close in the first half, but couldn't stay with USF as they fell 64-49. It's the first time South Florida has beaten St. John's since entering the Big East.
Between their youth and not having head coach Steve Lavin on the bench, the Red Storm looked lost in South Florida. Their offensive struggles continued as they made just 40% of their shots and went 2-13 from beyond the arc. The Johnnies simply have to put up more points if they expect to compete in the Big East.
When St. John's can't score it affects their defense. When they miss shots they don't have enough time to set up their press and create turnovers. This allowed USF's Victor Rudd to score 24 points in the second half, almost outscoring the Red Storm by himself. The Johnnies seemed to let their offensive problems spill over to the defensive end. That's understandable when you have such a young team. It's just not a winning formula.
The loss puts St. John's at 13th in the Big East. After two games at home, the Red Storm will face some of the best teams in the nation. If they don't win the next few, their season could turn ugly real fast.
Rangers vs. Penguins
The Rangers hit the ice today for the first time since Jim Dolan made comments about his team potentially winning the Stanley Cup. They face a Penguins team that has won three straight. New York is 2-0 against Pittsburgh this year, but this game will likely be tougher than the previous ones.
Pitt will probably be playing with defenseman Kris Letang for the first time in almost two months. This would be huge for the Penguins. They're going to need all the help they can get to beat the league's best team on the road. The Rangers have been able to win anywhere this year, but they're even better at MSG, going 14-4-2 at home.
Without Sidney Crosby, this isn't the marquee matchup it looked like it would be earlier this season. The Penguins have played pretty well in his absence, but the Rangers have the best record in the NHL. No goalie is playing better than Henrik Lundqvist. The King should take care of business in this one. Rangers 3, Penguins 1.