At this point, it doesn’t matter what offense the Knicks run. They can emphasize the triangle. Phil Jackson can hold special classes on his beloved system. Or the team could abandon it altogether.
It’s irrelevant. Because the Knicks’ issues this season have never been on the offensive end. A lack of commitment on defense is what has plagued this team night after night – and one of the most glaring instances of that ineptitude came Sunday evening in Brooklyn, where the Knicks lost to the NBA-worst Nets, 120-112.
The Nets entered the contest scoring the third-fewest points per 100 possessions of any team in the NBA. But they dropped 39 points on the Knicks in the first quarter and 67 in the opening half. Brooklyn led by 18 points at the break and stretched the advantage to 20 early in the third quarter.
“We’ve got to get off the better starts. A lot of that’s defensively,” coach Jeff Hornacek said before the game. “If we come out of these first quarters and give up 35 points, it’s going to be hard to win.”
The Nets – who honored the late rapper Biggie Smalls with a ceremony and banner presentation at halftime – passed the 100-point benchmark with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Sunday was just the fifth time this season the Nets scored 120 points in a regulation victory.
The Knicks enhanced their effort in the second half, holding Brooklyn to 53 points over the final two quarters. But as has been the case in many games this season, the improved defense came too late. The Knicks pulled within six points with 1:09 remaining before Jeremy Lin’s jumper in the lane on the ensuing possession sealed the Nets’ victory.
Starting Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez up front, the Knicks struggled to slow down Nets center Brook Lopez, who returned Sunday after missing one game because of an ankle injury. Lopez finished with 25 points on 8 of 17 shoooting, including 6 of 9 from downtown. The Nets hit 14 of their 20 three-point attempts in the first half and shot 50% from deep on the game.
A day after hoisting just nine shots in a blowout loss at the Pistons, Carmelo Anthony attempted 26 in Sunday’s defeat. He hit just 10 of them, totaling a team-high 27 points to go along with seven rebounds and three assists.
Porzingis fouled out with 3:55 remaining after scoring 19 points on 7 of 16 shooting. He was largely ineffective on the defensive end – aside from a highlight block in the fourth quarter on Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. The 7-3 Latvian added 10 rebounds and four assists. Derrick Rose shot a putrid 5 of 15 from the field but finished with 17 points thanks to a near-perfect night at the free throw line.
Outside of Lopez, six other Nets finished in double figures: Caris LeVert (13 points), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (14), Trevor Booker (14), Quincy Acy (12), Isaiah Whitehead (10) and Jeremy Lin (13). Lin, the former Knick, also chipped in five assists and four rebounds.
Published at Mon, 13 Mar 2017 00:38:06 +0000