The Knicks signed Joakim Noah to a four-year, $72 million and their best lineup may be without him on the floor.
That was certainly the case in Monday’s 93-77 victory over the shorthanded Mavericks, when Kristaps Porzingis moved to center, Noah took a seat on the bench, and New York immediately went on a game-breaking 30-10 run.
The small lineup – which featured Carmelo Anthony at power forward and Justin Holiday at small forward — was more in tune to the pace-and-space style of the modern NBA, and Noah understood why coach Jeff Hornacek made the move.
“We didn’t have a great first half. Spacing wasn’t very good on the court,” Noah said. “So coach decided to go small and it worked out for us. … I got to figure out ways to be effective on that end of the floor. But like I said, I’m going to look at the film and figure it out.
Noah, who has struggled this season on both ends of the floor, went scoreless and sat for the entire second half as Anthony dropped 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter. I Hornacek said he may use the small lineup more often, but stopped short of saying he’ll change the starters.
Carmelo Anthony scores 17 of his 24 points in the third quarter.
“I don’t think so. (Noah) does a nice job in there defensively. It may depend on the team (we’re playing), maybe we can go there (small) a little bit more often,” Hornacek said. “But we’re not — just because we were good in the second half doesn’t mean we’re going to change it.”
Porzingis, who finished with 24 points, said Monday represented his longest stretch at center. He had a big speed and shooting advantage over Mavericks center Andrew Bogut, who picked up three fouls in under five minutes while guarding Porzingis.
“It’s hard to say right now (if center is my best position),” Porzingis said. “I really focus on what I can do better as a four. And then as a five obviously I feel more comfortable because 5’s give you more space and being sagged off a little bit. It really depends on, honestly I don’t know. I’ll keep playing the four if they play me at the four. And if I’m at the five I’ll try to be as productive as I can at the 5.”
While Porzingis and Anthony again carried the offense, the unsung hero for the Knicks (4-6) was reserve guard Justin Holiday who activated the small lineup by playing small forward and finished with 16 points in 25 minutes. New York outscored Dallas by 30 points when Holiday was on the floor.
Joakim Noah’s shaky defense leads him to the bench for the second half.
The Mavericks (2-7), who played without starters Dirk Nowitki and Deron Williams due to injuries, shot just 38.6 percent. New York came into the night with the worst defensive rating in the NBA while allowing 109.8 points per game. But it limited the Mavericks to their lowest scoring output of the season, while outrebounding Dallas, 51-42, and giving up just 26 points in the paint.
Noah, meanwhile, failed to score a point for already the third time this season. Like other opponents, Dallas didn’t view him as a threat and often left him alone on defense – resulting in poor spacing from New York’s offense. The Knicks next opponent Wednesday at home is the Pistons, who a couple weeks ago held Noah to two points in 31 minutes.
“Yeah, I got to figure out ways to be effective on that end of the floor,” Noah said. “But like I said, I’m going to look at the film and figure it out.”
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News