NEW ORLEANS – The offense, to use Jeff Hornacek’s term, “stagnated” Friday night. Ball movement died an ugly death at the hands of men in blue uniforms at the Smoothie King Center, and afterwards there was a common theme in the locker room: the Knicks, and particularly Kristaps Porzingis, did not adjust well to the Pelicans’ strategy of switching defenders.
Carmelo Anthony was especially agitated.
“At the end of the day, we have to re-evaluate where we are as a team right now,” Anthony said after the 104-92 defeat, sounding off the mini-alarm in his typical calm voice. “The different schemes that we’re seeing, we have to adjust to that, react to that. I think we just have to play better. At this point, we just have to play better. We have to play more consistent.”
Two months into the season, the Knicks (16-16) are the definition of average and trending downward. With a New Year’s Eve showdown against the surging Rockets, there’s a great chance New York will begin 2017 as a losing team for a fourth straight year. But Anthony wasn’t so much concerned with the direction of the Knicks as he was with the lack of awareness on Friday night.
During the game, he demonstrated his frustration with body language. After the game, Anthony was calling the team unprepared while Porzingis was on the other side of the locker room shouldering the blame.
“I feel a lot of it was just me not being able to use those mismatches to my advantage and missed shots,” he said. “If you don’t score in that one-on-one situation, the team goes down because the ball really isn’t moving and everybody isn’t involved. If you’re missing those shots, it’s tough to keep that energy high. A lot of it was my fault tonight.
“I need to get better at being more effective once I have that advantage in the post, whether it’s scoring or trying to be aggressive by taking healthy shots. I felt I wasn’t as effective as I should’ve been.”
Porzingis, who scored 21 points on 8-of-21 shooting with 13 rebounds, wasn’t the only problem. The Knicks were a mess on both ends of the court, with the Big-3 of Porzingis, Anthony and Derrick Rose combining to miss 38 shots.
Rose only recorded one assist and was outplayed by another 2017 free-agent point guard, Jrue Holiday, who had 11 assists.
Derrick Rose scored 20 points and finished with only one assist.
(Derick E. Hingle/USA Today Sports)
“I don’t know why (my assists are down),” said Rose, who hasn’t dished out more than six since November. “I’m passing the ball.”
Joakim Noah was again frustrated and scoreless, predictably outplayed by Anthony Davis (23 points, 18 rebounds). Noah managed just 16 minutes and was benched for the entire fourth quarter. Courtney Lee missed his second straight game because of a sore shooting wrist.
But the offensive execution against switches was the lead topic after losing to the Pelicans (14-21), including critiques from coach Jeff Hornacek. In the second half with Noah planted on the bench and the switches in full effect, Porzingis missed 7 of his 10 shots. Anthony was equally ineffective while missing 10 of 14.
The final stats for Porzingis, Anthony (26 points, 13 rebounds) and Rose (20 points) masked a bad game for the trio.
“We thought we had the advantage when we switched. Melo or KP out there on a 6-1 guy,” Hornacek said. “When that happens, they’ll stay with it as long as they’re not punishing it. If you’re not shooting near 50 percent, we’re not getting 3s, we’re not getting to the free throw line. We need to do a better job of taking advantage of that. And taking it to the basket. Instead of turning around with fadeaway jumpers.”
Logic indicates Hornacek was calling out Porzingis for the turnaround fadeaways, since that move has become a staple in the Latvian’s postgame – and one he attempted without much success Friday. Porzingis agreed with Hornacek’s assessment to a point.
“I feel comfortable shooting in the post, off the backboard turn-around jumpers. I just missed a few of them and it felt like I got hit on the elbow or the wrist when I was shooting it. And I just wasn’t effective,” he said. “Maybe he’s right, maybe I need to try get to the basket more that way I could kick it out when the defense comes in or attack myself and get fouled. So that’s definitely something I have learn.”
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Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News