New York is 12-6 (67%) since the beginning of December and 7-2 (78%) at home. Their 2 home losses came at the hands of Boston and Miami. Their wins came against Minnesota, Toronto, Denver, OKC, Chicago, Indiana, and San Antonio. They are currently 6th in the East with a record of 22-16 and are 10-7 against the West.
So far in January, they’re averaging 106.8 ppg on 46.9% from the field and 39.5% from three pt range tied for 7th in 3pt shooting. They’re 3rd in Offensive Efficiency and 4th in eFG%. They’ve also averaged over 8 steals, 7 blocks, and over 44 rebounds per game. They are tied for 1st in Blocks, they’re 10th in steals, but are below average for the season in rebounding especially on the offensive boards although their January numbers would rank them in the top 5.
Back on the 17th of November, the Knicks defeated the Kings 113-106 in Arco. New York started Ronny Turiaf at center, Amare Stoudemire at PF, Danilo Gallinari at SF, Landry Fields at SG, and Raymond Felton at PG. The Kings had 4 less turnovers and 7 more offensive boards leading to 12 more Field Goal Attempts but only 3 more made baskets. Unfortunately the Kings only shot 45% from the field, in a large part due to DeMarcus, JT, Sammy and Darnell shooting only 5-20. They were 2-6 at the rim with Zero Assisted Baskets. They were 1-9 from inside 10ft with Zero Assisted Baskets, for a total of 3-15 inside 10ft and 2-5 from outside 10 ft. Percentage wise our 4 biggest players shot twice as good away from the basket as they did near the basket, 40% to 20%.
The Kings committed 27 fouls and sent the Knicks to the FT line 39 times where they outscored the Kings by 11 pts to win the game. Actually, it was the fact that we sent Gallinari to the line 17 times where he made 16 FT’s for 94% that probably won the game for them. He was only 4-8 from the field, so they might have been better off just letting him shot. He probably scored 6 more points at the FT line then he would have from the field if we’d let him have the shots. Other than Stoudemire’s 27pts / 10 rebs and Landry’s 21 pts / 9 rebs, no one had an outstanding game.
Gallinari injured his left knee in the Jan 2 game against the Pacers and hasn’t returned yet. So in his place Wilson Chandler has been starting at SF. Chandler a 6-8 forward in his 4th season out of DePaul is having his best season so far. He’s been averaging 17.7 pts / 6.3 rebs on 48.5% field and 36.8% from 3pt range. Amare is having a MVP year averaging 26 pts / 9 rebs / 2.4 blks; he’s shooting 51% from the field and gets to the FT line about 8 times a game where he shoots 77%. Felton, another FA acquisition last summer, is averaging 18 pts / 8.8 asts / 2 stls on 44% field and 36% from threes.
I’d like to take a minute to talk about the Building Though the Draft. We like to compare ourselves to teams like OKC, POR, MEM, and say look how good they are and they used the draft. Well, NY was 29-53 last season and had the 8th worst record in the NBA. New York drafted Wilson Chandler 23rd in 2007, Danilo Gallinari 6th in 2008, Landry Fields 39th in 2010, and Andy Rautins 38th in 2010.
They signed Free Agents Raymond Felton in July 2010, Timofey Mozgov in July 2010, and Shawne Williams in September of 2010. And, they acquired the remaining 8 players in trades; Eddy Curry in Oct. of 2005, Toney Douglas in June of 2009. Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf came over in the July 2010 trade with Golden State for David Lee. And, Amare Stoudemire who really was a FA came over in the July 2010 sign & trade with Phoenix. Finally, Bill Walker was acquired in a Feb. 2010 trade.
Granted Amare and Felton were major FA signing that probably wouldn’t have come to Sacramento. But, basically their starting lineup is 2 drafted players (1 First rounder, 1 Second rounder), 2 FA signings and a player from a trade. Their 9-man rotation consists of 3 draft choices, 4 FA’s, and 2 players from trades. So, here it is 38 games into the season, and they have 7 fewer wins than they had all last season and are on pace to win 47 games. Then went from the 4th worst record in the East last season, to the 6th best team in the East and a potential playoff team. And, they’re right at the salary cap and will be at $44M in salary next season when Curry’s $11M contract expires. Of course they had no option to build thru the draft since they didn’t have many picks, but it does show that draft picks aren’t the only way to improve your team.
The Knicks play at a fast pace, as any D’Antoni team is apt to do. So, trying to get in a running game with them is just asking for trouble and an increase in our turnover rate. If we get defensive rebounds and steals we’ll have a chance to fast break, but for the most part we need to run our half court sets. Tyreke should be back and Gallinari could be out. But, in Gallinari’s absence, Chandler has filled in nicely. Shawne Williams is averaging over 50% from 3pt range over the last 10 games, on almost 4 attempts per game. Need I remind everyone about Nick Young? In fact the only players that aren’t shooting at a high percentage from 3pt range are Turiaf and Mozgov their 2 centers. So, in transition we need to pick up a man, any man even if it isn’t your man. Get a body on the shooters and worry about the mismatches once the ball is stopped.
Amare is shooting well from everywhere, but especially inside 10 ft where he’s averaging over 60%. Carl had the best game of any of the bigs the last time we meet, Tyreke had 23pts on 22 shots and Cousins had 15 pts / 10 rebs on 15 shots. JT and Dalembert were extremely ineffective. No one was in real foul trouble but then no one seemed to be playing defense since New York shot 52% from the Field. I think Tyreke’s Plantar fasciitis should be better after a week of rest, but the ankle still might affect his lift. I think he’ll have a good game if he doesn’t rely on the outside shot too much. But, the game will depend on the PF matchup; can JT and Landry defend Amare and allow Cousins to attack Turiaf? I hope so, because I’d like to come home with at least one win on this road trip. Go Kings!