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j4remi wrote:Player notes:
Ronnie Brewer - My personal MVP of the game. The guys played his typical rabid D which include sometimes switching with Melo off screens and covering West early on. He also hit a mid range jumper, cut to the basket consistently and finished whenever he got the ball in a position to do so. The reason I put his performance over the big guns though is that he fought on the boards to the tune of 3 offensive grabs and shot efficiently. The third quarter run that basically iced the game was sparked by Brewer and Sheed more than any of the starters.
Melo - Poor FG percentage doesn't quite tell the whole story. Melo started the game hitting jumpers with ease but was absolutely dedicated to attacking the basket. He drove hard into Hibbert and West consistently and couldn't get the foul calls (partially because the refs don't give him those but I give Hibbert a ton of credit as a shot blocker/changer as well here). The zero in his assists column comes in light of him kicking the ball out to spark swing passes along the perimeter...he did pass. The zero in the TO columns speaks to him playing a VERY smart game. His rebounds on the defensive end were good and he had some nice grabs on the offensive side although tbh, a couple of those came as a result of following his own shot. I think one thing I'm starting to note about the Melo drives is he doesn't use a hop step too often. He's much more liable to have a one-two step gather which gives him momentum going forward instead of a hop into a two feet planted gather which would allow him to explode UP. Can't complain when the guy is getting to the rim but he'll lose efficiency points if he continues to fail on his first attempt.
Ray Felton - If his tear drop was falling, he would have busted this game open before half time. He was able to get into the lane but the Pacers have very good interior shot blocking and they challenged him every time. He also couldn't get his shot to fall. In the third quarter he was already sitting on 15 attempts and I was a little perturbed by it since he wasn't shooting efficiently...but he changed gears and just passed and did it well from then out. He had a legit 8 assists and played some intense D on his way to a solid performance even while his scoring numbers came back to earth.
Sheed - What a great performance in short minutes. He played 15 minutes but grabbed 7 boards and scored 9 points. He rolled three separate ways off picks (to the elbow once, the the three point line twice and to the hoop the rest of the way) which was great for throwing off his defender. He had an excellent block on a play where it looked like he got beat and he played great defense overall. Sheed has been a HUGE surprise to me, I was hoping for 10 minutes of not hurting us on D ball...instead he's been our second best guy off the bench.
JR - It's easy to look at a few of his weaker positions and assume he had an out of control game. There was one play in particular where he dribbled for TWENTY SECONDS and couldn't get anywhere. A couple of other times he slashed, got stopped and did that tough turn around fading jumper for bricks. That's a bit unfair though. He was 5 for 10 because he took plenty of smart shots as well. He had a steal and block but also got his hands on the ball multiple times defensively where it wound up out of bounds or being kicked back out. He had 7 boards and 2 assists to boot. He played hard, not always smart but not bad at all. He had a pretty good game.
Tyson - Rotated a LOT better in this one than he has in the past couple of games. Defensively he was everywhere, though he did have a couple of lapses on rebound positioning. He couldn't get much going on the pick and roll but like I keep saying, the Pacers have good interior defenders. This was his best game since the Mavs game for sure imo. 9 rebounds would have been more if not for some tough foul calls cutting his minutes in the first half. 2 steals and a block are results of him getting after it on D...good game.
Prigs - He seemed extremely hesitant to shoot and couldn't get anything to fall. That said, he picked up four assists because he made smart plays with the ball whenever the defense did commit to him. The obvious highlight for him is that pick and roll underhand bounce pass to Sheed that you might have missed if you weren't expecting a pass. Sheed finished on a one handed dunk in case you did miss it. When he gets comfortable with taking jumpers, he'll become a force off the bench. Not a great game but not bad either imo. I could see arguments going both ways.
Novak - I keep remarking that he sped up his release this season but the quicker release might also be a result of rushing some J's. The defensive gameplan against him has been to kill his space and as a result he's getting less opportunities which leads to less rhythm and a need to make rapid decisions. I think that's hurting his shooting even when he does get space...He's just not comfortable with the new attention from defenders yet. I think it will come around. Here's something that I like about his play this season though, he has improved his defensive rotations exponentially since the preseason. He's actually got pretty good hands with his on ball D and he's no longer a complete liability. He also threw an entry pass to Melo in the post (someone in a previous game thread mentioned that I should look for this aspect of his game) and that's no minor feat for a Forward. If Novak can get Melo the ball in the post once in a while, it takes a bit of the load off Felton and Kidd which is always nice. Overall, not his best game...Shot poorly and forced some...but he wasn't as bad as some people might make it out to be.
Kidd - Wasn't himself after getting hit in the head. He didn't handle the ball often and even had a poor decision on a pass that ended up a TO. Defensively he was all there though, without having any qualms I will say that J Kidd is the most important cog to making the small ball line-up work. How so? He is the designated double teamer on post ups and he does it really well. He manages to get to the double team effectively and release fast enough to recover either to his man or to his rotation target. It's beyond impressive. None of his numbers will leap out at you, but he played well and was key in keeping David West from running amok on Melo.
Camby - How refreshing to have him come in there and go to work. He got after the boards, challenged shots (including a big time block) and DOVE ON THE FLOOR FOR THE BALL! He doesn't at all look like a guy who isn't ready. He should continue to get at least 10-15 mpg from here on out despite pedestrian numbers that hide his impact on the floor.
Moment of the game - Melo checking Hibbert after a post whistle bump. Just showed the Knicks new identity which is so much tougher than we've seen in a decade that it's GREAT.
Scrub of the Game - Obviously Hibbert...He forced up a ton of garbage and for a change in the Knicks luck...the ball didn't go in more often than not. He probably should have been in foul trouble with the amount of shots he challenged in the hole and his battles on the boards. His TO's were a beautiful thing for us though, killing any rhythm his boys could possibly get into when you combine them with his awkward, forced post ups.
Seemingly for the first time today, we saw Melo at the 3 for a while. This came first with a Tyson Chandler and Sheed front court...then with a Sheed and Camby front court. It didn't last all that long but I was watching the size and length on the court during those stints and it was REALLY IMPRESSIVE. With JR Smith as a pretty big SG and average sized PG's...the team was just big and intimidating. I want to see this over powering line-up more often. Sheed was able to post up, Camby was able to fight for boards and the G's had pick and roll options everywhere. It was refreshing. Melo also had the opportunity to post up guys his own size and it allowed him to get inside the painted area effectively. I'm not saying to go away from a starting unit that worked for us all season, but I think Woody would do well to keep defenses honest. West started the game shoving Melo on the very first time down court (no call) and posting Melo consistently. When we go big, the PF's can't target him like that.
This was the first truly poor shooting game...as in, the team didn't play show lapses in mind set or execution but the looks they usually make weren't falling. It didn't matter though...because this defense absolutely OWNED the game. The Pacers weren't just missing looks like we were, they had no rhythm because we were all over them with pressure. They had to shoot late in the clock consistently and they could attack the basket with any consistency because the rotations were just BEAUTIFUL. This was an absolutely brilliant defensive effort to add to the set of defensive gems we started off the season with. It becomes a statement game to anyone who pinned their continual Knick negativity to "what will happen when the three's don't fall?" The Knicks shot 36% from the Field and 28% from three...it was ugly. They still absolutely controlled the game. Here's how, they took 19 more FGA's than their opponents thanks in large part to 9 steals and 19 forced TO's. They still had 19 assists on their 33 makes which tells you it wasn't a question of execution or team play...it was just an off shooting night and that wasn't even close to enough to stop this team.