I had the opportunity to watch the game against the Bulls. Jeremy AND the Knicks as a whole improved a lot. Had this been a game coming off a win, the momentum probably would had carried them over a victory. oh well.
Right now I have an answer for the question (raised by that Taiwanese journalist lady, no less) why the Knicks are prone to losing to team with a poor record, yet able to squeeze close wins over the above 500 teams: the intensity…see Melo.
You see players like Novak, Jefferies, Jorts, Jeremy, and even JR who are just happy to be on the court and always give their full efforts, while on the other hand Melo would play half-hearted against teams like the Nets, Bucks, or even the Sixers. Yes, he was aggressive on offense and defending his man, but he was very passive on the intangibles, boxing out, help D, diving after loose balls etc. However, when they play teams like Miami, Boston, and the Bulls, Melo becomes all fired up and can’t wait to score 50.
Some positives from this game.
I am starting to believe that Melo AND Lin can play under one system, except it’s at the cost of both players trimming down a bit of their shares. Both Melo and Lin are very good transition offense players, so that’s never gonna be a problem. When Lin plays the PnR with the bigs, Melo could be the secondary option on the perimeter, ready for a catch n shot or penetration. When the play is broken or when Jeremy is doubled teamed, Melo can be that low-post presence; I don’t know where his jumper has gone, but his low-post moves are still very crafty and much better than his perimeter game. This would probably mean Jeremy will be more of a pure facilitator (as in today’s game) over the attacking point-guard we would love him to be, but this is probably the best way for the both to co-exist.
From the way Rose played today, I definitely understand why JLinfan#1 keeps bringing up the comparison; they share VERY SIMILAR characteristics. Rose attacks the paint, units and carries the team, and elevates in big moments. However, I do feel that Lin is the better facilitator, and has that desiring ability to make his teammates better. The former could be due to the way the Bulls setup their offense around Rose, and as for the latter, I actually feel that it’s his fundamentally sound teammates that allow Rose to shine better.
Stats of the night: Rebounds: Bulls 56, Knicks 38. Offensive rebounds: Bulls 22, Knicks 9.
Line-up wise, I don’t like seeing both Amare and Melo on the court at the same time. Same with Novak, they are defensive pylons, not stop signs. Having 4 defensive minded teammates around either one would probably make up for the defensive liability, but two create too big of a gap to fill. For some stretch of the game had either Amare or Melo been replaced by either Jefferies, Shump, or even Harrellson, we would had at least prevented a few of those 22 offensive rebounds from the Bulls, and the whole scenario would had been very different.Come to think about it, that “Linsanity” unit was actually the perfect dose of everything, including Billy Walker (Miss him now?).
As a whole, if fortunately the Knicks ends up with the Bulls in the playoff, which means the Knicks would have finally gel-ed together, I’d be very excited and even anticipate for a 7 game series.