The New York Knicks couldn't seem to build off their recent success, falling to the Brooklyn Nets 110-104 on Wednesday night.
So where did things go wrong?
- The Knicks were expected to step up in the absence of their star player, Carmelo Anthony, but failed to maintain any real offensive tempo.
- Before last night's matchup, New York's NBA-leading free throw percentage average was 82.1%. That was nearly 3% higher than the next team, but they struggled from the line on Wednesday, knocking down just 15 of their 23 free throws (65.2%) against the Nets.
- In the key player matchup of the game, the Lopez brothers, Robin (Knicks) and Brook (Nets) faced off yet again. Robin is often touted for his defensive minded play, and Brook for his offensive style. While this may be true in their gameplay against other teams, every time the twins have faced off in the NBA — Brook has tended to play better on both sides of the ball. Robin displayed plenty of irritation competing against the Nets. While he was called for fouls on Brook, he also struggled to achieve consistent defensive stops against his identical twin.
- Kristaps Porzingis exhibited that he is still a rookie. He looked fatigued from the Knicks' win on Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics. His missed shots were often coming up short, allowing him to make only 5 of his 17 attempted field goals.
- Give Nets forward Thaddeus Young some credit for Porzingis' poor shooting night, too. Young hounded Porzingis with his physicality and aggressive play despite their 7-inch height differential, with Porzingis standing taller at 7'3". When questioned about the speed of the game and how the Nets pace surpassed the Knicks, Porzingis said postgame, "we didn't bring it from the beginning, and that carried on in the game."
All of these low points against the Nets lead to a question on all Knicks fans' minds and most likely on Coach Derek Fisher's as well: how much do the Knicks need Carmelo Anthony? The 8-time All-Star's absence seemed to be the missing key to New York's success. Was Anthony's injury the reason the Knicks lost to a mediocre Nets team, who now own a lowly 11-28 record, or was it just exhaustion from playing on a back-to-back?
In any case, New York will have to take this loss as a lesson in learning how to survive in cases where they might not have Melo, or they'll fail to develop as a team and one that can win.
There were a few bright spots for the Knicks in Brooklyn on Wednesday night. The first was off the court - more specifically the bench - where Carmelo Anthony continued his impeccable fashion taste, boasting a turtleneck sweater under a gray blazer. The next (and more genuine) positive for New York was Derrick Williams, who tied a career high by coming off the bench and pouring in an efficient 31 points. A handful of those points came off of high-flying dunks, as well as overall aggressive moves to the rim.
A final bright spot would be the aggressive play by the Knicks' guards: Langston Galloway, Jerian Grant and Jose Calderon. All three sacrificed their bodies to drive down the lane and put some much-needed points on the board. Calderon was key in trying to stimulate some offense for New York, while simultaneously trying to create some energy and intensity amongst his teammates. The Spanish vet was able to produce by hitting 4-6 from beyond the arc.
The Knicks play next on Saturday, January 16th, in Memphis against the Grizzlies at 8 PM EST.