Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Suns Trade for Shaq, Knicks Looking at Mo Rivera

The Knicks Need a Closer More Than the Suns Need a Diesel

The Knicks led the Pacers by 7 points with 7 minutes left.
They lost by 3.

The Knicks led the Clippers by 11 points in the 3rd quarter.
They lost by 9.

The Knicks were in a tie-game with Sonics with 1 minute left.
They lost by 1.

The Knicks led the Blazers by 8 points with 7 minutes left in the 4th quarter.
They lost by 6 in OT.

The Knicks just got flat-out beat by Utah last Wednesday.
They closed within 3 with about 7 left in the 3rd, but never even tied it.

The Knicks led the Lakers by 9 with 9 minutes left in the 4th.
They lost by 11.

The Knicks led the Warriors by 4 early in the 4th.
They lost by 2 points.

This is the anatomy of a seven-game losing streak in which the free-falling team has actually been playing very well. They were in control of 6 of these 7 games at various points during each. Aside from the hiccup in Utah, where they came out flat, each game, looked at by itself, was filled with positives. Except for the ending. Because the Knicks cannot close out a game.

The Knicks, as constituted can go up and down the floor with almost anyone in the league for the first 40+ minutes of a game. They proved this by winning the early track meet against the Warriors. However, they cannot cope in the final minutes when the game slows down and you need to execute a half-court offense and stop an opponent's half-court offense.

The reasons that they can't stop the other team are legion and well-documented.The reason why their offense stutters is that they DO NOT HAVE A POINT GUARD in the game.

We were all quick to notice how well-adjusted and cohesive the team seemed to be without Stephon, but now we are seeing the downside. Crawford and Nate are shooting guards in point guard bodies who are struggling running the game in 24 second intervals as opposed to over the long haul. This is about not knowing what to do rather than not being able to do it.

Therefore, the Knicks consistently fritter away the key possessions even in games when they've shown that they can exert their will on the other team. In other words, they need a closer.

Or a point guard.

Wednesday's Starting Five

1. Pau Gasol. On his first night in the purple and gold he notched 24 and 12 against the Nets in the Swamp. His height advantage over Sean Williams showed that he is a legit 7-footer and that over the shoulder pass to a cutting Derek Fisher showed that the Lakers can now win when Kobe has an off night, which he did. Steve Nash and Tim Duncan are nonplussed.

2. LBJ. The young King sees us all as peasants. That includes you, Kobe. And, you, Ray Allen. And, you, Paul Pierce. James’s 30 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds and 5 steals led the Cavs over the Celtics last night. The EC champs have won 9 of 11 and LBJ has scored 30+ in 9 straight games against Boston. That ties him with Wilt.

3. Mets fans. Yesterday the Giants and their fans had their moment in the sun, even thought it rained. Today, Johan Santana is officially introduced at Shea Stadium.

4. NBA Analysts. The news that Shaq may be traded to Phoenix puts all the Greg Anthonys and Ric Buchers of the world in high demand today. [More on this if it actually happens…]

5. Shaq. The US Deputy Marshal from Miami may be heading for Phoenix. To play on the fast-breaking Suns? I’m not really sure how this makes any sense but it is undeniably a great move for Kazam. He gets off the worst team in the Association and gains entry to the postseason tourney. How he helps there is TBD.

Benched: Terrelle Pryor. The most highly sought after high-schooler since Oops-era Britney has delayed his signing announcement that had been scheduled for today. He wants to visit Penn State first. Paterno just dialed up some burlesque dancers who knew from before the War in hopes of swaying Pryor.