Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Demographics They Are A-Changin'



While factually correct, octogenarian Penn State football coach Joe Paterno's take on the game of basketball raised a few (bushy) eyebrows. And made some of us long for the days of yore, when a 5'11" fella of mixed Irish and Jewish heritage seemed the prototypical NBA player.

Stuck Inside of Denver With the New York Blues Again

Oh, the mustached man draws X's
For players down on the block.
Isola asks him what's the matter.
And knows that he'll talk.
And the foes treat him kindly.
And fill the highlight tape.
So deep inside my heart
I know we can't be great.
Oh, Mama can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of Denver
With the New York blues again.

Again. The Knicks came out with the look of a dozen guys that had just gotten dumped by their girlfriends. Or had been pantsed by the grad-school bully during recess. Again. Their dispirited, meek play saw them neatly into a huge hole. Again. In the second half, they rallied to make the game close enough down the stretch that you felt obligated to keep watching. Again. Ultimately, the comeback bid fell short. Again.

Last night's game was in Denver against the Nuggets. But it might as well have been in Utah against the Jazz. Or, in Charlotte against the Bobcats. It's the same old song. The same New York blues. Again.

What is there to even say right now? This team is cooked. Yet it marches on. Flaunting it's inadequacies each night. At this point, I just want the regular season to end. I don't want to watch these Knicks any longer. I just want it to stop hurting. I want them to go home. So that I can focus on the NBA playoffs and start looking ahead to the forthcoming draft.

Thoughts, Observations and Things Better Left Unsaid:
-One can't help but wonder how much blame coach D'Antoni deserves for the way this team keeps coming out unprepared to play. The listlessness is very reminiscent of an Isiah Thomas-coached team. And that is about as disparaging a remark as I could make. On the other hand, the team does seem to respond to him at the half. Where is that purpose earlier? Is it player pride or coaching acumen that ignites the comeback. I still think that D'Antoni is one of the top coaches in the game, don't get me wrong. I'm just upset by this trend. Because I'd probably rather see the team come out hard and fast but be overcome by superior talent in the second half rather than come out soft and slow only to belatedly show they are capable of competing in the second half.
-Al Harrington is the most skilled player on the club. But, he does not understand how to take over a game if his outside shot isn't falling (like it was on Friday against the Hornets). He forces bad shots from midrange after stopping the ball, when he should be going at the rim and either scoring or shoveling the ball to a teammate. It's frustrating to watch him out there floundering. And even more frustrating to watch him sitting on the bench when the game is being decided. There are several players who have improved under D'Antoni and his staff, but somebody really needs to figure out a way to explain this game of basketball to Harrington.
-I would say that D'Antoni's use of Jared Jeffries on the defensive end has made him far more tradeable than he was at the mid-season deadline (when we could have shipped him, along with Nate, to Sacto).
-No matter what team he has played for, Chris Duhon has had the ball taken out of his hands in endgame situations. Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrik got it in Chicago and Nate gets the ball now (just like Jamal Crawford did at the start of the season). If we can't count on him to run the offense when we need a bucket then why are we counting on him for the rest of the game?