***********Record during the week: 2-2Game results: Win @ New Orleans (102-80); Loss @ Mavs (111-114); Loss @ Rockets (103-131,000); Win v. Pistons (121-100)Overall record / Place in standings: 9-3; 1st place
Melo's Hooping: The D's disappearing act was the top story this week, but Melo's offensive production should not be ignored. Melo has always, and will always, put up points, but rarely does he do so with such efficiency: Melo averaged 29.5 points a game this week on 53.7% shooting. His worst game shooting the ball was when he went 7-for-16, his only game shooting under 50% from the field. That's bonkers. Even in the blowout loss to Houston, Melo showed why he is considered one of the league's top scoring threats, putting up 37 points on 14-of-24 shooting, and 7-of-12 from deep. Scary that the team can get production like that out of its best player and still get the crap knocked out of them, I agree, but all other issues aside, the guy is scoring the ball as well as anybody in the league through the first month. All the hometown homers out there who picked Melo in the first round of their fantasy draft are smirking right now.
Shump's Sideline Swag: I presume he is frustrated by still being in street clothes as opposed to a uniform, but the guy is killing it on a nightly basis. The hi-top fade is one thing, but Friday night's mustard yellow pants with a red blazer is another. #Knickstape is having a lot fun in his civies, even if it's not fun having to be in them.
Novak's Shot: Maybe he was nervous about his debut episode of MSG's Beginnings, but Novak looked pretty bad through the first few weeks of the season. I know the team is not running plays for him like they did at times during his rise last year, but he has failed to convert on a large majority of his open looks, all while the rest of the team has been red hot from behind the arc. Even though his week began alogn the same path, Novak finally - FINALLLY!! - got into a rhythm yesterday afternoon scoring 18 points on 5-of-7 from deep. A small step toward regaining last season's form, but you have to crawl before you can walk before you can hit three point shots at the professional level...so it's a start.
Defending The Guards: A positive last week was a glaring negative this week. First, the defense made OJ Mayo look like the third overall pick in a draft (oh, wait, he was?) and Vince Carter like a superstar (oh, wait, he was?) in the game against Dallas. Both those guys took every inch our too-slow-to-close-out defense gave them and hit shot after shot after shot en route to their win. It was a bad quarter-and-a-half, really, but the Maverick shooters took advantage and the Knicks took the L as a result. But crappy quarters happen. Surely Woodson would play tape of that third quarter on loop over the trip to Houston and the team would respond. Or, they'd be so over aggressive on closing out shooters that they would let them blow by for layup after layup after layup en route to a horrifyingly bad defensive performance. One of the two. I forget which happened. Either way, even though the Rockets put on a clinic, specifically Harden, who seemed to get to the rim at will, it was the Knicks defense that stole the show.
Get Over It, and Get Back: I mentioned it last week, but the trend continued this week as well, coming to a head when Melo, complaining to the refs about a missed call on the other end, let his man get behind him for an easy dunk. Zero excuse for that. Getting an untimely tech because your emotions are running high is one thing, but not playing the game as it's going on around you, just to get the last word with a ref, is another. Tommy made a great point about how few calls this superstar gets compared to others, but Woodson does a good job standing up for his guys and you can't let the refs take you out of a game - let alone give up a dunk because your back was turned...
Crash The Boards, Boys: I wrote about this after week 2, but I was admittedly being a bit nit-picky because we were still undefeated. But after 12 games, the Knicks are averaging a paltry 39.4 rebounds per game, good for third worst in the league. It's not hard to see why this team struggles on the glass, with Melo playing the 4 (always a good rebounding 3, sure, but 4s have to rebound, so his work on the glass is all of a sudden average at best) and Rasheed Wallace essentially becoming our back up center. Hopefully Hakeem Olajuwon taught Amare how to box out and get 10+ rebounds a game while he was giving him pointers on his post game this off-season, because from where I sit it's hard to see how this team plans to all-of-a-sudden improve in an area in which it lacks the size and depth to compete. Paging Marcus Camby? Anyone? Please?