At first glance, the Knicks' box score from Sunday against the Jazz looks like that of a victory. The team shot 51% from the field, 40% from deep, and dished out 18 assists. Two players scored 28 points as New York amassed 109 points. This type of effort was good enough to build an early double-digit lead, but by game's end, the Knicks had nothing more to show for it all than a defeat.
The Jazz have plenty of offensive weapons that can attack opposing teams. Sunday's game was one where they all happened to catch fire at once, overwhelming the Knicks throughout. Trying to cover much more ground than what they're used to, in order to slow down multiple weapons, New York was helpless. There were too many unsuccessful switches and an overall failure to communicate.
Defense aside, it's a shame to see the Knicks play at such a high level offensively and not be able to close the deal. Much of the same effort from Friday's win over the Bulls was there, but it came and went in bunches.
Getting Kristaps Porzingis the ball early and often is obviously a primary goal for the Knicks' offense. Following 14 first-quarter points, it's clear they were able to do that. But after the big man committed two fouls, he was forced to sit and the Knicks couldn't help him find his way again until it was too late. In a rather rare sight this season, Brandon Jennings failed to set Porzingis up.
With so many skilled weapons around him, Derrick Rose doesn't always have to score the basketball. That said, he should always play with the same level of aggression and keep attacking the basket. Rose's penetration could very well lead to easy points in his scoring column. That's not all it creates, however. The more Rose drives inside, the more he'll draw defenders in to guard him. That leaves his teammates open for steady scoring opportunities if he can find them.
Rose's ability to run the floor in such a fashion stands tall as an obvious key to the Knicks' success. However, he didn't stick to that game plan until there was an increased level of urgency and his team was on the ropes, ready to lose. If the same level of awareness was there from start to finish, the Knicks wouldn't have been forced to scramble and attempt to recapture a lost lead. They would have been in control. An inconsistent offense couldn't spark the team's defense.
Carmelo Anthony's 28 points may have kept the Knicks close enough, but it's clear the consistent involvement of Porzingis and Rose (or lack thereof) was the difference between winning and losing. The fact that Anthony can't do it alone and carry this team has been proven again and again.
The Knicks undoubtedly have to work on their defensive cohesiveness. Communicating with one another takes time. New York's talented scorers could help cover up the defensive lapses in the meantime. The keys to success on the offensive end would appear much more obvious. The team simply failed to carry out a very clear game plan from start to finish.