The more the Knicks lose, the more questions seem to surround them. But the ironic thing is that they are consistent in one specific area: the fashion in which they suffer such defeats.
With their latest loss, a 101-96 defeat against the Nuggets on Sunday, the Knicks displayed a number of behaviors that are becoming all too familiar now. They lack a killer instinct, and players to fail to sense when they can kick it up a notch and go on attack mode. They aren't assertive around the basket. Players aren't showing urgency on the offensive boards, following up shots and creating second chance opportunities. The team's overall defensive intensity is lacking, as is their ability to put up a worthwhile fight for a full 48 minutes over the course of a given contest. Regardless of the circumstances, the Knicks seem to constantly fade away and ice over when the game is on the line in the final minutes. Despite a +13 third quarter that saw New York take the lead, they fell to Denver following an all too forgettable fourth. But unfortunately for the Knicks, such woes are all too evident in what is becoming a recurring nightmare.
Here are more observations from the matinee loss.
- Though they relinquished their lead with time winding down, the Knicks were actually able to hang around and stay within reach of a one possession difference. Despite having the ball with just over 19 seconds left, Derek Fisher opted not to call a timeout (he had two remaining) in order to ensure his team fought back and set up a proper play, Instead, Carmelo Anthony took a difficult and contested shot (with his foot arguably on the 3-point line) with the team down three. He missed, and their opportunity to come back faded away.
- Without Lance Thomas, Kyle O'Quinn, Kevin Seraphin and Lou Amundson (in that order) were Fisher's first three reserves off the bench. The Knicks offense was flat to start the game, and they could have really benefitted from an offensive boost spearheaded by the likes of Langston Galloway and Derrick Williams. Without such a spark, their respective deficit only grew.
- A rare bright spot for the Knicks was the play of Kristaps Porzingis, whose 13-point, seven-rebound, third quarter was arguably the best of his young career. With Anthony sitting out, the rookie not only kept the Knicks afloat, but helped them obtain a key lead. Watching Porzingis headline and carry an offense was very refreshing. It was great to see him prove he was capable of it after finding a rhythm. His versatility makes it difficult for an opposing defense to slow him down.
- Anthony was successfully used as a decoy (seven assists) despite struggling with his own shot, but it's clear he could have continued benefitted from some extended rest. As the Knicks continue to flounder and their playoff hopes dwindle away, doing what they can to not over-exacerbate their star forward will be a key managing factor in the rest of New York's season.
- All in all, the Knicks created a large hole for themselves early on, but the decisions Fisher made in reaction didn't make things any easier. It's time to reassess things and figure out what changes needed to be made to right the ship before it sinks.