NYK Weekly Report: NYC rivalry begins, life without Kidd, Novakaine is back
I'll give the Knicks a B+ for their performance over the past week. They convincingly beat the three teams they were supposed to beat, and lost to the Nets in overtime on the road short one of their starters. Here are some of the key notes I gathered from the four Knicks games over the past week:
The NYC rivalry is underway. One of the biggest reasons I was looking forward to the Knicks/Nets matchup was because I didn't really have any animosity towards the Nets, as they've been irrelevant for so long, but I wanted to hate them. Well, last Monday really did the trick for me. All that pregame talk about how the Nets are better, the Knicks are a mirage, and analysts talking about MarShon Brooks like he's the next Michael Jordan - it really made me want to see the Knicks obliterate the Nets. I ended up disappointed by the end of the night, but I'm not too worried long-term. Raymond Felton had an absolutely disgraceful game, maybe the worst I've ever seen him play as a Knick. 3-19 shooting with five turnovers - are you kidding me? Steve Novak, uncharacteristically, couldn't get going. Carmelo Anthony, a career 80.5% free throw shooter, went 10-16 from the foul line. Finally, the Knicks were without Jason Kidd, a point I'll get to right now...
Jason Kidd is more important to the Knicks than I thought. Ball movement and offensive flow have been improved over last season, and I thought a lot of that had to do with Raymond Felton. While Felton does help, he got himself into a funk against the Nets and ran a very stagnant offense down the stretch, in which he fired up way too many shots. Kidd is usually on the floor down the stretch of tight games, and he never fails to get the ball moving efficiently through the offense. He is also shooting the three at 50% this year, which is an area the Knicks struggled in against the Nets (6-21). The Knicks made it by their lesser opponents last week, but Kidd looks to be an essential piece for the Knicks against quality competition.
I said Steve Novak seemed ready to heat up in last week's NYK report, and he officially has. Though he struggled against the Nets, Novak has hit 12 of his last 22 three point attempts. That's the Novakaine we're more accustomed to seeing. When he's on, he really spreads out the floor, making it so much easier for point guards to penetrate and for Carmelo Anthony to operate inside. If a defender leaves Novak to double-team Carmelo (most defenses double him), they better hope Melo doesn't find his lethal outside weapon - Novak will make that open three every time when he's playing like he has the past three games.
Other notes: Rasheed Wallace made a hilarious exit from Sunday's game after 85 seconds of action for yelling "Ball don't lie!" after Goran Dragic missed a free throw following a technical that Wallace disagreed with (VIDEO)... Carmelo Anthony was the leading scorer in all four games last week... Kurt Thomas got four starts in Jason Kidd's absence, but only notched double-figure minutes once and was 2-6 from the field in the four games combined... Marcus Camby hasn't played a minute since being dominated on the boards by Reggie Evans against the Nets last Monday... The team was out-rebounded by more than two in only one game... Ronnie Brewer dislocated his thumb against the Nets, but was in the starting lineup the following game... Pablo Prigioni doesn't play huge minutes or put up big numbers, but he was positive in +/- in every game last week (+28 in 73 minutes last week)... JR Smith was very cold in three of last week's games... Kidd is targeting Wednesday to return from back spasms.
This week's Knicks games: Wednesday @ CHA, Thursday @ MIA, Saturday @ CHI, Sunday vs. DEN.