On Tap: The New York Knicks

Kurt —  January 30, 2007

Breaking News — No Kobe Tonight. Apparently the league thought Kobe intentionally swept his elbow into Manu Ginobli’s face when Manu came at Kobe from the side with 2.7 left in regulation Sunday and blocked Kobe’s shot. Because of that, he’s suspended for tonight’s game
I’d love to see a replay of that again, to me Manu made a good play and Kobe was simply trying to draw contact and get a foul, there was no malicious intent deserving a suspension. I don’t really get it. Doesn’t matter what I think, Kobe is out tonight. That means Odom will have to step up, and look for more from Bynum as well.

UPDATE: Apparently Kobe is asking for an immediate appeal hearing, and since he is in New York he can just drop on by the NBA league office right now for the meeting. It strikes me as a longshot the NBA would backtrack that fast, but it’s worth the effort.

UPDATE 2: No go, Kobe is out for sure tonight. You know, it’s all about the process.

Ask the expert. Despite trying to watch a lot of basketball, there are a few teams I have seen very little of outside of highlight clips. The Knicks are one of those squads, they are on wrong end of the country and don’t have many nationally televised games.

So for some insight on tonight’s opponent, I asked a few questions of the guy I think remains the gold standard of NBA bloggers — Mike at Knickerblogger.

First, since the media reports seem to say that the Knicks need to make the playoffs for Thomas to keep his coach/GM jobs, will they?

The Knicks aren’t making the playoffs this year unless they put together a great run. Yeah they’re only 3 games out, but they just don’t play any defense. The Boykins, Bell, and Bogut Bucks are tied with New York, and the healing-like-the-cheerleader-from-Heroes Miami Heat are looking up from the 9th seed. It’s certainly possible that New York could make it in as the 8th seed, but you have to figure they’d need help to do that. Either a devastating injury to Toronto and/or the Nets would help.

Okay. So, is Thomas gone at the end of the year?

The fans want Isiah out, but it’s not their decision. Knicks owner James Dolan has been vague on Isiah’s required goals on purpose. Dolan is usually loyal to the people that work under him, which is why Scott Layden was able to stick around so long. The Knicks are on pace to win about 34 games, which would be an 11 game improvement over last year. Eddy Curry is scoring more, and the trio of Frye, Lee, and Nate have made the Knicks a more exciting team to watch. So it looks like Isiah has done a good job.

On the other hand, New York won 37 games the year before Thomas arrived and 33 games just two years ago. The roster is void of strong defensive players, and Isiah has made some questionable coaching decisions at the tail end of games. So it all depends on your expectations. Or rather Dolan’s.

Just how good a young nucleus is there with Frye and Lee and Curry?

The first problem is that the named trio play only 2 positions. The Knicks had a good amount of success when they were forced to start all three (due to the suspensions), but I’m not sure if they can go an entire season with Lee at SF. The next problem is that none of the three are particularly good defenders. Curry is absolutely awful on the defensive end. He’s slow to rotate, doesn’t jump well, and his defensive intensity is sporadic. Curry’s ideal front court mate would be a strong defender, but neither Frye nor Lee fits that role.

Prior to the season I thought Frye was going to excel, and Lee was going to be a role player. Right now exactly the opposite is true. Even though Lee comes off the bench, he’s been absolutely dyno-mite! This guy cleans glass like a housewife on Memorial Day. And his ambidexterity makes him tough to defend down under the hoop. Meanwhile Frye seems to have a confidence problem, occasionally passing on open shots. I’m just praying he doesn’t go down Chuck Knoblauch Avenue, Mackey Sasser Street, or Steve Sax’s Boulevard. By next year I expect Lee to be the starter, and Frye to be the 6th man.

So what was the question again? Oh yeah. Individually each one can be pretty good. Curry is one of the most efficient scoring centers in the league. Lee is one of the league’s best rebounders. While Frye is a forward/center with a sharp eye from the outside. However I’m dubious on whether the combination can be successful.

Anything else to look for?

If Renaldo Balkman enters the game (imagine Plastic Man with dreads) keep your eye on him. He’s a treat to watch.

The Laker defense. During the Spurs game broadcast, Marc Jackson kept saying “the Spurs get open looks but they can’t get shots to fall.” And that was partially true; they did miss some open ones.

But when the Lakers make their rotations their length can cause problems – the Lakers are a long team and they got those long arms near the shooters, maybe closing a little faster than San Antonio expected.

That said, they don’t make good rotations on a regular basis.

Bet the over. The Lakers defense isn’t good, but neither is the Knicks. They give up 111.1 points per 100 possessions, the 26th worst in the league (the Lakers are 23rd at 109.4). What hurts the Knicks most is they do not create turnovers, just 14.8% of opponent possessions end in a turnover. The Lakers are middle of the pack creating turnovers on 16.4% of opponent possessions.

Things to look for. If the Lakers are going to win this one, it may be because they win the turnover battle in a big way, Not only do the Knicks not create turnovers, they cough the ball up a lot – 18.4% of their possessions end in a turnover, one of the highest rates in the NBA. If the Lakers win the turnover by 5 or more, that’s a lot of possessions in what should be a high-scoring game.

With Kobe out, the Lakers need some people to step up, and because he’ll be matched up on Eddy Curry this is a night Bynum can have a big game. Opposing centers are averaging 19.7 points and 12.7 boards per game on the Knicks, shooting 53%. Drew is capable of that kind of night.

The Knicks struggle to defend just about every position, the Lakers just need to keep passing the ball and making their shots tonight.

As for defending the Knicks — make them jump shooters. As a team they shoot just 40.1% (eFG%) on jumpers but get the ball inside and they shoot 57.9%. Curry has good offensive moves in the post and Lee gets offensive rebounds and putbacks. Maybe we’ll see some zone, but the Lakers need to pack it in a little tonight and make the Knicks a perimeter team.

to On Tap: The New York Knicks

  1. I have a replay up at my blog (http://www.poundingtherock.com/story/2007/1/30/131342/653). I’m a Spurs fan, and I think the suspension is questionable at best.


  2. here’s the youtube link:


    Lakers need to make some noise on this road trip and finish strong before the All Star break.


  3. I can’t believe that the league thought it warranted a suspension. It looked like Kobe was trying to draw a foul (and I honestly think he was fouled after the block, but that’s really neither here nor there) and hit Manu in the nose.

    Kurt, check your email.


  4. Nevermind, your mail server blocked the file I tried to send you because it has an .avi extension.


  5. Compare this to Raja Bell’s clearly intentional clothesline of Kobe and tell me this isn’t absolutely ridiculous. I dare a Kobe-hater to explain this one.


  6. Man, I’m going to be at MSG and Kobe isn’t even there! What a ripoff!


  7. Thanks for the links. At work it’s hard for me to watch, but I’ll try later. And Exick, thanks for the attempt. Considering how much spam gets through that filter here, I have no idea why it blocked that.

    DYi, I bet you are far from alone in your feelings. There will be a lot of pissed fans tonight. I expect the New York media will have something to say along those lines as well.


  8. But I’ll be happy to finally see Bynum, Odom, and the crew. Haven’t seen the Lakers live since I lived in LA in 2003!!!


  9. The NBA is so crazy. Why would you suspend Kobe in his only trip to MSG for something that obviously didn’t warrent a suspension. Now a days if anyone ever does anything that might be looked at by the league office, the media, and they guys announcing the game always make note of it by saying: “That play will probably be reviewed by Commissioner Sterns office.” I heard no mention of it from anyone during or after that game. This is crazy man. I would be pissed if bought a ticket to that game.


  10. I hope Bynum takes Curry to school tonight. Does anyone know if Smush and Odom historically play better at MSG? I heard that Odom bought like 40 tix for his friends and I assume that these two definetely wanna bring it in front of their “home crowd.”

    I’ll be cheering the Lake Show, with or without Kobe tonight.


  11. Guess the conspiracy theorists who think all decisions are made to benefit the Knicks and the Lakers can look at this as an argument against them. In all reality, this is truly one of the worst decisions Stu Jackson and David Stern have made this year. Kobe is the premier player in the league going to a city that is the mecca of basketball. Their team is struggling, and a sold-out crowd is going to be pissed. Sorry, DYi, that really is unfortunate.

    Lamar is not quite looking spry enough with his inside game for me to be confident that he’ll pick up the slack. No Walton either makes me really worry who will quarterback this team. Let’s hope we can sneak one out here. This team seems to thrive in the underdog role while botching it when they are the favorites.

    Alright, time to take over the world’s most famous sports arena.


  12. Smush has only played at MSG 4 times. Twice with Cleveland, once with Phoenix, and once last year with the Lakers. When he was with Phoenix, he got in the game for 1 minute, so nothing you can really see there. He’s scored 8, 11, and 15 points in the other games.

    Lamar’s record seems a little more up and down. Last year he didn’t have a great game, but he shot the ball pretty well and still picked up a double double (11/13) in a blowout. The year before last he had a fantastic line 26/15/6 with a steal and 2 blocks. But the game ended up being an OT loss. Tim Thomas inexplicably scored 35 points in that one.

    Last year’s star of the show was Bynum who played the 4th quarter and worked Curry like a rented mule. 16 points on 7-7 shooting in 12 minutes.


  13. In how many games this year have we had our actual starting 5 (Kobe, Kwame, Odom, Luke, Smush) starting? How many have we even had 4 of 5?

    I will say this about Smush- he has yet to miss a game as a laker. I think it’s because he only really goes inside and jumps when he’s sure he’s got a safe dunk.


  14. Wow what a tough day for Laker fans everywhere. I was in the drive thru for lunch when I heard on the radio what happened to Kobe. Ridiculous suspension. Ginobili and Pop both said that it wasn’t intentional… I believe Pop’s actual words were, “that’s not his style” when asked if he thought the hit was on purpose. I think they made such a big deal about it because Manu acted like his face was broken. Come on Manu, this isnt soccer, no need to act like your paralyzed until the yellow card comes out! Kobe got him by flailing his arms out trying to draw a foul when he was blocked, thats all… if Kobe had hit him on purpose, he would probably be the fastest, quickest player in the world to be able to punch Manu in the face out of retaliation miliseconds after being blocked on an attempted game winner… now that would be amazing!
    And to suspend him from the Knicks game at MSG, good job NBA officials, best idea you’ve come up with since the composite ball.


  15. As for the game tonight, we can take ’em! We’re ten times more of a “team” than they are and thats a 100% credit to our coach compared to theirs. Lamar will step up, he knows he has to, and he’s at home. Same goes for Bynum and Smush. They both know that they HAVE to step it up a notch without Kobe, especially playing at home. look for strong games from Drew, Lamar, and probably Mo Evans. The guy has been money when Kobe has been out this year (remember the 27 point game in preseason? )


  16. Kobe is attempting to get the suspension immediately rescinded since he is in NY close to the league offices.



  17. Boy howdy, the league really doesn’t want me watching basketball anymore aren’t they?


  18. This quote from Stu jackson takes the cake (sorry, Kwame):

    “This action by Kobe was an unnatural basketball act.”


  19. Sorry Kwame – great line Gatinho!

    An Unnatural basketball act. Didn’t Karl Malone and Dikembe Mutombo make a career doing this same thing intentionally??? What a crock. I think Stu Jackson is gunning for the commish’s job when Stern is done.

    I believe we can take them as well, just flustered by all of this. Casual basketball fans should have access to the league’s marquee player in MSG. Can yu imagine Jordan being suspended for all of those hard fould he threw down in the 90’s at MSG?

    If the Knicks fans needed anymore reason to boycott!


  20. I think the Lakers will play very well (on offense) without Kobe, they’ve stepped up before.

    There’s a certain irony to the Lakers using the Ewing theory to win in New York.


  21. I think the Lakers will be okay tonight. Not because we’re playing the Knicks or because Kobe’s not a team player. But because with Kobe out, the team may actually take the game seriously and not play to the level of the competition.


  22. John R. has been over at True Hoop hating on the Lakers and Kobe today…


  23. Justice was done.
    When I watched the LAL-SAS game and saw the violent intentional action of Kobe, I immediately was horrified by Kobe’s lack of sportsmanship. The action was such obvious but commented as action to draw a foul in the last minute. Even as a Laker fan my immediate wish was a win for SAS what happily became true. Kobe, the most prominent player of the NBA has to be a role model in sportsmanship and he miserably failed to do so. The NBA did right to punish his behavior.


  24. Lakerfan and John R. should get together for a beer.

    I’m stuck at work late tonight, so fill me in on what i’ve missed.


  25. The Lakers came into the fourth in the hole. Farmar was part of an unlikely alliance that played enough D and made enough shots to get the Lakers within a point with about 4 minutes to play.

    You know the punch line. Phil Jackson substituted the Smusher in to close the game out.

    Maybe you can watch for yourself to see what happened. Smushaphobes already knew and turned off the TV.


  26. that loss made my little brother cry. im being serious, it was sad.

    fuck david stern.

    smuch on crawford made me puke.


  27. The Lakers can’t play such sloppy D when Andrew has to face a big man. He’s young and will commit a few too many fouls on his own. When you skate that fine a line anyway, you can’t let Channing race down undefended in transition only to hit Curry with a perfect pass as the help defense rushes out to cover Channing. Bang. Foul on Bynum.

    I’ve also decided that Vlad should either learn to drive to the basket correctly or stop doing it. I feel terrible about saying that, as I love the hustle. After the injury, he’s really tried to open up his game. Mostly I think it’s made him a better player. But he either shows too early or is a step slow when he makes those drives. Oh well, he actually had a decent game tonight.


  28. Kurt – Smush started out great, then folded like a deck of cards. Farmar/Evans/Cook/Radman/Turiaf played well in the key stretch of the 4th. Smush came in for him and boom, our offensive system left with him. Yargh! Smush was the Show in the 1st quarter though… Biggest play against us was our Radman deciding blocking out an opponent is not really needed. Jared Jeffries rebounded and got a 3 point play in a 1 point game with 4 minutes left. We really lost it at that point. It was a real sloppy undisciplined game between some young players on both teams.


  29. and LakersFan’s comment about kobe and sportsmanship makes me gag…you might oughta to reconsider your post name and go hunting with Karl Malone.


  30. I was at the game tonight, and man, there were a LOT of Lakers fans in the Garden. From my vantage point, it just looked like Smush gave up in the 3rd and 4th quarter, he just looked like he didn’t care.

    To all the crazy and “loyal” Knick fans who were boasting about beating the Lakers, I basically told them that the Lakers “B” squad almost beat the Knicks’ team. I also told them that we’d see them in the playoffs…except, don’t know if one team will be there.


  31. Kurt,
    is there an email address, (kind of like writing your congressman) for the NBA league offices?
    we should start a petition to the league asking them to “BACK OFF!” and let the teams play.
    I’d be only to happy to fire off an email saying just that.
    everybody should do this, bury them, crash their server with complaints! this is such BS.


  32. The higlight of the night at the Garden was the standing ovation we gave to Kareem. BTW, LA clearly has “cooler” stars than NYC. They showed Jon Stewart and Eve on the Jumbotron, as compared to Denzel, Jack, etc…not even close!

    BTW, bunch of Knicks fans were severly disappointed to find out Kobe wasn’t there. There were a ton of boos when it was annouced. That being said, they were still hyped about beating the Lakers. But I told a bunch of Knicks fans, “you barely beat the Lakers’ ‘B’ team…”

    Anyway, from my vantage point, it really looked like Smush just gave up in the 2nd half. His body language looked horrible and he just sultered and slumped his way to the bench in the 2nd half period. But it was a good fight nevertheless…


  33. I know this is kinda late but i kust remembered back in the 03-04 season kobe did the same thing with his arm against the jazz on a last second three at the end of the game but he got the call that time. Does anyone else remember this?


  34. sorry just remembered i meant to say


  35. matter of fact watch for yourself i think thats what kobe was trying to do http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saVxJWeVcVU&mode=related&search=


  36. Chris, if you go to nba.com and you are registered you can email the league office. Lakersground folks are all over that.

    And I was surprised and disappointed that Pop changed his mind about the play. If the NBA wants to send a message not to flail your arms after a shot in hopes of drawing a foul, a fine would have been sufficient.

    Think Kobe might take it out on the Celtics tonight?


  37. Jamil, thanks for the link. I posted something about this at NBA Fan house. If you compare the two videos, you realize that he was trying to draw a foul.



  38. Yes, Kobe does this all the time. At the very least it is an offensive foul. And if this “flailing arm” action catches somebody directly in the face and causes them to get stitches, then yes, they should be suspended.