When given the opportunity to beat the number-one seed on the road, mismanaging personnel on the court should not be the reason for a loss.
New York has lost six-straight games, leaving them out of the playoffs if the season were to end today.
Down the stretch last night, head coach Mike D'Antoni went with a star-studded offensive line-up instead of trying to stop the Bulls. Rather than having Iman Shumpert in the game during crunch time, D'Antoni left Landry Fields in the game to cover some of Chicago's top scorers.
Shumpert is the Knicks leader in steals with 65 thus far. His ability to cover point guards as well as shooters has made him easily the best perimeter defender on the Knicks' roster. As the Knicks watched Derrick Rose and company outscore them in Chicago, Shumpert was on the bench.
Now, I understand that hindsight is 20/20 and trying to score in the final minutes does make sense. But, on the other hand, a line-up with no perimeter defense will not help a team finish games.
It should also be mentioned that Shumpert averages 9.4 points per game, so it is not like the rookie cannot score the ball. Landry Fields averages 9.9, but I guess that half-point difference got him the nod to finish out last night's contest.
Mike D'Antoni has a roster with versatility on both ends of the court. His inability to manage and balance this line-up has haunted New York as they continue to lose games. D'Antoni has lock down defenders in Shumpert, Jarred Jeffries, and Tyson Chandler. These three give defensive stability that can cover every position on the floor.
Carmelo Anothony did have a terrible foul on Kyle Korver with under five-seconds to play, an act that certainly reduced the Knicks' chance at the victory. It was clear that D'Antoni did not instruct Anthony to foul. Anthony then ran down the court and threw up a low-percentage three pointer to cap off the frustrating evening.
After the game, D'Antoni said "After an hour, ya gotta shake it off and get the one on Wednesday." This optimism sounds great in theory, but shaking off a six-game skid is easier said than done.
Sitting at 18-24, New York has given up the eight-seed to the Milwaukee Bucks, something that is hard to believe with such a talented roster (on paper).
With a game against Portland on Wednesday followed by back-to-back contests against the Pacers, the Knicks now face three winnable bouts. Portland sits at 20-21, while Indiana is playing well and holding the five-seed in the East.
Although both teams have better records, the Knicks once again look to be the better team from top to bottom. Eventually, I hope, D'Antoni and the Knicks will win the games they should, and maybe even some surprises.
At this point, the face that Indiana would be a surprise is embarrassing.
Time is running out on an abbreviated season. If the Knicks do not shape up fast, they will either miss the playoffs or get swept in the first-round.
My optimism is running thin, but this is a playoff team, right?
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