After a promising 8-1 start, the New York Knicks got run ragged in two straight games to fall to 8-3.
This time Jeremy Lin, James Harden and the Houston Rockets scored 131 points in regulation to wrap up a 28-point victory.
This game looked like one that Knicks fans saw plenty of during the past two seasons: Carmelo Anthony got his stats, but the team got killed. Anthony put up 37 points in a solid offensive performance. However, he grabbed only three defensive rebounds, to go with zero steals, zero blocks and a minus-12 differential. (via espn.com)
The change this year that head coach Mike Woodson intended to implement (and which has been successful to an extent thus far) was that this was no longer going to be Melo-ball. Passing, movement, energy and, most of all, defense are the skills these Knicks are trying to emphasize.
They did it well in their first nine games, going 8-1 and losing only to the hot Memphis Grizzlies. In the past two games, two lazy efforts against the Dallas Mavericks and Rockets resulted in bad losses against average teams.
The real question surrounding this team is whether or not it can consistently bring energy and play defense. All of the Knicks—including Carmelo—played defense for the first nine games. These past two games? Not so much.
Defense has been the only difference between the great games and the ugly ones this year. In the three games that New York has yielded more than 100 points this season, they are 0-3. In the other eight games, they are 8-0. That is not a coincidence. Defense wins games in the NBA.
What will the Knicks display more often this year?
On the whole, this game was deja vu for Knicks fans. Carmelo scored a lot of points, Tyson Chandler was efficient but rarely got the ball, there was no team defense, few rebounds and fewer assists.
Woodson acknowledges all this, and it will be his job to turn things back around. After the game, he commented:
We've got the record that we have because we've been defending and rebounding the ball. Our defense has held us in and created offense for us, and now we're just trying to outscore teams and that's not good enough. (via espn.com)
Play defense. Rebound the ball. It sounds simple, but it is hard to do 82 times. The question is: how many times can Carmelo and the Knicks do it this season?