The Knicks lost on Friday night in double-overtime to the 16-40 Orlando Magic, the third-worst team in the league, by record. They've also lost to the Milwaukee Bucks (worst record), Philadelphia 76ers (second-worst) and Sacramento Kings (fourth-worst, tied with the Los Angeles Lakers), so at least they are consistent.
But have no fear: Mike Woodson has diagnosed the problem. The maligned head coach vented his frustrations with his team's lack of defense following the loss, per The Wall Street Journal's Chris Herring:
The Knicks played 58 minutes of basketball on the evening, including the two overtimes. Assuming that each team has the ball roughly half the time, that would mean New York should have been playing defense for 29 minutes. If they only played D for six of those 29 minutes, that would mean the Knicks were standing around doing nothing approximately 79.3 percent of the time Orlando had the ball.
Yeah, that sounds about right for this squad. New York allowed 32 points to Arron Afflalo, 30 to Victor Oladipo and 22 to Tobias Harris in the 129-121 loss.
There was reason to believe that the Knicks would struggle Friday, their first game without starting small forward Iman Shumpert, who is out with a sprained left MCL. Herring broke down the Knicks' difficulties in defending when Shumpert isn't on the court:
Defensively, Shumpert has a tendency to be overaggressive, but the Knicks have surrendered just 102 points per 100 plays when he's on the floor, a figure that would rank the Knicks eighth-best in the NBA. When Shumpert goes to the bench, that number swells to 109 points per 100 plays, which is dead last.
So the Knicks were indeed bad on D without their best perimeter player, and Woodson has proven himself to be incredibly adept at pointing out his team's weaknesses after the fact. But does he plan to do anything about it?
For starters, he could have minimized the Knicks' problems by separating their two worst defenders: Tim Hardaway Jr. and Amar'e Stoudemire. Instead, he played the two together for much of the game, even as they struggled to contain the Orlando's pick-and-roll game. Stoudemire finished with minus-19 rating in just a shade under 18 minutes on Friday.
New York will never be a good defensive team, but they could certainly improve if their coach would only play smarter lineups. But Woodson would rather run out the same groups, night after night, loss after loss, and lay the blame on everyone else but him.
And that is why the Knicks will be sitting out the 2014 postseason.
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