We all know David Lee is extreeeeeeemely undersized for a center, but because he hustles, he usually holds his own in the rebounding department. Plus, even though he’s short, Jarred Jeffries at 6’11” and Danilo Gallinari at 6’10” are pretty darn tall for the forward spots, while Wilson Chandler at 6’8″ towers over all SGs. So they shouldn’t have trouble rebounding. For the most part, that’s been true. This weekend teams battered us so badly on the boards that we looked like a little boy jumping for his hat while a tall bully just holds it above his reach. In Saturday’s loss to the Washington Wizards, 5’9″ Nate Robinson (have we officially moved to calling him 5’9″ instead of 5’8″ like he used to be? Has he actually grown?), was tied for 3rd for most offensive rebounds. Meaning he got just as many as Lee, Chandler, and 7’0″ backup Jonathan Bender. And more than Gallo’s 0 offensive rebounds.
That isn’t meant to single out Gallo, as he actually lead the team in rebounds in that game with 10, so he stepped up his game in that department. However, when you see that we shot 44.7% versus the Wizards’ nearly identical 44.9%, yet we got to the free throw line more, getting 14 points to their 7, it would seem like we shouldn’t have lost by 10 points. (Side note: even though we did get 7 extra points at the line, we should’ve gotten even more as the team shot a miserable 63% from the charity stripe, highlighted by Jeffries’ 1-for-5 showing.) So what was the big difference, the Short White Boy asks rhetorically because he already told you what this was all about? Rebounding. We was outrebounded 59-40 by the Wiz. They had 24 grabs on the offensive glass, meaning, yes, 24 extra shots. Against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday our boardwork was even worse: we were outrebounded 58-36.
I think I was watching maybe a Spurs game yesterday, where the great & powerful Hubie Brown noted that despite San Antonio seeming like they’re not jelling, they actually lead the league in defensive percentage per possession (Side Note 2: per possession is the best way to measure defensive or offensive abilities. For instance lets say Team A played at an amazingly slow pace, thus giving themselves and their foes only 50 possessions each to score. Versus Team B runs up and down the court at a fast pace, enabling them & their foes to have 100 possessions. Now if Team A keeps their foes to only 50 points, and Team B keeps their opponents to 60 points, if you ignore possessions it looks like Team A did the better job because they kept the other team to less points. But if you look at per possession, Team A let their foe score 1 point/possession while Team B did a far better job, keeping the other team at a mere .6 points/possession. Whew, that was a long side-note. Hope it wasn’t too long-winded and that it was clear. But now back to…) Anyway, the point is that Hubie said the Spurs may have the top defensive percentage/possession, but they’re not as good defensively as they’ve been in the past which is why they don’t have as good a record as they should. Why did he say they’re not as good defensively when they’re leading the WHOLE friggin’ league in fg%? ‘Cuz the Spurs don’t rebound as well as they have in the past. Who cares if they hold you to say 44% versus another team might do 46% if the Spurs allow you to get 10 more offensive rebounds, thus more than negating their quality D? The defensive possession isn’t over until you get the rebound. If they miss and get the ball right back, then it doesn’t matter if you just played 24 seconds of stellar defense — the other team is right back in the same position as when they started. That’s how the Wiz were able to score in the 30s in two quarters even though we made them shoot a poor percentage.
Once again, for both games my now regular 24 point assessment held true (when we hold teams to under 24 points in a quarter, which’d average out to 96 for the game, we usually win that quarter). Actually, since I’ve started doing this, the rule has held true for EVERY SINGLE QUARTER that the Knicks have played. They just aren’t good enough scorers to simply outscore their opponents, so they gotta play some D. Also, the better D you play, the less the opponent scores, and the less you have to inbound the ball from under the basket to start your offensive possession. As a result, regardless of whether you get a steal or secure a rebound off of a miss, you can get out running and catch the other team before they’ve fully had time to set up their defense. This can be particularly effective for the Knicks as they often do odd defensive match-ups with like Jeffries on the PG and Wilson Chandler on their PF, and if we don’t allow the other team time to switch back to their normal coverage, we suddenly have a huge height advantage with Jeffries and a huge speed advantage for Chandler. Oh, but back to 24 Point Rule, here are the quarters we held the other team to 24 and what we scored: 14-25; 24-27; 23-26. Here are the quarters we didn’t (& notice how we always scored less than they did): 36-19; 32-25; 26-20; 33-26; and 30-19.
During the broadcast of yesterday’s loss to Minnesota, the announcers said probably one of the big reasons we lost was because we were missing Al Harrington’s scoring. We let Minnesota score 112 points. It’s pretty hard to allow a team to score that many points in regulation AND win. Yes, we only had 91 points and could’ve used a little bit more of a scoring punch with Nate Robinson stinking up the joint, but unless we greatly improved our defense, it wouldn’t’ve mattered if Big Al had played.