The New York Knicks were facing a major deficit heading into the fourth quarter of last night’s game versus the Dallas Mavericks. Many had the Knicks losing the game and with the second unit in for garbage time, the Mavericks had the game all but wrapped up.
Considering the fact that Amar’e Stoudemire was the only starter playing and he had to guard Dirk Nowitzki and a potent Mavericks team, the Knicks could have easily given up.
However, once again the Knicks’ second unit played their hearts out and gave the team some light in the fourth quarter. The Knicks held the Mavericks scoreless for nearly the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter and went on a 15-0 run to take the lead. With Baron Davis running the point and players like Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak running the floor, the Knicks took complete control of momentum and reclaimed the lead.
However, despite the fact that the reserves single-handedly brought the team back into the game and gave them the lead, coach Mike D’Antoni broke it all up. D’Antoni insisted on bringing in Carmelo Anthony and Jeremy Lin into the game, two players who combined for 6-26 shooting.
Even with the shooting woes of the two players, D’Antoni took out the second unit who played tremendously well and saw the lead evaporate instantly. Lin and Anthony were not aggressive at all and they could not keep the momentum that the reserves created.
Just when the Knicks had taken their one-point lead, the Mavericks went on their own massive run and got the lead back and turned it into a ten point hole for the Knicks.
When players like Novak, Shumpert and Davis are having their day on the Mavericks’ players and when their defense thwarts the Mavs from scoring a single point for eight minutes in the fourth quarter,they should remain in the game. Novak drilled four three-pointers, Davis ran the offense much better than Lin, Shumpert came up big with three steals and Stoudemire was the man in the middle and contributed with 26 points.
Most upper echelon coaches would have understood that the team was playing much better with the second unit and it would have made more sense for them to ride the momentum and not break up the chemistry. We have seen multiple times this season where legendary San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich plays his reserves in the fourth quarter and often times he had them close the game out with Duncan, Parker and Ginobili on the bench.
The Knicks are still a team in progress, but when they lose games like last night, fans can get frustrated. Who knows if the Knicks could have kept their stride going with the reserves in, but they were playing extremely well and there was no need to change the lineup. D’Antoni needs to understand that Lin and Anthony cannot have it every night. New York plays well when Stoudemire is the lead man, and that should be their recipe to success.