We must look at the glass a half full after losing to the 0-5 Milwaukee Bucks 105-95. This is a remodeled Bucks team, minus Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Mike Dunleavy and J.J. Redick, yet tonight this D-league team beat the New York Knicks.
The bad news is the Knicks once again gave up over 30 points in the first quarter, starting the game with a 32-23 deficit. What disturbed me is this is not a good Bucks team. The Knicks were also outshot 52 to 35 percent as much of the Bucks scoring took place in the paint.
The good news Iman Shumpert looked good again and made a few key three pointers. There is more good news in the fact that Tim Hardaway Jr. once again looked solid off the bench. With Raymond Felton out tonight Pablo Prigioni and Beno Udrih just couldn’t get the team in a good flow. The Bucks took an 11-point lead 56-45.
The good news J.R. Smith was on the bench and looks ready and reports are he will play in the last exhibition game Friday. This is good news as his suspension (five games) will start game one if he plays Friday.
The Knicks actually took the lead in the second quarter with their subs on the floor. Hardaway and Toure Murry led the comeback. Murry scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting in the second quarter and once again made a point he deserves a roster spot.
Cole Aldrich saw some light in the second quarter and took up space in the middle, grabbing four rebounds, two offensive. The Knicks were out rebounded, 20-19, which makes Aldrich numbers that much more impressive. Woodson wants to play Andrea Bargnani as his backup center. Once he returned for Aldrich in the second quarter, the middle again opened and the Knicks quickly lost their lead.
Now I am not saying Aldrich is the answer, but he is young, aggressive on the glass and big. More importantly he clogs the middle and is a pure center. Bargnani is not a center. I was hoping to see of Aldrich in the second half.
The Knicks shot 39 percent versus the Bucks 49 percent in the first half, not a great defensive half. This was compounded by the Knicks shooting only 4-of-18 from beyond the arc. This is not the same team as last year and Woodson must teach this team not to live and die on the three.
Assistant coach Darrel Walker said, he must more concerned with the defense then the offense in the first half.
The second half was much like the first. The starters gave up points and the bench once again closed the gap. I liked Aldrich who led the Knicks with a plus 20, with eight rebounds, four offensive in 14 minutes; compared to Tyson Chandler who had only four rebounds in 17 minutes and Bargnani who had one rebound in 25 minutes. Woodson played small ball most of the second half, Bargnani suffers in this role as he likes the ball on the wing.
Alan Hahn reported the Knicks had poor transition defense giving up 19 points on 12 turnovers. Woodson said “We scored 95 points, that’s enough to win. We had poor pick and roll defense.”
Cuts have to be made and with Jeremy Tyler out till mid-November at best, makes me want to see more of Aldrich. Felton was missed tonight with Prigioni scoring only two points with three assists in 17 minutes. Udrih led the Knicks in assists but shot 3-for-12, 1-of-7 from the three point line.
Anthony said after the game, “we have to play better. We got to get better on defensive end, we have to get in sync and we have to do it quickly”. “He went on to say “on paper this is a better team than last year and this team can be special”.
Hopefully this game was a wakeup call. Carmelo finished the night saying “we will be ready for next week.”
His tone, his comments only make for good news.