Jan 7, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) dribbles the ball around Detroit Pistons small forward Kyle Singler (25) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks won 89-85. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

New York Knicks win in spite of themselves

Tuesday night in one sloppy game the New York Knicks won 89-85. However with the help of Raymond Felton and his missed free throw and two key late quarter turnovers they almost lost another close game.

After maintaining a 15 point lead going into the quarter, the Knicks should not had to fight for a rebound to win this game.

Jan 7, 2014; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton (2) drives against Detroit Pistons shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (5) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Carmelo Anthony‘s key rebound after Felton missed free throw sent Anthony to the line where he calmly made both shots.

The game never should have been this close. The Knicks escaped what could have been another terrible loss.

 

J.R. Smith was once again up to his shoelace antics and he continues to play 30 minutes per game.  Mike Woodson needs to punish him for his behavior which is becoming a distraction. Smith shot 2-for-6 and was a minus-10.

I still don’t understand why Woodson continues to give him 32 plus minutes a night, meaning he’s playing more minutes than he has in any season other than the 2012-13 campaign.

He has made numerous blunders and continues to have the coaches blessing.  With both Tim Hardaway Jr. and now Iman Shumpert both playing better, there’s no reason for Smith to be their most-used shooting guard.

 

Smith has had a troubled year.  Actually, since elbowing Jason Terry in the playoffs, Smith has gone two steps backwards for every step he took forward in 2012-13 and is now having what many consider the worst year of his career.

 

Now if his knee is troubling him, allow him to rest and build strength.  He seems the only player not on a minutes restriction.  Keeping him on the floor for extended minutes only serves to make the team worse and stunts the growth of Shumpert and Hardaway.

Hardaway played only 13 minutes and had an off game. However Shumpert played only 29 minutes, and was a positive 16.  He needs to get more shots early in the game to develop a rhythm.  He continues to rebound, (six) and pass the ball (five assists) but the defense he plays is top notch. He held Brandon Jennings a known Knick killer to only 2-for-12 shooting.

 

Felton actually looked sharp and thinner early on, but as the game got close, he reverted back to the slow moving point guard he is known to be.  His two turnovers and missed free throw could have cost the Knicks the game.

When Woodson was asked about Beno Udrih, he responded   “his knee was bothering him”.

 

The Knicks had a great first half by Andrea Bargnani. He scored 11 first half points on 5-of-8 shooting.

In the second half, he played only 12 minutes and shot 1-for-5.   Woodson continues to limit his time.  Now this makes no sense has he had 11 rebounds and the Knicks as a team only had 38 to the Pistons 54.

No plays are called for him. He plays hard and never complains. Woodson has to give him the ball when he is hot. Bargnani can score nightly as he does and he can and occasionally hit the three.

However he is best when he plays 15 feet in, his mid-range area, is his best offensive strength.  He does well when playing the center and can throw other centers off and not allow them to stay in the paint.  This opens up the rim for Anthony as he scored 34.  Bargnani was a plus-17 against the Pistons.

Alan Hahn needs to get off his back in postgame interviews of why he disappears. Alan, he played only 12 minutes. Speak to Wally Szczerbiak.

 

The Knicks still need a top tier point guard to compete and I am afraid Felton is not that guy. I think he has his skills but cannot play top tier opposing point guards. With this said, he may make for good trade bait.

What makes Smith so expendable is the emergence of Hardaway and Shumpert. They both need to play more and have the ability to excel at their positions. With Smith making $6 million per year, his salary maybe could bring in a player like Toronto’s Kyle Lowry on an even swap.

 

Dr. Eric Kaplan is a best-selling author www.5minutemotivator.com

Follow him on twitter @drekaplan

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Tags: Andrea Bargnani J.R. Smith Mike Woodson New York Knicks Raymond Felton

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