It's been a rough week for the New York Knicks franchise. With the losing piling up on the court and the drama continuing off the court the team was just looking to to avoid on 0-5 home-stand against the 41-12 San Antonio Spurs.
The Knicks held a three hour practice yesterday and a player's only meeting coming off another terrible defensive outing in Friday's 131-123 loss to the Nuggets. Jeff Hornacek called out his team's effort following the loss, and laid into the starting lineup in particular.
"They should be embarrassed by the way they couldn't guard anybody. So those guys are happy scoring their points. We're going to lose every game," said Hornacek following the team's fourth straight loss.
Hornacek was as upset as we've seen him all season and sent a message to his team following the game with his comments. Whatever took place in practice yesterday worked as the Knicks delivered their best defensive performance of the season against the team with the second best record in the NBA. The Knicks held the Spurs to 36% shooting from the field and finally held on to a late lead thanks to Carmelo Anthony and his 25 clutch points to get a 94-90 win.
The Knicks looked like a completely different team today. It was shocking how well the Knicks played defensively after how pathetic they have been all year on that end. Friday night they gave up 98 points through three quarters to the Nuggets. Today they only gave up 65 to the Spurs and 90 the entire game. The Spurs had an off night, but give credit to the Knicks defense who came to play like we haven't seen all season.
The Spurs shot 20% from three point range after coming into the game the best in the league in that category. Everything clicked on D today. The man defense was very solid and the help defense/rotations were on point. When you watch a game like today it makes you wonder why the Knicks haven't done this all season. Most of it comes down to effort. You could see in their play today the way they hustled and contested every shot with strong close outs. They were engaged for a full 48 minutes.
The Knicks wanted this win badly after everything this team has been through. They wanted to give their home crowd; who continue to show up and cheer on this unworthy team, a win for all the support despite the tough times of late.
Carmelo Anthony played a terrific overall game in leading his team to a win. He made some huge shots in the final minutes and proved he's still one of the best in the game at getting his team a big bucket down the stretch. Melo secured a Knick victory with a clutch jumper and shouted "I want this!" to the Garden crowd after he gave the Knicks a six point lead with 33 seconds left. It was a nice moment for Melo, who has been so loyal to the Knicks and this city through all the drama to come through in the clutch against one of the league's best on his home floor.
Kristaps Porzngis had his best defensive performance of the season blocking four shots and disrupting many others. He was a presence at the rim all night and did a great job of helping out and using his length to cause havoc. He also added 16 points and was game high +19 when he was on the floor. His front court partner in today's starting lineup was his buddy Willy Hernangomez who had one of his best all around games with 12 points and 9 rebounds. Willy made some big buckets in crunch time and did a nice job helping KP hold Lamarcus Aldridge to 5-16 from the field. Derrick Rose added in 18 points and Kyle O'Quinn provided a nice boost off the bench with three blocked shots.
The overall vibe of today's game was much different than what we have seen since the start of the new year. For the first time in a long time you felt somewhat confident that the Knicks could hold on late because of the effort they put forth all game. For the past 6 weeks we've seen this team crumble in close games in the final minutes and that was because of their inability to get stops. Today they played hard from start to finish and came together as a team for maybe their most impressive win of the year.
It's a win you hope they can build on as they had to OKC before the All-Star break, but let's not get our hopes up for a turnaround just yet. This team still hasn't won back to back games since December 22. This was a nice win and should build their confidence, but they need to bring out that same energy and effort on the defensive end if they want to even think about making a run for one of the final playoff spots.
Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse for this Knick franchise. Last night during the first quarter of another gut wrenching loss an incident in the stands provided the biggest headline of the night. About four minutes into the game Kristaps Porzingis went to the free throw line before an altercation with security involving Knicks' legend Charles Oakley led to his arrest. It was a very sad and ugly scene which saw Oakley get forcefully removed from the Garden by security and arrested for three counts of assault.
The game continued and the Knicks proceeded to blow a 10 point fourth quarter lead to the Clippers in their 119-115 loss. After the game zero of the focus was on the Knick loss, but on Oakley and why he had to removed from the place he called home for 10 years. Video showed that Oakley was about four rows behind Knicks' owner James Dolan who he has a bad relationship with in recent years. Reports during the game stated that Oakley was heckling Dolan from his seat (that he paid for) which lead to confrontation from Knicks' security that Oakley didn't take kindly to and lead to him pushing back. After his release from jail Oakley claimed he did nothing wrong and Dolan had security remove him from the Garden just because he was there. Following his arrest the Knicks' PR released a tweet.
Today in an interview with Stephen A. Smith Oakley told his side of the story and followed up on what he said after his release. Link here
The Knicks came out with another tweet disputing Oakley's side of the story maintaining that he was out of line and not telling the truth.
No matter which side you believe or who you thought was in the wrong the biggest loser from all this is the Knicks. This is a franchise that is a complete embarrassment both on and off the court. Former Knick nemesis Reggie Miller summed up the state of this franchise best with a tweet.
Charles Oakley is a Knicks' legend, the heart, soul, and muscle of those great 90s Knick teams and he was arrested in the home arena of the team he gave everything too. There's no doubt Oakley acted out of hand and never should of put his hands on law enforcement, but the Knicks and James Dolan could've handled this better. Oakley claims he did nothing wrong and every time he goes to the Garden he is followed by security because of his bad blood with Dolan. He has been very open and critical of the Knicks and Jim Dolan has held that against him. This season makes the 70th anniversary of the Knicks' franchise and they've welcomed back and honored many of their former greats except for Oakley. This clearly upset Charles who has always loved the Knicks and their fans and would love nothing more than to be welcomed back into the Knick family. The only thing stopping that from happening has been Dolan.
From all reports Oakley was asked to leave just because Jim Dolan doesn't like him. Because Oakley has been one of the only former Knicks to be honest about what a terrible owner he has been. Because James Dolan can't handle the truth. It's an absolute disgrace that one of the most beloved Knicks' of all time was treated this way and Dolan just sat there and watched it happen.
What really made Dolan and the Knicks look like the villain was the ending of the first tweet they sent out addressing the incident. "He was a great Knick and we hope he gets some help soon." For Dolan and the Knicks' PR to imply that there is something wrong with Oakley is completely out of line. They acted like Oakley is an alcoholic or somebody mentally unstable which is simply not the case. Everyone who knows Oakley or has covered him that spoke out today has said that there is nothing wrong wth Oakley. He doesn't need any help with anything. Knick fans know that Oakley doesn't take crap from anyone so it's no wonder he reacted the way he did if he felt he wasn't in the wrong. The Knicks and James Dolan should have known that. There was no need to have packs of security remove such a beloved Knick in a manner that made a scene mid game in front of a sellout crowd, the commissioner of the NBA and the nationally televised audience around the world. The Knicks organziation came out of this looking as bad as they have looked in the past 15 years which is saying something given all the bad that's plagued this franchise since 2001.
Only the Knicks.
On a side note what a power move by Oakley if he was indeed trying to get at Dolan. Trying to fight the owner of the Knicks at Madison Square Garden during a live game. Part of me wants to believe this was the case because if it was Oakley almost lived every Knick fan's dream since Dolan took over as owner.
Following Monday night's embarrassing loss to the Lakers Bleacher Report came out with a story Tuesday proclaiming "the Knicks are doomed wanting Carmelo Anthony to be something's he not." The story basically said that Anthony lacks the winning mentality and the fire to be a champion like former Jackson star players Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. For the first time in months Jackson broke his silence with some thoughts on the story. By tweeting.
Jackson still hasn't talked to the media since the Knicks' season has spiraled out of control after starting 14-10. The only other time we've heard a peep from the Knicks' president was also with a tweet when he announced he and longtime finance Jeanie Buss were breaking off their engagement. Other than that Phil has kept completely silent. He was silent when Derrick Rose abandoned the team before the game and he's been silent throughout all this Melo trade drama. He has completely avoided talking to the media and he's failed to address the fans or give them any insight on what his plans are for the team moving forward.
So what exactly did Phil mean with this tweet? Jackson has always been known as a quirky dude who has a way of saying things without completely revealing the message he's trying to get across. The Zen Master appears to be agreeing with the writer (KevinDing) that there's nothing that can be done to change the player Melo is. The main takeaway from Phil's tweet is that this is another attempt to drive Melo out of town and wave his no-trade clause. It's been expected that Phil has been trying to do this for weeks now after a close friend of Phil wrote an article article in January criticizing Melo's play.
Whatever Phil's motives are it's completely unfair for Melo. Melo doesn't deserve this at all and it's a total disgrace how he's being treated. What kind of organization has their President essentially try to bully their star player in order to make him waive a no trade clause that he signed him to. Melo continues to handle all the drama like a complete pro and continues to go out there an get buckets each night. It's not leading to wins, but he should be commended for that. It's obvious he's never had any desire to leave the Knicks, but it's got to be hard for him to continue to feel that way when the president of the team clearly wants him elsewhere.