On Wednesday night, the Knicks lost to an ever playoff hungry team in the Mavericks. While the defeat itself shouldn't be surprising (given that such desire is not shared by New York at this point in the year), but the nature of it sure is.
The Knicks not only looked inferior, but also disorganized. There's clearly no heart in this team, and as such, teammates are not playing together. They're not only getting agitated by themselves, but each other as well, and it shows. There's growing tension amongst them, and it shows.
It's difficult to gauge how such a team would compete, if led by a competent coaching staff. Still, Phil Jackson has to assess the team as it is now; it's clear certain players are giving up, and that may influence his decision to (or not to) bring them back as the team regroups for next season.
Here's a look at more observations from the game:
- The Knicks committed 20 turnovers, including an unfortunate nine in the fourth quarter. There was no control, and clearly a disconnect in how the team wanted to finish plays on the offensive end. This affected their ability to compete and execute a final possession to potentially with the contest. For arguably the first time this season, this defeat seemed to fall on the players' shoulders specifically, and much less from an inability of Coach Rambis to actually draw up the necessary play.
- Clearly, Rambis is still at fault in some regard. The two players he has seemed to disregard the most (both in regard to playing time, confidence, and overall development) continued to struggle. Arron Afflalo and Langston Galloway shot a combined 2 for 15, and each one was tied for a team-worst plus/minus of -15. Rambis has a certain way of doing things, and he doesn't seem to be concerned with helping guys break out of respective funks.
- Over the last couple of games, New York's offense has fallen rather stagnant, with little to no ball movement, even less movement off the ball, and fewer players getting involved by attacking the basket or looking for their own offense. Elements of the triangle offense have faded away. In lieu of the triangle has been more isolation for Carmelo Anthony. While it's been nice to see him heat up and find more of a rhythm, the Knicks need to get others more involved once again.
- Speaking of consistent contributors not named Carmelo, Derrick Williams happened to thrive in Kristaps Porzingis' absence. He added 15 points, owned a team-high plus/minus of +13, and was the team's most active player at the charity stripe behind Anthony. Talking about players the Knicks should target to return, it'd be a big victory if Williams exercised his player option for next season. What he continues to do is constant proof.