A 47-point outburst in the fourth quarter was not enough to help the Knicks overcome their shortcomings from the previous three quarters in Thursday's 119-112 loss to the Wizards. The team's struggles on defense have been a focal point for potential improvement thus far. It's a work in progress. Nevertheless, the positive things New York has continued to do on the offensive end has helped them stay afloat at times.
That certainly wasn't the case Thursday. New York fell behind early, and while Washington made it it rain from 3-point range, the Knicks had additional concerns as well: They failed to move the ball. As such, there was little flow to the offense. Derrick Rose looked a step too slow and wasn't attacking the basket like the Knicks need him to.
Of course, the less active he is, the fewer opportunities there are for those around him. To be fair, his teammates weren't aware and moving enough without the ball, and there was poor communication all around. Rose has to take charge, however, and he failed to do that in the first half.
Hoping for a boost, the Knicks tuned to Brandon Jennings. The 26-year-old elevated the rest of the team's offense, dishing out 10 assists and boasting an impressive plus/minus of +19. Only John Wall (+20) had a more positive impact on the court than Jennings.
There's so much irony when it comes to the Knicks' point guard situation. While their comeback effort was too little, too late, Rose heated up late and turned in a season-high of 27 points. He's been able to pour in the points at a rather efficient rate, whereas Jennings has been more of a playmaker. The roles have been reversed from what was initially expected of the two, and that may call for a change.
There shouldn't be a debate over who the better player is here. It's more about which one is better suited for the first and second unit, respectively. The ball moves better when Jennings is running the floor. There's more pick and roll action and Jennings openly looks for guys cutting to the basket. Playing with a refreshingly unselfish mentality, he's had phenomenal chemistry with Kristaps Porzingis. On the flip side, the Knicks need scoring off the bench. Rose has been much more explosive than Jennings. Jeff Hornacek has often benched Rose, Porzingis, and Carmelo Anthony all at the same time. Playing Rose with different rotation players would create more of a balance in the offensive attack.
As the Knicks take their time shoring up many defensive woes, the offense should be top notch in the meantime. If someone like Rose can put the team first, despite being a high profile player, it may make sense to switch he and Jennings up in an effort to balance the Knicks' lineups. This would prevent them from falling behind to start and ensure they put forth a more consistent effort as games progress. Rose and Jennings were both heated following this most recent loss, but it's clear they can, together, spark a change.