The Knicks and the Bulls gave us a thrilling game on Sunday, one that New York was able to pull out in overtime 100-99. If not for Carmelo Anthony and his 43 points, the Knicks wouldn’t have gotten that chance.
Anthony nailed two big-time three-pointers with the game on the line — one that sent the game into overtime at the end of regulation, the other that won it near the end of the extra session.
Here’s the first: Knicks down three, under 15 seconds to play. He brings the ball up, and Taj Gibson is defending — but not closely enough.
It’s really unconscionable for Gibson to allow Anthony to shoot that three. You know the Knicks need a three to tie, and you know that Anthony loves these situations and is going to shoot it if he has the space. You have to make him drive there — even if no help comes and he ends up scoring a quick two, Chicago still has the lead and will go to the free throw line (after the Knicks foul) with a chance to extend it.
The three Anthony hit that ended up being the game-winner with nine seconds left in OT was, from a defensive standpoint, a little more understandable.
The Knicks had a frantic possession that began with 43 seconds left in the game, and outworked Chicago on the glass to get up four shot attempts, all of which were unsuccessful. The Bulls were likely exhausted by that point, and with Anthony slowly dribbling the ball beyond the three-point arc with the shot clock off, Chicago likely figured him to be waiting to take the game’s final shot.
Needing only a two to tie this time, it made sense for the Bulls to sag off him a bit and play the drive. But Anthony lulled his defender into a relaxed state, and quickly rose up to drain the game-winning shot.
“It’s nothing punitive,” Skiles said after the Magic’s shootaround.
“It’s just we feel like we’ve got to try to find a little bit better balance. I’d like Victor to have some more opportunities like he’s had a little bit in the past where he can be on top of the floor and attack and get a little bit more vertical and not only get to the rim but just be a little bit more on the attack but not necessarily start the game that way.”
Here are the offensive/defensive/net ratings for the
Former starting lineup: 94.7/111.2/-16.5
New starting lineup: 117.2/90.3/+26.8
The new unit has played just 33 minutes in two games, so major sample-size caveats apply. But I like idea of seeing more of what has worked.
I suspect Skiles also wants to keep his players from becoming content. At 6-8 and coming off three straight seasons outside the playoffs, they should have no reason to feel satisfied, but the hard-driving Skiles will be proactive.
If Oladipo – whose defense Skiles values – can get sent to the bench, anyone can.
At some point, the Magic must determine whether Oladipo and Payton – both below-average 3-point shooters – can share a backcourt. But it’s also worth knowing whether Oladipo can excel as a super sub leading bench players.
This switch might help the Magic win now, but at worse, it’ll give them more information for evaluating their young roster. Seems smart all around.
Dwight Howard says he’s cleared to play back-to-backs
Houston’s defense is 1.9 points per 100 possessions better this season when Howard is on the court and the Rockets are stronger on the glass. The problem is the offense is 7.8 points per 100 worse with Howard on the court. How much of that can be changed with some roster tweaks — like limiting the time James Harden and Ty Lawson share the court — and how much is due to Howard demanding touches and not doing enough with them we will find out quickly.
Byron Scott doesn’t see reason D’Angelo Russell should play more in fourth
The Lakers’ clear top priority for this season should be simple: develop their young stars.
Julius Randle is a beast with the ball in his hands, but a one-handed beast who needs to work on his right hand. D'Angelo Russell has shown flashes but is trying to adapt to the speed and style of the NBA game. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. can be pieces on a good team, eventually. The Lakers need to build that foundation.
“Nah. There’s really no reason to. At that particular time we’re down 30 [points],” Scott said. “I wanted to get Ryan [Kelly] some time and Marcelo [Huertas] as well and some other guys that haven’t played a lot.”
That would be 32-year-old Marcelo Huertas, who played the fourth quarter Tuesday while Russell sat.
This is not Gregg Popovich resting his stars to keep them fresh for the playoffs here. We are talking about a 19-year-old rookie point guard whose game is based on court vision, anticipation, and angles, a guy who has to learn how to apply those in a league where everybody is long and fast. He needs time on the court to adapt. Is he going to make mistakes? Yes. A lot of them. That’s what rookies do. If you coach them up, they learn from those mistakes and make fewer each time out. It’s a sometimes painful process, but it’s how rookies learn.