Last season the Knicks age — the oldest team in NBA history on average roster age — was an easy punch line. It wasn’t really fair as they were not as old once you compensated for the age of the rotations they played, plus the old guys won 54 games and won the first Nets playoff series in decade.
This season the Knicks got a little younger and… it hasn’t been pretty.
“That makeup of the team was different [last year],’’ said Anthony, who lost another homecoming game in Denver. “With J-Kidd, he was a leader in his own right. He wasn’t a vocal leader like a Rasheed [Wallace] or Kurt Thomas. He was leader by example on the court. His hard work, his play, everyone fed off that. And everyone led in their own way. Now we do miss that — J-Kidd, Kurt, Kurt and Rasheed. Last year as a team we were more synchronized than right now due to chemistry, due to having fun, due to just having one another’s back.’’
Last season’s Knicks battled injuries too — Tyson Chandler missed 16 games, Anthony 15, Raymond Felton 14 — but due to the team’s fast start to the season they had some cushion, plus they kept winning when guys like Pablo Prigioni had to take on more minutes. Old or not the depth helped them last season.
This season’s Knicks are now 3-12 to start the season and are going to have to dig out of a hole just to make the playoffs. Even in the East. They have a bottom 10 offense and defense so far. They are going to need a run of good play and that’s not likely to happen until Chandler gets back and J.R. Smith finds some kind of offensive groove — Carmelo Anthony is trying to carry this team right now but he can only get them so far. He needs help.
Which comes back to the health and depth issues.
What championship hangover? Cavaliers rout Knicks on ring night in Cleveland.
LeBron had a triple-double — 19 points, 14 assists, 11 rebounds — and led the Cavaliers to an easy win over the Knicks, 117-86. Kyrie Irving had 29 points — 19 in the third — and Kevin Love added 23 in the win.
But mostly it was the Cavaliers’ offense getting whatever shot it wanted and the Knicks watching dunks from up close.
Over the course of this season, these Knicks will evolve into something better than they showed opening night. No Derrick Rose (trial) and no Joakim Noah (injury) meant the Knicks starting five didn’t have a lot of cohesion and chemistry from the start.
After a sluggish first five minutes by both teams — they were a combined 6-of-22 shooting to open the game — the Cavaliers slowly started to create a little space behind 10 first quarter points from Love. That lead really started to grow as the Knicks bench came in and went 0-of-6 shooting to end the quarter, with Brandon Jennings making questionable decisions. Tack on seven Knick turnovers and the first and they were down 10 after 12 minutes.
The Cavs were in control through much of the second quarter until the Knicks went on a 10-0 run to make it a game again. It was Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony driving the team — they shot a combined 12-of-20 in the first half, the rest of the Knicks were 5-of-23. It was 48-45 Cavaliers at the break.
In the third quarter the Cavaliers starters cranked it up behind Kyrie Irving and tighter defense — the third quarter saw Kyrie Irving with 19 points and the entire Knicks team with 19. It was 82-64 Cavs after three and the celebration was on.
Kristaps Porzingis showed some moments but his 16 points came on 5-of-13 shooting. Anthony had 19 points on 18 shots. Rose had 17 points but four turnovers and one assist. Brandon Jennings came off the bench to shoot 1-of-7. It was not their best night.
For the Cavs, it was one to remember — the first banner in 52 years went up.
Did we mention LeBron James was dunking all over Knicks? Watch for yourself.
“At this point, if you’re not from here, live here, play here, dedicate yourself to Cleveland, then it makes no sense for you to live at this point — Cleveland against the world!”
And with that, the Q went nuts.
LeBron James and the Cavaliers got their rings and raised a banner in Cleveland — the first title banner in that city in 52 seasons (although the Indians are trying to have their say on the matter across the street). It was emotional for everyone in the building, and particularly the hometown boy LeBron.