The Knicks fell behind 7-0, 21-8 and 51-24 in a 132-88 loss to the Bucks last night.
New York coach David Fizdale, via Steve Popper of Newsday:
“Whatever word you want to use for it, lack of tenacity, intensity, focus, competitiveness,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said after the carnage was over. “I don’t feel like we came into this game believing we could win this game and that was what was most disappointing. I felt like going into every other game we felt like we could come out, compete, and beat anybody. Tonight, we didn’t come out with the idea that we could beat this team.
“I don’t know why. But it was definitely there. We didn’t come out with the right mindset for whatever reason, whatever my motivational talk was didn’t take hold I guess. We’ll bounce back. We’ll get into the film. We’ll own it. we’ll watch it and we’ll get ready for another very good basketball team.”
I have some ideas why.
The Bucks won 11 straight entering yesterday. The Knicks lost six straight entering yesterday. Milwaukee has a player in Giannis Antetokounmpo who can do this. New York has… a bunch of power forwards.
That said, any NBA team can beat another on a given night. Motivating his players is part of Fizdale’s job.
It’s not an easy task. The Knicks’ roster is severely lacking. But Fizdale is failing at his – again, difficult – job. Admitting it so directly sounds like the last words of someone heading toward getting fired.
Also: Though I don’t believe the Knicks are tanking yet – they signed too many expensive veterans, talked too much about competing and are too early into the season – this is why it’s oversimplifying to say players don’t tank. When the front office builds a team barely capable of winning (intentionally or not), players get worn down. They have a difficult time staying sharp for each game, which begets even more losing. So, though players “want” to win, they also often succumb to the morass of losing – which only further improves the team’s draft position.
Guerschon Yabusele washed out with the Celtics.
So, now the former first-rounder is playing in China – and running into trouble.
The Chinese Basketball Association fined him for not looking at the flag during the national anthem:
Though Yabusele is French, this comes amid heightened tension between the NBA and China. Most Americans will probably find it ridiculous that looking at the flag during the national anthem is required in authoritarian China.
Meanwhile, let’s ostracize anyone who dares not to stand for the Star Spangled Banner.
Rodney Hood‘s season coming to an end because of a ruptured Achilles was a real blow to Portland — he had become a critical part of their rotation. That has led to a lot of speculation about already shorthanded Portland jumping into the trade market soon looking for someone to absorb those minutes, as well as hitting the buyout market hard next February.
Portland is now looking for a little more money to spend to bring someone in, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The “disabled player exemption” allows a team over some space to go after a replacement for a player lost due to injury. This is a fairly standard process and likely will be approved. Portland can use that money on a free agent (Iman Shumpert is available again) or someone bought out by another team.
Portland is 10-16 on the season, set back in part due to injuries to the front line. The Blazers knew Jusuf Nurkic would miss most of the season, and he was vital to them, but they were counting on Zach Collins to step up and absorb those minutes. Then he needed shoulder surgery. Portland eventually turned to Carmelo Anthony to help along the frontline, and he has performed well enough for them to guarantee his contract for the season.
Portland is going to be active, both looking at free agents and on the trade market. Just don’t expect a Kevin Love deal (he may want it but his contract makes that nearly impossible).
The Mavericks went from winning the 2011 NBA championship to missing the playoffs within two years.
Somewhat by choice.
Of course, they wanted to remain competitive. But they were willing to accept a lower floor to maintain financial flexibility. They let key players – most notably Tyson Chandler – leave in order to chase bigger stars.
Dallas was repeatedly linked to Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, who could’ve become free agents in 2012 but opted in. They finally hit the market in 2013, but once again spurned the Mavericks. Paul re-signed with the Clippers, and Howard left the Lakers for the Rockets.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
I really think that they, Chris and Dwight, basically wink, wink said they were going to Dallas, from what I’ve heard, and that Dwight backed out.
Word on the street. But we hear a lot of stories. That’s one story I’ve heard.
This is the peril of making arrangements in underground free agency. They’re unbinding. That was especially true with Howard, who waffled through the Dwightmare with the Magic. The Mavericks might have proceeded in the smartest way, but it backfired. Dallas is only now re-emerging upward with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
This also creates a fun “what if?” How good would Dallas have been? Paul remained elite, but Howard and Dirk Nowitzki were slipping. Where would the Clippers have gone with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan but without Paul? Would they still have held the credibility required to lure Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last summer? Where would Houston have turned without Howard as the star to pair with James Harden?
Kawhi Leonard hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history – a buzzer-beater that bounced, bounced, bounced, bounced in during Game 7 of last year’s second-round Raptors-76ers series and propelled Toronto toward an eventual title.
Raptors forward Serge Ibaka, via Josh Lewenberg of TSN:
“I didn’t think it was going in. I was under the basket trying to go for the offensive rebound. The ball was bouncing and one time I was so close to going [for it]. Thank God I didn’t because it could have been goaltending. That would’ve been bad. I would’ve retired. If that had happened I would have retired.”
In hindsight, that would’ve been catastrophic. It would have been been bad at the time, too – but only so bad.
The Bucks, Toronto’s opponent in the Eastern Conference finals, looked better than the Raptors. The Western Conference-winning Warriors were widely viewed as invincible. Few would have thought Ibaka’s goaltend would’ve cost Toronto a championship.
Thankfully for him and the Raptors, we now know better.