The play that earned David Lee $80 million with Chris Duhon as his point guard is costing the Knicks wins with $100 million invested in Amar'e Stoudemire. Mike D'Antoni acknowledged it was an issue in his post-game address for tonight's 122-117 loss to the Warriors.
"We have to get our pick-and-roll, definitely," he said. It is probably the best play we have. It gets everyone involved, it gets our shooters. We just have to get better. It's a work in progress . . . we'll get there."
There's a long way to go. The 20 turnovers were just part of the issue. How about the perpetual green light from three-point range? The Knicks were 7-for-21 in this game. The fool's gold was last week against Chicago, when 16 of 21 went in.
The real way to judge an offense is how easy the shots come, the type of looks you get. Right now, everything is on the perimeter. Very rarely do points come off the cut, the catch-and-shoot or, of course, the pick-and-roll. In the final minute, the Knicks tried three times to get Stoudemire into a pick-and-roll and each time Raymond Felton was unable to get him the ball. Earlier in the game, Fields and Gallinari seemed to have less trouble getting him the ball. Perhaps that's something to consider going forward.
But overall, this offense is a mes and D'Antoni can't deny it.
"We are really tentative and we are not really comfortable," D'Antoni said. "We have a lot of work to do."
Stoudemire still had a monster statistical night with 33 points and 10 rebounds, but how much of that production was on isolation and mid-range jumpers? He used to feast on opposing bigs because of the pick-and-roll, but he just can't ever seem to get the ball on the move and in rhythm from Felton, who doesn't seem to see the passing lane when it's there. It's not easy, of course. You have to be able to read it in that split second. Right now, he's not.
"I think we can do it," D'Antoni said. "We have to show them film. Show them where it is open. I do think, with time, spacing the floor a little better -- with Wilson at the four it is going to be an easier read."
Then he said, "Check back in a couple of weeks, see if we can do something."
Yes, in a couple of weeks, they can trade Felton (after Dec. 15) and perhaps make a desperate play for Steve Nash, who is miserable as he witnesses the final days of the setting Suns. Would Robert Sarver actually deal Nash to D'Antoni and the Knicks? Most NBA executives you talk to all point to the Suns as the first team likely to make a significant move this season. One even suggested to me that if you're a team that has the ability to write a $3 million check -- the most cash you can include in any deal -- you would be at the front of the line.
But is Nash, at 36, really the answer? Perhaps he could be, especially if you can keep Toney Douglas for his defense, since that obviously isn't something Nash can provide. But maybe it's too soon to give up on Felton. Check back in a couple of weeks? Sure, but in a couple of weeks, this 3-5 start could look even worse, especially when you consider next week's challenging double back-to-back four-game trip out West.
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* - Donnie Walsh will undergo his third surgery in two-plus years as Knicks president, but this one comes as no surprise or cause for concern. The 69-year-old Walsh had put off having his hip replaced after he accepted the job in April 2008. It became more and more of an issue and now it's unavoidable. The surgery he had on his neck in June to repair a bulging disc had him in a wheelchair for two months and as a result, his legs weakened. Now he uses a walker and he won't be able to rid himself of that until the hip is replaced. He'll be laid up for 2 weeks, which means he won't be able to get to his office. But Walsh insists he'll still remain active watching the league. Doing it now means he'll be back to work well before mid-December, when trade activity starts to pick up.
* - David Lee talked about the emotions he had in his first game back at the Garden in another team's uniform and then added, "I'm hurt a little bit right now. Wilson tried to bite my arm off."
It happened late in the third quarter, when Lee's elbow came down on Chandler's mouth as they went for a rebound. Chandler immediately went to the floor and Lee sent an out-let and then looked curiously at his arm, which was dripping with blood.
"His tooth dug in and sliced it open pretty good," Lee said. "I can actually see the bone coming out a little bit."
The tooth wound up on the Garden court, as Chandler spit it out. He went to the dentist after the game.
"Only a face my grand moms could love," he said on Twitter.