The New York Knicks completed the third home game of the 2016-17 NBA regular season on Sunday. Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Utah Jazz.
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Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) defends against New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose (25) during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Just six games into the 2016-17 NBA regular season, the New York Knicks have already taken fans on a roller coaster ride of emotions. There have been blowout losses, statement victories, and polarizing stretches of up-and-down play.
During the sixth game of the 2016-17 NBA regular season, the Knicks fell 114-109 to the Utah Jazz at Madison Square Garden.
Utah played its first six games of the 2016-17 campaign without borderline All-Star wing Gordon Hayward. He made his return on Sunday, November 6 as the Jazz traveled to take on the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Hayward finished with 28 points for the Jazz, including 14 at the free throw line, but the story here wasn’t Utah; it was New York.
The Knicks played a game that displayed what can be found on both ends of the spectrum. From a dominant performance in the first quarter to the ball-stopping over-dribbling that plagued the Knicks in the second, New York set a confusing tone early in the game.
Over the course of the full four quarters, the Knicks offered a look at what one can expect from this polarizing team moving forward.
Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Brandon Jennings (3) makes a pass against the Utah Jazz during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
When It’s Moving, They’re Grooving
The New York Knicks have the personnel to be one of the best and most exciting teams in the NBA. Putting that talent to use is another conversation altogether, but it’s perfectly clear that New York has the raw talent to succeed.
During the first quarter of the clash with the Utah Jazz, the Knicks further established how good this team can be when committing to a motion offense.
Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings are both gifted ball-handlers who can consistently create penetration and get to the rim. That’s something New York should continue to enable, as that strength can set the tone for the offense.
With Rose and Jennings attacking the rack, the Knicks did an excellent job in the first quarter of moving without the ball to create scoring opportunities.
The motion stalled in the final three quarters, but the Knicks ran a motion offense against the Chicago Bulls similar to what it did against Utah in the first. The results were tremendous in Chicago and they were the same in New York when they actually played as a team.
The more the Knicks move the ball, the better off they’ll be. It’s a simple formula that Jeff Hornacek is putting into action.
Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks small forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas (91) dribbles the ball against Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Too Much Dribbling
During the first quarter, the New York Knicks ran a beautiful offense that featured penetration and ball movement. During the second quarter, the Knicks ran a stalled offense that featured over-dribbling and minimal motion.
With just 17 assists to 12 turnovers against the Utah Jazz, the Knicks fell to 0-4 when they fail to dish out at least 20 assists and 2-0 when they reach 20 assists.
Carmelo Anthony and Brandon Jennings were the primary perpetrators of the over-dribbling issues against Utah. That includes a play where Derrick Rose attempted to run the pick and roll with Anthony, only for ‘Melo to take the ball and slowly turn into an ISO possession.
Anthony made the shot, but he could’ve gone on the dive to the basket or pulled right up for a jump shot instead of letting the defense reset.
Rather than dribbling out the shot clock and trying to go one-on-one, the Knicks need to keep the ball moving. When New York was moving with a purpose, the Utah Jazz had no answer for what the offense was doing.
It’s still early in the season, but the Knicks’ primary ball-handlers need to lead by example and keep the ball in motion for more than just the first quarter.
Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose (25) looks to pass the ball as Utah Jazz power forward Derrick Favors (15) defends during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Pushing The Pace
The fourth quarter of the New York Knicks’ battle with the Utah Jazz was a testament to what this team is capable of achieving. After ranking dead last in fast break points in 2015-16, it’s also a testament to what New York was incapable of achieving as season ago.
After the Utah Jazz went on an early run, the Knicks fought back by pushing the pace and exploiting an athletic advantage at the guard positions.
Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings, and Courtney Lee played minutes together in something of a small-ball lineup. That trio helped bring the Knicks get back into the game by running the floor and attacking the basket.
With Lee trailing as a 3-point shooter, Rose and Jennings were able to lead the resurgent charge by keeping the defense on its heels.
Generally speaking, the Knicks are more efficient when they push the pace and allow the guards to dictate the offense. Slowing the game down has generally led to isolation possessions that have hurt New York more than they’ve helped.
New York went on a run in the fourth quarter when the guards pushed the pace and fell apart when the offense slowed down.
Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Utah Jazz shooting guard Rodney Hood (5) dribbles the ball as New York Knicks shooting guard Justin Holiday (8) defends during the second quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Where’s The Defense?
The New York Knicks held the Utah Jazz to just 49 points in the first half of what was shaping up to be a strong performance. New York then stopped closing out on shooters and wouldn’t stop fouling when the Jazz’s players drove the lane.
For the sixth consecutive game, Knicks fans have been left pondering one invaluable question: where is the defense?
The Knicks’ defense should be a strength with Courtney Lee, Kristaps Porzingis, and Joakim Noah all starters. The fact that Justin Holiday and Lance Thomas are coming off the bench should solidify the effort, as well.
Instead, the Knicks have allowed at least 100 points in all six games, including five during which the opposition has scored at least 110.
The Knicks have the personnel, but they’ve been lackadaisical in the way they’ve closed out on shooters. That opens the floor for the rest of the opposition’s offense to flourish, especially when there are quality shooters on the floor.
The Knicks need to try harder on defense, which shouldn’t be something that needs to be said to a veteran team.
Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose (25) dribbles the ball along the baseline during the first quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
The Stars Are Finding Their Form
For all of the complaints that may rationally exist, it’s becoming quite clear that the stars are finding their form. Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, and Derrick Rose all had strong performances against the Utah Jazz.
The defense may be suffering, but those three players have begun to come into their own early in the 2016-17 NBA regular season.
Anthony finished with 28 points and nine rebounds on 12-of-20 shooting, albeit with a mark of 0-of-6 from 3-point range. Porzingis poured in 28 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks on 10-of-18 shooting from the field.
Rose continued to produce well-rounded numbers with 18 points, eight assists, four rebounds, two offensive boards, and a steal on 7-of-14 shooting.
Those three players will go a long way towards defining the success of the Knicks as a team in 2016-17. All need to do a better job on defense, and Anthony needs to avoid his isolation tendencies, but individual progress is being made.
This loss was tough to stomach, but Anthony, Porzingis, and Rose are in store for productive seasons if they can remain healthy.