'Bockers better without Bargnani?


NEW YORK -- The Knicks have won three straight. Andrea Bargnani has missed three straight games.

Is there a correlation here?

Of course, no one in the Knicks locker room is going to come out and say they’ve been better without Bargnani.

So we’ll let you be the judge.

When Bargnani was healthy, the Knicks scored 100.8 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. Since Bargnani went down with an elbow injury, they’ve averaged 126.5 points per 100 possessions.

Before Bargnani got hurt, the Knicks were allowing 107.0 points per 100 possessions when he was on the floor. In the past three games, they’ve allowed 104.1 points per 100 possessions.

Sure, three games is a small sample size. And the Knicks have played three teams that seem to be bound for the lottery. But the numbers are staggering.

“Anytime you change the lineup and go small, it’s going to be different,” Tyson Chandler said after the Knicks’ win over the Celtics on Tuesday. “We’re playing well together right now. We made a good adjustment.”

Maybe the most important adjustment is Carmelo Anthony's move to power forward.

Bargnani’s absence has given Anthony the chance to play more power forward in the past three games. In that span, Anthony has averaged 40.3 points on 55.6 percent shooting. He’s hit 47.8 percent of his 3-pointers.

Carmelo’s recent run is reminiscent of his play late in the 2012-13 season. The Knicks went on a 13-game winning streak in mid-March with Anthony at power forward and Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton in the backcourt.

“This is the lineup that we had success with,” Chandler said. “We’re very familiar with one another and we understand the opportunities that present themselves with this lineup.”

It’s unclear at this point if Bargnani will be back this season. If the Knicks continue to play well with the two-point guard lineup, Woodson might want to consider bringing Bargnani off the bench when he returns.

Numbers indicate that the Knicks played slightly better when Bargnani was on the bench before his injury.

New York was getting outscored by 6.2 points per 100 possessions when Bargnani was on the floor. When he was on the bench, the Knicks were outscoring teams by 2.4 points per 100 possessions.

Again, no one in the Knicks locker room is going to come out and say that they’re better off with Bargnani out. And maybe they beat the Bobcats, Lakers and Celtics if Bargnani is healthy. So it's unfair and shortsighted to say that the Knicks are better off without Bargnani.

But it’s hard to ignore how well they’ve played on offense in the past three games.

“We’re back to playing small ball again. The ball’s moving, guys are shooting 3s and feeling good about themselves,” Woodson said. “It’s kind of nice to see.”

Question: Do you think the Knicks are better without Bargnani?

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