Friday, October 19, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Raptors 107, Knicks 88
By Jared Zwerling
WHAT IT MEANS:Amar'e Stoudemire played in his first preseason game, but he didn't provide a big enough punch in the post -- which all of the pregame talk was about -- and the Knicks couldn't piece together a consistent performance from top to bottom.
While they had a balanced attack in the first half, they couldn't find the right combination or enough consistent offense in the closing quarters. On a night they were out of sync, they dug a deeper hole relying on too many 3-pointers, which they couldn't net, and ended up losing their first preseason game, 107-88 to the Raptors.
POSITIVE POINTS:1. While everyone was watching when the ball would get fed to Stoudemire in the post, they instead saw Carmelo Anthony receive it down low more often -- and he went to work. Former Knick Landry Fields could do nothing about it. Melo was able to get deep into the paint, especially utilizing his killer spin move, and score easy buckets. He finished with a game-high 24 points.
2. For the third straight game, Raymond Felton wasn't messing around in the first half. He put on the accelerator up the court, helping the Knicks control the tempo. And he worked the pick-and-roll well with the team's bigs. His impact at the start of games will be key for the Knicks to avoid getting too comfortable, and therefore stagnant, on offense.
3. You can tell Steve Novak put in a lot of work in the offseason. He's not only money from downtown, but he's added a new, effective wrinkle to his game: dribbling into his jumper. He appears quicker and has better timing on fakes.
TO THE FILM SESSION:1. While there was balanced scoring at the start of the game, there was a disconnect between Anthony and Stoudemire in the second half. Isolation took over and there were many more threes taken, especially in the fourth quarter. For the game, the Knicks were only 5-for-27 from downtown (18.5 percent), while the Raptors heated up in the final period, finishing 12-for-26 (46.2 percent) for the game. The Knicks also could not get to the foul line.
2. Better D. The Knicks looked flat on defense tonight -- not guarding the pick-and-roll well -- and it showed in the box score. The Raptors had plenty of room to shoot threes, and they made them. They also had 16 fastbreak points, while the Knicks only had two. The lackluster attitude also showed up in the offensive rebounding margin. While the Raptors had 16, the Knicks only had seven. Stoudemire (18 points and five rebounds) really struggled staying with center Jonas Valanciunas, and that opened up second-chance opportunities for the Raptors.
THE HOPEFULS:Chris Copeland continues to play his way into a guaranteed contract. He was active on D, finished well off pick-and-roll situations and showed he has catch-and-shoot ability. With Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace's health issues lingering, it opens the door for Copeland to make the team.
INJURY REPORT: Camby (left calf strain), Wallace (conditioning) and J.R. Smith (sore left Achilles) were out. Ronnie Brewer suited up, but he didn't play.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks take on the Celtics Saturday night at the Times Union Center in Albany -- their second meeting of the preseason.