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Saturday, February 15, 2014
Frazier: 'There’s no defensive intensity'

By Ian Begley

Walt "Clyde" Frazier has had a front-row seat to almost every Knicks game this season. He also happens to be a Hall of Fame point guard with an astute basketball IQ.

So if anyone's qualified to comment on the Knicks, it's Frazier.

Like many Knicks fans, Frazier thought the team would be "a bone fide contender" this season.

That hasn't happened. New York carried an unsightly 20-32 record into the All Star Break.

So, what's the problem?

"One thing is defense. There’s no defensive intensity -- [it'] not the defense they had last year," Frazier, the Knicks color commentator on MSG Network, said in an interview earlier this week on "The Anthony Donahue Show." "Probably because [Tyson] Chandler is not the intimidator he was and [Raymond] Felton is not keeping guys out of the paint. You talk about lack of consistency from game to game; Melo has been the only Knick showing up."

The Knicks' defense was middle-of-the-pack last season, when the team won 54 regular season games and an Atlantic Division title. This year, New York ranks 25th in points allowed per 100 possessions.

One of the driving forces behind their struggles is a reliance on switching to defend screens, Frazier says.

The Knicks rank last in points allowed per play on the screen and roll, per Synergy Sports. More often than not, they switch defenders on a screen to account for the ball handler, which leaves a bigger defender on a penetrating guard. This has led to open looks all over the floor for Knicks' opponents.

"Stop switching on the defense. Every man carries his own weight. Don’t look for help. Keep guys in front of you," Frazier said. "... We see so many times, when the first team is out there and the second team starts to come out, [opponents] are walking to the basket and guys are looking at each other like, "What happened? You were supposed to do this, you were supposed to do that.' Obviously they are discombobulated sometimes on when to switch and when not to switch. They still haven't gotten that aspect of the game down on defense. We see it every night. Where they're very lackadaisical on the 'D' -- too many guys going to the basket uncontested."

Frazier, though, says the Knicks have enough time to turn things around. There are 30 games left in the regular season and New York is 2 1/2 games back of Charlotte in the race for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. So Frazier believes the Knicks have enough time -- and enough pride -- to make a run.

"There’s more than enough games ... it’s up to the team," Frazier said. "These guys, look in the mirror, the man in the mirror ... Some of these guys can’t look at the mirror, they glance at it but they can’t look at it (laughs) because they know they're not giving 100 percent. They’re not stepping up when they should. ... [But] they have a lot of pride."

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