Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks have severely underachieved this season, and it continued Monday night when they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Out of their last five games, the Knicks have lost four, and out of their last 10, they’ve dropped seven. Heading into the campaign, Derrick Rose bloviated about his new squad, calling them a “superteam” and also saying it’s the most talented team he’s played on. The latter statement is actually believable since Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony are the two leaders.
However, New York’s latest loss to the Lakers dropped them to 22-31 on the year which puts them at 12th in the East. There’s still a shot for them to make the playoffs since they’re just 2.5 games behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth seed, but the Knicks will have to overcome more than just their play.
Porzingis was expected to have a breakout year as a sophomore, and while he’s improved, the collective struggle of the Knicks has watered it down. He finished with 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting and nine rebounds on Monday but blasted his team’s effort on offense and defense.
“It’s kind of everybody for (themselves) a lot of times. Both ends of the floor,” said Porzingis to ESPN’s Ian Begley.
The Knicks have been nothing short of laughable on defense all year, and their inability to stop teams is what makes them look so inept. They’re 24th in points allowed per game with 108.8 and 22nd in points allowed per 100 possessions with 110.9, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Everybody playing for themselves signifies a lack of trust and teammates not trusting one another is the worst-case scenario for any franchise. Defensively, it hurts the most. On that end of the court, you guard your man while trusting that the help is going to be behind you; that means applying (smart) pressure on the perimeter and disrupting the offense. If the ball handler beats you, the weak side is going to be there to protect the paint.
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Brandon Jennings also chimed in, “we all make millions of dollars playing this game so the least we can do is go out there and play hard every night.” To his credit, he does play hard consistently, but it doesn’t always translate to being productive. On offense, he’s wild and eccentric but shoots a dreadful percentage from the field (38.7 percent).
On the opposite end of the court, Jennings has some tools to be a respectable defender — he’s too quick for his own good and ultra-pesky. Unfortunately, it doesn’t pan out that way, and he does a lot of reaching, thus being beaten off the dribble more times than not.
Their schedule doesn’t get any easier as the year winds down, and the teams they’re facing will take advantage of stagnant offense, disjointed defense and have a great chance of squashing the Knicks’ playoff hopes.
The Toronto Raptors have them for two more meetings, while the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards all have one; so far, New York has just one victory and 10 losses against those teams. New York has yet to face the Los Angeles Clippers or San Antonio Spurs this year, and they play two games against each of them. On top of that, they have one game left against the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz.
Anything’s possible, and the Knicks could be a dangerous team if they get hot, but I wouldn’t count on it.
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