4:48 pm Jan. 3, 2012
So the Knicks have their big three: superstar scorers Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire and center Tyson Chandler, an extremely talented defensive presence and finisher. This is great.
The problem is that no one on the roster aside from those three really belongs in a starting lineup, or even in the rotation of a team that expects to contend in the playoffs.
This imbalance means that the Knicks are going to have to endure results like Monday night's 90-85 loss at home to the lowly Toronto Raptors, a game that saw the Knicks shoot 35 three-pointers, making just ten of them, and still almost overcome a 17-point deficit at halftime thanks to Anthony alone. Anthony scored 35 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out four assists.
Another Knick also took a ton of shots on Monday night, but unlike Carmelo Anthony, Toney Douglas had no business doing so. It’s not clear what the Knicks can do about his counterproductive play at the point-guard position, other than hope that newly signed, still-injured Baron Davis heals quickly.
Douglas took 19 shots, making eight of them. He shot 4-for-11 from three-point range. And yes, his 12 points in the third quarter helped the Knicks to trim that enormous halftime deficit.
But really, he’s the point guard, which means that at least theoretically, the ball should leave his hands at some point in a possession prior to him taking a shot. And if he is going to be shooting, he should probably not be doing so quite so often with a hand in his face, or from an off-balance position, or with much of the 24-second shot clock still unburned.
On Monday night, when Douglas went on his shooting spree, the Knicks were missing Stoudemire, who is out with an ankle injury. But Douglas has been hogging the ball since the season began: He took 19 shots in the season opener against the Celtics, during a game in which both Stoudemire and Anthony were playing, and shooting well.
Meanwhile, as Douglas was taking 11 three-pointers, most of them rushed and ill-advised, his back-court mate, Landry Fields, got a total of just two looks from deep. Josh Harrellson, who has shot better than 36 percent from three-point range so far this year, had just four attempts.
Douglas is not a particularly adept finisher from closer in, either. Even on New York's final possession of the night, with the Knicks trailing by three and needing a good shot, Douglas apparently forgot the play coach Mike D'Antoni had called in the huddle, leading to a broken sequence and an awkward Anthony three that missed.
So bench him, right? Not so fast. Coach Mike D'Antoni gave 15 minutes to Mike Bibby Monday night, and if Douglas is a flawed N.B.A. player, Bibby by all rights ought to be a former N.B.A. player. The once-skilled Bibby simply doesn't provide any useful talent to the Knicks’ rotation at this point. His defensive lapses led to repeated Toronto baskets. He's made three baskets all year, shooting less than 15 percent from three-point range. And in 15 minutes on Monday night, he failed to record a single assist.
Newly signed Jeremy Lin has yet to impress in the extremely brief amount of time he’s had on the court—a grand total of seven minutes played—but it is as least conceivable that he’ll find a way to contribute. Bibby, simply carrying over his subpar play from late last season with Miami, appears to be finished.
Baron Davis, who at his worst is a huge upgrade at the point guard position, is still weeks away from a return from a back injury. So the Knicks need to find a way to muddle through the next two dozen or so games with a decent enough record to make a playoff push when Davis comes back.
More than anything, though, they need Stoudemire back—by all accounts, that should be shortly—and they need their two superstars to figure out how to share the ball. And they need to persuade Toney Douglas to get out of the way.