Simply put, the New York Knicks didn’t show up ready to play in their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. They gave up a whopping 40 points in the opening quarter while looking like a mess on both sides of the ball.
The Knicks were plagued by horrible transition defense (there were times where guys just plain didn’t get back to defend), letting the Wolves rack up 15 fast-break points in the first half. Nikola Pekovic bullied his way deep in the paint for easy looks in the post, and blown defensive rotations led to wide-open Kevin Martin jumpers.
Their passing was also very weak, often throwing lazy passes where defenders could easily reach them. They often failed to communicate on defense, picking up multiple dumb fouls and displaying poor body language all around, though things picked up a bit in the second quarter.
The biggest positives from the first half were that Andrea Bargnani was finally hitting his shots (he’d finish with 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting) and Metta World Peace came up with a few key buckets.
The second half was a different story, and one can’t help but wonder if these Knicks need to fall behind to start playing the right way. It’s a problem they’ll definitely need to work on. After turning the ball over a ton in the first half, the Knicks protected the rock after halftime and started to find a bit of rhythm on offense.
Carmelo Anthony‘s shot was way off throughout the first half, but he quietly had a very effective night on the glass (17 total boards for the game), and he finally snapped out of his funk in the fourth quarter when the Knicks’ defense managed to hold the Wolves to just 16 points.
The comeback started behind a strong performance from an aggressive lineup and continued when Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert were subbed in for K-Mart and Hardaway. Hardaway’s performance was a bit up-and-down. He had a nasty dunk on a fast break that ignited the crowd, but he was also more than a little trigger-happy with his jumper, especially considering that the Knicks’ comeback was sparked by a new-found willingness to attack the rim.
World Peace and Felton stood out. While Felton may have had a poor shooting night going 3-for-12 from the field, he had 12 of the team’s 21 assists and hustled like crazy down the stretch, attacking the paint and grabbing three steals from unsuspecting ball-handlers.
Unfortunately, the Wolves made just a few more plays than the Knicks at the end, which was enough to put the game away. Ultimately, the Knicks dug themselves too deep a hole early on, and even though they eventually made it out, starting with that sort of deficit leaves almost no margin of error.