Don’t Look Now – The New York Knicks Edition

On Tuesday, November 16th, the New York Knicks lost a 118-120 match up with the Nuggets. At that point, they stood 3-8 for the season, and had just lost 6 straight games. Offensively, they were putting up good numbers (103.3 PPG), but they were giving up a staggering 106.5 PPG. Only two teams had failed to score triple digits against them (Raptors, Wizards).

Another big hole for the Knicks was the battle of the boards, where the Knicks had earned only 476 rebounds for the season at that point, while giving up 492. Their six game skid included a Nov 12th match up with the Timberwolves, one that featured Kevin Love pulling down 31 rebounds while putting up 31. Things were looking bleak for the Knicks as they boarded the plane to Sacramento for a November 17th game against the Kings.

Word is that the Knicks got together after that loss to the Nuggets and worked to figure out the kind of small adjustments that they needed to come together. That night, the Knicks beat the Kings along with 5 of their 6 to battle their way back to .500 and back into the picture in the Eastern conference.

How have they done it?

Running, Running, Running

Between coach D’Antoni and the addition of Stoudemire, it’s seemed obvious that the Knicks would embrace a run-first offense. This is the coach that rode the Seven Seconds or Less offense to consecutive 54 and 62 win seasons in Phoenix, and the forward who averaged 26.0 PPG and 9.8 RPG in 2004-05 because of it. Still, out of the gate, the Knicks weren’t particularly effective in the scheme, and to be honest, weren’t running as quickly, or as well, as that scheme really requires.

During the Knicks 5 game run, they picked up the pace even faster than they’ve been before, causing some to start to think of it as a four second offense. They’ve been averaging nearly 110 PPG since the Denver game, and poured in 125 against Detroit (though to be fair, that was a double OT). The Knicks currently have the 2nd fastest pace in basketball with an estimated 96.7 possessions a game and is attempted the 3rd highest number of field goals in the league (1,475, or 86.7 a game).

Rebounding

While they still haven’t closed the gap between rebounds earned and rebounds given up, they have done a better job since the Denver game. The Knicks have grabbed 273 rebounds in the past 7 games, while giving up 284. Overall, they’ve collected 749 (3rd in the league) while giving up 776 (also 3rd in the league).

Obviously, its natural for a team with a lot of field goal attempts to give up a lot of rebounds, but the fact that the Knicks are keeping these categories close is a pretty big deal for this team. Why? In 2004-05, the Suns lead the league in rebounds, while they were 2nd in the league in rebounds given up.

Landry Fields and Amar’e Stoudemire

Fields was drafted with the 9th pick of the second round (39th overall) in June, and has proved to be a valuable selection. He’s been averaging 11.1 PPG, 1.6 APG and 7.2 RPG (as a shooting guard) while shooting .549% from the field and .326% from the three point line. He also has the best plus/minus of any relevant player on the squad (+10.5).

Stoudemire, meanwhile, is averaging 23.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.5 APG and 2.1 BPG (including a 6 block game against the Bobcats). He earned Player of the Week honors on Nov. 22nd and has taken a stronger leadership role as the season has developed.

Schedule

It doesn’t hurt that the Knicks ran this particular hot streak against a collection of lesser squads (Kings, Warriors, Clippers, Bobcats, Hawks and Pistons), but the Knicks get 8 of their next 12 games at home, starting with the Nets, Timberwolves and Raptors.

Don’t look now, but the Knicks are at .500 and they’re improving with each game.

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~ by djepperson on November 29, 2010.

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