The Glory-torium is now open in the basement of this blog, check your cynicism at the door. Knock three times and give the doorman the secret words, "In Phil We Trust".
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Ladies and Gentlemen: The Gloritorium

Tim Hardaway Jr.: "We’re out there trying. It’s not like last year. This year, we’re actually out there trying to give it our all,” Hardaway said after the New York Knicks' loss to the Atlanta Hawks. “You can see the frustration on our faces if we make a mistake." 11/10/14


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Knicks Lose to Houston 91 - 86

Melo out with back spasms early.

Strange line-ups thereafter.

Close but no banana.

Another teaser.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Knicks Beat the 76ers, 91 - 83

Good lord, it was tough to stay awake during this game.  The third quarter was the best for the Knicks.  Melo played well as did Acey. And Calderon got some welcome floor time.  The announcers - Breen in particular kept emphasizing how bad the 76ers were supposed to be as the Knicks made them look like the Spurs.

Stat scored and rebounded  and watched 76ers blow by him to score in the paint.  By now the rudimentary Triangle offense is working effectively.

Whatever promise THJ projected prior to this season has been washed away by an uncanny propensity to be entirely oblivious to the concept of defense.  Gratefully, Fisher sat him often.  I cannot hekp but believe he will be moved in the coming weeks.

Well, a win is a win but the 76ers hung around all game long. Considering how they were characterized by the announcers, the Knick performance indicates that they aren't so much better than the "worst NBA team ever assembled".

We look to be in for a rough ride in the short term.

Brace yourselves.

Bargnani Hurt Once Again

I actually find this news to be good news.  Bargnani has very demonstrated an excitement for the game and his contributions, if you want to call them that, were few and far between.

Aside from the waste of talent he represents, Fisher would be wasting his breath attempting to teach Bargnani anything.  Bargnani's contract is set to expire that much sooner.

Is it being greedy to ask the basketball gods to deliver a buyer during the next trading period that might turn Bargnani's contract into a useful player?  Hard to tell.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Knicks Lose to TWolves, 115 - 99

Whatever.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Knicks Lose to Bucks 117 - 113

It's been almost a decade since I've had as sickening a feeling as tonight's contest in Milwaukee caused.  I think it brought me back to the days of Scott Layden.  For the first half of the game the Knicks were as uninspired a basketball team as could be.  The Bucks, a basketball challenged franchise were given the opportunity to play like the Spurs.  It's as if a tiny bell was ringing in heaven for Jason Kidd's team to make some hoops.

By the second half of the game - and I must admit I was falling into a coma so the details are fuzzy - it was Milwaukee's turn to well, fall victim to what looked to be a psychological allergy on the part of the Bucks to want to keep the ball or do anything useful with it.  The Bucks managed to slowly and almost cosmically co-incidentally welcome the Knicks back into the game one slow two point conversion at a time.  Even Mike Breen, who had drifted away from paying attention seemed surprised at the score changing in the Knicks favor.

The rally if we can call it that had all of the ambient effect of a psychotropic drug experience as filmed by Fellini.  Sure enough something out there in Milwaukee was causing the most improbable convergence of scores since the last such event in Milwaukee.  The twenty-six point deficit was cut to just two points with under two minutes to play.

I couldn't quite tell what the hell was going on but I trusted my instincts and braced for Lucy to run out on the court and steal the ball away from our Charlie Browns.  We did lose.  Some sequence of fumbling the ball around that even the announcing team couldn't quite figure out turned it over.  hardaway who didn't have to foul anyone, fouled someone.  There was a final scramble in which Prigioni got kicked in the nuts and bada-bing, bada-boom Lucy ran off with the basketball.  But not before Hardaway got the last hopelessly-never-gonna-hit-the-rim shot off.   It seems every time the ball touches Hardaway's hands a voice inside advises him to let it fly. We lost.

I can't get myself to call it a heartbreaker. It wasn't.  It actually is a boilerplate for the frustration I've had with the Knicks for many, many years.  I'm beginning to narrow it down to Carmelo Anthony - not because he's a bad guy or whatever.

It's just that Cleveland has LeBron, the Spurs Duncan, Miami has Bosh all of whom seem to have a personal vendetta with losing.  With Melo's Knicks, regardless of coaches, it's like "WHATEVER".  Last year when our record was this bad, Melo would say, "We better start thinking about turning this around.  Whatever."

This year he puts on a new hat after the game. Whatever.

This was a bad loss. Another year in which the hole being dug is rapidly looking like a basement.  I like to watch underdog New York teams.  I remember Billy Martin's Yankees, young Phil Simms and the Giants, the Mid-nineties Yankees - Jeter, Williams, Mariano - all before they became champions.

I'm squinting hard to imagine these Knicks winning a ring.


Monday, November 17, 2014

The Melo Drama - Who Cuts Bait First? Trading Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony signed back on with the Knicks largely out of loyalty.  I say this because its the most believable of the explanations that have been floated around.  But it remains a bit of a mystery as to how Phil Jackson sees the resigning.
At the end of last season he sounded ambivalent about resigning Anthony.  Some attributed this to Jackson playing mind games - being a Zen master who could get Anthony to resign on Jackson's terms.
At the end of the day Anthony did resign and Jackson welcomed him back.  But what does all of this really mean for the Knicks?  In today's NBA, a contending team needs at least one and usually more than one high-performing star to anchor a team.  The fear was that if the Knicks lost Anthony it might be a long time before they found even that replacement part.  So in order to win, Jackson needed at least to sign Anthony and he succeeded in doing that.  But what does the mirrored Faustian bargain entail?

In signing Anthony the bargain from Jackson's perspective had to include the critical idea that the Knicks could significantly complete within a good-health-high-performance threshold - say two years - a reasonable window of opportunity.  Banking on Anthony being able to perform in peak career condition AND in good health after that becomes a speculative exercise that's tricky given his chances to win a ring diminish.
For Anthony, he must have trusted both Jackson and Fish enough to feel that the existing team would be reformulated to win sooner rather than three or four years down the road when Anthony's ability to control his chances at a ring.  After all, given his salary, age, and stature, few other contending teams will be looking to take on all that personal and fiscal baggage.

All of that brings us to today.

The Knicks hold a first-round pick in this years NBA draft.  And they cannot trade that pick before its made.  This leads many to speculate based on their early record that the intention is to 'tank' for the season in the hopes of landing a talent in the draft.  Yet, as we know, the window to win with Melo is a short one.  Gambling on getting a significant talent who can contribute in almost immediate fashion is the longest of shots.  It simply doesn't fit with winning soon.  And while the Knicks are rebuilding parts of the roster, Melo, Fish,  and Jackson must agree that this season's playoff eligibility is critical for all of them.

In order to make the playoffs, the Knicks will need healthy as well as dependable contributors. While the Knicks can boast of depth by numbers, their starting and secondary units are average at best and largely untested over time.  Bargnani, Calderon, Jason Smith, Shumpert, Larkin, STAT, and others have spent significant time in suits in the recent past.  And Melo is once again banging with the PFs of the league. The deep bench is talented but young and raw.
This all suggests the making of a perfect storm of disappointment.  Injuries to date show a 3 and 8 record.  Two or three of those losses could have flipped in the Knicks favor instead so the playoffs are not out of the question but they are by no means a lock either.  The Knicks would have to win every one of those close contests to succeed.

If the Knicks are to ensure a better chance at making the playoffs Jackson will need to infuse the roster with a boost in talent that preferably includes a player or two who play both sides of the ball.
The record of the next few weeks which includes a particularly tough stretch of contests will likely dictate how quickly Jackson will have to act to save any playoff hopes for the year. And, quite frankly, he will be in a hot seat to deliver.

If the Knicks fail to improve the roster and they miss the playoffs limping into the summer months with cap space money in hand but looking like sad sacks their chances of attracting a high-profile talent is non-existent.  Joining Melo and a skeleton crew is not a selling point.

And if no high-profile signings are made, what becomes of Melo?  He can't bring a ring to NY alone. Likewise, Jackson, frustrated in the free agent market may need to trade Melo to get back on track to building a winner somewhere further down the line.  The fate of Melo's tenure on the Knicks is curiously tightly coupled to the progress that this year's team makes and that progress will be strictly measured in wins and losses and not good intentions.

For Jackson, ensuring that the Knicks has a roster who can seize the opportunities to win is the challenge.  Currently, Fish will need to squeeze every ounce of talent and coaching skill to make the playoffs.  It seems an upgrade in talent just about everywhere and anywhere is required.  December 15 is approaching fast and the Knicks record on that date will be a good barometer as to how drastic that talent upgrade will need to be to first, make the playoffs, and second, march into the summer free agent season with enough of a compelling core of talent to convince someone who can team with Anthony to join him in pursuit of a ring.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Knicks Beat Denver Nuggets, 109 - 93

This was a game we should  have won and we did which is not to say that there weren't moments where it could have gotten ugly.  The win snapped a seven game losing streak.  The Knicks played without Shumpert who is still healing from a hip contusion.

Melo had a terrific game as did Sam.  But the star of the game was JR Smith who scored 28 (the same as Melo) and added steals, assists, and great defensive play throughout the game.  The Knicks also executed the rudimentary Triangle offense at will and seamlessly throughout the game.  The defense was outstanding.

The third quarter featured a micro-meltdown in the Nuggets making up 15 or more points to cut the lead to 9 points or so.

The starting unit came back in the fourth to squash that Nuggets rally.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Knicks Lose to Jazz 102 - 100

A back-to-back exciting game with a similar heart-breaking result. With the score tied at 100 and just 2 seconds left on the clock Trey Burke makes a shot from the corner to win the game for Utah.

Carmelo Anthony played a monster game, Pablo Prigioni and JR Smith both had exceptional stretches to keep the Knicks in it.

Early in the game, Iman Shumpert went down with a hip injury that seemed to sap the energy out of the reeling Knicks team.  Once Tim Hardaway, Jr sat down after the very cold start the Knicks clawed their way back into the game after going down by double-digits.

Travis Wear and Cole Aldrich got floor time and both played respectably. wear seems to stabilize the Triangle more than any other player on the team and oddly that opens up the game for the rest of the team. Cleanthony Early also got spot minutes that were put to good use.

The defense was at critical times in the game, ferociously good.

A very tough loss.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Orlando Beats Knicks 97 - 95

Triangle or not, this game should have been a win for the Knicks if for no other reason than the fact that Orlando is an even younger team in rebuild mode.

The Knicks continue to be plagued by defensive lapses, turnovers, missed free throws, and excessive and disproportionate foul calls.  Yet given all of this the Knicks finally won a third quarter convincingly to only let it slip away in the fourth.

Losses like this put enormous pressure on Knicks administrators and coaches to "do something". Angry expensive-ticket holders and resale profiteers start to rattle the cage loudly.

While this game certainly should have been a win, it isn't really that surprising that it was a loss.

Another blog reports, "On Wednesday, Fisher was asked about investing so much time and energy in players who may not be here for long.

“To assume anything is not very smart at all,” Fisher said. “Guys that you assume will be here for a long time may not. Guys that you think won’t be here could be here forever. So it’s really only my job to focus on the here and now.”"

In a previous post, I asked the same question and the Orlando game demonstrates the confusion. Cole Aldrich, once again DNP - puzzling to say the least. Stoudemire did but was mercifully not involved in the fourth quarter battle.

And Fisher's five on the floor combinations were actually better assembled chemistry-wise.

Yet Fisher's answer to the aforementioned question is troubling for a number of reasons.  First, is he implying that there are no takers for certain Knicks who have larger salaries and therefore he's pressured to give minutes to?  If the answer is that we are "stuck" with what we have then will Jackson advocate to Dolan that they swallow salary and cut  a Stoudamire or Bargnani to make room for players more likely to develop a lasting impact?  Or are fans also "stuck".

Another possibility is that the Knicks, rather than building a new core and structure are also in the rehabilitation business.  For example "teaching" Stoudamire to play defense.  This is no doubt an admirable notion but is it practical to invest that kind of (dubious) effort into an aging star whose heart and mind are honorable but whose skills can no longer be counted on for the journey ahead?

It seems to me that New York Knicks fans have more patience in rooting for young, flawed talent than tolerating compounded losing causes (games lost on short-timers).  Fisher, rather than assuming that the here and now represent an eternal patience on the part of Knicks fans might be better serving in using the here and now to bring players roles into focus.  In the case of Amare, Fisher should have a man-to-man talk that includes a reality check that Amare's role is limited and cannot be considered a core component of the year ahead and that STAT should become the best situational player he can be for the remainder of his contract.   The same goes for a few others.

Winning with youth are true wins.  Winning with short-timers is meaningless.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

It's Not Just the Triangle, It's the Roster and Team Identity

A discussion many of us have been having on other boards involves the short term viability of teaching the Triangle to talent who are short-timers vs teaching and playing long-term assets.

Presumably short-timers on the roster include Sam, STAT, Bargs, JR, and Prigioni if not because of expiring contract then as a function of age or trade value.  Yet, Fisher often defers minutes to many of these players.

A case in point is the fact that Cole Aldrich's presence on the floor contributes as much if not more than STAT or Delambert do.  While STAT can score, his defense and lack of defensive positioning often give back far more than he brings.  Sam is the opposite, fairly good defensive but no offense. Aldrich actually is as good defensively as Delambert and, given the minutes, could compare decently with STAT.  Cole is also a better complementary player for Melo.

The roster weakness at PG or "Lead Guard" as it's called in the Triangle is another mystery.  With Calderon hurt, Larkin does the best he can filling in and at his best this is adequate.  And Prigioni is also an adequate backup.  In the D-League, Galloway is highly regarded but it seems to me and others that picking up a guy like Gal Mekel who was let go by the Mavs might be a great investment.  Gal is long and athletic which cannot be said for either Larkin or Prig.

Another option at the Lead Guard position might be to let JR Smith handle the chores in particular with Jason Smith at the PF position.  The pick and roll chemistry here is undeniable and JR's passing skills get better every day.

Given this hypothesis, a lineup of Aldrich, JaSmith, Melo, Shumpert (who has become indispensable), and JR might be our best starting and fourth quarter units yet that's not who is getting the play time.

A second unit of Sam, Wear, Early (Early and Wear complement each other well based on summer league play), Hardaway, and Larkin promote minutes for the prospects on the roster.

This leaves STAT, Prigioni, and bargs for spot and situational duty off the bench.

We aren't winning games playing the short-timer, big contract pattern.  I'd like to see Fisher try the longer term concept.

Necessities

Ye Newe Glory-torium

Here, dear readers, is the final resting place of all weary Knicks fans. Yes, here is where one comes when the Triangle refuses to have three sides, when biting one's lip from losing to win later is one loss too far,or when said fan simply hits 'rock' bottom. In short, "the ship be" eternally "sinking" here. Welcome aboard, rearrange the deck chairs as you please.