Knicks Kick Off 2012 in Ugly Fashion

Knicks lose to Raptors thanks to a stagnant offensive attack.

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Jan 3, 2012  |  Updated 9:13 AM EDT
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Carmelo got his shots, as well as the shots of one or two other guys.

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So maybe the Knicks do miss Amar'e Stoudemire after all.

In their New Year's Eve win over the Kings, the Knicks offense looked smoother than it has all year and there was some feeling that the lack of Stoudemire, and the need to feed him regularly, helped them cruise to an easy victory.

After watching the Knicks stumble to an ugly 90-85 loss to the Raptors at the Garden on Monday night, it's clear that everyone mistook correlation for causation.

The Knicks offense looked smooth on Saturday because the Kings don't defend very well and because Josh Harrellson hit four three-pointers to jolt the offense.

Harrellson missed all four shots he tried beyond the arc on Monday, part of an inefficient offensive performance overall that drove the Knicks into a ditch.

By the end of the night, the team hoisted 35 three-pointers. About half of them were good shots coming in the flow of the offense while the rest were made by impatient players circumventing any attempt at running an offense by flinging the ball at the rim without much thought.

There was a run of threes in the first half that made you wonder if the Knicks were actually aware that there are two-point options available to them.

One of the uglier efforts from deep came from Carmelo Anthony with 14 seconds left and the Knicks down three. It looked like Mike D'Antoni wanted the team to run an actual offensive set, but Anthony chose to just put up a three that clanged off the rim and assured the Knicks would not complete their comeback from 18 points down in the third quarter.

Anthony's night was a maddening one because he carried the team down the stretch with his offensive package, but the final results -- 35 points on 31 shots -- speak to how often he simply took the ball out of the flow and went for his shots whether or not they were the best course of action.

While it is hard to get too worked up about Anthony choosing himself over Harrellson, Mike Bibby and Billy Walker, there were times when the Knicks offense looked decent and those times all came when they would work the ball into the paint before drawing defenders and kicking out for open looks.

If you miss those looks, it's painful, but at least they are decent shots and there's a chance that they could lead to victories. But the Knicks got away from that far too often on Monday night, leading to that huge deficit and making it impossible to ever find their way back into the lead.

The same is true defensively, where the Knicks played fairly well as long as they stuck to the things that work well and avoided the urge to switch on every play or leave the rim unguarded while trapping a ballhandler.

There's little reason to do those two things, especially when the Raptors make it clear that they are only getting buckets when you do.

Basically, it was more of the same poor decision-making and complete lack of chemistry from California. It was just more frustrating this time around because it was at home against a Raptors team on the second night of a back-to-back loss.

In other words, it isn't a game you're supposed to lose when you're a team with designs on the playoffs.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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