As the offense appears to be gaining momentum and chemistry, the concern remains a defense that has allowed over 100 points in all but one game so far this season. We saw the Knicks deploy a zone defense for a while in the second quarter against the Raptors, who are among the worst three-point shooting teams in the league.
But the issue for the Knicks isn’t as much scheme as it is execution and some self-inflicted wounds. Take, for instance, a foul by Kristaps Porzingis on a four-point play from DeMar DeRozan with just under five minutes left with the score tied at 97. The Knicks managed to come back to tie it at 101 shortly after, but then Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony were both caught out of position in a pick-and-roll alley-oop finish by Lucas Nogueira, and there would be no more answers for the road team.
More examples of self-inflicted wounds: The Raptors scored 23 points off 16 Knicks turnovers. Toronto also took advantage its chances at the free throw line, by scoring 33 points. The Raptors also scored 20 points on the fast break.
Alan Hahn and Wally Szczerbiak look at the Knicks' efficiency on offense and their struggles on defense after their loss to Toronto.
This was a tough road back-to-back for the Knicks and you can find a lot of positives out of how hard the team battled against a division opponent. You can point to three starters with 20 points or more (Melo led the way with 31 points, but went scoreless in the fourth quarter).
But Jeff Hornacek continues to walk off the court after these games with a look of frustration because his team’s defense just does not play with a consistent energy. Hornacek continues to suggest conditioning is a factor in the inconsistent effort at that end of the floor, which is an alarming issue, no question, but it does mean it is correctable.
After a very challenging back-to-back against two physical teams, the Knicks now have three games this week that could allow some opportunity to get back to .500, with the Mavericks (2-6), Pistons (5-5) and Wizards (2-7) up next.
Make sure you tune in for Knicks Game Night at 7 PM Monday for my latest Knicks Fix!