Sixers had no answers for Amar'e Stoudemire
The Sixers dropped their fourth straight game with a 102-92 loss to the New York Knicks Saturday night. (USA Today Images)
Strangely, it took 36 games for divisional foes, the Sixers and Knicks, to finally play this season. That leaves only Boston as the lone Eastern Conference team the Sixers have not faced this year.
No Celtics or Knicks nearly halfway into the season? Odd.
Anyway, the Sixers fell, 102-92, to the Knicks for their fourth straight loss Saturday night (see Instant Replay).
Here are a few observations from the first matchup of the season:
1. Hawes vs. Bargnani
It wasn’t exactly The Clash of the Titans, but the matchup between centers Spencer Hawes and Andrea Bargnani was entertaining in its own right. Actually, that should be “centers,” a rather dubious position for the Sixers’ and Knicks' best three-point shooters. In fact, Bargnani and Hawes rate second and third all-time in three-pointers made for players 7-foot or taller.
Dirk Nowitzki is No. 1 on that list.
Neither Hawes nor Bargnani made a major contribution to the game. Both players had a negative plus/minus and combined to go 1 for 5 from three-point range. However, the most telling parts of the clash came when the Sixers had the ball and Hawes posted up against Bargnani on the low block. The Sixers rarely post up … ever. So for Hawes to post up tells a lot of what the Sixers think of Bargnani’s defense.
2. Keep them tied
Before the game, Sixers equipment manager Scott Rego joked that he informed the Knicks his guys would be wearing Velcro shoes for Saturday’s game. Of course this was a message for the Knicks’ J.R. Smith, who was fined $50,000 this week for untying the laces on the shoes of Greg Monroe and Shawn Marion in consecutive games.
Smith didn’t pull the stunt against the Sixers. Instead, he just wrecked them by playing basketball in the second quarter.
Smith started the second quarter after taking a DNP in the opening frame. With Smith in the game, the Knicks took the second quarter, 32-12. That was pretty much the ballgame.
3. The long 2
The prevailing philosophy in the NBA is that the long two-point shot is verboten. Teams will happily take three-pointers and shots in the paint, but a shot in the area between those points is going against the odds. In fact, many teams’ defensive philosophy is based around allowing its opponent to take as many long twos as it wants.
Saturday night, the Knicks took their fill of long twos and then some.
The Knicks went 9 for 22 on long twos in the first half, taking what many teams will chuck up in two or three games. Strangely, the Knicks led by 12 at the half to shoot that theory right in the foot.
4. How can you not love Thad?
There are very few things as satisfying as watching Thad Young play basketball. In a season where the Sixers’ growing pains are on full display, the veteran Young has not wavered in effort and strong basketball sense. Though he didn’t exactly light it up against the Knicks, Young threw himself all over the court, picking up four steals while guarding Carmelo Anthony.
Anthony scored 18 points against the Sixers, but needed 21 shots and most of his buckets came in transition.
5. T'ing them up
Sixers coach Brett Brown and Hawes drew technical fouls in the game. Hawes practically begged for his T by jawing at the refs throughout the game. It seemed as if Hawes was working for a second tech, too, but restraint -- by the refs -- won out.
For those keeping track, Hawes has the fourth-most technical fouls in the NBA this season with five. DeMarcus Cousins leads all players with 10 techs.
A strong contingent of Knicks fans made the trip to the Wells Fargo Center, showing that they are one of the most loyal groups in the NBA. After all, the Knicks haven’t won a title since 1973 and chances are they aren’t going to do it this year, either.
Oddly, the Knicks fans shouted, “MVP!” when Anthony went to the foul line.
Anthony, MVP? Really? Do they get games from around the league in New York?