Posts Tagged ‘Allan Houston’

Clock Ticking … Woodson Will Serve As Sacrifice For Knicks’ Bigger Failures




VIDEO: The GameTime crew breaks down the final plays of the Knicks’ loss Monday

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – It won’t be cheerful around Mike Woodson‘s household come Christmas — provided the embattled New York Knicks’ coach lasts that long.

Woodson did the right thing Monday night, manning up to his failings in the final stages of the Knicks’ gut-punch loss to Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards.

But his own words may well cost him his job.

“I probably should have taken it, the timeout, there at the end,” Woodson said after the final frantic moments of what New Yorker’s have already crowned the “Manhattan Meltdown.”

Woodson didn’t call the timeout to organize his troops in those chaotic final seconds. His team didn’t foul Beal before he was able to glide to the rim, basically uncontested, for the game-winning layup. In the waning ticks of the clock, Woodson stood silently, with three timeouts unused.

So it was left to Carmelo Anthony to try to atone for his coach’s mistake. Melo’s desperation heave at the buzzer couldn’t salvage a disastrous situation.

Then things got really bad for Woodson.

“I should’ve reacted a lot sooner once the ball went through the bucket,” Woodson said of Beal’s game-winner, “so that’s on me … It happened so fast.”

Woodson, of course, will serve as the sacrifice, but there’s a much bigger failure by the organization here. After all, he’s not the one who made the personnel decisions that have left the Knicks with a mismatched roster of players incapable of repeating what last season’s Atlantic Division-winning crew did. He’s not the one playing defense. (Or, as in the Knicks’ case, not playing defense).

That said, someone has to serve as the fall guy. And firing the coach is often the only way to pacify an uneasy fan base.

Is it fair? Probably not. It usually isn’t. But Woodson and the other members of the NBA’s coaching fraternity are paid handsomely to shoulder this sort of burden. They get hired knowing that the ending is usually an ugly one, with the coach being shown the door without any of the pomp and circumstance that accompanied the process on the front end.

“As far as I’m concerned he’s secure right now,” Anthony said in defense of the coach that engineered the Knicks’ 54-win season a year ago. “I haven’t heard anything. Nothing to discuss, so he’s our coach and we’re rolling with him.”

The other words he spoke, however, are the ones that will resonate with the masses.

“We were supposed to call a timeout, we didn’t, and we lost the game,” Anthony said. “If he said it’s his fault, then it’s his fault. There’s no need for me to talk about that or make excuses for it.”

The chances of Woodson turning this around any time soon are remote. Tyson Chandler‘s return from injury won’t save him. Neither will compliance from J.R. Smith. Jim Dolan‘s vote of confidence at this point will serve only to stir the drama.

So the rumors will persist. Rumblings about the Knicks pursuing the Bulls’ Tom Thibodeau as a potential replacement/savior will no doubt intensify, stoked furiously by the New York media machine.

And Woodson will bear the brunt of it all. Because, fair or not, this is on him.


VIDEO: Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks’ loss to the Wizards

A reason to cheer again in NYC

Ten years is not only an eternity, it’s an annoyance in the City That Never Waits. Trains, cabs, Yankee championships … they all run on time. And then there’s a Knicks playoff victory, which goes counter to what New York is all about, which has the feel of an Eddy Curry full-court sprint.

It’s been a decade, for the most part, since Madison Square Garden had any reason to cheer in springtime. That’s another reason why New York deserves your sympathy, if the injury to Chauncey Billups and two blown games to the Celtics weren’t enough. The famous old building will throb with anticipation Friday night, hoping the Knicks have learned the hard way how to close out a playoff game by now, but mostly hoping 10 years of deflation is about to end, to be replaced by elation.

Carmelo Anthony, for his part, is ready to make his playoff debut on the MSG stage, as he tells our man Alan Hahn of Newsday:

Carmelo Anthony is ready for his close-up.

With the Knicks trying to avoid an 0-3 deficit in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series with the Boston Celtics , and the possibility of playing with a limited Amar’e Stoudemire (back) and without Chauncey Billups (knee), Anthony will step onto the Madison Square Garden court for Friday night’s Game 3 with the desperation of a franchise on his shoulders and the focus directly on him.

“Without them two guys, I think me, personally, I have to step up and do it all to try and win,” the four-time All-Star said Thursday.

Anthony couldn’t have done much more — other than perhaps taking the last shot rather than passing to Jared Jeffries on that infamous final possession — to help the Knicks win Game 2 in Boston on Tuesday. His 42 points, 17 rebounds and six assists was an all-time performance, but it still resulted in a loss.

And though some criticized his decision to pass rather than shoot — after he was criticized for shooting rather than passing on the final possession of Game 1 — others chastised Anthony for how he seemed satisfied in defeat. He even used the word “fun” to describe the game. Gasp! Kobe Bryant never would have talked like that.

“I’m not Kobe , though,” Anthony replied with his ubiquitous Cheshire cat grin in place. “I ain’t Kobe , man.”

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Blogtable: Ray Allen — NBA’s best shooter?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Ray Allen: Best pure shooter the NBA has ever seen? If not, who’s your favorite?

David Aldridge: I never thought I’d say anyone was a better pure shooter than Dale Ellis — when Dale was on, the net didn’t move — but Ray is. Reggie was a great, great shooter but I think Ray has him beat, too. Everyone has their favorite spots on the court but it seems like Ray is more comfortable in more places than anyone I’ve seen (and I didn’t see the likes of Jerry West or Sam Jones in person).

Steve Aschburner: I’m always leery of superlatives in a public forum, because the moment you proclaim anyone or anything to be the “-est” in some category, someone or something pops up whom you neglected. Also, our culture’s collective memory goes back approximately 37 minutes, so it’s easy to forget or underrate someone from way back when. I can’t say with certainty that there’s anyone who was a better pure shooter than Allen, but I can produce a list of fellows who’d be in the discussion. Such as: Drazen Petrovic, Jeff Hornacek, Peja Stojakovic, Glen Rice, George Gervin, Ricky Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Rick Barry, Chris Mullin and of course Reggie Miller. Then there’s my favorite, especially as the stakes went up: Larry Bird.

Fran Blinebury: Jerry West, Rick Barry, Pete Maravich, Bob McAdoo, Freddie Brown, Dale Ellis, Reggie Miller and Ray Allen are one helluva hallelujah chorus when it comes to making the nets sing.  But front man will always be Larry Bird — for the form, the clutch makes, for the cold-blooded confidence.  At the 1988 All-Star Weekend in Chicago, he walks into the locker room prior to the 3-Point Shoot-out and asks: “Who’s going to finish second?”  ‘Nuff said.

Art Garcia: Since I can’t include Jimmy Chitwood — the question does specify NBA — I’ll go through some of my favorite marksmen over my years watching the grand game. In no particular order other than rough chronology, I’d throw these guys into my list of faves: Larry Bird, Dale Ellis, Mark Price, Steve Kerr, Allan Houston, Glen Rice, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovic. But above all, I’m going with Ray Allen. The release, the timing, the fundamentals, the temperament. All pure.

Scott Howard-Cooper: I’m not sure he’s even the best in the game now, never mind ever. Part of the debate is defining “pure shooter.” Does that mean strictly a catch-and-shoot guy? Dirk Nowitzki is a special talent, but with a repertoire that spans from the dangerous range of a spot-up shooter to fall-aways. Steve Nash is historically good as a perimeter threat, but never will never be among the scoring greats because so much of his focus has been getting the ball to other people. Allen definitely has the pure-shooter element, though, with the lightning release and feathery, arcing shot. He’s definitely very high in the discussion, along with Reggie Miller and others. I’m just not sure he’s ahead of Larry Bird.

Shaun Powell: Strictly from a visual standpoint, Allen’s form is so perfect, it should be a logo. The levitation, the soft yet secure grip, the fingertip release and follow through, so velvet. Best pure shooter? Best I ever saw. I notice you didn’t say best all-around shooter, though. While Ray could probably knock a tangerine through a loop earring, give me Steve Nash, whose career numbers are 90 percent from the line and 43 from 3-point, all the more impressive because of the added burden of ball-handling. And his hair often obstructing the view.

John Schuhmann: When I was covering the Heat-Celtics series last April, I showed up a few hours early for one of the games at American Airlines Arena. When I got there, I walked out to the court and encountered the Heat dancers warming up to my right and Ray Allen shooting to my left. And when it came to deciding which of the two to sit down and watch, the former NBA.com Dance Team Bracket champions were no match for the greatest shooter ever. His form is perfect, he’s shooting better than ever, and he’s been ridiculously clutch since arriving in Boston.

Sekou Smith: I’d love to hand Ray the crown since I’ve watched his entire (future) Hall of Fame career play out. But someone I know and trust, someone who has seen roughly 40 more years of basketball than I have so far in my life, warned me against calling anyone the “best ever” without careful examination. It’s easy to hand Allen the title right now because all of the other contenders can’t make a live impression upon us, since they’re no longer playing in the league. Allen is no doubt the best pure shooter of his era and certainly in the conversation for the best pure shooter the league has ever seen. And there is no doubt that he will finish his career as the most prolific 3-point shooter in NBA history. But I think this is a question that requires more than just a casual conversation. We’d need to slice and dice this topic in so many different ways (best from distance, best from the mid-range, best off the dribble, on the run, etc.) before we could come close a conclusion. There have been too many great pure shooters to come through the NBA for me to hand the title to Ray Allen, or anyone else, right now. As far as my favorite, I’ve always felt like Larry Bird’s stroke was sweeter than anything I’ve seen.

Leader Of The Revival

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We’re trying very hard to separate fact from fiction where Amar’e Stoudemire and the surging New York Knicks are concerned.

Do we blindly celebrate the fact that Stoudemire is on a personal tear (five straight games of 30-plus points for the first time in his career) and just ignore the combined 64 wins of the Knicks’ victims on their current streak, during which they’ve won 10 of 11 games?

And keep in mind that 13 of those wins belong to the New Orleans Hornets, the only team with a winning record the Knicks have defeated during this current stretch (tonight’s opponent, Toronto, is 8-13).

We don’t know how much stock to put in Stoudemire and the Knicks’ performance and how much of this needs to be colored by the level of competition. It’s pretty obvious they are connected. It’s the weight distribution that we’re struggling with right now.

A Monday morning Tweet suggested that we’ve been ignoring Stoudemire’s “MVP-worthy” performance and asked what it would take for us to get on the bandwagon.

Stoudemire doesn’t have to do any campaigning. We’re all in. (If you remember, this was Stoudemire headquarters at the trade deadline last season, when he — and not Antawn Jamsion — was the key to the Cavaliers’ championship puzzle). His 25.3 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.9 blocks are on par with his previous MVP-worthy season, when he went for 25.2 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists in Phoenix during the 2007-08 season.

When Allan Houston talks about him like this (when the team was just 11-9) …

“To me, he has had as much impact on this franchise as Patrick [Ewing],” Houston said. “The timing, the circumstances, his personality and demeanor, leadership, all wrapped up — given his talent — is the impact Patrick had when he came.

“What he’s done is brought in a presence: ‘I’ll take the burden on my shoulders. I’ll take the criticism. I’ll take the good with the bad. I’m going to be the one — if people put it on me, I’m OK with that.’ “

… you know the hype is getting thick.

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