Both Mike D'Antoni's current squad, the New York Knicks, and his former friends, the Phoenix Suns, have been struggling and tagged with similar memes thus far this season. D'Antoni's teams are known for a fast pace and bountiful scoring, but his old club is playing slow as molasses and his present charges can't find the rim. Wednesday's battle between two bastardized D'Antoni teams -- one slow and one impotent -- was about as ugly as you'd expect, and only one team, the Suns, got enough from its top talent to take the game and break their losing streak.
Steve Nash, as he's wont to do, torched the switch-happy Knicks off the dribble and in pick-and-roll situations. He initiated mismatches by working through screens pretty much every time down the floor, and was alternately generous and productive, not to mention efficient. Nash finished with 26 points on 9-12 shooting, 11 assists, and several huge free throws to ice the game down the stretch.
Aside from their troubles with Nash, the Knick defense wasn't really the problem. Instead, as this year's meme dictates, the D'Antoni-led club just couldn't put the ball in the basket. Carmelo Anthony played with a sore ankle and a sore wrist, but still felt compelled to take 22 shots, many of them very bad ones. Amar'e Stoudemire, whose performance can not be attributed to injured limbs, made only seven of his 22 shots, plowing his way toward the basket only to find multiple defenders in his path and challenging his shots.
Even when the Knicks could generate some momentum, they inevitably squandered it with silly miscues and missed shots. New York's made a habit of finding good, open looks from the corner, only to watch them clank miserably off the rim and kick-start transition offense the other way. (Landry Fields, who played an otherwise excellent game, missed several big open threes to bust Knick momentum.)
The final minute of this one got fairly silly. Iman Shumpert, who had been silent for the Knicks up to that point, drained a three-pointer to cut the Phoenix lead to two with under a minute left. Shannon Brown promptly came the other way, boogied into the corner and released a horrid three-pointer that struck the rim, caromed high into the air ... and dropped right through the basket with 35 seconds left. The game wasn't quite over, though. Shumpert came the other way and hit yet another three off an offensive rebound. The two teams went back and forth with intentional fouls and whatnot until Carmelo Anthony added yet another three to cut the difference to one with six seconds left. After Nash hit another two free throws, Shumpert ran the length of the floor and heaved a desperation three that didn't even land within the vicinity of the basket.
So, just to recap, the famously three-happy Knicks hit three shots from downtown in the final minute of the game after hitting just ONE in the preceding 47 minutes. And that's how things are for the Knicks right now.
The Suns' win snuffed a five-game losing streak and moved them to 5-9. The Knicks' loss was their fourth straight and dropped them to 6-8 overall.