At least the Knicks can’t blame Elfrid Payton for their offensive idleness.
Entering Tuesday’s contest against the Lakers, the Knicks have averaged less than 100 points in their last seven games (99.7). He has not scored more than 106 points in that period and is 2-4 in his last six outings.
Tom Thibodeau can preach all he wants about his defensive back from last season but the inability of the starting five to keep the spark is a big problem in their 9-8 record.
The Knicks’ first 17 games were cupcakes compared to what the Lakers had before them starting Tuesday, so the alarm bells were ready to clang.
Even their toughest foes – two each against Milwaukee and the Sixers – have been woefully weak against their opponents. For the most part, the Knicks remain healthy.
Because of their hot start, the Knicks’ offensive efficiency ratings are still mid-off. He ranks 13th in the league with 105 points per 100 possessions. His 3-point shooting percentage is also very decent, ranking sixth in 36.4 percent.
However, in their last two defeats, the Knicks are 3 of 76 from 23.
The Knicks had league-high cap space and added a new backcourt in Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. Both did not perform well and were not relied on to play in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, RJ Barrett is in a mystical and disastrous 10-game shooting funk.
Thibodeau is as confused as everyone else, recalling former coach David Fizdale’s problems. Ironically, Fizdale was at home as a Lakers assistant Tuesday.
Walker had a thriving third quarter in Chicago on Sunday, eventually earning a chemistry triumph with Julius Randle on the pick-and-roll. But Walker still sits in fourth place. Fournier never got the rhythm against the Bulls and remained in the pine for the final 13 minutes of the game.
“Who’s going to be fine,” Thibodeau said of how he picked up his closures after the Chicago game. “We were looking. The starters gave us a good lift to start the third. Our starters played really well to start the third. That was important. We went with the aggravating crowd at the start of the third / fourth and tried to ride as much as we could.
It was a setback when the Bulls scored 37 points in the final frame, with Thibodeau clipping in with his answers late on a Chicago night.
“We fought like crazy to get a winning position, then we have to find a way to close it,” Thibodeau said. “We didn’t do it but we take the positives. We need to build consistency and understand what went wrong and what we did well. [in this] The situation will not change. ”
After his recent statement that this was a “group of bulls-T”, the starters needed time to gel, Thibodeau softened and players like Fournier talked about finding their way.
After Thibodeau set up more games for starters to get better ball movement after practice eight days ago, the Knicks have seen an increase in coach allocation.
He has seen much penetration by Walker, where the ball is called “spread out”, as Thibodeau calls it. It is not just a 3-pointer shooter, it is the key to Walker’s success in creating paint.
Randall is looking forward to this point in the classroom. The Lakers, Suns, Hawks, Nets, Bulls and Nuggets are their next enemies.
“They’re a team with championship aspirations. That’s what we’re trying to achieve, so yeah, I’m always looking forward – it’s a blessing every time you step on the court, so I’m looking forward to it,” Randall said of the Lakers. It makes me happy to know that. Yeah, I like those games.