Uncharacteristic lack of ball movement a big factor in Knicks' loss to Mavericks

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Ian Begley
·3 min read
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Derrick Rose dribbling vs. Mavericks black uniforms
Derrick Rose dribbling vs. Mavericks black uniforms

During Friday night’s loss to Dallas, Tom Thibodeau noticed something about the Knick offense that he hasn’t seen often this year: too much individual play.

“One thing I love about our team is that they’re committed to playing for each other and to work as a team and sacrifice for the team. And sometimes when you’re not making shots, you want to do better, (you) try to help you’re team out of a hole (individually) and that’s not how you do it,” Thibodeau said after the Knicks fell to Kristaps Porzingis and the Mavs.

“We have to make sure that we’re doing everything collectively. That’s been the strength of the club all year and I believe we’ll get back to that.”

New York went away from ball movement and making the extra pass against Dallas and it showed in the club’s shooting numbers.

Julius Randle and RJ Barrett combined to shoot 8-for-31; Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley went a combined 3-for-19. Thibodeau often says players can still play well when they don’t make shots by impacting other areas of the game.

“For the most part we’ve done that,” he said. “We have to understand that, keep trusting the pass, make plays for each other so we can get into a rhythm.”

New York was out of rhythm for much of Friday night and really, for much of the past four games. The Knicks are 1-3 in that stretch. They have a good opportunity to bounce back on Saturday in Detroit.

But after Saturday’s game, the Knicks face the Nets and Celtics.

So if they slip up in Detroit, there’s a real possibility they could lose five straight games. That’s obviously not ideal for a team battling for a playoff spot.

Thibodeau, it’s worth noting, seemed optimistic that his club could turn things around quickly.

“We have to do better and we will,” he said.

ASKED AND ANSWERED

Entering Friday’s game, lineups featuring Quickley, Randle and Barrett had a strong net rating in limited minutes. Lineups featuring Elfrid Payton, Randle and Barrett had a negative net rating, as Jack Huntley noted on Twitter.

Thibodeau was asked about the net ratings before the game. Here’s what he said:

“You have to look at totality, you have to look at sample size, you have to look at who it’s against. One is a large sample size, the other one is a very small sample size. So you got to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. But net rating is important to me. And so one game or a small sample size is not a tell-all, be-all. There are a lot of other things that factor into it as well.”

BRUNSON HAS MANY FANS IN NY

There are several organic connections between the Knicks and Jalen Brunson. Brunson’s father, Rick, was one of team president Leon Rose’s first NBA clients. Rick, a former Knick, has worked with Thibodeau.

Brunson (15 points, seven rebounds, five assists) will be a restricted free agent this offseason. Because of his connections to the Knicks, there will be plenty of speculation about New York’s interest in the former Villanova guard.

Thibodeau was asked about Brunson after Friday’s game. He called Brunson “a terrific player” who is “having a helluva year.”

“I’m happy for him, watched him grow up. I remember him form the time he was coming to the Garden to watch Allan Houston and (Latrell) Sprewell play," Thibodeau said. "He was six years old and mimicked their moves. He’s become a darn good player and become a great kid too.”

It’s way too early to speculate about the Knicks and Brunson. Free agency is still four months away. But the connections between Brunson and the Knicks will lead to speculation about New York’s interest in the guard.