For another game, Mike D'Antoni has made significant mistakes with his lineup, in the 4th quarter. Against Portland, he played Nate Robinson and David Lee, which was fine. Robinson was on fire down the stretch (his Mom was in the building), and Lee is Lee. But the players who filled the rest of the court had no business being there.
Chris Duhon had dead legs all night and it showed. He couldn't drive, run the court or get an open jumpshot; resulting in 4-12 shooting from the floor. The Streaky Al Harrington characteristically fell off in the final quarter, in which he scored only 5 points; 2 of those coming on free throws. And Quentin Richardson took only three shots all night, and has made 12 of 40 field goals in the previous five games.
D'Antoni needs to realize who is spry enough to play efficiently in his offense, on a given day. He has done a poor evaluation of his players, late in the game, several times this year.
I cannot see any solid reason for D'Antoni refusing to play Danilo Gallinari when the game is on the line, or for serious minutes.
Take the Portland for example:
Gallinari hits his two first shots (three-pointers), plays for about 7 minutes, and lays on the sideline for the rest of the half. The second half was the same exact way, minus the points. He never gets a chance to get going, and when he gets into some sort of a rhythm, D'Antoni pulls him out. He still doesn't know if The Rooster can repeatedly play more than 15 minutes without his back hurting, and that's his own fault.
Gallinari is long, athletic and an above average shooter. Those are three things that the Knicks lacked down the stretch.
My argument is: If your crunch-time players are consistently not going to produce, try out your young stars. Gallinari has earned the shot, but moreso, Richardson and Harrington have definitively lost their shot.
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