Commentary

Hollinger's Insider Gems: Feb. 5, 2009

John Hollinger gives us five observations for Thursday.

Updated: February 5, 2009, 2:22 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com

1. In all the mania over what Kobe Bryant and LeBron James have done at Madison Square Garden the past three days, the one thing few are discussing is how awful the Knicks' perimeter D is. Let's face it, there's a reason this happened against the Knicks and not, say, San Antonio, and it had nothing to do with the players showing up in the hallowed grounds of MSG.

New York ranks 25th in defensive efficiency this season, and one can see how high-scoring wing players have little to fear against this squad. It's not hard to get a step to the bucket against the likes of Quentin Richardson, Wilson Chandler and Jared Jeffries, New York's three main perimeter defenders. And the Knicks are a truly pathetic shot-blocking team, rejecting only 2.5 shots per game -- that puts them dead last in the NBA, with an average that is only about half that of most teams.

So by all means, let's applaud LeBron and Kobe for putting on a great show this week. But let's also consider the team that surrendered both performances and ask ourselves why it was so easy for those two players to dominate the Knicks in their own building.



2. We have a new entrant into the projected eighth playoff spot in the East, and it's a bit of a surprising one: the Chicago Bulls. They have taken advantage of a couple of Western teams that were down in the dumps, winning road games in Phoenix and New Orleans this week, and now are projected to finish with 38 wins. They claim the East's No. 8 seed in 48.3 percent of simulations.