|Andrea Bargnani, PF
31 MIN | 8-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +6
It’s a sad commentary on the state of Bargs’ Bocker tenure that watching him splay wildly out of bounds and slapping misses aimlessly to save possessions makes me moistest with glee. On defense, he was a train of propane tanks barreling into a fertilizer factory — Al Horford ran amok and the Hawk wings routinely had their way on back-door cuts and in transition. I refuse to believe that an NBA basketball player with two ostensibly functioning knees cannot exert more effort on defense. I simply refuse. But…
…Credit where it’s due – Bargs was big time down the stretch, and rebounding with an enthusiasm I haven’t seen from him since that time The Mouthpiece Factory had that 4th of July Sale. He would finish with a plus-six, bringing his season total ever so slightly up to a manageable -375. Baby steps, Burgs (Yes. Burgs. Burgs. It’s my thing.)
Still… I mean…
|Carmelo Anthony, SF
40 MIN | 9-25 FG | 4-5 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 25 PTS | -5
A Melo-y mix of in-rhythm splashes, off-balance chucks, and logic-defying threes made up Number Seven’s mixed bag first half. The second was a noxious nickelodeon of shitty shot selection and fruitless ref-bitching for most of the third, some answered prayers in the fourth, and only a sprinkling of genuinely encouraging decision-making. For a guy with limited perimeter abilities, Horford made life difficult for Melo at myriad turns, keeping low and coaxing him into off-balance bails and awkward prayers.
|Raymond Felton, PG
32 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +1
Spent a good chunk of the night flapping behind Teague around screens like toilet paper on a stripper’s heel, but guided home a couple big buckets in the second half to sort of make up for—it in no way made up for it. He’s still struggling with the jumper; still struggling to navigate the blizzard of switches. But Woody loves him, which TOTALLY seems like a safe currency right now.
|J.R. Smith, SG
33 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-4 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -3
It’s common for injury rust to manifest itself in any number of physical forms. Catching a basketball just isn’t usually one of them. Luckily, Earl — who started, and I know you have no opinions about that — found his stroke early, only to watch it curtail on mostly clean looks the rest of the way. He was great on the boards, decent on D, and looked a million times better than this past Sunday, when I was convinced that JR was on a combination of krokodil and Wild Irish Rose.
|Iman Shumpert, SG
35 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +15
That’s a shitty afternoon Shump just had. To his credit, our treasured Jacket shrugged off the rumors to bestow an engaged, partly enraged bit of ball upon the Bocker faithful. He ran 37 miles chasing Korver around screens; got out in transition on a couple of occasions; ran the glass; and somehow ended up with nine dimes. That today’s rumors felt frighteningly close to coming true might make for an awkward next few weeks, but if Shump’s performance tonight was any kind of bellwether, expect a supernova of interim pride.
|Kenyon Martin, PF
17 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2
For a guy who’s acting like he deserves 40 minutes of burn a night, Kenyon’s been pretty quiet. He’s had his sneaky-good moments on D, but is essentially a non-factor on offense given our current configuration. Then again, desperate times something something into the breach something something life is like a box of chocolates.
|Metta World Peace, SF
21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -4
All Quiet on the Crazy Front. I still wouldn’t be surprised if Woody ends up experimenting a bit with Metta in the starting five, but for now the roll is cool and comfortable. Unlike with K-Mart, I can’t see Peace pitching much of a fit on the playing time front. His a halfway decent offensive third option on a second or third unit; a serviceable, sturdy shell of his former defensive self; and not much more. Which has been more than enough, on the whole.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG
16 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +9
Prigs is quickly becoming the poster child for advanced stats angst in the face of backwards eye test bullshit. His plus-nine was second only to Shumpert; his hands spry; his decision-making on point, even if his shot wasn’t. I don’t understand why he doesn’t play more. None of us do. I’m starting to think the whole thing has its roots in some kind of botched-translation.
Prigs: “Woody. Tu es la verdad de la milanesa.” (You are the real deal!)
|Tim Hardaway Jr., SG
15 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +3
Tonight’s mettle-testing hero – the confidence of a veteran, the conscience of a kindergartner, and the charisma of a guy who grew up with Tim Hardaway blending him protein shakes made of GNC formula and spite. Whether the heat-checks and terrible defensive decision making remain in fits or fester beyond help, remains to be seen. But don’t be surprised if this kid steals us a couple games at some point this season.
Found something of a rotational harmony in the first half, only to avoid revisiting it until well into Atlanta’s blitz in the second. Rolled with the right five down the stretch, even if the play-calling didn’t exactly inspire.
Three Things We Saw
- Throwback three-for-all, y’all: The Knicks hit on 12-34 overall, although they missed 14 in a row at one point before Shump finally re-connected. The method behind the looks wasn’t quite what it was last year, with broken plays and hero hoists in lieu of horn-snapping ball movement. But, as the Portuguese like to say, any Portuguese sweet bread in a storm.
- Jeff Teague tortured Knick defenders all night. You know why: robotic switches, back-peddling mismatches, late help and flat-footed rim protection. Such forays helped set the table for Atlanta’s biggest coup of the evening: A 56 (yikes) to 28 points in the paint advantage.
- The Knicks committed three turnovers tonight. Three. That’s goddam impressive. Five, six, seven more? We probably lose this game. There are plenty of concerning trends we can lament having seen so far, but if tonight’s careful play can be the first to permanently right itself, the dividends will be quick and fruitful.
- I’m scared about tomorrow.