Knicks 120, Cavs 103

Cleveland Cavaliers 103 Final
Recap | Box Score
120 New York Knicks
Carmelo Anthony, SF 34 MIN | 9-16 FG | 3-5 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 22 PTS | +12

I wish I could just copy this stat line and use my internet time machine to paste it into every box score from now until the end of Melo’s Knick career in 2039 – maybe doctor it with a couple more ‘bounds, dimes, and steals, but that’s it. With a few, fairly minor exceptions (at this point, you figure it’s going to take minor neck paralysis for him to realize that dribbling with your head down into 60% of the team’s defense isn’t a strategy for success), Melo let his offense come to him. His most underrated play: Finding Steve Novak on the right wing early in the third for the first of five threes from the SAXON SNIPER… I’ll just go ahead and let myself out…

Amare Stoudemire, PF 28 MIN | 4-11 FG | 6-7 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | -1

While answering recent questions about his crap-fest of a first semester and what it means for the home stretch, Stat told us all to “stay tuned.” To what, exactly? PBS documentaries on the life of the garden slug? Biographies on mayonnaise moguls? Static that doesn’t even really move?

Here’s the funny thing: After a putrid three quarters, Stat actually looked somewhat explosive towards the end. New rule: Before every game, Make Stat run six or seven miles wearing 13th century armor on a 45-degree treadmill. Cuz this doesn’t seem to be working.

Tyson Chandler, C 31 MIN | 4-7 FG | 5-10 FT | 15 REB | 0 AST | 13 PTS | +5

After it was reported that the injury to Chandler’s left mase hinge – wrist? We’ll just call it a wrist — was in fact a deep bone bruise, there was talk of his sitting this one out and letting it recoup. That might’ve been bad. The Cavs asserted themselves in the paint early, but Chandler’s omnipresent help D — to say nothing of his monster stat line and otherworldly hustle at both ends of the floor — kept the tide stemmed. Right now, Chandler’s using Jerome Jordan to pick pieces of Semih Erden out of his molars.

Landry Fields, G 20 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 2 PTS | -4

Having played a hearty dose of minutes during the Schick Rising Stars Rookie Squareoff Challenge or whatever, it looked like Fields was one of the few Knicks for whom rest wasn’t an emergency priority. Now? Knick Knation can probably count many in its midst looking at Fields — and then at J.R. Smith… and then at Iman Shumpert…. and then back at Fields — and wondering whether his days as the starting two are numbered. Whatever happens, though, he’ll still have this 4ever.

Jeremy Lin, PG 33 MIN | 6-12 FG | 7-9 FT | 5 REB | 13 AST | 19 PTS | +13

Kyrie Irving straight up punked him on a few first quarter possessions, and you could see Lin’s will hunker down as stoutly as his grimace thereafter. It took a while for him to build something of a head of downhill steam, but once he did, Lin looked as decisive and aggressively crisp as ever. Whether he secretly sees his veteran backup as a potential usurper, or merely a trusted mage, Davis’ enthusiasm and improved play is starting to rub off on Lin.

Baron Davis, PG 15 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 4 PTS | +4

For a guy whose spine had supposedly turned into sawdust, Davis looked awfully explosive, albeit in herky-jerky spurts. Absent were the step-back threes with 26 seconds on the shot clock, the freelance lobs and over-excited paint forays. Present — and welcome — were the pinpoint passes, vocal leadership, and controlled drives.

Jared Jeffries, PF 20 MIN | 3-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +14

Recalling JJ’s role last year for what it was — spackle in the Titanic‘s hull, basically — it’s hard to believe the Garden Boo Birds’ favorite poop target has come this far, in terms of confidence, production, leadership, all of it.

With a quick show of torches and pitchforks, how many of you would mutinee if Jeffries was starting over Amar’e for the rest of the season?…. Amar’e, take off the banana disguise — we know it’s you.

Steve Novak, SF 17 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 17 PTS | +13

Someone needs to tell ol’ Steve that ever time he misses an open three, a baby puffin gets thrown in a blender. Clearly someone passed this message along at halftime, because Novakaine was straight up incendiary in the second, hitting from every conceivable spot along the arc. Anchoring the scoring load for a second unit fast becoming one of the league’s most effective, Novak was – during the game’s waning moments – lavished with chants for his return by a Garden Crowd run ragged through the emotional gamut.

That happened to me once, in a past life, in an arena – the name-chanting thing. I was eaten by a lion two minutes later.

J.R. Smith, SG 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 3-6 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +15

For the most part, Smith’s managed to stay in his lane. The range wasn’t there tonight, but I’m assuming that’s because his tattoos starting giving themselves tattoos and that really bothered him.

Iman Shumpert, G 22 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 12 PTS | +14

Like fellow rookie Harrellson — a late scratch with nagging fart pains — Shumpert was something of a game time decision for this one. He had to knock off a few flakes of rust early, but once Shump got going, he terrorized the Cavs’ back court in a manner that’s become wonderfully custom. I’m also hearing reports that his third quarter, lane-driving tomahawk violated the Geneva Conventions.

Five Things We Saw

  1. What is it about the Knicks and sub-.500 teams on the tail end of a back-to-back? it’s like if Krypton was, like, I don’t know, Cleveland or something. I mean yeah, It all ended well enough I suppose. But to think that the Cavs and Bucks (currently 9th and 10th in the East) are going to just lie down and swing the lottery — to say nothing of the 8th place Celtics, whom you know would love nothing more than to watch us fall face-first onto shark teeth — is the kind of thinking that loses you a Playoff berth. We have to start crushing the bad teams.
  2. Boy, I thought I’d seen it all in the world of Color Commentators Whose Job Could Have Easily Gone to Hundreds of Other Former Players – the bad, the worse, the stroke-inducing – listening to Stacey King last night. But Austin Carr? Yikes. Whether he was chiding the Knicks with statements like “they aren’t good defensive-thinking people” or “getthatweakstuffoutaHEEEAH,” or simply gyrating between incoherent cackles, I find it hard to believe that no one — Craig Ehlo, Mike Sanders, Larry Nance, Albert Belle — was better qualified for this job.
  3. They’re not Caviar Throws. They’re not Monte Carlo Mansion Throws. They’re not Oberlin Tuition Throws. They’re not U.S. Senate Seat Throws. They’re not Whole Foods Throws. They’re FREE Throws. Shoot them accordingly.
  4. BEING #4, THIS BULLET — LIKE AMAR’E STOUDEMIRE’S SOUL, APPARENTLY — BELONGS TO ANTAWN JAMISON.
  5. This realistically could’ve been the entire writeup. If it weren’t for their bench, the Knicks could easily still be trying to dig themselves out of the Garden through their locker room using nothing but spoons, while Jorts barricades the doors and waits to unload buckshot on the raging mob. Fact: Tonight, the second unit looked hungrier and more energized than the first — at least until the tail end, the game all but in hand. Hopefully the three days of practice between now and Sunday’s matinee showdown with the Celtics will give the Knick starting five some time to tap into their backups’ infectiousness.

2012 Game Thread: New York v. Cleveland

The second half begins tonight! The Knicks have astonishingly lost 12 of their last 13 games against Cleveland (what the heck, right? I mean, with Lebron it made sense, but they’ve played them at least five times since he left) so it would be nice to beat them tonight.

Josh Harrelson and Iman Shumpert are supposedly going to play tonight, so tonight will be the first time that the Knicks’ 11 best players are all healthy. Should be interesting. Will D’Antoni actually play 11 guys?

Plus, of course, there is the whole Lin versus Irving match-up.

Anyhow, here’s a thread to discuss tonight’s game!

The Last of the Melo-hicans

Once upon a time, in the midst of Melo hysteria, this blog seemed like the sole bastion of reason. Mike Kurylo argued on more than one occasion that we should temper our expectations, that while Melo could improve the team, whether he would and just how much he would was an open question (1, 2). I don’t bring this up just to stir up poop. I do it to point out the irony of the phase shift that is already beginning to occur. By the end of this season, KnickerBlogger’s constituency may contain some of the last of the Melo-hicans.

For evidence, just look at this extremely unscientific poll that the Knicks posted (and later pulled) through Facebook. I guess they didn’t realize that by default Facebook polls allow you to add your own response. How about this Onion article, or this jersey, both highly circulated around the spheres of the web? There is plenty of “real analysis” (idle speculation?) on the subject of Anthony potentially disrupting the Knicks’ offense. Deservedly or not, the kettle is heating up.

“Are you Linsane?” you might ask. “Or to be more accurate, are you not Linsane? Because I am! We’re in for a second half tear. The Melo hate will be dead in a month.” That may well be the case, but I’m trying very hard to not be Linsane here because as it seemed every player at All-Star Weekend pointed out, Jeremy Lin is a great story. It’s easy to get caught up in a story, for it to consume you for it to make you forget reality. The reality is that even during this recent win streak (which, by the way, does not even match the win streak we had last year), the Knicks weren’t that great. They won a lot of close games, and they played a lot of bad teams.

So far this season, the Knicks have had the second easiest schedule. Pythagorean wins, a formula that predicts wins and losses based on points scored and allowed, adjusted for strength of schedule, predicts the Knicks to end the season with a record of 31-35, potentially missing the playoffs.

Even if you only look at games since Lin’s emergence, the trusty formula predicts that they will finish the season 34-32, likely making the playoffs only to meet their doom against Miami or Chicago.

Let’s reconsider the evidence. Stoudemire’s season has been an unmitigated disaster.  Whether it’s his redundancy with Chandler on offense or his diminished athleticism, there is little indication (beyond Stoudemire’s word) that we will ever see the Stoudemire of 2010, let alone the dominating force STAT was in Phoenix. Statistics call him an average player right now, but stats have a difficult time measuring a guy’s defense, and that is the area Stoudemire struggles most. It’s a big problem when you have an average player who makes three times the average salary.

The evidence against Anthony is murkier, but even if he does return as a strong contributor, the Knicks would have to be great in order to move up to the 6th seed, and a sixth seed would likely require 36 wins at minimum (Hollinger predicts it will take 38 wins) and thus a 19-12 close. With the Knicks rough remaining schedule, even you optimists must admit that escaping a first round matchup with Miami or Chicago is at best a 50/50 proposition.

Getting back to stories though, with the Jeremy Lin story quaking in our hearts, we can’t help but believe that this team is heading for great things. If those great things do not happen – if, for example, we finish the season just above .500 and are out of the playoffs in five games – many will respond like children who receive disappointing Christmas gifts. They will lash out, and when they do, it will not be at the logical target. It will be at the easiest target.

What would make this situation especially unique is how all the normal scapegoats – the guys who pay the price when a team disappoints – are very difficult to blame.

The first man on the firing line is generally the coach, but D’Antoni is no longer such an easy target. Lin has often praised his coach, and many have speculated that a big reason for Lin’s emergence is D’Antoni’s system. These factors make it difficult to imagine D’Antoni as the fall guy.

The next part of the equation is the relative infancy of the Miami Heat model that the Knicks have followed. Normally, teams in possession of stars have spare parts and draft picks that they can move. However, due to our finagling for cap room and the assets we gave up in the Denver trade, we have little in the way of spare parts. Shumpert and Fields have some value, but their tiny contracts make it difficult to match salaries, as does Fields’ close relationship with Lin.

That leaves our two stars, which puts the Knicks in really rare air if you think about it. I can’t think of another time when a player who was top 20 in the league in terms of name recognition, was in or near his prime, and did not request the trade himself, was on the block.

Stoudemire, with his uninsured contract and his major struggles at both ends of the floor, seems like the easiest target, and Philadelphia inquired about him early this season. It’s unlikely, however, that a Stoudemire trade would net anything more than, say, Brand and Evan Turner or something similar. It’s hard to sell such a move as an upgrade.

Then there’s Anthony. We were 9-15 when Anthony got hurt, 1-2 since his return, and 8-1 in between. The easiest storyline with regard to the Knicks, if they do not “gel” into a top team, will be that Anthony is overrated and/or a poor fit.

The elephant in the room is the Knicks’ poor performance to open the season. That’s the primary factor that makes the lampooning of Anthony a reality and the trading of Anthony a possibility. We lost a lot of games to a lot of really bad teams. Most logical arguments suggest that, while Anthony hasn’t been the what the frothing masses expected, nor has his play justified the pieces the Knicks gave up for him, he also is not the primary cause of the Knicks’ struggles. I’m not even saying trading Anthony would hurt the Knicks, just that making him out to be the cause of all our troubles is both illogical and likely. If you think the Knicks organization is above acting rashly, you must be new to this franchise, because the last decade has been full of such kneejerk decisions.

Knicks Morning News (Wednesday, Feb 29 2012)

  • [New York Times] N.B.A. Roundup: Lopez’s 38 Points Help Nets Edge the Mavericks (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 06:24:05 GMT)

    Brook Lopez scored 38 points, and made the go-ahead free throws with 42 seconds left to give the Nets a 93-92 victory in Dallas.

  • [New York Times] Tight-Knit Family Shares Lin’s Achievement (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 04:20:05 GMT)

    Jeremy Lin’s parents navigated a winding path from Taiwan to Virginia, from Purdue University to Palo Alto, on their way to raising a global icon.

  • [New York Times] Timberwolves Rally in 4th to Beat Clippers 109-97 (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 06:20:04 GMT)

    Derrick Williams and Michael Beasley each scored 27 points, teaming up to lead a fourth-quarter shooting barrage as the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers 109-97 on Tuesday night in the teams’ first game since the All-Star break.

  • [New York Times] Rose Back to Best as Bulls Beat Hornets (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 05:57:18 GMT)

    Chicago’s Derrick Rose showed he is back to full fitness by grabbing 32 points and nine assists to help the Bulls beat the New Orleans Hornets 99-95 on Tuesday.

  • [New York Times] Cousins Has 22 and 18, Kings Silence Jazz 103-96 (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 06:02:04 GMT)

    DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 18 rebounds, and the Sacramento Kings celebrated a possible new arena deal with a 103-96 victory over the struggling Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.

  • [New York Times] Lopez Scores 38 as Nets Beat Mavericks 93-92 (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 04:40:59 GMT)

    Brook Lopez scored 38 points in only his third game back from a broken right foot, and made the go-ahead free throws with 42 seconds left for the New Jersey Nets in a 93-92 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.

  • [New York Times] Ilyasova’s Tip-In Lifts Bucks Over Wizards 119-118 (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 05:05:15 GMT)

    Ersan Ilyasova scored on a tip-in with 2.2 seconds left and the Milwaukee Bucks beat Washington 119-118 on Tuesday night, handing the Wizards their fifth consecutive defeat.

  • [New York Times] Rose’s Last-Minute Jumper Leads Bulls Past Hornets (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 03:50:18 GMT)

    Derrick Rose scored 32 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 19.4 seconds left, and the Chicago Bulls closed with an 8-0 run to beat the New Orleans Hornets 99-95 Tuesday night.

  • [New York Times] Lowry Scores 26 to Carry Rockets (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 03:59:00 GMT)

    Kyle Lowry scored 26 points, Luis Scola had 15 points and 10 rebounds and the Houston Rockets beat the Toronto Raptors 88-85 on Tuesday night.

  • [New York Times] 76ers Beat Pistons 97-68, Ending 5-Game Skid (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 03:08:25 GMT)

    Thaddeus Young scored 12 of his 20 points in a pivotal second quarter and All-Star Andre Iguodala had 12 points, six assists and four steals to help the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Detroit Pistons 97-68 and snap a five-game losing streak.

  • [New York Times] Allen, Garnett Lead Celtics Past Cavaliers 86-83 (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 03:05:22 GMT)

    Ray Allen scored 22 points, Kevin Garnett added 18 and the Boston Celtics beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 86-83 on Tuesday night to snap a five-game losing streak.

  • [New York Times] Granger’s 25 Lead Pacers Past Warriors (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 02:53:44 GMT)

    Danny Granger scored 25 points to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Golden State Warriors 102-78 Tuesday night for their fifth straight win.

  • [New York Times] Bryant Has Concussion to Go With Broken Nose (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 04:43:55 GMT)

    Kobe Bryant has a concussion in addition to the broken nose he sustained in the All-Star game.

  • [New York Times] Wade Says He Apologized to Bryant (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 03:16:55 GMT)

    Insisting he meant no harm, Dwyane Wade revealed Tuesday that he has apologized to Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant multiple times for a blood-drawing, nose-breaking foul during the All-Star game.

  • [New York Times] The Closer: The Closer: Nets’ Williams Gets Some Help (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 05:11:32 GMT)

    Deron Williams has been critical of his teammates this season, and may choose to leave for Dallas when he becomes a free agent, but on Tuesday, he and the Nets beat the defending champions.

  • [New York Times] On Basketball: Knicks’ Revival Awaits Stoudemire’s Re-Emergence (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 06:20:08 GMT)

    Amar’e Stoudemire looks less springy, less explosive, not at all like the Stoudemire who lorded over the rim for nine years.

  • [New York Daily News] Chandler goesALL on wrist watch  (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 04:46:05 GMT)

    To get away from basketball during the All-Star weekend, Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin went fishing, and forward Amar’e Stoudemire spent time snorkeling with his family.

  • [New York Daily News] Mayweather goes one-on-one with critics of his Lin tweets (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 04:37:16 GMT)

    Floyd Mayweather Jr. was not backing away from his Twitter comments about Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin from two weeks ago, but he wanted everyone to know that he has nothing against Lin.

  • [New York Daily News] Amar’e: ‘Stay tuned’ for second-half comeback (Wed, 29 Feb 2012 04:11:56 GMT)

    As Knicks guard Jeremy Lin returns to Madison Square Garden Wednesday night ready to square off with No. 1 draft pick Kyrie Irving and the Cleveland Cavaliers, questions linger regarding Lin’s support system, particularly the play of forward Amar’e Stoudemire.

  • Some Linteresting comps

    Those of you who stick around KBlogger after the season’s close are probably familiar with our Report Cards. When we’re not busy going out of our way to hurt a certain player’s feelings, part of our analysis involves comparing them to other players in the modern era who reflect some of the same statistics.

    Over at the always outstanding, stats-driven Hickory High, Ian Levy (also of TrueHoop partner in crime Two Man Game), did some great number crunching to come up with a few similarity scores for Jeremy Lin. Some of the names that came up might surprise you.

    Check out Ian’s great post here!

    Knicks Morning News (Tuesday, Feb 28 2012)

  • [New York Post] Baron needs to pick up some of Jeremy’s load (Tue, 28 Feb 2012 03:52:02 -0500)

    Jeremy Lin already saved the Knicks’ season, Mike D’Antoni’s reputation as an offensive guru and probably his job.
    Now as the NBA’s most scrutinized franchise embarks on the season’s second half tomorrow against Cleveland, Lin will need more help and fewer minutes. And that means more…

  • [New York Post] Harrellson could be back in the fold tomorrow (Tue, 28 Feb 2012 03:26:16 -0500)

    The Knicks may get one ailing player back tomorrow in power forward Josh Harrellson to give them an even deeper bench. Rookie guard Iman Shumpert, meanwhile, is an iffy proposition to play against the Cavaliers in the second-half opener.
    Harrellson was cleared to practice today for the first time and…

  • [New York Post] Talking ’bout practice (Tue, 28 Feb 2012 03:32:29 -0500)

    Allen Iverson may not have cared much about practice, but the Knicks were talking about the chance to have a few sustained practices together this week as if Christmas had come early.
    For much of the week before the NBA All-Star Game, Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni repeatedly spoke about…

  • [New York Times] The 10-Day N.B.A. Contract: A Tiny Window Closes Quickly (Tue, 28 Feb 2012 09:00:22 GMT)

    The 10-day N.B.A. contract can be a cruel audition that tries a player’s skills and patience, as Andre Emmett, a recent Nets call-up from the Development League, found out.

  • [New York Times] New Arena Deal for Kings (Tue, 28 Feb 2012 03:44:43 GMT)

    A tentative deal was reached to finance a new arena that would keep the Kings in Sacramento.

  • [New York Times] Off the Dribble: Jeremy Lin: The Official Song and Video (Tue, 28 Feb 2012 03:07:08 GMT)

    Jeremy Lin has an official song. An appraisal.

  • [New York Times] Off the Dribble: Knicks Hope to Find Strength in Numbers (Tue, 28 Feb 2012 03:27:19 GMT)

    The Knicks will open the second half of the season with a suddenly, surprisingly deep rotation.

  • [New York Times] Off the Dribble: Answers to Reader Questions on Knicks’ Chemistry (Tue, 28 Feb 2012 03:40:26 GMT)

    Howard Beck, the N.B.A. reporter for The Times, answers questions from readers.

  • [New York Times] Tv Sports: Magic Johnson Narrates New Film on His H.I.V. Announcement (Tue, 28 Feb 2012 06:24:12 GMT)

    “The Announcement,” a powerful and sensitive documentary narrated by Magic Johnson, will make its debut on March 11.

  • Unsung Knick History – The First All-Black Game in NBA History

    This is the latest in a series of examinations into different games, events and decisions that impacted Knicks history in some way, shape or form. Stories that are not as famous as, say, “The Dunk” or Willis Reed playing Game 7, but still have a place in Knicks history, especially for die-hard fans. Here is an archive of all the stories featured so far.

    As Black History Month comes to a close, I thought it would be nice to take a look at a nearly forgotten piece of NBA racial history. Earlier in the season, the Los Angeles Clippers held off the Miami Heat in a thrilling 95-89 overtime victory in Los Angeles. While the nationally televised game certainly drew a lot of attention, what drew no attention was the group of players that competed in the game. All eighteen players in the game were African-American. This is not necessarily a common occurrence in the National Basketball Association (NBA) nowadays (particularly with the influx of talented players from Europe and the rest of the world), but it is common enough that I bet no one even noticed the fact during the Heat/Clippers game. Everyone just enjoyed an exciting basketball game, which is how it should be. However, like all instances of racial progress, before things can be accepted as simply “normal” there first has to be someone willing to be the trailblazer. In this case, it was the 1979-80 New York Knicks and a match-up against the Detroit Pistons on October 18, 1979 that changed the game for African-American players for years to come.

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