2013-14 Game Thread: Knicks v. Bulls

Happy Amar’e-ween!

Game two, y’all! A brief trip to the land of hog-butchers and heady winds. It is also All Hallowe’s Eve, which means the Knicks will be sporting their brand-spanking new orange duds and the Chicagoans will be resplendent in their black alts! Orange + Black = CANDY!

Speaking of which, Amar’e Stoudemire gets his turn in the aged PF/C wheel tonight, and earlier today, he voiced his views on this evening’s merriment (Halloween, not the game, to be clear). They are…interesting. Here are some thoughts o’ mine over at our interweb pals, The Classical:

And then there are the more fervent types—a thing we never saw in our old UWS Halloweens—that screech spittlingly that this is a night that celebrates (somehow) both PAGANISM and SATAN, and that there’s something something truly dark-sided in a kid wearing a plastic Dark Knight mask. Presumably even the crappy ones your Mom got at Woolworth’s with a shirt/smock with words like, “Batman! POW!” printed on the front.

One individual I did not expect to be a part of this particularly American madding crowd is the Knicks hobbled 100 million dollar PF/C, Amar’e Stoudemire. For one, as recently as two years ago, STAT seemed to get as much of a bang out of dressing up as the rest of us.

Evidently, that’s no longer the case. Earlier today, he released this Ghostbuster-y anti-pumpkin logo via Instagram with the caption, “As the Children of Israel (Jacob) we must separate ourselves from anything pagan. #BlessedBeTheCreator #YHWH #GodBody”

Two, outside of all the nifty things he does on the court, Amar’e Stoudemire’s clearly an inquisitive, spiritual guy. His ongoing quest to plumb the depths of his (possibly apocryphal) Judaic roots, his trips to Israel, and so on, but I never associated The Chosen People™ with anti-Halloween jeremiads. Execute a quick Google search and you’ll see that for the Orthodox/Conservative set, it is verboten.

The argument(s) seem to be partially out of some sense of misplaced jealousy that Purim doesn’t get the publicity it should combined with the same finger-wagging about encouraging Paganism/mischief making/children acting like…well…children that forms the basis of the non-Semitic version:

“Let me tell you about a wonderful Jewish holiday: once a year, our children dress up as sages, princesses, heroes and clowns. They drop by the homes of our community, visit the infirm and the aged, spreading joy and laughter. They bring gifts of food and drink and collect tzedakah (charity) for the needy. You guessed it—it’s called Purim, when it’s customary to send mishloach manot—gifts of food—to one’s friends and even more gifts to those in hard times. Flip it over (October instead of March, demanding instead of giving, scaring instead of rejoicing, demons instead of sages, etc.) and you have Halloween.  There you have it: a choice of one of two messages you can give to your children.”

In that context, I guess it’s easy to fathom STAT raining on everyone’s parade. The fact that it took a couple of years for his understanding of his newfound religion to take full, glowering flower explains the wacky bearded good timer-y of the recent past.

Oh, and after a fairly successful run with the two-PG look (whodathunkit!), because Chicago is ‘big’, Son of Wood will also go ‘big’ with this starting quintet:

That’s just awesome. You have to assume that Woody was he possessed by an evil spirit/Lucifer. Hmm, maybe STAT was on to something after all…

Okay, Knickerblogger-backers, all your brilliant insights and jejune wordsmithery can be uttered here. Go Knicks!

The Good and Bad of Bargnani’s Preseason

The Andrea Bargnani trade was at the center of the Knicks’ offseason hoopla, dividing the fan base into two armies at war. Basically, like any other Knicks transaction outside the Chris Smith signing. With the 2013-14 NBA season upon us, it’s no longer worth our time to debate the ins and outs of the deal itself. Bargs is here and Mike Woodson and crew have turned to figuring out how to best implement him as the season grinds on. The team’s seven exhibition games might not be the best wellspring for basketball analysis, but — save for last night’s not so sterling regular season debut — it’s all we’ve got at this point. So let’s see what Bargnani has shown he can offer this basketball club.

The Good:

1.) Despite the putrid percentages — 38% from the field and 20% from downtown — Bargnani was weirdly efficient on the offensive end, finishing with 79 points on 63 attempts. Not outstanding by any means, but worth noting in accordance with his unimpressive shooting. The reason for this disparity was his ability to draw fouls; Bargnani’s free throw attempts equaled just about half of his field goal attempts — 31 to 63 — and he stroked it from the charity stripe to the tune of 90%. The Knicks’ efficient offense was their bread and butter last season, but most of that was due to their nightly three-point barrages. Per-48 minutes (and pace adjusted), the Knicks ranked 18th in the NBA last season in free throw attempts, the most efficient basketball shot there is. Even in a 7th or 8th man role Bargnani can boost this ranking and with it the Knicks’ ORTG, even if his troubling shooting percentages transition over to the regular season.

But here’s the kicker: his shooting will almost certainly improve. Bargnani’s 38% clip from the field was a mark he met just once in his career and his 20% shooting from long range was a depth Bargs has yet to slip to for an entire season. Both of these percentages can also be seen as a product of his newness to the Knicks’ offensive system, as well as his conditioning struggles (we’ll get to that in a second).

2.) The biggest gripe with Bargnani for most, myself included, is his underwhelming defensive presence. Bargs is commonly understood as a defensive liability, but he’ll have to do a not-absolutely-dreadful job in order to justify his spot in the rotation. From what we’ve seen so far, Bargnani’s biggest issue isn’t knowing where to be (except on the pick-and-roll at times), but getting there.

Bargnani’s conditioning is at a low point — he’ll be the first to admit it — because of his recent bout with pneumonia that left him bedridden for a month. Logic has it that, once he gets back to game shape, Bargs won’t be as big of a defensive deficiency as many fear. When he manages to get to his spot in time, Bargs seldom tries to do too much — hands straight up, jump vertically. Is he our best option as a second line of defense? No. But once the bounce in his step inevitably returns, even if it’s not to this extent, it’s safe to say Bargnani shouldn’t be a total turnstile.

Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal hopped on TheKnicksWall’s podcast (which you should definitely listen to, link here) and shared similar views: “[Bargnani’s] not a terrible defender, the way a lot of people make him out to be.” On the podcast Herring also noted the team’s Defensive Rating with Bargnani on the floor with Tyson Chandler being at around 103 in 75 minutes of action, “a little bit better than the middle of the pack.”

The Bad:

1.) In theory, Bargnani should force defenses to collapse, thus playing right into the Knicks’ schemes in opening up looks from downtown. However, Bargnani does one thing in particular that hampers this idea. Worse, I’m not sure it can be remedied: Bargnani has a difficult time seeing the open man once he decides to look for his shot. This is a real thing, and it’s alarming.

Some of those attempts were legit good tries; one led to free throws, and another to a bucket. However, an open corner three is the better shot in most of these situations, and Bargnani hasn’t shown the ability (or interest?) in passing out of a drive. Perhaps it’s a lack of peripheral vision or ability to make quick decisions, but either way it’s probably not a repairable problem unless Bargs begins to recognize it as such.

2.) Speaking of offensive spacing, Bargnani doesn’t actually offer much of that. This is troubling because, well, it was his biggest selling point as soon as the trade went down. “He can pull bigs like Joakim Noah and Roy Hibbert out of the paint!” Etc. Problem is, he hasn’t really done that thus far. Disregard his disappointing three-point percentage — that isn’t the issue. The problem is Bargnani’s positioning on the floor. Without the ball in his hands, Bargnani roams around the mid-range and one-step-inside-the-arc areas.

Where's Andrea?

These are the worst spots for catch-and-shoot jumpers, for the simple reason that they’re the least efficient shots in basketball, period. A couple steps backwards and Bargnani would be dialing up a much better shot, and — more importantly — really be pulling bigs out of the paint. Smart NBA defenses nowadays go out of their way to force long twos, and Bargnani not learning to stay behind the three-point line would be doing more harm to the Knicks than the actual defense. Bargnani attempted more mid-range shots than threes throughout the preseason, which should be a red flag to the coaching staff. The upside is that this is a matter of Bargnani buying in to the offense. You’ll see Bargs start off possessions trying to glue himself to the deep ball but wander off later on, so one could guess the coaching staff has stressed this necessary — and critical — adjustment.

3.) His rebounding has been pretty bad — less than five boards per-36 minutes during the pre-season. No surprise here, really. Iman Shumpert grabbed more total boards in less total minutes. Moving on.

4.) Bargnani’s potential rotation spot is a lose-lose. This is probably the most disheartening conclusion I’ve drawn up watching him during the preseason. The only way the Knicks can pass of playing Bargnani 20+ minutes is if they are spent alongside Tyson Chandler or Kenyon Martin.

Last night notwithstanding for the moment, consider this: Through six preseason games, the Knicks gave up an excruciating 124.6 points per 100 possessions, according to STATS (hat tip to Chris Herring) with Bargnani on the floor without Chandler. That number speaks for itself and is inescapable unless Bargs is playing with a rim protector.

As a starter, Bargnani would spend the majority — if not all — of his minutes with Tyson Chandler, thus resolving the problem. However most would agree this probably isn’t the best direction to go, why with Melo-at-the-four being the Knicks’ backbone. Bargnani is best suited for the bench, but the only way he doesn’t cost the Knicks a tidal wave of easy scores is if he plays alongside Kenyon Martin. Only Martin will likely sit out a good chunk of games, due to a strategy that would involving swapping his minutes with Stoudemire’s every other game:

In Bargnani the Knicks certainly have a talent. But utilizing him correctly and getting him to what’s best for the team will likely remain issues for months — if not longer. There isn’t a lot to work with as far as detailing where he fits in best, but if Mike Woodson can find Bargnani’s niche on this team come postseason time, maybe the guessing and experimentation will have been worth it.

Knicks Morning News (2013.10.31)

  • [New York Times] Raptors Down Celtics to Snap Opening Night Drought (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 05:37:53 GMT)

    The Toronto Raptors finally sent an opening night crowd home with a smile and a win when they held on to beat the Boston Celtics 93-87 to raise the curtain on a new National Basketball Association season on Wednesday.    

  • [New York Times] Warriors Whip Lakers 125-94 in Season Opener (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 05:08:22 GMT)

    Klay Thompson scored a career-high 38 points in a spectacular shooting performance, and the Golden State Warriors whipped the Los Angeles Lakers 125-94 in their much-anticipated season opener Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] George, Hill Lead Pacers Past Pelicans 95-90 (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 04:56:05 GMT)

    George Hill’s confidence in the clutch, cultivated by a deep playoff run just last spring, was never more obvious than when he received a pass at the top of the 3-point arc inside the final minute.    

  • [New York Times] Kings Beat Nuggets 90-88 in Celebratory Opener (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 04:50:13 GMT)

    DeMarcus Cousins had 30 points and 14 rebounds to give Sacramento fans plenty more to cheer about than just having a team as the Kings won their season-opener 90-88 over the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Dragic, Bledsoe Help Suns Give Hornacek 1st Win (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 04:50:04 GMT)

    Goran Dragic scored 26 points and Eric Bledsoe added 22, leading the Phoenix Suns to a 104-91 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Wednesday night and giving Jeff Hornacek a win in his coaching debut.    

  • [New York Times] Cavaliers 98, Nets 94: Rebuilt Nets Still Need Fine-Tuning (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 04:05:38 GMT)

    Paul Pierece missed a long step-back shot with 15 seconds on the clock that would have tied the game as the Nets, looking more scrappy than smooth, fell to the Cavaliers.    

  • [New York Times] Durant Scores 42 to Lift Thunder to Win Over Jazz (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 04:05:35 GMT)

    Kevin Durant scored 22 of his 42 points from the free throw line, including a pair with 6.4 seconds remaining, to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 101-98 win over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] N.B.A. Roundup: Fast Start Helps 76ers Against Heat (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:34:57 GMT)

    On the day Allen Iverson officially announced his retirement from the N.B.A., Philadelphia looked strong against the defending league champions.    

  • [New York Times] Ellis, Nowitzki Lead Mavs Past Hawks 118-109 (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:26:47 GMT)

    Monta Ellis started his Dallas career with 32 points, Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 and the Mavericks spoiled Mike Budenholzer’s coaching debut with a 118-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Spurs Beat Grizzlies 101-94 Behind Leonard, Parker (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:20:11 GMT)

    Kawhi Leonard had 14 points, Tony Parker added 13 points and nine assists, and the San Antonio Spurs got off to a strong start five months after last season’s disappointing loss in the NBA Finals, beating the Memphis Grizzlies 101-94 Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Love Carries Wolves Past Magic, 120-115 (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:05:08 GMT)

    Kevin Love had 31 points and 17 rebounds and hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 10.2 seconds left to force overtime in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 120-115 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Hawes Leads Late Charge, 76ers Stun Heat 114-110 (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:02:25 GMT)

    Michael Carter-Williams had Allen Iverson cheering from his suite and left LeBron James impressed.    

  • [New York Times] Knicks 90, Bucks 83: Knicks Show Promise, and Flaws, in Debut (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 03:01:30 GMT)

    The Knicks blew an enormous second-half lead before pulling away from the Bucks in a season-opening victory that was more about survival than execution.    

  • [New York Times] Howard Leads Rockets Over Bobcats 96-83 in Opener (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 02:44:21 GMT)

    Dwight Howard had 17 points and a career-high-tying 26 rebounds in his Houston debut, James Harden added 21 points and the Rockets cruised to a 96-83 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] New-Look Pistons Beat Wizards 113-102 in Opener (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 02:38:16 GMT)

    Greg Monroe had 24 points and 16 rebounds, and the new-look Detroit Pistons won their season opener in convincing fashion, beating the Washington Wizards 113-102 Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Times] Knicks Blow 25-Point Lead but Beat Bucks 90-83 (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 02:32:13 GMT)

    Carmelo Anthony had 19 points and 10 rebounds, making a pair of baskets in a finishing run after New York had blown a 25-point lead, and the Knicks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 90-83 on Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.    

  • [New York Times] Irving Leads Cavaliers to 98-94 Win Over Nets (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 02:05:23 GMT)

    Anderson Varejao’s basket with 28 seconds left — off an assist from Kyrie Irving — sent Cleveland to a 98-94 win on Wednesday night over the remodeled Brooklyn Nets in coach Mike Brown’s first game back with the Cavaliers.    

  • [New York Times] Gay Leads Raptors Past Celtics 93-87 (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 01:47:24 GMT)

    Rudy Gay had 19 points and eight rebounds, Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan each scored 13 points and the Toronto Raptors snapped a three-game losing streak in home openers by beating the Boston Celtics 93-87 on Wednesday night.    

  • [New York Newsday] Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler key Knicks' opening-night win (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 00:18:30 EDT)

    The Knicks opened what they believe will be a magical season by letting a huge lead vanish. But with the game on the line and the Garden fans at the edge of their seats, the Knicks' two All-Stars elevated their games.

  • [New York Newsday] New Knick Andrea Bargnani hears some booing after slow start in opener (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 00:54:01 EDT)

    It was supposed to be a new beginning for Andrea Bargnani.

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Tyson: 'Like night and day' from last May (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 02:45:25 EDT)

    NEW YORK — A win is a win, but the Knicks’ opening night victory left Mike Woodson with plenty to be concerned about. His team blew a 25-point lead, turned the ball over 14 times in the second half and missed 10 of 13 3-point attempts. “That’s not us,” the coach said. But there’s at least one thing Woodson and the Knicks can feel good about on Thursday morning. And it’s this: Tyson Chandler seems to be healthy and productive. The Knicks center finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five blocks and made several key plays in the final two minutes to help save New York from a forgettable opening act.

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Bargnani clanks Knicks debut (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 02:34:53 EDT)

    NEW YORK — Less than 24 minutes into his Knicks’ tenure, Andrea Bargnani already had some of the fans inside a packed Madison Square Garden groaning. Bargnani scored just six points in 17 minutes in the Knicks’ 90-83 win over the Bucks. Bargnani shot just 3-for-9 and missed all three of his shots from beyond the arc. “Individually in the first half I struggled shooting the ball. They were all good shots,” Bargnani said. “I got to keep making those.

  • [ESPN.com – New York Knicks] Felton's hamstring tightens up (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 00:48:38 EDT)

    NEW YORK — Point guard Raymond Felton left Wednesday’s game against Milwaukee briefly in the second half due to discomfort in his left hamstring. The ailment is a bit concerning for New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson because Felton injured the same hamstring on Oct. 17 in a preseason game against Washington. “I’ve got to see how he feels [Thursday] because that’s something that you don’t want to play with,” Woodson said. The coach suggested that if Felton is in discomfort, he could be held out of the game against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls.

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks hang on for deer life, survive Bucks for ugly opening win (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 05:47:28 GMT)

    Carmelo Anthony’s troublesome left shoulder was wrapped in ice, and somewhere Mike Woodson was likely applying a cold press to his head. That’s the kind of night it was for the Knicks and their coach.    

  • [New York Daily News] Knicks Insider: Did Dolan say he expects team to win title? (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 05:47:04 GMT)

    Knicks president Steve Mills would neither confirm nor deny that Garden Chairman James Dolan delivered an edict to the coaching staff that he expects the Knicks to win the NBA title this season.    

  • [New York Daily News] Never a Knick as Artest, Metta at Peace in Garden (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 05:29:38 GMT)

    The name changed, but the dream never did. And on Wednesday night, the dream finally became a reality. Metta World Peace — or Ron Artest, as people around here knew him — donned a Knicks uniform and played for his hometown team as it won its season opener, 90-83.    

  • [New York Daily News] Bondy: Mills’ Knicks still flawed, generally speaking (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 05:22:32 GMT)

    The Heat lost, the Nets lost. The Bulls already were losers. At his locker after the game on Wednesday, Tyson Chandler couldn’t help but smile at the stutter starts by his future rivals.    

  • [New York Post] Bargnani struggles in Knicks debut (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 00:21:02 -0400)

    Coach Mike Woodson deflected questions about whether it's important that newcomer Andrea Bargnani get his Knick career off to a quick start. We're about to find out if it is,…

  • [New York Post] Carmelo comes through in fourth to spark Knicks (Thu, 31 Oct 2013 00:11:34 -0400)

    It was an opportunity Carmelo Anthony often has, an opportunity better than any big black book. The Bucks had quieted a giddy Garden crowd, cutting the Knicks' 25-point second-half lead…

  • Knicks 90, Bucks 83

    Milwaukee Bucks 83 Final
    Recap | Box Score
    90 New York Knicks
    Carmelo Anthony, SF

    38 MIN | 7-16 FG | 5-6 FT | 10 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 19 PTS | +4

    First half: Found something of an early rhythm, due in part to not forcing the issue. Rotated well; hit the glass in style; and seemed more than happy to send Spaulding ’round the horn. And he dunked with two hands twice, which, let’s try and save those.

    Second half: A roller coaster seat studded with rusty nails where Mama June Shannon has to hold on to you because the handle bar is missing. It wasn’t so much that he was taking bad shots; the ship just couldn’t find its bearings, and Melo couldn’t right it. He did come up with the game’s two deciding buckets, however.

    Tyson Chandler, C

    32 MIN | 5-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 5 BLK | 5 TO | 10 PTS | +18

    First half: Looked spry and springy right from the get-go, hit an elbow jumper late in the first, and caused a minor earthquake after poor Nate Wolters decided it was a good idea to try and duplicate what he used to pull off against centers who averaged out at 6’4” at South Dakota State Methodist Polytech Agriculture and Mining State. That ball is now roughly half way through the earth’s mantle. Go fetch it, Mining Boy.

    Second half: The only credibly consistent presence during the 24-minute snuff film that was the second half of this basketball game. It’s difficult to describe the violence with which Chandler impaled the ball – both through the rim and away from it – during the game’s waning moments. Without a doubt the game’s MVP.

    Raymond Felton, PG

    34 MIN | 7-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +11

    First half: BOY, WHAT A BULLDOG! The defense looked tenacious, the jumper hitch-less, and the transition moxie controlled and confident. He poked and prodded the lane with aplomb – helpless whelp Nate Wolters at his hitch – and sweated delicious, chalky dirt. BULLDOG.

    Second half: Pulled up lame after a smooth, traffic-defying reverse lay-in. The universe promptly melted. Ray would return, however, looking minimally hobbled and bringing an air of calm to a tumultuous stretch. Knicks: I don’t care if he freezes and drowns — ICE BATH. BULLDOG.

    Pablo Prigioni, PG

    37 MIN | 3-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 7 PTS | +19

    First Half: Pablo Prigioni’s hands might be snorting amyls. It was Prigs’ hounding heroics that set the tone defensively, while capitalizing on whatever the Bucks gave him at the other end. He ate Nate Wolters’ stubble-less face; and generally looked content with picking up right where he left off down last season’s stretch.

    Second Half: A smoothie of rotted raw chicken and paint thinner. It was turnovers a’plenty until crunch time, when the goofball hands started flying and ol’ Pesky came up with a couple of crucial nabs – one of them a violent dive that resulted in a gritty Melo lay-in to put the Bockers up three.

    Iman Shumpert, SG

    33 MIN | 5-13 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +4

    First half: A dash choppy to start, with Shump hesitating way too much off the catch. But once the groove was got, the coast was clear – confident dribble-drives, a gorgeous PUJIT three, a tough and-1, and a missed oop-and-foul that saw him land awkwardly on his left knee and caused at least six different fluids to spray out of my skull. Three of them I’ve never seen before. He deflected more passes than I could count, and was sweating hard enough to buoy a cruise liner.

    Second half: A Debra Winger movie marathon for 72 consecutive sleepless hours. (Bad, but OK because you like watching Debra Winger. Debra Winger is Shump in this scenario. Never mind.) That 17-footer from the top of the key as the shit hit the fan was huge. Ditto the late-fourth D. All in all, there was plenty to love, even if it all feels like borrowed time.

    Andrea Bargnani, PF

    17 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | -11

    First half: A sucker fish that’s just had its eyes torn out by a school of convict cichlids, swimming around in aimless circles, praying for its owner to throw it down a broken toilet.

    Second half: A sucker fish that’s just had its eyes torn out by a school of convict cichlids, swimming around in aimless circles, praying for its owner to throw it down a broken toilet.

    Caveat: I understand it’s a process. Fact is, Bargnani’s baggage entails so many variables – draft status, signs of early atrophy, a city that welcomes warmly but turns in an instant – that any semblance of productive efficiency should be seen as found money, at this point. As in wrinkled and sweat-stained one-dollar bills with “TUESDAY RAIN” written in black lipstick.

    Kenyon Martin, PF

    5 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +6

    First half: For a guy who’d spent most of the preseason alternating between frustrated quotes and ice baths, K-Mart looked pretty damn jumpy in the early going – fleet of foot, quick off the ground, and keen of timing.

    Second half: Deafening crickets.

    Metta World Peace, SF

    18 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -4

    First half: It was encouraging to see Metta take a break from aimless perimeter chucking to post up weaker foes on the block. He’s still quick enough on the spin to create space and convert, so hopefully this wasn’t just a fleeting glimpse. Still looks a little lost on offense.

    Second half: Like being hungover in a nine-hour line at the DMV where all of the clerks are Ted Cruz. Was apparently trying to catch the most routine of passes with toilet scrubbers. He did make a pretty big running jumper during Milwaukee’s slogging comeback.

    Beno Udrih, PG

    11 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -12

    First half: After a sterling preseason, Beno cut quite the jittery picture throughout, getting a bit cavalier with the ball and finishing with a team low +/- of minus 12.

    Second half: Your boss walking in on you watching 80s dwarf porn on a Hello Kitty sticker-covered VHS you just stole from Goodwill.

    Tim Hardaway Jr., SG

    15 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | 0

    First half: He can shoot.

    Second half: He can shoot.

    Five Things We Saw

    1. Two point guards! Fun for exactly 24 minutes! That Prigioni was a team-high +19 wouldn’t surprise anyone who watched even ten minutes of tonight’s game. I’m glad – as we all are – that Woodson acknowledged what worked last year.
    2. These two professional basketball teams combined for 45 turnovers in a professional basketball game in a professional basketball league. Forty-five. No, it wasn’t six overtimes. The Knicks were able to capitalize to a more consistent degree than were the Bucks, but both teams have to know what’s going up first on the drawing board.
    3. For once, the Knicks’ defensive rotations looked crisp, clean, and devoid of letting that shady dude in the corner bogart the rest of the bag. The wings in particular looked like they were communicating – if not verbally, than by some sign language Bargs learned in his Toronto safehouse.
    4. Paul Rudd says the new Anchroman is “amazing.” I have mixed feelings about Paul Rudd.
    5. 98 97 96 95 94 93 92 91 90 89 88 87 86 85 84 83 82 81 80 79 78 77 76 75 74 73 72 71 70 69 68 67 66 65 64 63 62 61 60 59 58 57 56 55 54 53 52 51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

    At The Classical: The Knicks, In the Hospital

    Metta flips the world on its axis by asking Frank Isola a question (Photo by Mike Kurylo)

    So the regular season’s about to start (Yay!) but before we plunge face first into Knick games that count/matter, if you’re in a reflective mood, I wrote some things (well, a lot of things) about Media Day 2013.

    And then Mills was asked if he had any regrets about his prior tenure—you remember, the one where the Knicks became a bleak joke. He said, “No,” and I stopped taking notes. I recall him adding that he thought he did a “great” job and that he wouldn’t change a thing.

    Which is clearly madness. During Mills’ five years as President of Madison Square Garden, the Knicks were a howling garbage fire. But which, also, was the only answer Mills could have given. If he’d said, “In every situation I try to look for places to improve/ways in which I could have done a better job and so on,” the follow-up questions would be versions of, “And what were those mistakes?” Had Mills dodged that by repeating a slightly altered version of his first statement, the next question would have been, “So what did you learn? Was it not to hire Isiah Thomas?” And so on and on, until eventually there is enough juice and Haunting Isiah Memories to produce a few back page stories. Mills had to have known that his prior stint was not rainbows and concord, but made a knowingly incorrect statement because he wanted to end the conversation.

    Which I guess is the mark of a good executive, and also more or less the tact that residents take when fretful family member types start with the grilling on this medication versus that one and what is or isn’t contraindicated. Each answer—any answer—would only prompt further questions, and there are rotations to make and a job to do. If she really were to take my hand and walk me—and every other sad-manic individual sweating bedside—through every step of his decision-making process, she’d be screwed. That is not her job; she cannot do her job if she does that. We might not like it, but what she does all that can possibly be done.

    You can read the whole thing here. Go Knicks!

    On the Greatest of Days, a Poll to End All Polls

    This is it, folks — the answers to the most pertinent questions facing the Knicks this season. The Knickerblogger contributors answered a series of poll questions and, like Moses, I have been commanded to bring these great truths before you. As is a proper scholarly presentation of data, I’ll present to you the poll results in percentages, so that you don’t know what kind of sample size we’re dealing with. Just assume that Knickerblogger articles are outsourced to India, where over 500 factory workers churn out daily articles which are then posted under a handful of names, and all those workers have participated in this poll. I now present to you… THE POLL:

     

    Question 1: Will Amare Stoudemire play Over or Under 47.5 games?
    Over: 60% Under 40%

    My Take: It seems like Amar’e had some immediate family members voting in this poll. Extreme optimism is the only explanation I would have for someone expecting Amare to play in over half of the Knicks regular season games. I’m a realist. I’m such a realist, in fact, that when I read The Three Little Pigs to my daughter at night, I change the characters into three purchasing agents and a janitor who just wants a new mop. It’s never too early to teach the wonders of bureaucracy to your loved ones. That’s why I picked under.

     

    Question 2: Will Andre Bargnani play Over or Under 28 MPG?
    Over: 30% Under 70%

    My Take: For Bargnani to play over 28 MPG, he will most likely have to see significant time at Center. I really hope he doesn’t play more than 28 MPG…

     

    Question 3: Will Cole Aldrich play Over or Under 862 minutes?
    Over: 20% Under 80%

    My Take: I took under on this. It’d be great if Cole could become a solid contributor as a backup center, but I just don’t see him getting more than 10 MPG with Tyson, Kenyon, Amare, Bargs, Melo and Metta all ahead of him at the 4 and/or 5. Either way, I doubt Cole Aldrich will make or break our season.

     

    Question 4: Will Metta World Peace shoot Over or Under 34.2% from three?
    Over: 50% Under 50%

    My Take: I took over. 34.2% is what Metta shot last year, after a disastrous 2011-12 where he shot under 30%. Prior to that horrible season Metta shot no lower than 35.5% for 5 straight seasons. I think he gets back to that 35-37% level in this offense.

     

    Question 5: Will Tim Hardaway Jr. shoot Over or Under 36.0% from three??
    Over: 80% Under 20%

    My Take: Just as with quantum mechanics, Hardaway Jr.’s shooting percentage exists as a probability of observation and measurement. The act of measuring his 3pt% causes the set of shooting probabilities to immediately and randomly assume only one of the possible values. That is, there is no determining Hardaway Jr.’s 3pt% for the year, as it exists in a state where the possibility of being over or under 36% is equally probable and by measuring his makes and misses, we actually change the state of his 3pt%. Trust me, I have a degree in Physics. Move along.

     

    Question 6: Will Carmelo Anthony win Over or Under 0.5 Player of the Month awards?
    Over: 70% Under 30%

    My Take: Melo always gets hot for a stretch and people love them some scoring. No question this is an over.

     

    Question 7: Will Chris Smith play Over or Under 20 minutes total?
    Over: 11% Under 89%

    My Take: I think we’re all holding out hope that Chris Smith will collect his paycheck, never see the floor, and possibly be cut in a few weeks. Who knows, though maybe the league offices will force the Knicks to play the guy in order to prove they didn’t just sign him in an under-the-table agreement with JR. It would at least create comedic value in the season.

     

    Question 8: Will Pablo Prigioni start Over or Under 40 games?
    Over: 30% Under 70%

    My Take: I think I said over on this. I don’t remember now. It depends if Woodson wants to start games off with the 2 PG lineup. Doesn’t really matter to me, as long as Prigs gets plenty of playing time.

     

    Question 9: Will the Knicks win total be Over or Under the Nets win total?
    Over: 30% Under 70%

    My Take: Uh oh! Aren’t we the cynical bunch! If I had to guess on my own, I think both teams will win in the mid to high 40s. I just chose under because I greedily consume any and all pessimistic, anti-Knick analysis that comes burbling to the fore, assuming it to be the absolute unassailable truth; it’s easier than thinking for yourself.

     

    Question 10: Will the Knicks rank defensively Over or Under 10.5 in team rankings?
    Over: 90% Under 10%

    My Take: Does it really make sense to predict that the Knicks will be a top 10 defense? I mean, I’m not saying it won’t happen. I’m just saying it’s very unlikely. Yeah, they added Metta, but they also added Bargnani, will possibly be giving Amare more playing time, and just gave JR a new contract. But hey, give me enough beer and I’ll probably see the Knicks as a top 10 defense this year. Or maybe I’m just looking for free beer.

     

    Question 11: Will the Knicks total Over or Under 7.5 playoff wins?
    Over: 10% Under 90%

    My Take: See, we’re not all cynical trolling jerks! 10% of us think the Knicks will make the Eastern Conference Finals! I’m not in that 10%, however. I do think we win a first round series, though! It’s not all bad!

     

    Thus concludes The Great Poll of October 2013. Sorry for all the season spoilers! Pretend you never read this article, or give yourself a head injury, so you can be surprised how the season turns out!
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    Please don’t give yourself a head injury.