Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
I’m sure we’re all bracing ourselves for a Eugene O’Neill-esque sea of simmering resentment and forced pleasantries, a slew of social/political/economic issues that you might be dragooned into to “discussing” with various chain mail-forwarding relatives that you haven’t seen in a year (or more), the drinking habits of various grabby, rant-y family members and possibly screwing on a smile when face-to-face with their new significant others, such that you can practically see the unspoken cartoon thought bubbles bobbing menacingly above everyone’s head: “Hey, where’s Aunt Sheila?
Until then, let’s be thankful for the Knicks.
No, really. This was fun! Yes, they lost in overtime, but a scrappy effort filled with some unlikely heroes and some peak J.R.-ness was really the most one could have hoped for, what with Carmelo Anthony (hopefully) covered from head-to-toe in bubble wrap and sealed in a hyperbaric chamber in a shady, semi-legal experimental Texas medical center.
So, a few notes on the chief characters in this Serial drama, and we can all prepare to slip into a nice Tryptophan coma.
Like I said, a fun game. The tendency might be to focus on the six—count them, six—turnovers in turnovers in OT, or the ridonkulous last-second, score-knotting shot from the performance artist still known as Earl Joseph Smith III, but instead, I’m choosing to focus on the nice things, like an undermanned and talent-deficient ‘Bocker squad scrapped and clawed to hang with an absolutely devastating, record-setting (to date) Mavericks offense.
This isn’t as nice. Yes, the defense was better than we’ve seen in awhile, but even if the Texas School Book Depositories finished a brutal 4-31, they weren’t firing threes at a Morey-an pace because of some fealty to the sacred texts of advanced analytics. The shots were good, open looks, if slightly less wide open than say, Kyle Korver looking like he was exiled to Elba, where he’d have all the time he like to dream his dreamy dreams and perfect his stroke.
There were also gobs of turnovers, both of the forced and unforced variety, but a small lineup did a dandy job jumping passing lanes when the opportunity arose, and scrambled to keep up with Dallas’ constant pick and roll churn.
On offense, there were times the triangle hummed and vibrated like a well-struck…er…triangle, but boy, oh boy, would it be nice to have at least one complete PF or C that could really make it work. Mainly, when things were getting geometric, it was because the lineup was packed with point guards, overflowing on our Knickerbocker plate, like so much delicious, starchy stuffing n’ potatoes. Hey, Jose. Whatcha got for us? [h/t Kevin McElroy]
That was impressive. Serious Guernica stuff, from a revenge-minded floor general. Whether he was carving out an inch or two of space off a two man game or straight catch and shoot gunning, he tickled the twine to the tune of seven threes, including a super-clutch heave with two minutes to go that briefly retook the lead, 89-88 and a devilish alley-oop toss to STAT in the final minute.
And then there’s his fellow Tau Vittoria alum, PABLOOOOOOOOOO.
I love “Give Zero Fucks” Pablo. It’s as if all our plaintive cries and pleas for a more liberal shot selection have finally reached his elfin ears. He’s just chucking from deep and deeper and his form seems to be devolving into a granny-shot free throw, but damn, it’s working and it’s just so much damned fun. I would pay serious ducats to just watch a three-point shooting contest between these two guys. There were sneaks galore, an attempt to steal a jump ball from Chandler and a moment where he whipped the ball off Tyson’s noggin. Our man Pablo, placed his healing hands upon his former teammate, presumably to unleash some form of Vulcan Mind Meld/steal his powers.
Hi there Quincy Acy! For the bulk of the game, I kept scribbling notes that were more or less, “Hey, nice job on Dirk!” He did a nifty job of hedging on the pick and roll, and still having the giddyup to at least jab a mitt close to his Teutonic mug. By the end, the Mavs just let Nowitzki go to work down low, and when he’s on, there really isn’t much that anyone, let alone Quincy Acy, can do. Some mean-mugging, bricked uncontested mid range shots, and utterly goofy low post shots rounded out the evening, but yay Quincy!
Speaking of cats that might have a beef with Cuban (Mark, not the sandwich or say, Reinaldo Arenas), Samuel Dalembert did some nice board-crashing and rim defending, but he doesn’t actually have functional hands. Look, I found a photo. (No idea why he’s sporting white fingernail paint.)
As such, he got royally whupped by…
I kept flashing back to Stephen Curry’s 54-point outing at MSG way back in 2013, when Tyson Chandler eviscerated a Bogut- and Lee-less Warrior front line to the tune of 16 points and 25 redounds. All the beastly stuff that we loved was there, the clever roaming to the hoop for smashes, the dastardly back-taps and the beastly help defense. No, this isn’t an open invitation to re-litigate the deal, but yeah, Tyson’s still good.
And when he says, post-game, “You know, at the beginning of the year you always look at the calendar and mark it [playing your former team], but honestly, once you get caught up in the season, it’s not as big as it’s made out to be,” it does feel a tad like some shrewd PR flack started whispering in his ear, that all his extempore chatter about “scapegoats” and whatnot was starting to fill up too many column inches.
Granted, he could be telling it like it is. After all, the ‘Bocker bigs are just terrible, which dovetails quite nicely into some thoughts about…
…Jason Smith and STAT. The former’s starting to become my personal white whale. You just know that that moment he chucks his warmups off that the scoreboard’s going to go tilt. Whether it’s silly fouls, a Charles Smith-ian inability to score down low/box out/rotate on defense, or his ever-worsening shot selection, steam comes out of my ears whenever he checks in. By all that is holy and good, no more. To his credit, Fisher yanked him pretty quickly in the second half, but for the life of me, I can’t see why one would play him over Cole Aldrich (quelle surprise, coming from yr. humble correspondent). If nothing else, the latter can at least clean the glass.
And Amar’e? Gah. He actually tried to pass out of the post tonight, and promptly began knocking over beverages in the pricey seats. Afterwards, he limited his turnovers to plowing into Tyson Chandler, dribbling the ball off his tooties, or getting stripped by Barea and the rest of the Mavs’ mighty mites and then foolishly hacking away till the John McCain’s were strolling to the charity stripe.
The weird insistence on forcing the ball his way was a big reason that New York coughed up an 83-78 lead with a little over 300 ticks left in the fourth. Just awful.
And then, down two after Monta bricked 1-2 from the line, I was genuinely curious to see what Fisher might dial up.
That’s silly. This is a new era, one in which glorious, sanctified basketball principles have replaced staid ISO-tomfoolery. There’s no way that Fish will go Heroball, especially considering the guy that without a doubt said, “I got this” in the huddle, came into the final stanza shooting a robust 1-for-10. But yeah. That’s what we got. And it was glorious, if profoundly dumb.
So, on to the land of the Frackers, one step closer to our sweet and wholly just reward for all this crappy ball.
But before we go, one zetz at the tech-bubble oligarch pouting like an Emo teen, because what is Turkey Day without a few snide remarks fired off at the end of a too-long eating marathon.
Okay, one more.
Happy Thanksgiving, Knickerblogger-istas!