Bucks 119, Knicks 114
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 37 MIN | 7-17 FG | 7-10 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 22 PTS | -5
Most of us’ve been unfortunate enough to have that one housemate – the guy you probably wouldn’t ignore if you saw him on the street after two years, but probably wouldn’t invite to your wedding, either – who spends most of the time eating everyone else’s groceries, drinking all the beer, and using all the laundry detergent, mostly because he makes the biggest money and pays for the Netflix and the blow and throws the best parties and most of the people who come over are there to see him. In fact, most of the time you wish he’d one day get arrested for tax evasion. But then, every once in a while, he’d make really delicious omelets when everyone was hungover. That’s basically Melo. What’s more, that was Melo TONIGHT.
After a solid first half in which he made quick, confident decisions and mixed up his offensive repertoire, the second found our beleaguered star comparatively blase — until his inevitable late-game flourish which, just as inevitably, came up short. Gotta make your free throws, kids.
|Landry Fields, G 37 MIN | 9-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 18 PTS | +10
When he wasn’t tossing passes to his mom in the 17th row or handing fellow jawline-heavy Carlos Delfino the ball at half court, Fields was doing other stupid things, mostly. Yes, he also turned in a pretty heavy stat line, punctuated by continuous slashes, forays into the paint, and some of the most consistent rebounding we’ve seen in a while. But his cavalier passing is getting as bad as his piss poor perimeter rotations, which cost the Knicks at least 90 points tonight.
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 37 MIN | 11-15 FG | 5-6 FT | 11 REB | 0 AST | 27 PTS | +11
This was just the worst 20-10 I’ve ever seen. Between Ilyasova and Gooden, Stoudemire had his ass torched repeatedly on D. He also bumbled a number of routine passes, which is pretty frightening, considering the rest of his body doesn’t seem to be functioning at too optimal a level, either. I would say Chandler’s absence “exposed” Amar’e tonight, but really, how do you expose a statue?
|J.R. Smith, SG 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS | -6
You know, when I first saw this Tweet, I took some semblance of solace in the fact that J.R. was smart enough to just go to bed early last night. But after watching his craptastic display — I even heard he sat on the bench and pouted during a stand-up huddle during a timeout — I’m thinking report of a pelvic and / or leg injury isn’t too far behind.
|Jeremy Lin, PG 41 MIN | 8-14 FG | 3-5 FT | 1 REB | 13 AST | 20 PTS | +13
Lin has essentially become a microcosm of the Knicks writ large, incapable as he’s been of putting a complete game — encompassing both ends of the court — together. But Jennings going off on the Knicks isn’t exactly breaking news, so the least we can do is appreciate Lin’s solid offensive game of rediscovered range, smart transition plays, and some gutsy takes to the tin…. Jennings did kinda manhandle him, though.
|Baron Davis, PG 31 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 9 AST | 9 PTS | -2
Hey, if Bucks color guy Dolph Smormsky (Did I just make that up?) uses both “surfing” and “boulevard” in a sentence to describe your unique point guard style, what else is there to worry about?…. What’s that? The surfboard’s made of concrete and the boulevard is actually a river of fry grease?
Davis has had his moments. The problem is, there have been as many “wow, great pass” moments as there’ve been “you are not actually playing in a video game” moments. As many have pointed out, the Davis-Lin back court idea was probably doomed from the start. But barking at Stephen Jackson in the third quarter probably means he’s dead anyway.
|Steve Novak, SF 21 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 11 PTS | -18
You couldn’t have scripted it better: Former state-bred sharpshooter comes back to his old stomping grounds, his career renewed, ready to match Mike Dunleavy shot for Chitwoodian shot. Ehhhhhhhhhh notsomuch. Novak made some desperately-needed hurls, but unfortunately found his stroke a mere air rifle in a cannonade. Also: His defense and rebounding are the worst tandem of traits since “red hair, red eyes.”
|Iman Shumpert, G 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -14
Considering how badly the Bucks burned the Knicks on perimeter rotations, not having Shump out there — even if only to get a few mits in passing lanes — isn’t the most encouraging of signs. Let’s just hope it’s not the knee, or, if it is the knee, that it’s simply a matter of soreness.
|Josh Harrellson, F 14 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -14
I don’t know if Jorts hits line-drive shots from the corner in practice, but it’s not working for him in actual games. He made a few solid low-post stops, and was active — as always — on the glass, but the sync and timing just isn’t there yet. Which seems to be kind of a thing with this team.
I will now remind everyone that Bob Silverman was “giddily optimistic” about Jorts starting opposite arguably the greatest power forward in the history of the NBA on Wednesday.
Five Things We Saw
- If you’ve never listened to them, the Bucks’ TV crew is quite the trip. They’re not Chicago / Cleveland bad, but they certainly have their fair share of guffaws and boners. Whether it was showing footage of Andrew Bogut snapping his ankle in half BOGUT WAS SITTING LIVE IN THE BOOTH, referring to Steve Novak as “the Lin to Lin’s… yang,” or just laying down the bunt on Baron Davis fat jokes, these guys were good.
- You gotta love Ersan Ilyasova. For a guy who spent most of last year being the village bicycle in thousands of fantasy leagues, the scrappy Turkish forward has asserted himself nicely in Andrew Bogut’s absence. Even when his Dirk-esque jumper isn’t being matched by timely rebounds — he had zero at halftime — his right-place, right-time instincts always seem to kick in. Tonight, that came in the form of out-hustling no less than three Knicks on a pair of late-game, late-shotclock Bucks misses.
- I tend to react fairly demonstrably when something doesn’t go the Knicks’ way. But when the uniquely college chant-y crowd’s 5-4-3-2-1 shot clock countdown with no less than 15 actual seconds remaining on the actual clock actually worked, forcing Melo into a fadeaway 18-foot jumper from the left wing, my brain couldn’t summon the power necessary to do anything more than turn to lead and drop my head and eyes downward.
- Given what he does, how he does it, and the consistency with which it’s done, the idea that Tyson Chandler is somehow “overpaid” rings about as hollow as a Treasury coffer. With both Tyson and Jeffries out, and Shumpert glued for the most part to the pine, there were just too many weird, alchemic lineups out there tonight, almost all of them just as bad on defense as the last.
- If it’s not the defense, it’s the offense. If it’s not the offense, it’s the defense. If it’s not the defensive rebounding, it’s the offensive rebounding. If it’s not the offensive rebounding, it’s the turnovers. If it’s not the turnovers, it’s the technicals. If it’s not the tehnicals, it’s the refs. All the while, players both emerging and returned after injury make gelling a twisted grail. A locker rebuilt into a circle suddenly can’t create enough corners and angles. All the while, excuses remain many, and accountability nil.
Beyond his work for KnickerBlogger, Jim is a contributor to the New York Times Off the Dribble NBA blog, ESPN.com, and The Classical. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, titled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.