|Carmelo Anthony, SF 45 MIN | 10-35 FG | 16-20 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 36 PTS | -10
Let’s start this off by taking a look at some pictures…
Here’s Melo’s shot chart. Hold on. You might need to borrow my kerchief to wipe away all the blood. Hm. That’s odd. Out, damn’d shotchart! out, I say! Hell is murky. Yet who would have thought the old Melo to have had so much blood in him? [Continues furiously/OCD-y wiping computer screen. Breaks screen. Hauls computer to the Mac Store, where bitter grad students at the Genius Bar treat me with bland disdain and charge ne vast ducats to replace what has to be a 10 dollar piece of equipment made by underage, slave labor.]
The problem isn’t the volume of shots, which was pretty much a fait accompli once J.R. was banished to hang out in one of Boston’s finer Gentleman’s clubs for the afternoon. It’s the stupefying number of isolation sets (24 in total, compared to only 31 Pick and Rolls, according to Synergy), inefficient mid-range shots and the fact he only scored or drew a foul on 10 of them. Amazingly, there were only 14 Melo ISO’s in the first 3 quarters, but in the 4th/OT, Woodson dialed up a concussion-via-head-to-desk-inducing 11 of ‘em. Gah. From It was pretty clear from the opening tip that his shot was just plain off. 3-15 in the 1st half and an unsightly 7 turnovers for the game. Ick. Granted, the 20 trips to the line were at times the only means the Knicks had of putting points on the board and we’d seen him right the ship throughout this series. In the third, he looked to be getting back on track, hitting a respectable 3 of 5 but down the stretch…Double Gah. ISO-Melo galore. Let’s take a gander at this 4th Quarter/OT Francis Bacon-esque horror show.
How one (whether it’s Anthony or Woodson) chooses this path on today’s cringe-worthy Choose Your Own Adventure book, in the face of vast reams of evidence from the first three games of this series and the third quarter, in which a Melo-free unit’s return to ball movement and PnR action was the key factor in slicing the deficit down to a manageable number, is absolutely beyond me. Maybe Jason Terry’s friend God can explain it to us. (More on this in a jot–the play calling, not the God part. Well, the God part too). Despite all that, If HE’D ONLY MADE HIS DAMNED CHARITY TOSSES (1-4 in the final 4 minutes) THEY’D HAVE WON THE GAME. [Rips all my clothes off runs out screaming into the woods. Rubs dirt all over body. Eats a grubworm because I need its life force. Possibly tries to have sex with a tree a la Willem Dafoe in Von Trier’s Antichrist.]
|Iman Shumpert, SF 44 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 12 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +5
Shumpert did a dandy job of swooping in from the wing to snaggle double-digit ‘bounds, a trait he clearly gleaned from the seance that J.R. Smith was holding somewhere Charlestown surrounded by Umbandan channelers/mystics that imbued at least one aspect of his essence to his fellow ‘mates for today’s proceedings. He was also a relentless, Prigioni-ian pest on defense, shadowing the taller/burlier Green/Pierce combo with aplomb and nailing a series of uber-clutch buckets during the aborted comeback effort.
|Tyson Chandler, C 31 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | -6
Everyday it’s a-gettin’ closer
That’s right, Buddy. It does take a while to recover one’s form when one’s upper spine/neck is replaced by a worn-out, distended Slinky that won’t go down the stairs any more. The tap outs are coming back and the octopus-on-massive-doses-of-amphetamines quality to cover any and all defensive miscues popped up hither and yonder, like daises pushing through the soil after a particularly brutal, frigid winter. He also would certainly have accumulated more than five points had not Melo (and Felt, to be fair) missed him under the hoop time and time again.
|Raymond Felton, PG 48 MIN | 10-21 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | -4
As Knick fandom’s Rabbi-In-Chief Seth Rosenthal said on the Twitter, STEPHEN CURVY. Just a glorious outing by our elusive, tight-lipped (No, not literally. Ever notice when things are going either particularly well or particularly badly, Raymond’s mouth transforms into something akin to Kurt Vonnegut’s drawing of an asshole from Slaughterhouse Five? This one.) floor general. Felt was positively monstrous in the 3rd, bulldogging to the Nth degree and bagging 16 points on 5-8 shooting, including this Smith-ian bomb to end the quarter. He’s been the Nix’ best, most consistent player so far in the series, and that’s a soaring evolution I don’t think any of us could have foreseen from our fave flightless seabird.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 28 MIN | 1-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | +1
A solid outing, including one of the most deviously tricky swipes EVAH from our Argentine pilferer, absolutely pantsing Avery Bradley under the basket (even if he probably stepped over the baseline to engage in his delicious pickpocketing). That said, on one theft at midcourt, streaking unimpeded towards the rim, Prigs nonsensically began to slow down, allowing his aborted layup to be sent sailing into the stands. Even allowing for his preternatural unselfishness, that was dpwnright silly.
|Kenyon Martin, PF 22 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -1
TWEET. Hey? Why did I draw a foul? I’m just trying to write about Kenyon. I’m no where near Garn…TWEET. Oh come on! I get a foul for just typing the word Garne…TWEET.
|Steve Novak, SF 7 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -9
Save for a borderline-absurdist fake on an aborted trey that sent two Irishman tumbling into the stands, Novak was more or less useless. He also got shoved to the ground in a manner akin to Charles Altlas’ famous 97-pound weakling/bag-of-bones/ectomorph by KG leading to the latter’s lone alley-oop dunk.
|Quentin Richardson, SF 3 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -6
QUENTIN RICHARDSON PLAYOFF ANAGRAM: HENS NOR RANCID? QUIT.
Indeed, these chickens ain’t ripe. That said, he’s one heckuva sideline cheerleader. Though if given my druthers, I’d prefer if they’d brought back Renaldo Balkman if they rilly needed someone for some A+ pine-bound, towel-waving histrionics/dance moves.
|Jason Kidd, PG 37 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 0 PTS | -5
Great work on the glass for Kidd, and once again, his on ball defense against younger, faster, stronger, bigger, less Lenin-esque foes was the stuff that dreams are made on. Even if his shot’s still waiting for the next ping pong ball to be called out at the Thursday Night bingo game at Shady Valley Retirement Community, I thought he passed up on more than a few heaves he should have sent skyward
|Chris Copeland, SF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |
|Marcus Camby, C DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |
|James White, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |
|J.R. Smith, SG DNP SUSPENDED BY LEAGUE MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS |
HERE. We’ve all wanted to rearrange Jason Terry’s bridge work at some point or another, and it’s entirely possible the elbow wasn’t totally malicious/a suspension wasn’t warranted, but remember John Starks? You know, your Knick spirit animal? He got flagged for some rage-filled outbursts in the postseason too, and look at what the enduring legacy is–not the dunk over Grant and Pippen, but a certain Game Seven. Let’s hope that the past is not prologue.
We have covered and will soon cover most of my qualms with the Goateed one elsewhere, but one final grievance I’d like to air? Why no Cope? Granted, he’s looked as out of his element in this series as Ted Nugent at a Bard College Seminar on GenderQueer Roles in Post-Modern Global Oppressive Capitalist Societies but zero PT? Kay…
Six Things We Saw
- Look, without the team’s 2nd most important player, facing a rabid, frothing Bah-stan crowd that understands the history and leather-bound, hoary tradition that their basketball team holds in the NBA pantheon, (and definitely helped a crew of hobbled, steely-eyed valiant knights to one more glorious–if possibly meaningless–effort), coming into the game, I thought it would have taken nosebleed-inducing, above and beyond the call efforts from 3-4 of the Nix’ role players plus a standard-brand Melo outing to sweep this series. Save for our beyootiful Penguin, that didn’t really happen.
- This one started out like countless NY-BOS tilts we’ve seen before. The C’s stormed out of the gate, finally converting the open corner threes that the Knicks have permitted all series long and getting a deadly, throwback performance from Paul Pierce (that black-souled, terrible-bearded cur) who finally realized that he was being guarded by a swarm of undersized, if swarm-y, hyper-caffeinated point guards, and began draining elbow jumpers/curls coming off KG screens that he’s downed since you and I and possibly Norman Mailer were in short pants. Plus, Jeff Green was nigh-unstoppable, especially in transition. Even Jeff Van Gundy, a cat who’s ground his teeth down to the nerve endings holding on to his decade-long grudge against Dolan’s charges, was begging the ‘Bockers to pick him/force him to his left before he strolled/glided to the tin and James Worthy-ied in the New Yorkers’ collective face. Top top it all, the turnovers…by all that is holy and good, the turnovers. Unforced, stupid, casual careless passes and dribbles into traffic. Gaffes that’d make kindly ol’ John Wooden turn into Mike Rice. Yes, Melo, that stinging, throbbing sensation in your ears means I’m referring to you in large part. At one point in the opening half, they’d amassed more fumbles (10) than field goals (9), accumulating 12 in total by intermission and equaling their regular season average. Things got worse in the 2nd quarter, when despite his brick-tastic start, any unit that Woodson rolled out without Melo, was incapable of generating anything even vaguely resembling a productive shot–the Prigs-Kidd-QRich-Novak-KMart squad proving particularly unsightly. The lead hovered between 8-12 points for most of the 2nd, and, with two minutes to go, I hastily scribbled, “Must close out this quarter well. Lucky to be down this little. Could get ugly.”
- And of course, that’s exactly what occurred. Pierce banged home 8 points, including two oh-so-recognizable elbow threes, Bass hit a wide open baseline jumper and Jason Terry converted a buzzer beater (from Pierce, natch) and suddenly, they were down 19 at the half. I would have hoped that Son of Wood’s halftime pep talk consisted entirely of spittle-flinging, expletive-laden tirades and maybe even a rolled up copy of Field and Stream that he used to try to dent the back of Melo’s dome. Thanks to the avant-garde 12-tone whistle opera that Bill Kennedy and his cohorts attempted to compose, Barandon Bass and KG were sent to sit on the pine and ponder their transgressions and the Knicks sauntered to the charity stripe numerous times, allowing the Knicks to slowly but surely chip away at a 20-point mountain of their own dunderheaded, sloppy devising. Much of the deficit-slicing came at the fickle flippers of one Raymond Felton and the three-PG lineup that, lo and behold, returned to the ball-movement and pick and roll-centric play that’s been this team’s calling card the entire season, harassing the Bostonians into multiple turnovers and pushing the pace. As previously mentioned, Felt did get to the rim on one lovely, scampering up and under layup, but his shots were mostly garnered when he was given ample time to launch the threes that normally would make every Bocker-backer do the,
No, no, no, no, NO…YES!” dance that’s accompanied the shots he takes when the defender ducks under the screen all season.
- Of course, once Melo got back into the game, ISO-ball returned full force. My notes at this juncture are just the deranged scrawls of a demi-human that’s possibly had a hatpin or meat skewer jammed into his Medulla Oblongata. MELO NOT LEBRON. WHY GIVE BALL AT TOP OF KEY. MOVE. MVE. WHERE’S PNR? THAT’S WHAT YU DRAW OWT OF TIMEOUT??? WHY????? And after all that sturm and drang and pent up frustration, one freebie, one half-decent possession, one miss by KG from the perimeter and they STILL manage to pull off as miraculous, impressive a comeback as this franchise has ever seen in the playoffs. The final two minutes were just so derp-tastic. Melo gorts the freebies. After a lovely defensive sequence leading to a contested Green jumper, Felton hits a foul line jumper off a high pick and roll (SEE!) to put the lead at two. Garnett hits an 18-footer off a two man game with Pierce. Anthony misses an elbow three that I was SOOOOOOOO SURE was going in, Chandler tips the ball back and they AGAIN go ISO-Melo at the elbow, leading to another silly contested heave. The overtime was more of the same–and whether it’s Melo’s stubbornness or Woodson’s blind stupidity, someone really needs to answer for this atrocious spate of play-calling. The post-game interviews were no help. The usual pabulum about “Making shots. They’re a proud team. We fought back. Had a chance. Blargle. Sputter. Wash. Rinse Repeat”–before Jason Terry finally started hitting the shots he’s nailed pretty much every game of his life prior to this season and grinning goofily whilst sitting in the proverbial catbird seat.
- Oh yeah, speaking of which…I missed seeing/hearing it live because I was too busy applying Bacitracin to the parts of my fingers/toes that I’d gnawed off in frustration, and I can’t find the quote but evidently Terry said that God speaks to him personally and told him he was going to bust out. Whether our Lord and Savior specifically mentioned 9 OT points or not has not been confirmed. I assume we’ll have to wait for a burning bush for clarification. Let me just say this: I understand the degree to which belief and faith play a huge role in sports. There are complex reasons why but one of them is that, despite the countless hours of training and analysis and preparation and hard work and on and on, so much of what determines winners and losers is plain dumb luck and random chance. That’s a frightening, horrifying realization. With so much riding on something as fickle as a roll of the dice, it’s not surprising at all for people–both fans and participants alike–to believe that it is some kind of divine, preordained will that leads one side to glory and parades and adulation and the really good-lookin’ wimmen for one side, and the other to shame and despair and derision for the other. I get it. Heck, I’ve been there. But I think if there is an all-powerful, all-seeing being that does either control or has created the known universe, he/she/it would have FAR BETTER, MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO THAN TAKE TIME TO SEND FACEBOOK MESSAGES/DM’s/TEXTS/GET ON THE BLOWER AND IDLY CHEW THE FAT WITH JASON EFFIN’ TERRY.
- Thanks. I feel much better. Look, we all knew that this Celtic team was not going to go gentle into that goodnight. Honestly. save for the stretches in which they pulled away during the first three games the Knicks really haven’t played that well. That’s not a damning indictment. Heck, the Heatles have done the exact same thing in sweeping the Bucks. I’m not particularly worried. In all likelihood, this is just a blip on the radar on the way to dispatching them in five — a gentleman’s sweep, if you will, eerily similar to the game that the Knickerbockers stole last year v. Miami. The thing that does make me fret (FINE. I always worry about something) is execution down the stretch. I’ve been babbling all season about the life-lessons a team picks up over the course of the season if they are, in fact, real, live, honest-to-goodness condenders, and how they handle pressure situations is definitely a biggie. Today, they really copulated with the canine. Maybe it’s my fault. Due to work obligations, this is the first game of this series I’ve actually gotten to watch in real time. Advanced Superstitious Metrics say they’re 3-0 without my dark, foreboding presence in front of the teevee, so I’ll lock myself in the clothes hamper for game five and see if it improves things. Sorry. And that’ll do it. To paraphrase Robert Zimmerman, we’re going back to New York City…I do believe we’ve had enough.