|Carmelo Anthony, SF 34 MIN | 3-15 FG | 5-5 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS | -35
The general consensus was that Melo would have to pull off an epic performance reminiscent of a former Knick All-Star for the ‘Bockers to have a chance in this series. Alas, tonight, he threw up a Starksian 3-15 in lieu of channeling his boyhood Idol King Bernard. Anthony did a solid job on the boards and while the game was close, threw a few nifty passes out of double and triple-teams but all those silky smooth mid range jumpers that he’d been canning for the month of April clanged off the rim with such regularity that it began to sound like an early John Cage percussion piece. Miami was fronting him early and often which seemed to baffle the Knicks. More on this later. Woodson made some 2nd half adjustments to get him the rock, but by that point, it really didn’t matter. Ugh.
|Amare Stoudemire, PF 32 MIN | 2-7 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -18
Some early ‘splosiveness from STAT, but he disappeared after picking up three early fouls (MUCH MORE on this later) and as was the case with Melo, the Knicks were unable to get him the ball either via the pick and roll or off curls. Ugh.
|Tyson Chandler, C 21 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -19
How sick is Tyson (This isn’t the beginning of a bad joke) He’s so ill that according to the twitter, Chandler’s getting a drip IV for the next 2-4 hours. We’ve gotten so used to Tyson putting in a Herculean effort night in and night out, I think we all assumed he’d shrug off a silly little impediment like the flu but ’twas not the case as he’s clearly suffering from some mutagenically nasty, DPOY-killing virus. Still, SEVEN turnovers? Ugh.
|Baron Davis, PG 17 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | -12
In one of the few bright spots of the day, Beardly had some of his mojo going early, hitting jumpers and turning the corner with more juice than he’s had in weeks. During the fleeting moment when this was a competitive game, he led the Knicks with 10 points. Of course he too got into foul trouble and his back tightened up in the 2nd half. Natch. I’m semi-surprised a grand piano didn’t fall from the rafters of [Corporate Sponsor I can't recall} Arena and crush Jorts Harrellson, like a bad Laurel and Hardy bit. Ugh.
|Iman Shumpert, G 19 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -28
Ugh. Biggest Ugh of all. I'd be grant if I could write something vaguely intelligent, make a weird reference or even sling a bad joke, but watching Shump go down just felt like every frustration in life, every gut-wrenching failure, every humiliating indignity, every time a woman ripped my still-beating heart from my chest encapsulated in one agonizing and seemingly eternal second as dropped to the ground as if he'd been hit by a sniper's bullet and writhed in agonizing pain on the hardwood floor. And now the official word is that Iman Shumpert suffered a torn left ACL and lateral meniscus. He is expected to miss 6-8 months following surgery, according to the team. April is truly the cruelest month. Fuck.
|Mike Bibby, PG 21 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -8
I'm even too upset to make any Undead Bibby jokes. Ugh.
|Jared Jeffries, PF 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -12
In a game filled with soul-crushing opprobriums, Jared had his only bucket -- a nifty drive on the baseline and layup as the shot clock was winding down -- overruled by the refs -- a fittingly impish paradigm for the entire sordid affair. Oh, and Jared's still hampered by his dodgy knee. Ugh.
|Steve Novak, SF 24 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -7
Novak hit a couple of treys, one important one in the 2nd and one meaningless one as the longest garbage time in recent Knick playoff history wound down. He even guarded his former classmate at Marquette for a few weirdly piquant moments. We also learned that the one human being who loves him some Novakaine more than Knick fans is Jeff Van Gundy, who just couldn't stop kvelling during the broadcast. It was cute in a, "Isn't in amusing to watch Jeff Van Gundry let loose a stream of verbal diarrhea after years of awkward, literally tight-lipped, Diet Coke-clenching post game pressers that looked so painfully uncomfortable and devoid of actual information that I semi-suspected JVG might have some form of speech impediment and/or performance anxiety." Still, if he's has/had such a crush on our fair-haired boy Steve, it beggars the question == Why didn't JVG didn't play him more in Houston? Anyhoo...where was I? Oh right. I remember now. Ugh.
|J.R. Smith, SG 33 MIN | 7-17 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 17 PTS | -20
One other bright spot, if you can dig a strand of hay out of this colossal pile of razor-sharp needles, is that J.R. is clearly unafraid of the limelight/pressure of the postseason. That's all well and good, considering how shell-shocked some of his mates were by Miami's defensive onslaught. We got to see some swell fadeaway twenty-footers and perimeter D, but also a gaggle of shots with plenty o' time left on the shot clock, another goofily dumb foul on a perimeter shooter because J.R. seems to think that whaling in the general direction of his opponent's genitalia will lead to some form of positive result and an absurd between the legs pass to Jorts when the 'Bockers were down 2.8 jillion points or so. You know the old yarn/joke about the old woman and the snake? In brief, n old woman was walking down the road when she saw a gang of thugs beating a poisonous snake. She rescued the snake and carried it back to her home, where she nursed it back to health. They became friends and lived together for many months. One day they were going into town, and the old woman picked him up and the snake bit her. Repeatedly. "O God," she screamed, "I am dying! Why? I was your friend. I saved your life! I trusted you! Why did you bite me?" The snake looked up at her and said, "Lady, you knew I was a snake when you first picked me up." (Rim shot)
In case it isn't abundantly clear, Knick fans are the old woman and J.R.'s the snake. And this serpent's going to continue to do his thang, regardless of the fact that an "in-control" J.R. is exactly what the Knicks need if there's any hope of winning a game in this series. Ugh.
|Landry Fields, G 18 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -6
Nothing new in today's game from Landry who had little to no effect on the final outcome. Of course, without Shump, he's in the starting role again and will likely spend a great deal of time guarding Wade, who has always taken a perverse pleasure in abusing the kid from Stanford like a bully whomping on an emaciated nerd, nearly pummeling him to pulp with said geek's own violin case/asthma inhaler/Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master Guidebook. Ugh.
|Jerome Jordan, C 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -3
Hi Jerome. Ugh.
|Josh Harrellson, F 9 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | +3
Some garbage time mins for Jorts in which he hit an open jumper and converted a mini-hook. That's not that the beginning of a hall of fame candidacy but when you consider the fact that he appears to be moving in slow-motion at all times, possibly because he's wearing Stimpy's stay-put socks, you gotta be slightly impressed. This is of course, an ancillary issue, considering Master Harrellson's suddenly become the healthiest center left on the roster. Ugh.
Five Things We Saw
- Let's get this out of the way early. The refereeing in this game was so execrable it made the WWF look like a legitimate sporting venture. It was so far beyond one-sided, it even led Bill Simmons (who isn't known to be particularly fond of New York teams, to say the least) to tweet: "I don't watch rigged NBA games, I'm switching to hockey."
If you'd like some numbers to back up the above hyperbole, in the 1st half, the Knicks found themselves on the receiving end of 20 calls to Miami's 8 and 5 trips to the line versus Miami's 28. Read that again. 28-5. Some of the more egregious examples included (but were not limited to):
1. Melo getting manhandled by Shane Battier and/or LeBron on the block to such a degree that I'm fairly certain the latter duo could confidently identify what religion Mr. Anthony with nary a whistle being blown. (On a side note, for a superstar [this isn't to meant to reopen a prolonged Melo debate. The NBA's marketers consider him a superstar] it’s amazing how few calls he gets.)
2. A series of dubious charges, three on Tyson Chandler alone, drawn solely because LeBron et al, clearly logged some serious hours at the Danilo Gallinari School of “I just stepped on a land mine in WWII-era Tunisia” Flopping.
3. A Flagrant Two (subsequently downgraded to a one) was assessed to Tyson Chandler after LeBron (that scurrilous swine) spent a good deal of time teetering and wobbling around the court like he was the town drunk in a late 20th/early 19th Century Irish Novel. I literally thew a beverage (non-alcoholic) at the wall after this’n.
4. If you thought his acting in “The Decision” was awful, take a look at how he collapsed like a sack of refined flour after being barely touched by J.R. Smith as the two went after a rebound in the corner.
And on and on and on. I’ve said this before, but when the refs pull a Donaghy, the effect is greater than costing a single possession. There’s a sense that, “Crap. Not only do we have to defeat this hellish team that’s in The Kraken on vast quantities of amphetamines’ mode, but we have to overcome the bastids in gray too?” Not only does it destroy any confidence a team might have, players start pressing, trying to regain the lead in a single play. I’ve seen it first hand onstage in plays. It’s called, “Saving the show.” One actor tries to rescue a bad collective performance by him or herself and starts overacting and/or hamming it up and ends up making the whole thing even worse. Once things started to go awry, Melo and Smith forced some early shots, a gaggle of panicky turnovers ensued and like a shark smelling blood in the water, LeBron went on a berzerker rampage all adding up to a 24-2 run over the final six minutes of the half that, for all intents and purposes, got the obese female in viking horns to start her vocal warmup.
- That said, even with a fair hand from the arbiters, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell the Knicks win this game. Jim mentioned in his podcast that I actually preferred the Heat to the Bulls. In a nutshell, my rational was that no matter what condition Rose is/was in, you can count on Chicago’s defense, rebounding and superior effort. I also suggested hat Miami wouldn’t choke in a big moment. Well, now that Rose has been lost to the same injury that felled Shump (Saturday was a bad day for Windy City guards), It’s an understatement to say that I might want to reconsider my position at this juncture. LeBron, when he’s fully motivated (and evidently duping the refs into giving one everything and anything one could desire is a powerful motivational tool. If he was hurt on Chandler’s foul I’m a monkey’s uncle.), is an absolute terror. Everything one loathes and admires about Mr. James could bee seen in today’s bitch-slapping of the ‘Bockers — the defense, the whining, the post play, the sense of entitlement, the physical domination. On top of all that, the Knicks were just plain outclassed today. More numbers? They shot 36 percent, the starters had a 45 percent eFG%, they coughed 27 turnovers leading to 38 points off turnovers and they turned the ball over in 23% of their possessions. The 33-point deficit was the fourth-largest margin of defeat in Knicks playoff history and honestly, it wasn’t that close. It’ll be interesting to see how they react on Monday, but this kind of beating, where the Knicks were outmatched in every aspect of play, could certainly cause them to pack up shop. I’m hoping that isn’t the case, but considering the psychic and spiritual trauma that this game inflicted upon me, a mere spectator, it’s going to take some serious (hoary sports cliche ahead) leadership on the part of someone (Melo? STAT? Tyson? Son of Wood? Anyone?) to pull these cats back from the brink.
- I can only assume the Knicks are detouring their flight and retreating to some monastery in the Tiger Leaping Gorge near the Yangtzee River. Whilst they pen zen koans, Coach Mister Potato Head might want to cobble together a play or two to get Melo the ball when the heat are fronting him. What about using him in the pick and roll, off curls, stagger screens or via something else that some person who actually knows X’s and O’s could explain. Sebastian Pruiti offeredup a few suggestions here and here. I don’t know if he can be dragooned into an assistant coaching gig in the next 24 hours, but hopefully there’s a different scheme being hatched by the powers that be because right now, it ain’t workin’.
- Since I could only come up with four bullet-points between tears, the Great Jim Cavan has this to say — Jim: You think you’re fooling us with the white seat covers on “White Out” night, Miami fans? Nice try. We know those seats are empty. Setting aside for a second the Big Three, people have always hated Miami because Miami’s fans are as loyal and engaged as a cocaine housewife. As such, they showed their true colors emptying en mass at the end of the third quarter and into the swamp-borne streets. Sure the game was in hand. Of course there was no conceivable way the ‘Bockers would somehow claw back into it. But therein lays the rub: To them – or a vast majority of them at least – the game isn’t art, jazz, or a high-speed chess match. Hell, it’s not even a game. It’s a show, a place to see and be seen. Which is why I pray the hardwood Yahweh imparts wrath akin to last year’s. Doesn’t matter when, although Game 6 in the Garden is still my personal pick.
- And finally. y’all have seen the movie, “Annie Hall,” right? As a young Semite growing up on Ye Olde Upper West Side-e, it we studied said film and memorized its axioms with the fervor of a Talmudic scholar so pardon me if it isn’t as hard-wired into your cerebrum, dear reader. There’s a scene that comes to mind today.
“I feel that life is divided up into the horrible and the miserable. Those are the two categories, you know. The horrible are like, um, I don’t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It’s amazing to me. You know, and the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you’re miserable, because you’re very lucky, to be miserable.“
Yeah. Well, today we got both. But the point I’d like to make is this (even hoarier cliche ahead)…it’s only a game. We as sports fans (okay definitely me as a sports fan) tend to see these brutal defeats as encapsulating all of the injustices of the world. In theory, a few hours in front of the tube watching (back to Annie Hall again), “A bunch of pituitary cases run around in their underwear.” should alleviating one’s suffering or at least provide a respite from one’s own multitudinous, seemingly unsolvable problems. Far from it. Alas, when the Knicks lose, all of the things that infuriate us (again, possibly only me) are made the more present and palpable. It may be different for you. You may actually see a gallingly painful defeat, as brutish as today’s was, where insult was literally added to injury and we even had to stomach a poseur like Chris Bosh giggling like a petulant child/ether-soaked madman in the closing seconds, as oddly cathartic or at least a kind of perverse escapist joy. It just ain’t that way for your humble correspondent. So I’m going to try something different. I’m going to try to watch the rest of this series with a bemused disinterest. I’m going to see if I can actual just watch but not let it be the be all and the end all of my emotional well-being. It’s just too draining. I say this not to unpack my psychological wares in front of all y’all, but hopefully to offer another way or a way out to those who are hurting. I don’t know if it’s possible to be a fan (short for fanatic, after all) and not to feel every missed shot and turnover and godawful play like a paper cut to one’s eyelid, but I’m going to try. Roger Kann, in The Boys of Summer, described rooting for the equally doom- struck Brooklyn Dodgers: “We stand in front of a mirror, naked, hearing laughter that includes our own.” Well, I’ve been spending far too much time crying at what I see in that deep, dark truthful mirror and it’s time to change. Maybe it’s possible to laugh at the terrible ridiculousness of it all. It is, after all, just a game. Right?