Well, we knew once the Florida_Men got eviscerated by the OKC Frackers on Thursday that they’d be loaded for bear, what with the national broadcast and celebrities of all shapes and sizes in town for the Crypto-FascistGroundAcquisitionWarBall [h/t Robert Downey Jr.] Championship Game tomorrow.
Seriously, look at the freaking Lombardi trophy—it’s like Albert Speer designed the thing in the midst of his worst Benzedrine-fueled, feverish, sleepless night.
But I digress. Where were we? Oh yes. The MSG staff tasked with determining what Q-rating merits what choice, high-visibility seat must have been really been burning the midnight oil. I lost track some time after the shot of Darryl Strawberry, but this popular troubadour showed up.
Oh and hey. There’s ur-Knicks fan Woody Allen. He’s um…at the game. Well, that’s just an act of pure bravura, what with the Times piece that ran Saturday afternoon. I mean, I’m not sure what decision tree might have led him to think that taking his usual position courtside was the way to go. It’s pretty likely that said choice to take in the local cagers was met with truly epic howls of agony/protest from a vast phalanx of frantic, neck vein-throbbing PR flacks (and possibly lawyers). In case you haven’t yet perused the article, go read it. But be warned, it’s really effing harrowing.
There are plenty of people delving into all this, but in brief I was huge fan of Woody Allen’s movies when I was growing up. The thought that the guy that’s made such great art might be capable of committing those horrific crimes—ones so repugnant as to render them almost beyond comprehension and for those who are the victims of molestation, as close as one can get to pure evil—is disconcerting, to say the least.
Anyway, the game. So yes, a pissed-off band of Riley’s Hessians, having to endure a couple of days of idle chatter that they weren’t exactly putting even half a buttock into each and every random, dreary, midseason tilt, plus the ink-stained wretches getting all bow-y and scrape-y in their rush anoint the Slim Reaper as lord and protectorate of all within his domain and purview.
All of that clearly played a part in generating as impressive and dominant a performance by the once and future King James as we’ve seen in a while. In its own way, It was more dominant and just as awe-inspiring as the near-triple double 51 he dropped way back in ’09, when the marketing wizards and vertical branding specialists at Penn Plaza were un-ironically plastering “Dream Week” over every and all available marquee to celebrate a three-game stretch of D’Antoni’s fledgling charges/cap anchors/has-beens/never-will-bes getting plastered by the brightest stars in the Association’s solar system.
It wasn’t just the Nowitzkian fadeaway jumpers, with his off knee jammed defiantly into his opponent’s midsection, or the physics-defying turnaround heave from behind the basket while buried in the corner of the court with 1.6 ticks left on the shot clock (a play that, to your humble correspondent, sent a chilling reminder of what Larry Bird used to do on the regular pinging across long-dormant neural receptors) or even the myriad times he sent his 270 pounds of coiled muscle and relentless fury barreling through the Knicks like so much sharpened cutlery slicing up animal fat-based spreads.
The thing that made his performance so impressive is that until that deadly explosion that spurred the 12-3 run starting at the 7:01 mark of the 4th in which the Floridians pulled away after 40-odd minutes of the ‘Bockers pulling a Teddy KGB (you know, “hchchanging around, hchchanging around…” was the waiting; the sense of the inevitable.
Granted, he still scoring with brutish efficiency when not getting dragged down for a four yard loss…
…and prowling sideline-to-sideline on defense like a massive and particularly rangy free safety, but even as he and his ‘mates negotiated the court with an ease that was somehow both graceful and shocking, you knew…you just knew…that a truly crippling, stomach-churning death-blow was imminent. Yes, Durant’s been otherworldly (and it’s truly frightening to think what he might be like three years down the road), but this guy’s still the best. Period.
It’s not like the Knicks played particularly badly, mind you. Yes, their nifty little four game streak has been scattered to the winds, but they still hit 50% from the field and 42% from downtown, but a few of the key elements from their prior victory were either taken away or sorely out of whack, and that made all the difference. The
Let us list the things this team must do in order to beat a superior opponent:
Nail open shots
Yeah, despite the fine numberz, the Knicks could’ve scooped up quite a few more. You know, like they were during the aforementioned streak when they were putting up an astonishing 125 points/100 possessions. The open looks there, and when J.R. was scorching-hot in the 1st, or when Timmy caught fire in the 2nd half, they were able to keep the deficit single digits.
If Melo coughs up the rock seven, (Count ‘em, 7) times, it’s gonna be a notch in the L column 99 out of 100 times, especially when the Heat get 10 more FG attempts.
Take the points that have been gifted at the charity stripe
They still would have been hard-pressed to win, but the parade of bricks from the free throw (not moderately-priced throw or liquidation-sale throw, but FREE (as in gratis) throw. The Knickerbockers are still at the very bottom of the league in attempts per game. Who knows what might have happened had the 4-5 points that Melo and J.R. just doused in rotgut alcohol and set ablaze been added to their ledger, especially (again) down the stretch when they were within striking difference.
A few thoughts on our lads and then we’ll wrap this up so you (and I) can start gorging ourselves on mounds of processed fowls that have literally been ripped limb from limb
Shockingly, Amar’e Stoudemire returned to the court, without much warning or rumblings and whispers that his gammy ankle had healed, because this is how the Knicks always handle injuries—as if they’re state secrets that must be guarded at all costs, lest the MoHeatles have to rejigger their entire game plan to handle a player who doesn’t fit onto what should be the Knickerbockers’ plan of attack. Isn’t that right Bob? Yes it is, Other Bob. Yes it is*
STAT also announced that he’d caught the flu earlier this week, leaving him as feeble and bedridden as Marcel Proust. Yet, for reasons unknown, he was paired up front with Jeremy Tyler, leading to some pretty wretched pick and roll defense, especially in conjunction with Timmy Jr.
And with STAT and K-Mart back, we saw the return of the Big lineup…why? I know something about recidivism and addictive behavior, and I think it’s time to start labeling Son of Wood’s return to crappy rotation choices for what it is: a disease, filled with the usual slew of triggers and self-destructive behavior, followed hard upon by sworn statements that this time he swears, he really, really promises that he’ll stick with smallball, but then one rebound gets snaggled by a Birdman Andersen and suddenly, like a deranged ticker tape, “THINGS ARE BIG” starts scrolling across his bald pate.
If it works (yes, they did lop a few points off the lead heading into halftime), yikes. Like an alcoholic who thinks he’s cured himself based on some byzantine set of semi-arbitrary rules and regulations (I’ll only drink on weekends…after 8pm… in the company of Swedish actuaries…) a successful stint leads to K-Mart returning to the starting lineup and the team (metaphorically) waking up naked in a crude shack somewhere in Tijuana, their wallet gone, with only a Chihuahua by their side (and that dog is giving them the stink-eye in a manner that does not bode well.
So yes. Get thee to BA tout suite, Coach and repeat after me: “Hi. My name’s Mike and I’m a Size-a-holic.”
As for the Knicks single-game scoring record holder (still fun to say that), Battier did a dandy job of locking down Melo, such that it looked like he was trying to take off 3-4 layers of clothing—including a really itchy sweater with a jammed zipper—while trapped inside an old-timey glass phone booth.
His line looks reasonable, save for the previously mentioned and ghastly seven times that the helter-skelter Excited Electron defense goaded and prodded him into getting all butterfinger-y with the ball. At times, he was just flinging the rock into the stands, but the passing lanes that were as free and clear as the Autobahn for the past week or so, were suddenly infested with multi-limbed hell-beasts.
On defense, I get the decision to start J.R. on LeBron, what with all of the switching (PS: STOP SWITCHING) individual matchups don’t really matter as much as one would think, but he just looked enervated. He was awfully slow closing on Shane Battier and Chalmers routinely beat him off the dribble.
Oh Raymond Felton. Would this be a good time to bring up the fact that Jeremy Lin notched his first triple double? It would? Kewl. There’s not much more to say about our favorite penguin, save for the fact that with Miami swarming the pick and roll he couldn’t get into the lane which meant more ISO set to Melo who was also getting trapped and the whole machine came tumbling just enough back to earth that it wasn’t enough to overcome a shoddy defense.
I mean, Woodson actually yanked him for Prigioni in the final four minutes. It was a move that definitely was merited, but to see him pull the plug on one of “his guys” is not standard operating procedure around these parts.
It might be nice to see what Toure’ Murry could do sharing the backcourt with Prigs. The pair’s been on the court together for all of six minutes this season. Woodson bemoaned the loss of Shumpert as a Wade-stopper, and yes, Iman is the one guy that you’d feel comfortable on Wade. Of course, that cruel flinger of all manner of improbable shots still hit 11-15 in the last game. Howzabout seeing what the Wichita kid can do, if you’re in desperate need of a lockdown dude?
On the flip(per) side, there’s Tim Hardaway Jr. He is awesome. He is also less awesome at defense. That pretty much sums it up, right?
And Metta got a garbage-time minute. Unless he was sent out there to extract a pound of flesh, like a hardwood Ogie Oglethorpe, it didn’t make much sense. His sibling wasn’t too thrilled about it either.
Mike Woodson is a cold dude. Mad cold.
— Daniel Artest (@DMArtestQB) February 2, 2014
U don't do that to a player who given 15yrs of work. 18 seconds. Smh.
— Daniel Artest (@DMArtestQB) February 2, 2014
That’ll do it. They played a superior team and lost. No great insights, no great revelations. To paraphrase/conflate Sigmund Freud/Gertrude Stein, sometimes a game is just a game is just a game.
R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman, amazingly talented artist and Knicks fan.
* That’s an Archer reference. If you aren’t a fan, I highly recommend moving it way up to the tippy top of your Netflix queue post haste. It’s high-larry-ous.