Houston Rockets 123 – New York Knicks 125 – Game Recap

Sometimes you have to look up at every chance you get to have faith that the future will be better, because it just has to be. Sometimes you feel like the only sane person in the room, keeping your cool while everyone else goes insane at the first hint of trouble or, on the other hand, tries to pass everyting off as if it was bad fake news.

Today I went for a walk because I had to go fetch a traffic pass in downtown Bologna and getting there by foot is the quickest way to go. The streets were almost desert. A few cars were passing by, and I encountered just five people on a 35 minutes walk. I fetched the traffic pass and went to eat something. I love sushi, and you know it. I felt a little craving for some sweet uramaki, but as luck would have it every single sushi (to be honest: asian fusion, as in “Japanese-like restaurant owned by all sorts of Asian people”) restaurant was closed. Then again, it was cold, so I didn’t mind eating something warmer, and as I found a Chinese restaurant open I went straight for the door.

I entered the place, and, well… I was the only customer. A joint that probably on its best days feeds a hundred people was completely empty. I sat at the table, I ordered my spring rolls, my spicy chicken and shrimps, and vegetables as side dish, and ate well intent at checking my social media feeds. The food was goodish but honestly nothing remarkable. I wouldn’t recommend to eat there, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to avoid it. It was the Arron Afflalo of the Chinese restaurants: a perfectly serviceable place that just doesn’t move the tiniest needle in your overall life. I still left the poor waiter a generous tip. I felt sorry for him and his wasted day at work.

This, guys, is life in March 2020 in the so-called yellow zone in Italy. Coronavirus has hit hard, much harder than I ever thought it could. It’s not about numbers per se: while a little more than 2,250 cases (79 deaths) are nothing to scoff at, the vast majority of infected people is feeling well, sometimes even being totally asymptomatic. Bologna and its suburbs amount to around one million people, and there are three registered cases as of now. But it’s not the virus that has hit that hard. It’s the sheer fear. Cinemas and theaters are closed by government decree. Citizens are advised to stay at home if they can.

February 21st was the day when the first Italian patient was discovered. By February 23rd the supermarkets were assaulted by people that felt like they needed to stock up food for a month in a nuclear vault. I’m not kidding you when I say that entire shelves were emptied in 20 minutes (but not penne lisce. Don’t ask real Italians to eat pasta that’s not striped. Penne rigate, tortiglioni, conchiglie rigate is the way. Otherwise the sauce won’t stick).

As I was saying at the beginning, I kept my cool through it all. But hope is a flickery thing, isn’it? So while I’m not worried about my own health, I can’t say the same for my parents (who both are 65+, and it looks like this virus goes hard at old people, especially if they suffer from other serious illnesses) but most of all for the whole economy. We’re at day 10, and I think we’re pretty much fucked for the 2020. Foreign tourists won’t come here in Italy as they were used to, and Italy has an estimated GDP of 150 billion dollars in tourism alone, which amounts to 7.5-8% of the whole national shebang. Italian products might be looked with mistrust for the next months. We’re probably due for a small but heavy recession. And our economy wasn’t that good to begin with, so…

In short: I fucking needed this win. I love sports. They are one of the few things that, when all goes well, give you a boost for no discernible reason. And you just take that boost and don’t look back.

***

The game was very entertaining: our Knicks were busy exchanging blows with the Rockets from the get-go, with RJ Barrett building up on his good performance against Chicago, ending the first quarter with 14 points and a couple gorgeous feeds to his fellow Bockers (in particular a pass to Mitch who was left entirely alone under the rim. It was eerily reminiscent of those night when I used to play in my room with a Nerf hoop and fantasized about being 6’8″ and dunking at will in the NBA. Mitch’s bucket was that easy). All the Knicks were pretty solid, but the reserves were the real protagonists, especially in the second quarter when a scorching hot Wayne Ellington went on to hit 4 threes in a row and a Bobby Portis bucket put the Knicks up by 21 (!) with 5:26 to go. It was clear that it wasn’t destined to last, but it was really fun. RJ ended the half with 19 points. Randle wasn’t that good but rebounded well.

The Rockets are a weird, uncompromising yo-yo team. They can fall back by 15 or be up 30 and they’ll play the same way, so given that threes have a inherent high variance you can never be safe enough playing them. In fact, the lead would be cut to ten at the end of the first half, thanks to strong play from Covington and Danuel House. Westbrook and Harden were fine but a bit dormient. You could feel a rolling boulder comeback from the Rockets, all but certain that the Knicks would end being destroyed by the most brilliantly annoying team in the League.

But that wasn’t the case!

In fact, the Knicks went up by 17 again with 5:38 to go in the third behind good all-around effort and savvy play (it didn’t hurt that sometimes Houston slept off entire defensive possessions). But the two headed backcourt Houston beast awoke, with Harden hitting his first three of the night with 2:08 to go in the third and a second one right at the end of the quarter, ending the stanza at 101-91.

The fourth quarter looked like a playoff game. The crowd was in it, and the Knicks were too (except for Elfrid Payton, who sometimes can’t be brought to give a damn on defense and was rightfully subbed off for Ntilikina, who looked like an NBA player last night, even on offense and for RJ Barrett, who looked gassed until the last possession vindicated his bad second half play). 101-95 gave way to 103-101, which in turn gave way to 111-106 (on a Frank pull-up!), which gave way to 118-109, which ended up seeing the Knicks just up 122-121 with 28 seconds to go. Here, RJ went onto his baptism by fire. He took the ball, chose to iso his way and bullyball-ed his way to a bank layup. From there, a Randle free throw and a great Frank defensive possession on Westbrook ensured the win.

I pumped my fist.

***

You can’t really argue with the last two wins. Mitch (17.5 PPG, 11.5 RPG, a criminal 24.5 MPG), RJ (23 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 4 APG, 18-28 FG, 6-12 3P, 30.5 MPG), Frank (7.5 PPG, 4 APG, 6-12 FG, 22MPG) and Knox (9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 3-5 3P, 19 MPG) were all a big part of them.

This is what hope looks like. This is what I want from now on (but I need more minutes for Mitch! Who cares about Taj’s veteran leadership. We’re 21 games from another trip to the lottery. Stop this madness). This is something I can look at with eager eyes. This is why we follow the team.

Fuck you Covid19.

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Farfa

Just an Italian basketball fan with an insane passion for all things Knicks (and yes, linguine Alfredo is not a real Italian dish).

31 thoughts to “Houston Rockets 123 – New York Knicks 125 – Game Recap”

  1. I didn’t see the game, but did check out the box score and highlights. Looks like a satisfying win in that the kids were significant contributors. RJB and Mitch a very nice game, and even Frank and Knox apparently contributed (though I did notice that Frank only hit 1/6 threes) off the bench.

    Hopefully more of the same.

  2. And just when you think things can turn around, the Knicks manage to piss off Spike Lee who’s making the rounds bashing the Knicks. You just can’t make this shit up!

  3. I’m the last person to ever defend Dolan, but what was he supposed to do today?

    I barely even care about the specific fact set behind this latest ordeal. I think it’s more important to take a broader view: just ask yourself, would this, whatever this is, ever, in a million years, happen to a normal team with a normal owner?

    There’s only one answer.

  4. My best to you and yours, Farfa.
    Italy was already having economic issues.

    What a game. The energy felt like a playoff game.

    But what a dick Dolan is…why start something with Spike Lee? The man pays $300k for season tickets and Dolan acts like a jerk, in public?

  5. Great, great ‘cap Farfa. Stay safe and healthy, god knows we need you around these parts.

    I totally agree about the Rockets dedication to their style of play, it really sticks out. You would think they’d make some kind of circumstance adjustments but they really just do not. They’re one of the most fascinating storylines of this season for me.

  6. https://twitter.com/Rosenbergradio/status/1234902973215576065

    I told myself I wouldn’t even learn the specifics of this because I already know it simply would not have happened to a normal team, but turns out Spike likely didn’t know there was a new entrance procedure…or something.

    Instead of making long, drawn out arguments about the win curve and all that I should probably just start saying “we should build through the draft because no free agents are ever going to come here.” Much harder to argue with than anything else I’ve ever said.

  7. After decades of abuse, I am no longer a Knick fan
    (Deep breath in, slow breath out). I just can’t watch another game or contribute to this team’s financial success in any way. Who’dda thought Spike Lee, global ambassador of his beloved Knicks, would be the catalyst for this life redefining moment?
    I’ve said Fuck the Knicks 1000 times and tried to find another sport to irrationally invest in but I always came back. This time it feels different. It feels *beautiful*. I am at peace. I am free

    I’ll still check this blog 3 times a day though min. You guys are awesome

  8. On the one hand it’s hard to come up with a clearer expression of the phrase “rich people problems” than chafing at being asked to use the VIP entrance instead of the even more exclusive entrance to which you had previously become accustomed. On the other hand it’s worth saying again that there really is no organization that finds a way to turn everything around it sour like the Dolan Knicks. Spike is practically a member of the organization at this point and a competent team would’ve found ten different ways to squash this before anyone ever heard about it.

  9. To be honest, when I first heard this, I thought that the new protocol / entrance enforcement had something to do with protecting the players / staff from Covid19 exposure (FFS, players are being advised to not use fans’ pens for autographs / avoid hand shakes). If that’s the case, I could see myself siding with a hypothetical owner over even a superfan like Spike.

    Heck, there’s a chance that in the moment, Dolan felt that he was upholding the moral highground and that maybe grandstanding billionaire crybaby antics never crossed his mind.

    But even if you were to give the Dolan that incredibly generous benefit of the doubt (which, if his public record is any indication, you should not), his response 12 hours later clearly shows why we will never be able to have nice things while he is in charge. His seemingly pathological lack of graciousness and complete inability to think through the longterm optics / consequences of his actions will doom us forever.

  10. Waiting for the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode where Spike Lee is stopped at the MSG Employee Entrance while Reggie Miller is allowed to enter and is hugged by a James Dolan look-alike.

  11. But even if you were to give the Dolan that incredibly generous benefit of the doubt (which, if his public record is any indication, you should not), his response 12 hours later clearly shows why we will never be able to have nice things while he is in charge. His seemingly pathological lack of graciousness and complete inability to think through the longterm optics / consequences of his actions will doom us forever.

    It probably has a number of underlying causes, but Jim Dolan is just … off. Socially maladjusted, possibly even worse. There’s just no normal explanation for him intervening in this meaningless situation and trying to prove some point against literally his best customer — not just face to face, but then again the next day with the public. It borders on spectrum-ish behavior.

    This is probably going to get me into trouble and it’s going to be debatable thesis sketch, but I’m borrowing a bit from P&T and from what I know about Dolan and the Rangers where nothing of this type ever happens — Dolan has a complicated relationship with black people, where he both yearns for their approval (*) and yet deep down sees himself as something of their master. That’s a big part of why his stewardship of the Knicks and Rangers is so different. At some point, the elephant in the room should be recognized.

    (*) Even the whole blues thing is very much in this vein.

  12. wow farfa, i don’t know how you do it, but, your writing just gets better and better…sadly tough times can provide quite the inspiration it seems…

    i came across some interesting publication from our own Postal service listing all the italian zip codes that had stopped receiving inbound materials…

    it took me a minute or so of staring at the list to begin to appreciate the situation there in italy…i imagine things will become increasingly more severe within the large towns and cities…the isolation of smaller communities across the globe may just be a sign of what’s to come…

    my thoughts and prayers are with you and yours…

  13. Also a penny for Leon Rose’s thoughts on this. I’m sure he doesn’t really have the reins yet and isn’t actually in charge of much, but what a thing to have come up on literally your 2nd day on the job. I mean Dolan must have made some kind of assurances to Rose to the effect of “You’re totally in charge, I’m going to be completely hands off, etc.” because no smart person would take the job otherwise. And now on his second day Dolan is wading into a completely pointless and entirely avoidable feud with their most famous fan who is practically the team mascot at this point. On some level he must’ve known that Dolan’s non-intervention promises were worthless but surely must feel nice to get such an early reminder.

  14. Steve Stoute should tell ESPN that the Knicks are looking for newer, fresher fans to sit courtside.

  15. There’s just no normal explanation for him intervening in this meaningless situation and trying to prove some point against literally his best customer — not just face to face, but then again the next day with the public. It borders on spectrum-ish behavior.

    it is difficult to “diagnose” someone without the skill to do so, or access to the individual to assess…

    it’s hard to know if there’s really something amiss in his wiring, or – if it’s simply a matter of un-checked ego…

    alcoholism though is a disease, and, it’s not something which simply goes away after a few A.A. meetings and a couple of anniversary sobriety coins…it’s something which people battle their whole lives against…anti-social personality and behavioral traits can and have been linked to alcoholism…

    Dolan has a complicated relationship with black people, where he both yearns for their approval (*) and yet deep down sees himself as something of their master.

    that’s a pretty touchy thing to write about someone, but, hell if it doesn’t seem pretty on point looking in from the outside…

    at the very least, jimmy D makes you seriously wonder how the term “success” can be defined…i would not want to be locked inside that dude’s head for a single second…

    somehow he is wired to always feel like a victim…

  16. I’m calling out Spike on this one.

    No doubt some new rule was put in place (for whatever reason) and some low level employee was simply following instructions and assumed that meant he was not supposed to let Spike through either.

    What a horrible experience to be asked go in through the VIP entrance instead,

    This should have been solved with a handful of words from Dolan to both the employee and Spike and it should have gone away, but Spike is an asshole and is making it into big deal in the media.

    This wouldn’t have been big deal anywhere else because even though shit like this happens all the time everywhere, normal people understand it and don’t make a big deal about a misunderstanding and normal media people don’t run with it trying to get clicks and views on a non story.

  17. @stratomatic – I could not agree more. Spike is using this to up his visibility on social media and throwing his fandom under the bus to do it.

  18. This wouldn’t have been big deal anywhere else because even though shit like this happens all the time everywhere

    [citation needed]

  19. >Waiting for the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode where Spike Lee is stopped at the MSG Employee Entrance while Reggie Miller is allowed to enter and is hugged by a James Dolan look-alike.<

    Genius. lmao

    Worthy of the show.

  20. >[citation needed]<

    That's the whole point. No one hears about things like this anywhere else because they are nonsense. Only in NY where the asshole TS% is in Mitch's territory do we make a big deal about what was obviously a low level misunderstanding,

    Poor Spike has to go through the VIP entrance with the other celebrities and rich folks. I feel so bad for him.

  21. Spike Lee is overdoing it for sure, but he chose the right guy to do it to. There is nothing Dolan could have done to make himself look good, and even with that in mind he went full Dolan. Now Spike Lee looks like the blameless super fan and Dolan looks like the highest profile jerk in sports ownership. Well played, Spike. Well played.

  22. Poor Spike has to go through the VIP entrance with the other celebrities and rich folks. I feel so bad for him.

    Absolutely nobody is saying that you should feel bad for Spike. People are saying that it’s a horrible look for the Knicks to be feuding with their most public-facing fan. That part of it is what’s unique, not some change in an entrance policy. Every other organization would have found a way to squash this and the Knicks instead have now turned it into a multi-day story. Why are they issuing a press release taking issue with their most famous fan? Is that normal behavior in your eyes?

  23. Not sure if this is the whole story, yet, but Lee seems pissed at the Knicks PR release claiming that he had been “repeatedly” asked not to use the employee entrance. He denies that and seems to also claim that Dolan acted like an ass when they discussed it at halftime.

    I think the use of the word “laughable” in the PR statement was probably not a very good choice of words, but Dolan’s gut reaction to stuff like this is to attack, so…
    :-)

    Sorry about how that formatted. It is a link to a CBSSports article.

  24. Why would fucking Spike Lee, oscar winner, need to make a fuss out of something like this to get screen time visibility on social media?

    It’s very obvious what happened, he was mildly inconvenienced by a random unannounced change in the way celebrities enter the game at MSG, and is trying to turn this into a fight against Dolan. He has been vocal in the past against Dolan, he was particularly vocal about the Oakley incident, it’s obvious that he’s using the opportunity to stir shit up to go after Dolan.

    How is that ever a bad thing? A respected celebrity who has stuck with this dumpster fire through decades of shit speaking up against the worst owner in the NBA? I mean, it’s not like he’ll manage to take Dolan out, but I’m totally for anything that goes against Dolan in principle.

  25. This is what I honestly think happened.
    Some poor security guard was probably just doing his/her job and told Spike he couldn’t come in.
    Spike made a stink.
    Word gets to Rose and Dolan. Rose says to Dolan ” just go over and make it right”
    Dolan goes over, talks to Spike, they shake hands.
    NYK PR sends out a very harmless press release.
    Dolan/Rose think it’s over.

    Spike goes apeshit and whines like a rich spoiled brat on First Take
    Dolan blows up because he actually tried to do the right thing for once and this is what he gets
    And here we are.

    When two people are used to people kissing their respective asses and someone doesn’t pucker up just the right way, this is what you get.

  26. Some updates: https://twitter.com/SopanDeb/status/1234919540032786432

    Whatever happened to start all of this is going to be a boring, Rashomon story forever.

    What I do know is this–it wouldn’t have reached anywhere near this point with any other team (and most other organizations in any field, for that matter). That’s why I don’t see how anyone can defend Dolan on this. It’s so obviously particular to his shitty personality.

    Minimize the story, smooth anything over with Spike, and if you absolutely must say something just make it a bland statement about how there was a misunderstanding and you look forward to seeing Spike at the next game blah blah blah. This is not hard! If it were, we would constantly be seeing entrance-related feuds between NBA teams and their prominent fans. Not only do we not see those, but the world found out today that they are even a thing. You really think that has nothing to do with James Dolan?

  27. This

    Absolutely nobody is saying that you should feel bad for Spike. People are saying that it’s a horrible look for the Knicks to be feuding with their most public-facing fan.

    and this.

    Minimize the story, smooth anything over with Spike, and if you absolutely must say something just make it a bland statement about how there was a misunderstanding and you look forward to seeing Spike at the next game blah blah blah

    It could have been nothing and they made it a disaster. That’s the entire issue. That’s why Dolan’s a moron.

  28. Farfa! Fantastic! One of your best. Absolutely sucks what’s happening over there. Going to happen in NYC before long.

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