|Kenyon Martin, PF 25 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +3
We keep waiting for struck midnight to find Kenyon flagrantly fouling the teenage mop boys for “gettin’ too close to the neck lips,” but damn if K-Mart doesn’t keep producing. His most consistent contribution tonight was on the offensive glass, where he hammered home six of his nine points off of narrow misses and grabbed four of his five ‘bounds. The defensive engagement wasn’t quite as tenacious as we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, but that amounts to a petty grievance in the grand scheme of things.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 36 MIN | 10-30 FG | 7-9 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 29 PTS | +16
The fact that I had to do a double-take at “FGA: 30” is as good an indication as any at how free of tumult this whole affair was. Between the crapsack of terrible shots, Melo managed some beautiful possessions – particularly on the few strong, purposeful takes to the tin that marked the deficit-ballooning stretch between the second and third quarters. The defense was passable, although ole #7 seemed floor-bolted during a few of Boston’s early penetrating drives. Credit good help defense with at least two of the three steals, and general engagement for the plethora of boards. Not the most efficient night, certainly, but that’s…what…J….R….Smith is for?
|Iman Shumpert, SF 26 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +3
A quiet night offensively – Shump hit but a lone corner jumper in transition early in the third – was offset somewhat by a few impressive stints on Pierce. He still looks at times like he’s dribbling a 25-cent bouncy ball in the open court, but on a team simply trying to balance depth and fit, I think the soph’s niche will end up being a sensible one.
|Raymond Felton, PG 32 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +6
I mean… there’s only so much Avery Bradley can eat, right? Against a team as deathly depleted as the Beanfarts, we didn’t need spectacular from Raymond; we needed not disastrous. The numbers might seem slight for such a heavy workload – though there were peppered throughout some brutish and well-timed drives, both in transition and in the half court – but the only real stat that mattered in this one was one, as in the number of turnovers committed.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 30 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +7
Just days after posted a blog wherein he laments in words I don’t understand about not getting enough minutes and being late to see Che off on his northern motorcycle sojourn back in ’48, Pablo turned his biggest burn to date into a positively encouraging outing. A couple nice drives, a gorgeous P&R feed to a rolling Melo, solid on-ball defense – all were equally important. But converting an open court layup with Avery Bradley humping both his legs and still managing to lay it in without having the ball smeared on the glass like a giant bug? Clandestine candidate for Play of the Night.
|Steve Novak, SF 18 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +5
A statue made of Angel Food Cake would provide more consistent defense, but at least the stroke was twangin’.
|Jason Kidd, PG 23 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +16
Man, I just hope I still have my own teeth when I’m 40. Seems like our sage might be summoning a second wind, this all-of-the-above outing being just the latest example. Whether the bevy of key defensive plays – drawing charges, help D ninja hands – grabbing big boards in traffic, or hitting huge buckets (taking Avery Bradley into the lane for a hefty reverse layup was magical), J-Kidd was once again a basketball binding agent. Concerns for age and wear aren’t exactly illegitimate, but at a certain point you have to wonder whether someone so imbued with basketball intelligence might not also understand that January and February isn’t exactly a bad time to coast.
|J.R. Smith, SG 34 MIN | 13-24 FG | 5-5 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 32 PTS | +17
It’s been noted ad nauseous, but it bears repeating: Ever since his nightmarish 4-76 outing in L.A. a fortnight ago, Earl’s radar has honed squarely on tin. Tonight’s performance – a flurry of rimward takes at once quick, graceful, and resilient – was the culmination of this newfound ethos. And that absurd half-ending 25-foot three pointer to extend the league back to 15 wasn’t too shabby, either. Even when he started settling during Boston’s would-be threat early in the fourth, J.R. simply threw the switch anew, finishing up right where he started: within a gentle flick of the basket. Also: Seven rebounds? Three steals? Has he been in bed since Saturday? Check the Twitter.
|Chris Copeland, SF 13 MIN | 0-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 1 PTS | +2
Looked like a Muppet after drinking a trough full of chocolate milk and bacon fat; was awful.
|Marcus Camby, C DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS ||
Five Things We Saw
- Both squads broached the fray roughly two injuries shy of having to start floor buffers, so the fact that the first nine shots fell wayward wasn’t much of a surprise – ball was just flying all over the place. Fortunately, the Knicks were the only ones who managed to tighten the vices – they committed but six turnovers after the first two minutes – while the Celtics coughed up the marble a stunning 19 times (thank the 12 Knick steals), many of those coming in transition or on silly swings to the weak side.
- Much has been made of Woodson’s recent propensity for quirky lineups, but tonight has to take the cake: The Knicks were forced to field a lineup featuring Carmelo Anthony at center, and still whipped Boston’s ass for a solid five minutes. Granted, the small vs. small dynamic was somewhat inevitable given the banged-up nature of the two squads, but still – what a fun little stint that was.
- Both teams found success probing, plodding, and cutting their way into the paint, but the Bockers’ beastly offensive rebounding (15-7 advantage) was the real difference maker. Everyone got in on the act – Melo, J.R., K-Mart, Walt Whitman, Barbara Hershey. Against a team so depleted in the front court, having the Knicks settle for terrible outside shots, iffy one-on-one gambits, and diminutive glass hounding would not have exactly been shocking, given the two teams’ recent history. Alas, scripts were flipped all around.
- Speaking of scripts, whoever thought the Celtics’ quick 5-0 spurt to start the second half would morph into a crippling, game-altering tide against which the Knicks would feebly beat back and ultimately fail, raise your hands. Right. The Cs would cut the margin to seven on two occasions, and both times the Bockers dug deep and came up with timely buckets – a Kidd straightaway three, an Earl blitz, whatever they needed, when they needed it.
- Five in a row. And all without Chandler. Before I say any more, let me make clear that the two have very little, if anything, to do with one another. Rather, the ingredients for this particular streak are – as Chris Herring aptly pointed out earlier today – games in the making. Back is the ball movement, consistent defensive engagement, and chemistry that marked that halcyon 18-5 clip. Indeed, there might be something to this whole two-headed point guard thing after all. Whether or not Woodson’s had designs on this all along, and has been keeping Prigs bench-bolted for that very purpose – I highly doubt that. But sometimes found money is better than intelligent investment, and to that end I’m just glad that we’ve been able to mine useful wares from what very easily could have been a season-jeopardizing rash of injuries. We played Carmelo Anthony at center, got every conceivable call, and beat the snot out of the Boston Celtics. Let’s enjoy it.