|Carmelo Anthony, SF 40 MIN | 9-25 FG | 7-8 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | +2
27 points? Nifty. 7 rebounds and a steal and a block? Kewl. What’s that? You’ll have to speak up, Sir. You say Melo started the game 2-10, bricking 20 footers and fadaways, generally refusing to pass out of double-teams, kvetching at the refs, failing to get back on defense and generally looking like every horrid cliché imaginable of a selfish, me-first, high-usage/low-volume scorer that he’s worked oh-so-hard to shed this season? Yeah, it was that kind of game. Look, I’m as tickled as anyone when he goes off, like the 2nd quarter stretch where he nailed 6-7 shots and scored the final 14 points of the quarter, but that start (and the game in general) is a painful reminder that all the things we’ve reviled about Mr. Anthony are only a few mIU/ml of hormonal imbalance away.
Of course, this recent, post-suspension spate of ball-hoggery and slow-starter-y could be related to the fun factoid that dropped post game: Evidently, Melo’s been fasting or cleansing or bingeing and purging or only eating the peanuts out of Ray Felton’s floaters for the last 15 days and, as I type this, is heading out to get a steak. As someone that’s sampled pretty much every sane and non-sane diet over the past X years, I’ve got to say that that’s a bad, bad move for someone with an average level of activity, let alone a professional athlete. Your metabolism craters when you fast. The idea that it’s “enlightening” is junk, new age-y hokum. You don’t “purge toxins from your body” when you sweat either. It’s a cooling mechanism, period. Human sweat isn’t filled with elements the body needs to expel. At least we know KG’s “Honey Nut Cheerios” jibe wasn’t directed at Melo’s missus at all. He was just teasing him about all the yummy, sugar-laden, General Mills-brand breakfast cereals he can enjoy that Melo can’t. Mystery solved.
|Chris Copeland, SF 30 MIN | 9-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 22 PTS | +9
We’ll talk more about the whole “Melo at the 4” thingy in a bit, but Chris had himself a swell afternoon, amirite? He’s still a sieve on defense and the boards but if he’s draining treys, spreading the floor and finishing at the rim (and why after he pulled the team’s collective fannies out of the fire in the first, he sat until 2 minutes were left in the half is beyond me), it’s clear he really should be starting ahead of Messrs. Thomas and Brewer whilst we await the return of the walking wounded.
|Tyson Chandler, C 27 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-6 FT | 14 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +9
Tyson generally Tyson’d today, stifling the more irritating Lopez twin (depending on one’s affinity for Silver Age Comix and/or Sideshow Bob-esque coiffures) and controlling the glass, even if he (and anyone with a predilection for dunktastic offensive efficiency) misses Raymond Felton as much as anyone on or pulling for the team. That said, his freebies are getting so flat…(How flat are they?) that they’d fit in perfectly with the other characters in Edwin Abbott’s Flatland.
|Jason Kidd, PG 23 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 5 PTS | +3
As has been the case for the last 10-odd games, tt was a fairly atrocious 1st quarter for pretty much every non-Belgian League alumnus wearing orange and blue. But the thing that’s been so startling about Kidd’s recent struggles is that when all was joyous and just in Knickville, even when his shot wasn’t dropping, you could be assured that at minimum, he’d avoid ghastly turnovers. Today, he half-assedly flung a few entry passes that found their way into the wrong feller’s mitts. He got better as the game went on, especially when paired with Prigs in a return to the twin PG lineup that had been absent since Felt’s finger(s) got funky.
|James White, SG 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -4
I get that James’s nickname was earned due to his remarkable hops, but if you call someone “Flight” White, aren’t you also subtly referring to the large-scale migration of Caucasians of various European ancestries from racially mixed urban regions to more ethnically homogeneous suburban or exurban regions, originating from fear and anxiety about increasing minority populations? Asking for a friend.
|Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 23 MIN | 3-6 FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +4
Let’s take a nice trip to the land of diminished expectations. That was, by far, the best outing we’ve seen from STAT this season. He was decisive and aggressive in taking the ball to the hole, even if his shot is still AWOL. Plus we’ve certainly given Amar’e the business for his defensive follies, so we’re contractually and morally obligated to give credit where credit’s due. He won’t be garnering any all-defensive team votes any time soon, but he battled for rebounds, had a few moments of solid help and wasn’t an absolute blight. Baby steps, people.
|Ronnie Brewer, SF 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +2
Ronnie’s decided that the best way to deal with his horrendously broken shot is to…never shoot at all. I get the logic, but not when he passes out of this:
…it’s extending the solution to the point of ridiculousness [H/T Mike Prade, SBN].
|Steve Novak, SF 17 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +13
Everyone’s still giddy over Stevak’s rryer-than-the-scorched-earth-in-Colorado-Springs-following-this-summer’s-wildfires smackdown of our former diminutive combo guard. That was probably the highlight of this week of pain, shame and humiliation at the hands of long-time rivals. Granted, there wasn’t much competition, but if you haven’t had the chance to delight in Novak’s Oscar Wilde-worthy, droll evisceration of Lil’ Him, enjoy. We’ll wait.
Funz. Anyhoo, Hahn and Szczerbiak (who I’m pretty much sold is wearing a rubber Wally Szczerbiak mask over his real face and beneath one would find horrible, post-nuclear scarring and reddened, sickeningly cancerous tumors, like the bomb cult in Return to the Planet of the Apes) mentioned this in the post-game post-mortem, but Novak really needs to keep shooting, even if he gorts his first few offerings. This afternoon, he did. It really helped put away a New Orleans team that was just (Teddy KGB voice) hchanging around, hchanging around. Dat Nyovak Kid’s got alleygheator blahd.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 29 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +18
I believe there was one game way back when, when Great Old Ones who lived eons before there were any feeble humans, and who came to the fresh, newborn world from the heavens. The Old Ones are gone now, inside terra firma and beneath the oceans; but their corpses had revealed their secrets to the first men in their dreams, who formed an order dedicated to guarding the ancient truths which has never died…
…Sorry. Got lost in an H.P. Lovecraft-ian bent there. Where were we? Prigs, right. I think back when the ‘Bockers were rampaging through the league, Prigs had a garbage time-laden stat line that might be more impressive, but considering how desperate the New Yorkers were for a victory, this might be his most impressive outing in his brief NBA career. He did a stellar job on defense, with all the pesky, peevish tricks that we delight in and must frustrate those rooting against our fair squad to no end while doing a dandy job of beating many a Horlican off the dribble and finding open ‘mates.
|J.R. Smith, SG 27 MIN | 3-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +9
Oh J.R. No matter how many times he speaks with firm resolve that his days of tripping the lights fantastic on the sidewalks of New York are long behind him, I always fear that for these noon starts he wandered into MSG on his hands and knees directly from the Meatpacking district, eyeballs wobbling in their sockets, missing a shoe, and covered in odd bruises, filth, bearing a betting slip from an illegal cockfight and smattered with drying crusts of fluids of indeterminate origin. Need actual evidence? Welp, the forced, fall away heaves are one thing but that pointless foul of Brian Roberts with .00003431 seconds left in the quarter is the kind of thing that makes one do this:
And like an underclassman trying oh-so-desperately to act as cool as the big kids (That’s right, Melo. Your ears are burning.), he’s getting into hissy fits with the arbiters after each and every whistle with a sense of self-righteous aggravation and unjust persecution that’d rival Shylock. I was gabbing with an acquaintance who thinks Earl III is the source of all of the Knicks’ woes and, though I couldn’t really argue that we’ve gotten a seven course meal of Bad J.R. in this stretch of mediocrity and worse, his numbers, for good and for ill, are eerily similar to an ex-‘Bocker who’s taken up permanent, rent-controlled residence in each and every chamber of our hearts, John Starks. Peep these digits.
My chum’s retort? He curtly wrote, “Fuck you!” and abruptly ended to our correspondence. Dear reader(s), if you’re so inclined, feel free to flip me the bird, too.
It remains baffling to your humble correspondent how, after reams of empirical evidence showing how much better the entire team is with Melo at power forward, why Son of Wood insists on trying to cobble together something resembling a typical NBA frontcourt, even if the pieces are old, broken or just plain don’t fit. Starting Cope at small forward and only going with the Tyson-STAT-Melo trio up front for brief stretches was the move that everyone’s been screaming, pulling their hair out by the roots, stomping their feet and maybe even rustling up the old gang of refuseniks together to post a change.org petition for. I’m glad he’s listening to the huddled masses, but I remain concerned that making the right decision, strategery-wise, is something the Goateed one doesn’t cotton to naturally. Rather, it’s merely the only card left in his hand after the recent spate of injuries. I worry. I worry about a lot of things, though, as you may have guessed lo these many years. To be continued…
Five Things We Saw
- After a three games that felt like a series of unending gut punches with like a sack of oranges or something show so the bruises don’t straight out of a hard-boiled Jim Thompson pulp novel it was nice to ring up an actual, honest-to-goodness, no doubt about it victory, even if the opponent wasn’t the most imposing foe. Like methadone to a heroin addict, I’m not copping a buzz off this win, but at least I’m not shivering in the corner, jonesing like a fiend, and junk-sick to the point of no return. After an opening stanza that seemed wayyyyyyy too similar to all the other sluggish starts – stagnant offense, tons of ISO-Melo, shoddy and/or lazy defense, and silly, unforced turnovers (which would have been a lot worse if New Orleans hadn’t bricked a bushel of open shots and Chris Copeland hadn’t gotten seriously en fuego) – I don’t know about you, but I was girding my loins for the cavalcade of “The Knicks suck horse balls” columns that’d come cascading down from the city’s esteemed members of the fourth estate and every hoops addict with a functioning Wifi connection.
- Luckily, the defense got gobs better, holding the lesser lights from Nawlins 2nd unit to a mere 12 points on 4-15 shooting while, as previously stated, Melo began to simmer what had been a seriously undercooked soup. From there they slowly but surely built a lead and all of the glorious things that had been the hallmark of our era of good feeling (You know, 2012) – the unselfish play, the ball zipping around the perimeter until it nestled in the hands of a wide open three point marksman, the turnover-forcing defense and the utter refusal to surrender the rock themselves – began to return, if intermittently and only in fleeting bursts. For the rest of the game, the outcome wasn’t really in any doubt.
- Oh, you thought we were done with the brief glimpse into the fringe eating habits of our favorite cagers? Naw. Turns out, Amar’e’s been going all Vegan the last three months. You know, if I had the courage of my convictions, I’d be cooking up a batch of mung bean burgers right now…but that’s a topic for another day and probably another blog entirely. Even better, Deadspin’s Isaac Rauch went rummaging deep in his memory bone and recalled this wacky nugget:
It wasn’t random. Back then, Anthony told reporters that he was observing the Daniel Fast, culled from Daniel 10:2-3: “At that time I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.” Whether he’s following the exactly same rules or not, Anthony has apparently been fasting again, telling Knicks reporters after today’s win over the Hornets that he he’d been on a strict diet in the past 15 days, a time span that includes six games and New Years Eve. (Anthony didn’t mention lotions to reporters, but if he’s been looking particularly dry to anyone that’s seen him up close, it’s probably because of the Daniel Fast.)
You know, I think the Bible is a fascinating document, whether or not you ascribe in any way, shape or form to the tenets held therein. It is useful for many, many things but whatever one’s religious/spiritual beliefs may or may not be I think we can all come together to state in no uncertain terms that DIETARY INSTRUCTIONS IS DEFINITELY NOT ONE OF THEM.
- For those unable to catch MSG’s broadcast, there were more than a few genuinely goofy moments. After spying a hapless actor who was shoved into a Scooby Doo furry getup for the day, Mike Breen revealed that one of the most humbling moments in his life occurred when he was running a marathon and got passed by a guy who was also clad in a Scooby Doo costume. Mike’s led a pretty good/charmed/easy/facial blemish/jilted by stunningly attractive women who think you’re swell and all but we’re really just friends-free life, methinks. There was also a moment of pure Beckettian silence/Pinter pause which prompted Breen to blurt out: “Everybody decided to stop talking at the same time.”
- And thus, we’re off to jolly old England. In my wildest fantasies, I imagine Clyde leading the Knicks on various sightseeing tours, bedecked in the finest garb that Saville Row tailors can fashion — top hat, spats, monocle, the whole nine yards – doing his best Clark W. Griswold imitation. “Look J.R., kids, Big Ben! Parliament! Parliament Funkadelic! Drivin’ and thrivin’ on the left side of the road!” Tally-ho!