Knicks 100, Nets 97
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 44 MIN | 15-24 FG | 10-11 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 45 PTS | +5
Gerald Wallace once again succeeded in slowing Melo down early, with the latter beginning the game settling too often for hinterland jumpers. But a second quarter 14-points-in-six-minutes blitzkrieg single-handedly helped get the ‘Bockers back in it. He also started spewing platelets from a brand new hole – his lip – which means he’s officially broken the record for most times bleeding while on the court at I LOST COUNT TEN GALLONS AGO.
Mostly, though, he was getting buckets – like a hard-up Chinese porter, Pop-A-Shot bar rat, or NBA Live set to “embryo” difficulty. In what may have been his finest stand in a half-pipe uniform, Melo shot, slashed, and slayed his way out of Brookly with a truly legendary second half barrage; dagger after dagger after shiv after machete after Acme anvil. No one could stop him, not even Melo’s own bewitching right hand. Forty-five points and one officially full-term rivalry later, the crowd dives and platitudes and blood are no longer makeup over bullet holes – it’s all very real, and it’s all happening before our very eyes.
|Ronnie Brewer, SF 12 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | -14
Holy $#!%, Ronnie. I’d have to consult my Gray’s Anatomy (the book I in no way own, not the television show – Dempsey groupy) to figure out if knee swelling can somehow travel by way of flesh tubes (medical term) to the brain and arms, but Ronnie’s seven first half minutes indicated that’s eminently possible. Even he fell victim to the Knicks switch-happy, double-down ways, resulting in enough mismatches to force Woodson to insert J.R. early and leaving Brewster bench-bound the rest of the half. Ditto the second, where Ronnie played but five clock turns and was even more invisible.
As Seth Rosenthal wisely pointed out, the Nets are the kind of team where having a guy like Shump — someone who can make a mismatched big pay off the dribble – would be hugely beneficial. Nothing against Ronnie; he’s just not the kind of guy who can break down a defense with dribble penetration (or find the open man) the way our fade-pimpin’ bard can.
|Tyson Chandler, C 31 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | -6
If it wasn’t explicitly posed prior to tipoff, the question had to be on the mind of more than a few Knick fans: How might the presence of Andray Blatche’s…. how do I put this… cerebral cricket factory rub off and affect Chandler’s effort? In the first frame, the osmosis was quick and complete, with Tyson proving slow on rotations, disinterested in boxing out, and committing a couple silly – if questionable – early fouls. Thankfully, Blatch was satisfied enough with his 10 point (on 5-5 shooting) first quarter performance, that he just jogged through the tunnel, the back door, and straight to whoever was hosting Lap Dance Tuesday. Meanwhile, Tyson re-engaged on offense to the tune of a couple nice bunnies, but managed a meagerly single board in the first half.
Chandler again found himself in the shit to start the third, only this time it was Reggie Evans – he of the “get you up in the air so I can launch my body at you like a 45-degree missile” – who succeeded in getting Tyson to bite. The prospects of a Rasheed Wallace-anchored interior having turned First Manassas, Chandler was by far the most effective late in the game, grabbing some key ‘bounds and coming up with the mammoth tap-out that lead to Kidd’s geriatric dagger. Certainly not his best performance, but at least he was there when it counted most.
|Jason Kidd, PG 37 MIN | 6-9 FG | 0-1 FT | 6 REB | 6 AST | 18 PTS | +3
Jesus Kidd (WHOEVER ORIGNALLY SAID THAT ON TWITTER I DON’T KNOW BUT PLEASE EMAIL ME TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE) was crucif…crumbled pretty badly on the Nets’ guard-post offense at times throughout – particularly in the first half. But all that has to be forgotten in light of the fact that Jason Kidd may very well be the most intelligent basketball player who every laced up a pair of mandals. Forty-eight hours after tallying a season high 17 points and a couple of clutch stretch buckets, J-Kidd’s 18-6-6 provided a second Melo in miniature, hitting six of his eight three point attempts (all of them, it seemed, larger than the last), slithering his way into the lane for timely boards, and generally providing a wafer of methodone to Raymond Felton’s bathsalt insanity.
Where THIS Jason Kidd has been the last few years, I have no idea. But I’m sure as shit glad he turned up on our front porch – to chase the punks off the lawn and hand us a lemonade when the times are tough and the temperature’s rising.
|Raymond Felton, PG 32 MIN | 3-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 8 PTS | -1
Let’s get down to brass tacks here: Felton played like raccoon shit in a wheelchair for about 30 of his 32 minutes, not being nearly as aggressive as he should’ve taking it to the hole, careening it off the backboard at absurdly high velocities whenever he did, getting reduced to caramel by Deron Williams on the defensive end, and single-handedly ruining a chance at a Melo 50-spot.
As Ray started settling down in the first half, so did the team, and our burly court marshal ended the half on something of a positive note. But the second half was a complete acid nightmare, amounting to a performance that only adds to the theory that Raymond’s propensity for getting “amped” ahead of marquee matchups might well be the death of this team. Just not tonight.
|Rasheed Wallace, PF 14 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | +7
Thank you for hitting two three pointers. Thank you also for out-rebounding our starting center. Here’s what I won’t thank you for: Providing the defensive interior help effort of a compost heap, attempting a one-handed fall-away runner on Andray Blatche, and agreeing to meet Dick Bavetta for chess and a snuffbox tomorrow afternoon.
|J.R. Smith, SG 32 MIN | 7-15 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 16 PTS | +11
Whatever oversized worm is sucking out J.R.’s court force managed to slow from a chug to a sip, though there were more than a few ugly moments. Yeah I know every one of his 15 points was more important than the last… and he had a handful of nice defensive shutdowns, stops, and rotations… and that he lived through a Gerald Wallace linebacker seizure to tell about it (if you haven’t seen this, do yourself a favor and find it, and then marvel at how J.R. Smith finished the game without collapsing like a Jenga stack). But the give’s takes were pretty awful: a few bad rotations, more than a few bad shots, and one end-of-the-first-quarter sequence where he completely ignores trying to get a 2-for-1 and instead holds on to the ball needlessly for 10 seconds before loping aimlessly at the rim (the Nets scored at the other end, incidentally). It’s progress on some level, I suppose, and there’s no denyin’ dude’s tough as nails. I just wish nails weren’t so, well, dumb sometimes.
|Steve Novak, SF 22 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | +12
We might just have to accept that the Nets are simply a bad matchup for Novak; there’s just always someone on the court (tonight, Joe Johnson) capable of either closing him out or bodying him up. Like J.R.’s shit-defying +12 the other night, Novak likewise ends up with a +12 for tonight’s sub-par effort. Twitter followers, hopefully.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 10 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | 0
Another mostly invisible performance from our resident Sudlander – again, there are no matchups here that work in Pablo’s favor. So…. An anagram? Sure: RAIL BOO PIPING
|James White, SG 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -2
That childish nap must’ve served him well, because James – aided in part by Ray’s struggles and J.R.’s Hyde-ish first half showing – hit the floor uncomfortably early in this one. Not much of mention here, although I will say that his defense on D-Will was a lot better than the refs gave him credit for. Which, I mean, Dick Bavetta’s headphones are connected to a Victrola.
Five Things We Saw
- For all the adrenaline and good vibes, some pretty alarming things went down in this game, and it neither starts nor ends with the Nets’ 23-7 first quarter start on 70% shooting from the floor. Take, for instance, the fact that – thanks to a combination of interior malaise, over-switching (this is what my face looked like after the 75th instance of this), and genuinely great passing on Brooklyn’s part – our foes more than doubled up on us in paint points (48-20)….
- … Or that our pick-and-roll defense was slower than a dogshit popsicle. Credit the Brooklyn wings – Williams, Johnson, C.J. Watson, Wallace, even Calvin Natt – with being simultaneously aggressive and prescient enough to find the open cutter or abandoned shooter. Sooner or later Woodson is going to have to re-evaluate his strategy on this front; the switch-at-all-cost ethos might well work with a personnel largely interchangeable length and quickness-wise, but not with a cast of character which – while smart and defensively sound in most cases – aren’t exactly a bunch of Andre Iguodolas running around out there…
- …. Or that the Knicks were way too eager in helping on the Nets in the post – particularly Johnson and Williams, who are both more than capable of crisply and accurately passing their way out of it. I’m no Norman Dale, but I really just don’t understand the thought process here. To my mind, I’d much rather have Williams / Johnson / whomever spend 10 seconds backing a guy down and either a) hit a tough turnaround jumper, b) find a cutter in traffic, or c) kick it back out to the perimeter on a shortened shot clock than what happened instead – namely the Nets moving the ball beautifully out of the initial kick-out and getting uncontested layups and jumpers dozens of times. Again, maybe there’s something here I’m just not seeing or understanding, but I’ll take my chances on an isolated 6’4”-6’6” guard making plays out of the post to hedged-on defenders than witness another installment of that intermittent bloodbath.
- (Big thanks to Kevin McElroy [@knickerbacker] via Jared Dubin [@JADubin5] for this one)
- Earlier today I was reading a gameday interview with Woodson (can’t remember which – they all Bleacher Report together in a slideshow haze) when it suddenly struck me that we might be mistaking for banal a refrain eminently germane to the Knicks’s still burgeoning gestalt: “Got to.” It may well be the most oft-used word combo in the Woodson lexicon – a throwaway platitude glossed over by ear or eye in any transcription – and at the same time the most underappreciated. “GOT TO.” Whether it’s we “GOT TO” communicate on D or Melo’s “GOT TO” be that guy or Ray’s “GOT TO” keep his head held high after soiling his Huggies or J.R.’s “GOT TO” keep shooting even though the ball don’t love him no more – Woodson’s shaman-like emphasis on these two syllables run the gamut between the trivial and indispensable. Not just “GOT TO,” either. “WE GOT TO.” He likes that one even more. I didn’t listen in on his post-game speech or hear anything beyond a couple mic’d up seconds worth of what he said mid-game, but “WE GOT TO” was everywhere where and when it mattered most: In the timely rebound or crucial stop, on the cookie jar wrist of Melo waving bye to another nylon-drowned jumper or in J-Kidd waterbugging across the baseline for an impossible ‘bound. “WE GOT TO” means we never give in; that even the most routine second quarter pass is imbued with a war’s importance; that – however batshit crazy this sounds – there’s a moral imperative to this mission to bring a banner back home.
Beyond his work for KnickerBlogger, Jim is a contributor to the New York Times Off the Dribble NBA blog, ESPN.com, and The Classical. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, titled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.