Knicks 100, Robertcats 98
|Kurt Thomas, PF 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS | +3
KURT THOMAS ANAGRAM FUN: HOT MUSKRAT
|Ronnie Brewer, SF 18 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 9 PTS | +6
You know how whenever Novak catches the ball and sets you hear that gasp – couch solitary or arena collective, doesn’t really matter – and it’s like little a gaggle of angels are dancing in your stomach? I get the exact opposite reaction whenever Ronnie catches and starts eyeing the rim: My upper lip curls, my hands tighten, my dentures clench and my stomach feels like I just drank a gallon of curdled nacho cheese. Which is strange, because Brewer’s actually been hitting his shot at a decent clip. Ronnie gave us the requisite corner strike tonight, but was otherwise fairly ineffective on both ends of the floor.
Still, given how flat-footed the Knicks were down the stretch, you’d figure even an off offensive night wouldn’t be enough to keep Ronnie out of the fold. But alas, we caught not a whiff of the Brewmaster down the stretch. My surgeon’s instincts tell me the old leg knuckle had a bit of the Satan’s fire in it. I recommended he head over to Charlotte General and have the thing drained and all his teeth and eyes removed, just in case.
|Carmelo Anthony, SF 38 MIN | 8-22 FG | 4-4 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 23 PTS | +4
Seeing that his primary checkers are two rookies and a tall white goof with a lobotomy haircut has to be like going out for gourmet Tapas for Melo. Twenty first-half points later – treys, aggressive takes, and impossible fall-away jumpers all rained true – our pencil-stache’d hero looked rarin’ for dessert and coffee… and like he’d be carrying the team and the training staff and all the Knicks fans in attendance out of the arena and to the Waffle House and then to the airport baggage claim.
Sadly, Melo’s second half was a total shit sandwich. The shots were mostly well advised; he just wasn’t getting the bounce. Then he decided to dive (unnecessarily, it should be noted – it was a shot clock violation) into the bench to save the ball in the game’s waning moments, lacerating his middle finger (that’s funny), and spending the rest of the game presumably having a Jetsons Band-Aid fastened to his digit. Hopefully he’s OK, because the mere thought of us going to battle in South Beach on the morrow without him makes my nose bleed instantly.
|Tyson Chandler, C 35 MIN | 8-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 17 REB | 2 AST | 18 PTS | +10
For about 15 seconds late in the first quarter, Tyson Chandler was on pace to grab 42 rebounds. Forty-two. That would be forty more than I had in my rec game last night, and I play in a league where teams have names like Fromax, Bricklayers, and Burrrrrrrgers, you have to shell out $45 for a technical, and I once saw a dude get yelled at by his wife for not being home to watch the kids WHILE HE WAS PLAYING. Sadly, Chandler’s truly beastly first half (8 points, 10 boards) was tempered a bit by a handful of late rotations, though you could argue most of the blame went to the dudes waving the red blankets out on the perimeter.
Chandler was equally hugenormous in the second act, crashing the glass and swatting away a couple would-be backbreakers as the game wound down. The final line (it’s right up there next to Tyson’s name below the open porn tabs) would be mind blowing if it weren’t so routine. Seriously, I haven’t felt this spoiled since that one Christmas my gramma gave me money and not a 500-piece puzzle.
|Raymond Felton, PG 36 MIN | 7-19 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 9 AST | 17 PTS | +8
I was told Felton had wrapped his hand in the Infinity Gauntlet prior to the game. That wasn’t the fucking Infinity Gauntlet. That right there was a roll of shitty rest stop toilet paper wrapped around a mortal human’s hand. Clearly I need to evaluate where I get my information.
Anyway, Ray played about as poorly as you’d expect someone who just doubled the size of their guide hand – unfortunate, considering he was playing in front of a good grip of family and friends (Ray’s from South Carolina and the game was in North Carolina, which are both near Florida). Here’s the thing, though: The same bulldog fire that compels Raymond to play through the pain (admirably, it must be said) can easily morph into overcompensation – too many rushed shots, out-of-control drives, and the like. Which is exactly what happened. Worse still, he had a tough time keeping the waterbuggy Kemba Walker in front of him, and left him free to build up too big a head of steam in transition.
…Then he took off the hand wrap, burned it, burned the ashes, drowned the burnt ashes, burned the wet ash mud, and subsequently started the second half with a pair of threes and some stout defensive stops. But his real contributions came down the stretch, when he just willed closed the void left by Melo’s untimely absence, tying the game at 98 with balls-out take to the rack. As Seth Rosenthal aptly pointed out, all of these miraculous end-of-game moments occured while Raymond’s infant son was out like a light on the sidelines. Thanks, son.
|Rasheed Wallace, PF 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -8
If the relationship between he and Knick Knation was heretofore a honeymoon, Sheed’s just started banging the housekeepers in the hotel hot tub in the middle of the afternoon. The defensive engagement that even a few weeks ago seemed leaps and bounds ahead of anything he showed during his Boston run has devolved into him just shoving dudes out of the paint after committing lazy fouls. It would be silly to expect 70+ games of consistent play from a 38-year-old with gray nose fur, so I’m liable to let this latest stretch slide. Just…. Make a shot or something.
|Steve Novak, SF 26 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -2
Pretty much every one of Steve’s looks was a clean one, though he only managed to connect on three of his eight tries. But we needed every one of them, damnit – even if he looked particularly sloth-like on defense.
|Pablo Prigioni, PG 12 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS | -6
Kudos to Woodson for lightening the load on Prigs, he of THE GREATEST INTERNETPAGE SINCE NAKEDGIRLS.COM! Probably for the best anyway. Charlotte’s guards were just way too much for Prigs to handle, and given how tight the game was wire-to-wire, I’m kind of happy Woody didn’t follow through too much with his pre-game promise of extended minutes for the Pablo-Jason backcourt.
|Jason Kidd, PG 25 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS | -1
With his head wound now a fashion statement (I’m wearing mine, where’s yours?), Kidd’s return paid both immediate and late-game dividends – Kung Fu swipes, brilliantly timed threes, and the now commonplace three-point-pump-fake-and-foul-draw. Even when shit got hairy and the tide beat back, it was impossible not to feel a very real, very deep inner sense of calm in knowing Kidd was out there scrappin’ and yellin’ and lovin’ every minute with this damn crew.
Legend has it that, in Pulp Fiction, the briefcase belonging to Marsalis Wallace actually contained the LA don’s soul, and that the Band-Aid on his head was from whence it escaped. Yeah. Head Band-Aids.
|J.R. Smith, SG 32 MIN | 6-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 13 PTS | -4
This time J.R. just said “fuck it” and went out clubbing during team introductions, which turned out to be his most efficient performance in quite some time (five vodka tonics in 89 seconds, I’m told). He was totally useless on the court to start, however, save for a brief stretch during the team’s second quarter run when he followed up a nice take to the rim (I already sent him a text: “MORE PLZ”) with a steal at the other end.
It took until mid-way through the third quarter before Breen busted out his requisite “… off to such a solid start this season” mantra, and really I was pissed to even be hearing it at all. And it didn’t get much better anyway, as open look after open look — three in a row off deft kickes from Melo — proved errant. But then…. a key three…. a deflection…. ANOTHER DEFLECTION! TAKE IT TO THE TIN HOLY SHIT WHAT ARE YOU DOING YOU’RE LITERALLY RUNNING AWAY FROM THE BASKET ON A 2-ON-1 WHY?!?!?!? SERIOUSLY WHAT’S WRONG WITH HIM IS HE ON DRUGS OR WAIT WHY DOES HE HAVE THE BALL AGAIN TAKE IT TO THE HOLE DON’T YOU DARE PULL UP FOR THAT AWFUL…… *pee everywhere*
Five Things We Saw
- Luckily, the fact that tonight’s tilt constituted the front end of a back-to-back will render any handwringing over how and where we were exposed a brief affair. But know this: Up until about mid-way through the fourth quarter, we were getting our asses kicked on points in the paint – 40-24, to be exact. Even the final tally (52-40) says more about our propensity for desperation prowess than it does anything else. For most the of the game, the ‘Cats were getting to the tin almost at will, aided the Knicks’ slow and poor rotation and an inability to get back in transition. As with the Dirk-free Mavs, the Bobcats are exactly the kind of team that will give us trouble: Small, yes, but super athletic, super fast, and with a nose for how to take it hard, convert, or at the very least draw contact. Beware, ‘Bockers.
- In the absence of Boris Diaw, Gerald Henderson was more than happy to hoist the cake mantle of “Middling Knick Killer Emeritus” for the night (Contrary to @CardboardGerald’s assertion that Diaw was smoking STAT with “1MPH post moves” in last year’s skullfuckingly horrible home loss, I maintain that it only looked that slow because shit appears to slow down the closer you get to a black hole – IT’S SCIENCE.) It didn’t help that Henderson was returning after missing 14 games with nagging foot problems. Which, seriously, fuck that — Gerald Henderson has the highest vertical on the planet; those impossible rebounds, those uncanny drives, that ridiculous block on Chandler. It made absolutely no sense and perfect sense all at once. Luckily, we survived to tell about it.
- Leave it to Clyde to give a player a nickname completely by accident. During the pre-tip telecast, Clyde threw us all for a loop and – instead of butchering “Bismack Biyombo” (Bis-mark Bee-yawn-bone, Bee-snot Sousaphone, and Bee-smack Beyond-barn were all clearly in the running) – decided to put poor Michael Kidd-Gilchrist through the Walt Frazier Phonetic Slaughterhouse. Only this time the end result – Michael KILL (KILL!)-GILCHRIST — might actually end up yielding a useful nickname. I don’t know about you, but if someone introduced himself as KILLCHRIST, I’d run in the other direction as fast as I could.
- The Knicks got beat on the glass, from the stripe, from three, and from the field, and still won. The reason? They converted 23 points off of 14 Charlotte turnovers – many of those at key points in the second half, and four of them in the last 1:30. That’s it. That’s your ballgame. Well, that, and this (salutations to @JADubin5 for the reminder).
- Soon after the final buzzer sounded, I hit up Bobby Silverman on the g-chats, where I quipped that I had “no words” for what had hahahahappened seconds previous. He responded that I should just post a blank recap completely free of words. Believe me, I thought about it. But I also know that, the way things are going, we’re liable to have a game – probably sometime in the dead of March – even more bonkers and inexplicable and schizophrenic than this one. So best to save it for another time. All told, we came perilously close to the worst of possible worlds: We exert maximum effort, lose, fly to South Beach ragged as Rotty chew toys, and get our asses whipped on national television Thursday night. The last of which could very well happen – the Heat had their own let-down game against the lowly Buzzards, and they’ll no doubt be on a straight batblood diet until tipoff tomorrow. But even if we lose tomorrow, tonight’s absurd finish should serve as a pointed reminder that there are no ropes thick enough to trap this team.
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.